The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty Starting Pitchers, Nos. 41-75
Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.
We’ll continue the list with an underrated hurler who won’t stop putting up numbers despite a hideous delivery:
41) Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 83)
The Braves shuffled Wood between the rotation and the bullpen in 2014 to try and keep him within an innings limit, as the former second-round pick in 2012 only had 23 starts in his minor league career and 11 starts in the big leagues. Wood made 24 starts and 11 relief appearances in 2014, pitching 171 2/3 innings and finishing as the 31st overall starting pitcher in CBS leagues. As a starter, the numbers were sparkling: a 2.59 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, to go with 8.69 strikeouts per nine innings. Wood held opponents to a slugging percentage of .347 as a starter and his 3.78 K/BB ratio in total helped keep his WHIP to a 1.14 number overall, a profile reminiscent of Chris Sale at the same stage of his career. Wood missed his last start of the season with a ‘mild forearm strain’ but is not expected to miss any time during the spring, and could have been an excuse to not further have him waste his arm pitching in front of Atlanta’s putrid offense.
42) Andrew Cashner, San Diego Padres (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 61)
Cashner’s arm was unable to handle a full season’s workload in his second year a starter in 2014, landing on the DL twice with injuries to his elbow and shoulder, making 19 starts that totaled 123 1/3 innings. His ERA numbers as a Pads rotation member the last two seasons (3.09 in 2013 and 2.55 in 2014) have been nice, but with Cashner it’s always a matter of how many starts his right arm can hold up for.
43) Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 44)
Archer’s first full season as a starter in 2014 was bumpy at times, but overall was a success as he approached the 200-inning mark and slightly improved his strikeout rate compared to his 2013 showing of 23 starts. He also saw his walk rate increase to 3.33 per nine, and will need to improve his command going forward to further inch up this list.
44) Shelby Miller, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 16)
Miller struggled through the first half of 2014, posting a 4.29 ERA in 19 starts before incorporating a new grip on his sinker that led to a 2.08 ERA and a .190 batting average against in his final seven starts, showing the promise that earned him a third place finish in the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year balloting. A change of scenery (and working with Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell) may be just what Miller needs to unlock his tremendous potential.
45) Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 27)
Bailey’s 2014 included surgery for a bulging disk in his neck in the spring, and surgery to his forearm/right elbow ended his season in the fall, always what you like to see after locking up a guy to a 6 year/$105 million deal the previous winter. Bailey’s 2014 numbers were more in line with what he posted in 2012, as opposed to the step forward he showed in 2013, so his 2015 season will give a good indication of his value – and health – going forward.
46) Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 123)
Lynn’s third year in the Cardinal rotation included the best ERA of his career at 2.74, and his third consecutive year of over 180 strikeouts. His peripherals suggest that his ERA is likely to end up in the 3.25-3.50 range going forward, but Lynn’s supporting cast gives him a good chance to repeat the 15-18 win mark that he’s hit each year. His strikeout rate has dropped a bit each year, settling at eight per nine innings in 2014.
47) Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 22)
Moore made two April starts before going under the knife and missing the remainder of the 2014 season. He could be back from Tommy John around the all-star break in 2015, but as with all TJ victims, it remains to be seen how long it will take Moore can regain his command, which wasn’t great to begin with.
48) Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 24)
Walker experienced shoulder bursitis in the spring and the Mariners understandably handled him with kid gloves, allowing him to pitch 120 innings, 38 of which occurred at the big league level. Walker made five September appearances in Seattle and has a clean bill of health for 2015, he just might not have a rotation spot given to him, at least to start the year.
49) Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Perhaps the biggest positive surprise of any starting pitcher in 2014, Carrasco was demoted to the bullpen at the end of April, found his stride pitching out of the stretch, and was one of the best pitchers in baseball when he was inserted back into the rotation in August, continuing to pitch out of the stretch. Carrasco posted a 2.44 FIP in 134 innings for the season, with over a strikeout per inning, and the former top 100 prospect posted the best ERA and FIP of any starting pitcher in the second half of the season.
50) Lucas Giolito, Washington Nationals (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 57)
Giolito has one of the biggest ceilings of anybody on this list, but it’s important to understand the risks involved with a pitcher who’s already had Tommy John and just completed his first taste of full season ball in which he didn’t crack the 100 inning mark. Giolito could reach Double-A in 2015, but the Nationals will likely be conservative with their potential ace of the future.
51) Doug Fister, Washington Nationals (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 39)
The sixth Nationals pitcher to appear on this list so far, Fister gets things done a bit differently than the first five, pitching to contact and relying on a near fifty percent groundball mark to get outs. After a shoulder strain delayed the start of his season until May, Fister certainly enjoyed his first go around in the National League, posting the best ERA mark of his career at 2.41, although his 3.93 FIP mark was the highest full season mark of his career. As with any starter who pitches to contact, his defense behind him is key, so keep that in mind if Fister departs the nation’s capital after his contract expires at the end of the year.
52) Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 127)
Pitching coach Don Cooper has continued to work his magic on the left arm of the former minor league free agent, as Quintana has shown improvement in each of his three years as a member of the White Sox rotation. His ERA, FIP and xFIP have decreased each year, to go with his strikeout rate increasing each season, coming in at eight strikeouts per nine innings in 2014. Quintana’s FIP of 2.81 was pretty close to the 2.57 mark that his more heralded fellow left handed rotation mate tallied in 2014.
53) Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 26)
Minor’s 2014 season went down the pisser after a late start due to surgery to remove scar tissue around his urethra. He also battled shoulder inflammation in the spring that caused him to a miss a month a half and struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark when he was on the mound, as he did earlier in his career, giving up 21 homers in just 145 1/3 innings.
54) Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 32)
Bundy pitched 41.1 innings in Low-A as he recovered from the Tommy John surgery that he had performed in April 2013 and his stuff hasn’t quite make it back (yet) to pre-surgery levels. If Bundy reaches the majors in 2015 (or maybe even 2016), he may have to take the route that Kevin Gausman took and ply his trade in the Orioles bullpen for a bit until a rotation spot opens up.
55) Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 25)
Bradley suffered a right elbow strain that caused him to miss two months of precious developmental time, and his 2014 results were not pretty, as evidenced by his 4.45 ERA in 83 minor league innings. Bradley appeared to regain his form in the Arizona Fall League and could find his way into a Diamondback rotation spot in 2015, depending on how many more mediocre starting pitchers GM Dave Stewart trades for.
56) Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 53)
Corbin didn’t even make to the regular season before needing Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season, after eclipsing the 200 inning mark for the first time in the pro career in 2013. Corbin pitched great in the first half of 2013 and awful the last two months, so there’s a wide range of outcomes for Corbin in 2015, as he will likely miss the first couple of months as he continues rehabbing.
57) Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 19)
Cain made three trips to the DL in 2014, the last of which ended his season in July after 90 1/3 innings due to bone chips in his right elbow. Cain’s overall effectiveness dipped for the third consecutive season, and he has given up gopher balls at an alarming rate over the last two seasons. A clean bill of health in the spring could go a long way to helping Cain regain his pre-2013 form.
58) Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 105)
Ross was touted on this list last year as a solid sleeper pick and he rewarded owners with an all-star 2014 campaign that included a 2.81 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 195 2/3 innings pitched in his first full season as a starter at the big league level. Ross’ numbers were very similar to those he posted in 16 starts in 2013, so this appears to be who he is going forward, and having teammates that actually might be able to contribute to scoring runs should help his win total in 2015. No word on whether or not Tyson also wakes up to bowls of lobster bisque.
59) Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 11)
Verlander’s workload (eight consecutive years of 200 or more innings) appeared to finally catch up with him in 2014, as he tallied the worst overall year of his career. His fastball declined for the sixth consecutive year, dwindling to a career low average of 93.1 MPH. However, a core muscle injury may have contributed to his poor 2014, and Verlander still posted a respectable 3.74 FIP, so be careful sticking a fork in the former Cy Young Award Winner’s back just yet.
60) Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 62)
After finishing ninth in National League Cy Young balloting in 2013, most owners were still unsure of what to expect with Liriano coming into 2014. His year was a tale of two halves: 4.72 ERA in the first, 2.20 ERA in the second, frustrating owners just as he has for the majority of his career. The final numbers were not that far off from his spectacular 2013 and included a career best 9.7 strikeout per nine inning rate. He wisely re-upped with Ray Searage and the Pirates for three more years in the offseason.
61) Derek Holland, Texas Rangers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 68)
Like most Rangers, Holland’s 2014 season was a lost one, as he only made five September starts after recovering from offseason microfracture surgery on his knee. Holland’s 2013 season was the best of his career and saw him pass the 200-inning threshold for the first time and post a personal best 3.42 ERA. Hopefully the Dutch Oven can manage to walk up and down stairs safely this offseason.
62) Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 33)
These days Weaver is basically a league average, crafty right-hander who pitches on a good team in a good ballpark. His fastball velocity was down to a dangerous 86.8 MPH in 2014, but somehow he got enough outs to win 18 games and post a 3.59 ERA. Weaver has averaged a 3.92 FIP the last three seasons, so it remains to be seen how much longer he can walk the tightrope of effectiveness.
63) Jonathan Gray, Colorado Rockies (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 43)
Gray belongs to the rarest species of the dynasty league universe, a legitimate Rockies pitching prospect. The former third-overall pick in the 2013 draft was challenged by the organization to work on his command and secondary pitches in 24 starts at Double-A Tulsa and that should be noted when looking at his somewhat pedestrian statistical line of a 3.91 ERA and just over eight strikeouts per nine innings.
64) Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 51)
Salazar struggled with his mechanics and command early in 2014 and was demoted from the rotation (and sent to Triple-A) after getting knocked around to the tune of a 5.53 ERA in his first eight starts. When Salazar returned to the rotation in late July, he started twelve more times and compiled a 3.50 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and continued to strike out batters at a 25 percent clip. Salazar’s second-half numbers were very similar to his 2013 season, and if he can earn a rotation spot in a crowded Indians rotation in the spring, he could jump back up the list next offseason.
65) Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 150)
Odorizzi used a new split-change in his first season as a Rays rotation member to strike out more than a batter per inning in 168 frames. He needs to tighten up his fastball command in order to get his ERA under four, but his 3.75 FIP is indicative that he didn’t get much help from the Rays defense in 2014.
66) Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 52)
Martinez was stuck in the Cardinals bullpen for most of 2014, appearing in 57 games, starting seven and tossing 89 1/3 innings of 3.18 FIP ball. Martinez appears to have a rotation spot lined up for 2015, but is going to have to cut his walk rate down from the close to four per nine inning rate that he posted in 2014 to be effective. Martinez has the stuff and talent to take the rotation spot and run with it, but must improve his command or the Cardinals will likely lose patience and turn to one of their other options.
67) Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 63)
The Orioles ace (a dubious distinction) has compiled an average ERA of 3.33 in the last three seasons, a stout number for a pitcher getting his feet wet in the AL East, a number which is almost a full run lower than his FIP of 4.23 over the same period. He could be the new Matt Cain and outperform his peripheral numbers on a regular basis, or he could see some uglier numbers in his future, especially if he continues to lose velocity off of his fastball, as he has each of the last three seasons, losing almost two MPH from his peak velocity of 92.4 in 2012.
68) Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 134)
Hughes certainly enjoyed taking his flyball-heavy act away from Yankee Stadium in 2014, posting career best numbers in virtually every category, including a 11.63:1 strikeout to walk ratio that only finished as the best ratio of all-time, culminating with finishing seventh in American League Cy Young balloting. Hughes’ workload of 209 2/3 innings was also a career high mark and his 2.65 FIP was good for sixth overall among all starters.
69) Ian Kennedy, San Diego Padres (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 78)
Kennedy rebounded nicely in 2014, putting up better peripheral numbers than he did in his 21 win, 2.88 ERA season as a Diamondback in 2011 when he finished fourth in NL Cy Young balloting. Kennedy’s 3.21 FIP was a personal best and 2014 marked the first time that he struck out over a batter per inning in his career. Older prospect-hounds will enjoy seeing Hughes and Kennedy ranked back-to-back again.
70) Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 82)
Kazmir’s career renaissance continued in 2014, as he stayed healthy enough to go to the post for 32 starts and 190 1/3 innings, usually the most important piece of information about his season. Kazmir’s 2.36 BB/9 rate was the best of his career, and his 3.35 FIP also marked a new career watermark.
71) Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 50)
Taillon missed the entire 2014 season as yet another Tommy John patient, just as he was pounding on door to the big leagues. His stuff is upper echelon, but the timeframe has been pushed back due to his continuing rehab.
72) Drew Smyly, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 107)
Smyly joined the Rays as a part of their David Price haul from the Tigers in July and was implored by Rays management to utilize his high fastball more, and the results were encouraging. Smyly pitched to a 3.93 ERA and 4.08 FIP as a Tiger in 18 starts and a 1.70 ERA and 3.07 FIP in seven starts as a Ray, looking like a solid middle of the rotation option.
73) Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 104)
Porcello joined the Red Sox in the winter as the sole return for Yoenis Cespedes and may be on the move again after the year, as he is in the last year of his contract. Porcello posted career bests in ERA with a 3.43 mark, wins with 15, and innings pitched, surpassing the 200 mark for the first time in 2014, just don’t expect strikeouts – he whiffed just 129 in 204 1/3 innings pitched.
74) James Paxton, Seattle Mariners (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 97)
Paxton missed over half the season in 2014 with a strained lat muscle in his shoulder, limiting him to 74 innings with the big league club. He looked dominant at times in his 13 starts, especially at home where he had a 2.12 ERA.
75) Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 144)
Bauer got his first extended look in a major league rotation in 2014 and the results were mixed. His command showed improvement from previous big league looks, and he struck out nearly a batter an inning in 153 1/3 innings at the big league level. His ERA and FIP were both over four, so Bauer has a ways to go, but there were signs of encouragement, which is more than you could say last winter.
Commentary by JJ Jansons
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