From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.
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Now the next 50 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, starting with a pitcher moving out west to try and resurrect his career, which has been derailed by injuries too much:
76) Josh Johnson, San Diego Padres (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 29)
A forearm injury limited Johnson to just 16 games started in 2013. His previous ranking here at Guru should speak to his talents and he’s a good candidate to bounce back, especially with his new digs in San Diego. A K/9 that has hovered between 8 and 9 in recent years should continue to provide value to fantasy owners as well.
77) Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 67)
It’s all systems go for Beachy after Tommy John surgery derailed the better part of 2012-2013 for the right-hander. He gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of in 2011 when he racked up 169 strikeouts in 142 innings. At just 27 years old and with the surgery finally behind him, Beachy makes another solid value play for 2014 and beyond.
78) Ian Kennedy, San Diego Padres (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 72)
Kennedy’s 2013 was less than stellar, but a lot of it had to do with his control. His BB/9 over the last 3 years looks like this…2.23, 2.38, 3.62. The question will be which pitcher shows up in 2014, but given that the walk rate should regress somewhat back to the norm and his K/9 remained intact over that time, Kennedy can be a nice play again in 2014. Like Johnson, he should also benefit from pitching more games in San Diego.
79) Max Fried, San Diego Padres (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 71)
Fried pitched 23 games for Class A Fort Wayne in 2013 after being the first high school arm selected in the 2012 draft. He is still young and will need to develop more control as he works his way through the San Diego pipeline, but the left-hander already has three solid pitches in his arsenal with a fastball, curve, and changeup.
80) Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 70)
Sanchez really stood out in the Arizona Fall League this year with a 1.16 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 21 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. What made that performance especially nice was that it took place after he missed some time with shoulder soreness. The right-hander with the mid-to-upper 90s fastball will enter the 2014 season as the Blue Jays’ #1 prospect.
81) Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 50)
While Lincecum’s K/9 continued to fall, he did get his BB/9 back in shape in 2013. His declining fastball velocity is a cause for concern, but when you look at his statistics, the one thing that really jumps out at you other than a small dip in his GB% is how different his last two seasons have been in terms of his LOB%. If that rebounds, Lincecum might be able to get his ERA back under control.
82) Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)
Kazmir was a nice surprise for the Indians in 2013 with a K/9 north of 9.00 and a BB/9 south of 3.00. Most importantly, he stayed healthy and was able to contribute after missing almost all of the 2011-2012 seasons. He heads to pitching-friendly Oakland this year, where on a clear day you can almost see the other side of foul territory.
83) Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Wood made his debut in 2013 and split time as both a starter and reliever. One of the reasons he was able to succeed right away was his ability to keep the ball on the ground (49% GB%) and strike hitters out (8.9 K/9). The left-hander is slated to start the season at the back-end of the Braves’ rotation and should provide plenty of value for his fantasy owners as soon as this year.
84) Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 30, RP)
A failed drug test delayed Stroman’s development in 2013 and he missed a large chunk of games due to his suspension. Still, he pitched 111 innings in Double-A and sported a healthy 10.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in that time. The #2 prospect in the Jays’ system will probably start the year in Triple-A, but could be pitching in Toronto by the end of this season.
85) Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 83)
Miley backed up his solid rookie season in 2012 by pitching over 200 innings in 2013 with 147 strikeouts and a pretty GB% of 52%, which helped him maintain a respectable ERA in hitter-friendly Chase Field. He’s obviously not a strikeout machine, but if he can continue to eat innings and keep the ball on the ground he should make for a decent fantasy option in most leagues.
86) Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 155)
Still only 26 years old, Chacin basically cut his HR/FB in half last season when you compare it to the two years prior. His BB/9 also decreased pretty dramatically, and it’s hard to say if he is improving as he ages or if he might regress to his previous rates. It’s hard to take that gamble on pitchers who call Coors their home, especially when their K/9 is trending in the wrong direction.
87) Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees (Age: 39, Previous Rank: 59)
Kuroda is kind of amazing considering he is now 39 years old and yet he has pitched 200 or more innings in each of the last 3 seasons. There is a lot to like here given that he doesn’t walk many hitters, keeps the ball in the park, and still has a decent K/9 around 6.5/7.0. Dynasty owners do need to be mindful of his age though, which you would imagine will eventually start to show itself in his numbers.
88) Andrew Heaney, Miami Marlins (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 162)
Heaney was taken 9th overall in the 2012 draft and in his first full season he notched 89 strikeouts in 95 innings across two levels of the minors. Given his college pedigree and the fact that he finished last year in Double-A, it might not be too long before we see Heaney contributing to the Marlins’ rotation. He’ll enter 2014 as the Marlins’ best prospect.
89) Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 55)
After winning 18 games in 2012, a back injury sidelined Harrison for the majority of the 2013 season. Prior to the injury, the 28-year-old lefty had put together two good years with solid peripherals that made him a dependable fantasy starter in most formats. He’s another good bounce-back candidate with a great Texas lineup behind him.
90) Dan Haren, Washington Nationals (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 39)
Now with his third team in three years, Haren takes his services to Los Angeles where he’ll join a great starting rotation with the Dodgers. The biggest difference in Haren;s game over the last two seasons has been his HR/9 and HR/FB% which were the highest of his career in 2013. If he can get that back under control in his new digs, he could bounce back and be a solid value. If not, expect another poor showing even with the decent strikeout rates.
91) Kyle Crick, San Francisco Giants (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 120)
A big, hard-throwing right-hander from Texas, Crick struck out 119 batters in 85 innings in 2013. An oblique injury was a small setback last season but he’ll probably still start 2014 in Double-A. He hasn’t been able to get his BB/9 under 5.00 yet, so he’ll need to control the stuff before he can bring it to San Francisco.
92) Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 63)
Cahill came back down to earth in 2013 with a decline in his strikeout rates and an increase in his walk rates. He continued to do what he does best and keep the ball on the ground, but there aren’t many leagues that reward you for that. He’s a hard sell without better strikeout numbers.
93) Matt Wisler, San Diego Padres (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 182)
Wisler has risen quickly and at just 21 years old he could be seeing time in San Diego by the end of this year. In 105 Double-A innings last season he struck out 103 batters while issuing only 27 walks. He’s got a fastball, slider, changeup, curve and he projects as a #2 or #3 starter.
94) Jon Niese, New York Mets (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 73)
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are around. In 2013 Niese was more himself in the second half than the first, with a 3.00 ERA, 7.6 K/9, and 2.05 BB/9 after the break. He might start Opening Day for the Mets, but he’s better suited for the back end of your fantasy rotation.
95) Brett Anderson, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 34)
As you can tell by the previous ranking, it’s been a tough year for Anderson. His injury issues are painfully obvious. The good news is that he is a really good ground-ball pitcher and he is still young. If he can just keep it together for a full season without an injury (can he?), he could be a sneaky play even at Coors.
96) Ricky Nolasco, Minnesota Twins (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 156)
Nolasco heads to Minnesota where he should continue to eat innings and provide decent strikeout totals for his fantasy owners. WIns and ERA are another story, but you didn’t come to Nolasco for wins and ERA when he was with the Marlins either. It’s actually possible those numbers could improve on his new team with a better defense behind him.
97) James Paxton, Seattle Mariners (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 92)
Paxton pitched 24 innings with the Mariners in 2013 and struck out 21 batters while walking 7. He racked up a lot of strikeouts in the minors and he should benefit from what appears to be some improved control over the past year. He also keeps a lot of balls on the ground with an arsenal that includes a fastball, sinker, curveball, and changeup. The left-hander should begin the 2014 season as the Mariners’ fifth starter.
98) Jacob Turner, Miami Marlins (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 94)
With youth on his side and a giant colored statue thing behind him, Turner is part of a young Marlins rotation that could provide sneaky value to fantasy owners in the near future. He doesn’t have impressive strikeout numbers and he will need to improve his control, but he was a highly regarded prospect in the Tigers’ organization and the Marlins’ home field should be forgiving as he learns to make adjustments to major league hitters. Dock Ellis would have loved that statue.
99) Henry Owens, Boston Red Sox (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 193)
Owens reached Double-A in 2013 and pitched really well across two levels with 169 strikeouts in just 135 innings pitched. That also came with 68 walks, but the 21-year-old still has time to work on his control before joining the Red Sox where the left-hander projects to a #2 or #3 starter.
100) Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
The Pirates have yet another quality young arm in their pipeline with Glasnow, who struck out 164 batters in just 111 innings in the Sally last year. He’s a big tall right-hander that still needs to work on controlling his stuff but has plenty of time to do just that as he won’t turn 21 until August. Cole, Taillon, and now Glasnow make for an impressive trio of young stud pitchers in Pittsburgh.
101) Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants (Age: 38, Previous Rank: 95)
Yes he is old and coming off an injury, but it wasn’t an arm injury. His strikeout totals aren’t very good, but Hudson is still capable of putting up good ERA and WHIP rates and he should get a good number of Wins pitching for a quality Giants team in a pitchers’ park. Start him against weak offenses and leave him on your bench against good offenses.
102) Kohl Stewart, Minnesota Twins (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
4th overall pick of the 2013 draft out of high school. Has elite ace potential and advanced command for such a young pitcher. Still a long way from the majors.
103) Eddie Butler, Colorado Rockies (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Hard throwing right hander with 4 above average to plus pitches. Had the 2nd best ERA in the minor leagues last year. Nearly ready for the major leagues. Projects as a #2 starter with star potential.
104) Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 130)
His strikeout rate improved sharply last year. His ERA was 4.32 but his FIP, xFIP and SIERA were all a run lower indicating he pitched better than his ERA indicated and portending a better year in 2014. Improved defense in Detroit should also help his stats. Use him as a matchup play this year.
105) Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Wild card alert: Ross came out of nowhere to post a sensational 13 starts late in 2013. The addition of a changeup to his repertoire allowed a sharp increase in his strikeout rate. Ross has an extensive injury history and is not a youngster, but his breakout appears to be the real deal. His solid peripherals indicate his 3.17 ERA was not a fluke. Pitching for an improving Padres team in a ballpark (and division) that is friendly to pitchers, Ross is a very strong sleeper pick in 2014.
106) Jake Peavy, Boston Red Sox (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 46)
Peavy had a huge comeback season in 2012 that vaulted him back onto the fantasy roadmap, but his underlying peripherals that year were not as sparkling as his 3.37 ERA. Predictably he fell back to Earth in 2013. Expect his 2014 to look similar to his 2013 with a poor ERA around 4.00 but a good WHIP of around 1.15 and a decent strikeout rate around 7.5 per 9 innings. Use him with confidence against weak opponents, but consider sitting him against some winning teams.
107) Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 122)
Smyly is expected to move into the Tiger’s starting rotation this year. He should provide excellent ERA and WHIP stats, but his innings will likely be rationed which will hinder his Wins and Ks. If he pitches as well as we expect this year his value will increase in future seasons as his innings-limit leash is removed. Solid potential here as a mid-rotation stalwart for many years.
108) Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 17, Previous Rank: NR)
Struck out 67 batters in 54 innings with a 2.48 ERA as a 16 year old in Class A ball! He is a hard-throwing lefty with advanced stuff and maturity far beyond his years. He is still a LONG way from the majors and it is too early to get a solid feel for his star potential.
109) Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 52)
Very risky pitcher to own. He has a lengthy history of arm problems and is coming off a season lost to major shoulder surgery. Shoulders are harder to repair than elbows. If he does pitch this year and earns a spot in the very crowded Cardinal rotation he should provide an average ERA, below average WHIP, decent strikeouts and a good Win total.
110) Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 28)
Another extremely injury-prone pitcher who just can’t stay on the mound enough to be valuable. He is also very inconsistent in his performance, having extended periods where he throws like an ace and others where he is awful. Morrow is a boom or bust pick who is probably best avoided unless he comes very cheaply.
111) Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 133)
Straily is a back-end starting pitcher who can be used as a matchup play. His ERA, WHIP and Ks will be sub-par. Straily had excellent strikeout and walk rates in the minor leagues, but he has thus far failed to match those rates in the major leagues and scouts don’t love his stuff.
112) John Lackey, Boston Red Sox (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 177)
Lackey missed all of 2012 after arm surgery, but came back in 2013 and pitched effectively until tiring late in the season. The 35-year old can be expected to deliver another couple years of slightly better than average results. The Red Sox’ potent lineup should garner him plenty of wins.
113) Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 57)
While Jackson’s peripherals indicate he pitched quite a bit better than his awful 4.98 ERA in 2013, he was still a below average pitcher on a really bad team. With his low strikeout rate there is no reason to expect he will ever be more than a mediocre innings eater for the Cubs or your fantasy team. View him as an emergency injury replacement only.
114) Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
2013 1st round draft pick out of high school. After signing he pitched very effectively for 25 innings in the low minors. He is related to an All Star major league pitcher – but it isn’t Matt Harvey. Hunter’s father was 2x All Star Angels closer and original Marlin Bryan Harvey.
115) Nate Eovaldi, Miami Marlins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 186)
Surprisingly, even though Eovaldi is coming off a 3.39 ERA at the age of 23 he is not considered a future star. His K/9 and K/BB ratios are quite poor and he simply doesn’t have great stuff. Playing for the Marlins is going to severely suppress his Win totals as well.
116) A.J. Cole, Washington Nationals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 137)
Hard-throwing righty who has been striking out a ton of batters in the minors. He has a plus fastball, but his offspeed pitches are works in progress and will determine whether he ultimately ends up as a starter or a reliever.
117) A.J. Griffin, Oakland Athletics (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 107)
Griffin is a solid if not stellar pitcher. His strikeout rate is pretty good and his walk rate is good. His problem has been the home run ball even though it is hard to give up homers in Oakland. Expect the homers to decline. Griffin is a nice option to fill out your rotation if his price is low.
118) Brandon McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 87)
McCarthy is a low-end option for your team. He is below average in all pitching categories. His ERA and WHIP will hurt you while his low strikeout totals won’t help much. He could snag a few wins but that is about it.
119) Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 69)
Barnes’ prospect stock has gone a little stale. He still projects as a #3 starter but stardom is unlikely. Competition for rotation slots in Boston is heavy and Barnes hasn’t done anything to separate himself from the pack, so don’t expect to see him starting games for the Red Sox anytime soon.
120) Felix Doubront, Boston Red Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 158)
Doubront has a good strikeout rate but too many walks are a problem. The biggest obstacle facing Doubront is a lack of opportunity. It looks like he will start the season in the bullpen and if a rotation spot does open up there is no guarantee he will get the nod. Even if he does join the Red Sox rotation you shouldn’t expect a good ERA or WHIP, although he will help in Ks and Wins.
121) Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 93)
With a career K:BB ratio of less than 2:1 you can safely avoid Peralta. He is young enough to improve, but his upside as a #3 pitcher in his peak is still boring. He is a matchup play at best in 2014.
122) Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NA)
Kluber was a surprise breakout in 2013. He posted a very good strikeout rate and a superb walk rate en route to an xFIP of 3.10 despite 5 poor starts in September after a finger injury. Kluber is locked into a rotation spot in Cleveland and is a strong sleeper for 2014. Target him if you can obtain him for a good price.
123) Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 49)
Lynn has averaged more than a strikeout per inning and has a career 3.28 FIP. He plays for a very good team with an elite offense and pitches deep into games, which translates into a lot of Wins (34-18 career record in 2 seasons as a starter). He has strong home/road splits. His home ERA is 2.97 while his road ERA is 4.58 in his career. There are a ton of top-notch starting pitcher candidates in St Louis, so there is always a chance Lynn could lose his rotation slot if he has a few bad starts.
124) Joe Kelly, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Look at Joe Kelly’s 2.69 ERA from last year and you might think he is a star in the making, but hold on a minute. His FIP, xFIP and SIERA were all over 4.00, his WHIP was a poor 1.35 and he only struck out 5.7 batters per 9 innings while his K:BB was less than 2:1. Not good. Kelly is projected to begin the season in the bullpen and may be behind Carlos Martinez if a spot does open up. Put his 2.69 ERA on the trade market and see what you can get for him.
125) Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 64)
Hellickson’s career strikeout rate is a very poor 6.39 per 9 innings but has been slowly trending upwards every season. He was very lucky in 2011 and 2012 when his ERA was a full 1.5 runs lower than his FIP (3.01 vs 4.51), but the reverse was true in 2013 when his ERA was 5.17 vs his 4.22 FIP. Hellickson is expected to miss at least the first month of 2014 due to arm surgery. He is a low-end starter when healthy.
Commentary by Mike Buttil and Nick Doran.