Way-Too-Early Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings For 2020

The List

Rank Pitcher
1 T1 Gerrit Cole
2 Justin Verlander
3 Jacob deGrom
4 Max Scherzer
5 T2 Walker Buehler
6 Mike Clevinger
7 Shane Bieber
8 Chris Sale
9 Luis Castillo
10 Blake Snell
11 Patrick Corbin
12 Clayton Kershaw
13 Stephen Strasburg
14 T3 Jack Flaherty
15 Luis Severino
16 Corey Kluber
17 Shohei Ohtani
18 Carlos Carrasco
19 Zack Greinke
20 Lucas Giolito
21 Tyler Glasnow
22 Charlie Morton
23 Aaron Nola
24 Lance Lynn
25 T4 Chris Paddack
26 Brandon Woodruff
27 Sonny Gray
28 Yu Darvish
29 David Price
30 James Paxton
31 Zac Gallen
32 Noah Syndergaard
33 Mike Soroka
34 Mike Minor
35 Kyle Hendricks
36 Hyun-Jin Ryu
37 Jose Berrios
38 Madison Bumgarner
39 Frankie Montas
40 Domingo German
41 Zack Wheeler
42 T5 Trevor Bauer
43 Andrew Heaney
44 Jesus Luzardo
45 Lance McCullers
46 Sean Manaea
47 Jake Odorizzi
48 Caleb Smith
49 Matt Boyd
50 Robbie Ray
51 Dinelson Lamet
52 Carlos Martinez
53 Mike Foltynewicz
54 Griffin Canning
55 Luke Weaver
56 Eduardo Rodriguez
57 Ryan Yarbrough
58 T6 Michael Kopech
59 Mitch Keller
60 Max Fried
61 Brendan McKay
62 Joe Musgrove
63 Garrett Richards
64 Nathan Eovaldi
65 Wade Miley
66 Yonny Chirinos
67 Kenta Maeda
68 Chris Archer
69 T7 Rich Hill
70 Joey Lucchesi
71 Johnny Cueto
72 Masahiro Tanaka
73 Dallas Keuchel
74 T8 Dylan Cease
75 German Marquez
76 Jon Gray
77 Julio Teheran
78 Miles Mikolas
79 Steven Matz
80 Sandy Alcantara
81 Marcus Stroman
82 Merrill Kelly
83 Zach Plesac
84 Aaron Civale
85 T9 Justus Sheffield
86 Mike Fiers
87 Cole Hamels
88 Jordan Lyles
89 Pablo Lopez
90 Reynaldo Lopez
91 Jose Quintana
92 Dakota Hudson
93 John Means
94 Jon Lester
95 Anibal Sanchez
96 Jeff Samardzija
97 Adrian Houser
98 Anthony DeSclafani
99 J. A. Happ
100 Chris Bassitt

UPDATE: It looks like Aaron Sanchez is going to be missing for a good chunk of the 2020 season and I have removed him from The List. I’ve added Chris Bassitt as #100 as I may have overlooked him as a decent option out of the gate for next year. Not an arm I’d have much faith with out of the gate, but there could be something there.

What is happening!

The season just ended and it’s already time to look ahead to the spring.

These rankings are going to be wildly different come February as injuries arise, rehab becomes clear, transactions are made, and – most importantly – I personally take the time to dive deeper into each of these players.

Don’t let that stop you from joining the discussion! Let’s start talking about the Top 100 starting pitchers for 2020, here with a focus on 12-team leagues.

 

Fringe Pitchers

 

  • There are a lot of players that are likely “missing” to you, I’m sure. Let’s tackle a “few”:
    • Jameson Taillon – He’s recovering from TJS and while he’s a good IL stash, I’m not going to list him here
    • Michael Pineda – Suspended so whatever team signs him, we won’t see him for a bit.
    • Brent Honeywell – I’m still waiting on more news after he fractured his elbow while rehabbing from TJS. And even if he’s healthy for 2020, the Rays have a crowded rotation with Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, and Brendan McKay already fighting for the final two spots.
    • Jordan Montgomery – I’m waiting until I see him locked in the rotation and missing bats with his secondary stuff like before.
    • Taijuan Walker / Alex Young – Young is a Toby while Walker pitched one inning on the last day of the season. I need to know he has a spot and is dealing first.
    • Nate Pearson / Casey Mize / MacKenzie Gore / Forrest Whitley / etc. – I’m holding off ranking any arm that hasn’t pitched in the majors yet. There are a lot of names that could surprise in the spring and we’ll tackle that then.
    • Julio Urias / Ross Stripling / Tony Gonsolin / Dustin May / Caleb Ferguson – If you know what the Dodgers’ SP situation will be in 2020, please speak up now. Once a starter is locked in, he’ll be in the Top 100. Maybe it’s two with Hill and Ryu being free agents? My guess would be Julio Urias at the moment and if he were confirmed, I’d likely slot him in the 60s or so. Hope that helps.
    • Alex Wood / Tyler Mahle / Lucas Sims – It’s a bit crowded in Cincy and I’m not biting on any of these yet. They won’t demand much of a price if they were locked for a rotation spot anyway.
    • Yusei Kikuchi / Marco Gonzales – I don’t pay for Tobys unless there’s a decent chance they can rid themselves of the label.
    • Ivan Nova – Same goes for you.
    • Trevor Williams – And you…(there’s a pattern here).
    • Rick Porcello / Danny Duffy / Martin Perez / Tanner Roark / Brett Anderson / Homer Bailey / Zach Davies / Chase Anderson / Gio Gonzalez / Zach Eflin / Anibal Sanchez AND YOU. I think that covers them all.
    • Brad Keller – Cool to see the increased velocity last year, but shut down with arm fatigue. I need to see the velocity again first.
    • Pablo Lopez / Elieser Hernandez / Jordan Yamamoto – They may be interesting early in the year, but the trio each have some proving to do.
    • Spencer Turnbull / Michael Fulmer – Turnbull has intriguing upside, but I don’t want to chase it out of the draft. I need to see Fulmer pitching live ball again before with deal with that again.
    • Any Blue Jay – Poor blue birds. Here’s to Pearson showing up at some point and having a ball.
    • Dylan Bundy / Asher Wojciechowski – Yes, they both have that “upside” but neither one has any backing for it to kick in on day 1. I almost slotted Asher in, but that’s with the understanding that his arm fatigue is completely gone in April and who knows how his curveball is looking then.
    • Joe Ross / Austin Voth – It’s possible one of them earns a rotation spot, but I have my concerns that I’d have any confidence with either, even if they both perform well in the opening few starts. Ross doesn’t speak to consistent command while Voth needs a bit more than his 92/93mph heater and his curveball needs a bit more polish.
    • AJ Puk – I expect him to be a Hader type instead of incorporated into the Athletics’ rotation.

 

Ranking Notes

 

  • Alright, I went Gerrit Cole over Justin Verlander in the end. It’s incredibly close to me and you’ll be happy with either one. The fact that Verlander’s BABIP was that low was the ultimate factor, paired a bit with a younger age for Cole, though Verlander’s track record is a touch better + I wonder if pitching outside of Houston will affect Cole’s performance. Verlander for Cy Young, though 😀
  • Yes, Noah Syndergaard is outside the Top 30. There is simply too much depth in the SP #2/#3 territory and I’d rather chase them than the aggravating approach of Syndergaard. I’m tired of waiting.
  • I prefer Zac Gallen over Thor – crazy, I know. His changeup is fantastic paired with a “I’m not giving in” mentality and a trio of strong secondary pitches to pull him through any game. We saw a lot of rookie arms this year and I was very tempted to place him above Chris Paddack as the #1 sophomore pitcher.
  • There are a bunch of rankings that are bound to change ranging from injured arms returning – Kluber, Severino, Ohtani, Carrasco, McCullers, etc. – and pitchers without their roles determined – McKay/Yarbrough/Chirinos, CarMart, Hill, Plesac/Civale, and Dodger pitchers because, you know, Dodgeritis.
  • There are some rookies showing up that I anticipate being the talk of the town in the spring, such as Jesus Luzardo and Michael KopechThese ranks will likely fluctuate plenty based on the talk in the spring, so be ready.
  • I grouped a lot of the “Strikeout or bust” arms together, such as Trevor Bauer, Caleb Smith, Matt Boyd, Robbie Rayand Dinelson LametIt’s possible that do more to separate from each other as we near the spring, but I wanted to showcase their cluttered value here.
  • I’m not sure I put Luke Weaver in the right place. I loved what I saw before his season cut short with his cutter, but that could disappear quickly. He has Top 30 potential, so he’s in the mid-50s for now.
  • Yes, I’m not high on Eduardo RodriguezMaybe a bit too low, I simply want to have fun with other exciting arms like Griffin Canning, Max Friedand Mitch Keller instead of the purgatory that is Eduardo.
  • I don’t like drafting Tobys, but I understand there were a good amount that survived through the full year and are a small step up from the others – Fiers, Quintana, Means, etc. Dakota Hudson would fall underneath this, though there is some hope that his cutter’s near 20% swinging strike rate becomes a larger factor next year.

(Photo by Justin Paradis – @FreshmeatComm)

 

Nick Pollack

Founder of PitcherList.com. Rotographs and Washington Post contributor and has worked with CBS Sports, Grantland, and SB Nation. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum.

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Comments


Jordan

“Urquidy’s going to be likely in our rotation next year,” Luhnow said in discussing the 24-year-old’s chances of making the postseason roster (from an mlbtraderumors article). Where might he slot in with a rotation spot?

Harley Earl

I’m sorry but Flaherty at #13 behind Sale, Castillo and Snell seems like you don’t believe in him at all. After what Flaherty just did in the second half, he’s a Top 10 starter in my book. I’ll take Flaherty over any of those three and probably Kershaw too. That makes Flaherty #9 to me.

Also, Ryu at #36? Wow. If I can get Ryu as the 36th pitcher off the board next year, I’m going to win every league I play in. So long as he stays healthy! ;o)

theKraken

If you want to see what a magic second half can look like a year later, then have a good look at German Marquez. The good news is that the players don’t need Nick’s blessing to ascend to stardom.

NJ Will

Flaherty put together a majestic half season that ranks among the greatest in MLB history. Your description of his secondary stuff is off, his deuce has greater break than the avg deuce and his two seam FB was the key to his 2nd half, a 95 mph sinking dart. 24 yrs old with a bulldog mentality on the mound, plus stuff and an improving arsenal, Jack is top 10 for me, right behind the top tier.

John Wertz

Hard to imagine the Dodgers don’t give Dustin May, their top pitching prospect of course, a chance to be in the rotation right out of the gate. I understand them using him in the bullpen late this season (keep his innings in check, mediocre bullpen, etc.), but it would make little sense for them to essentially waste him next season.

At the very least, I would think they would let Hill go. Out of the group listed, I’d say the only one that has a chance to have a rotation spot out of the gate other than May would be Urias. Still, Urias, Stripling, and Gonsolin (Ferguson has almost as much chance at a rotation spot as I do) all have been very effective in their bouncing between starting and relief work. All have proven they can be solid starters, but given what the Dodgers have done with them, I’d say all but Urias are nearly guaranteed to start the season in the bullpen (barring injuries).

May could be fantasy gold next season, especially in keeper/dynasty leagues.

Hustle

I think Logan Webb is going to be a mainstay on your list once the season starts rolling. Good 3 pitch mix, good velo, great/best home ballparlk, finished the season strong against two very strong opponents, decent FIP/XFIP.

Roy

Chris Bassitt, had a Good Season, what are your thoughts for him for next year? Was he forgotten cause he went to the pen for the last 3 weeks.

Dave

Yeah, I was surprised Bassitt didn’t make the list after seeing Fiers at # 87. Bassitt clearly had the better season of the two and he is also 4 years younger. But, Fiers pitched 38 more innings than Bassitt – maybe Nick considers him too much of an injury risk.

Nick Pollack

Great point, I’ve added Bassitt as #100 after I had to remove Aaron Sanchez (injured).

I’m not a fan of Bassitt’s repertoire while Fiers has a bit more innate value in his floor and IP stability. I’m not drafting either, though.

Dan

I know pitching is wildly unpredictable every year, but it seems to be very DEEP next year. You could hit with a guy in the 40’s/50’s just as easily as a guy in the teens. Very fun list, wish next year was starting!

Barry

Hello Nick,

Thanks to you and all the staff members at Pitcher List for ALL you do. I’m excited to start to do draft strategy using the Way-Too-Early List.

If it’s not too much trouble when you get an opportunity, would it be possible to list by name or perhaps even easier the number corresponding to all the pitchers that have earned the AGA label?

I’m hoping to draft at least 3 if not more next spring depending on ADP.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Eddie

I just don’t know if I can bring myself to keep Ryu over Bauer even though this season’s results clearly say I should. Thoughts?

Dave

Nick, I see Luzardo listed at #44, but AJ Puk is not listed and is also not mentioned in the notes. Is he the odd man out or did I just miss him? I was thinking Manaea, Montas, Luzardo, Puk, and Bassitt or Fiers makes a pretty tough rotation especially with Sean Murphy’s skills behind the plate. Thanks

Nick Pollack

Ah good question! I expect Puk to be a reliever as a Josh Hader type instead of introduced to the rotation. I’ve added a note on Puk to clear up the confusion.

theKraken

I’m thinking Ohtani and Carrasco are very aggressively placed. There is no way I would want to trust them next year. I would rather have the flawed but healthy-ish Paxton or Thor. Crazy to see Bauer so far back – you know I have never been a fan but I would take him over a lot of guys. What an amazing one year fall from glory with no health to blame. To me, Gallen is the biggest reach – I don’t think he has great command and the stuff isn’t overwhelming. I am wrong about pitchers quite a bit though. From the back of the list Marquez and Mikolas are guys that I would target. I think Fried and McKay are both back-end top 100 guys. It is worthwhile to think about the buzzy teams and think about their marginal players that get overrated by association.

In any case, it is cool to get a look at some 2020 rankings. Great work as always.

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