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.
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- 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.
- 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 :D
- 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 Kopech. These 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 Ray, and Dinelson Lamet. It’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 Rodriguez. Maybe a bit too low, I simply want to have fun with other exciting arms like Griffin Canning, Max Fried, and 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)