The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty Starting Pitchers, Nos. 101-120
It’s the time of the year where we offer congratulations to those of you brave dynasty league owners that survived the offseason. The greatness that 2016 will surely offer is upon us and that means we’ll be spending the next six weeks moving our way through the positional landscape, offering thoughts on the respective values of roughly 700 players throughout the process.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy the countless hours of hard work that went into these rankings and continue to support The Dynasty Guru by showing your appreciation through this link or via the splendid ‘donate’ button located on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
Players are ranked where they played 20 or more games at during the 2015 season at their highest position on the defensive spectrum, e.g. Chris Davis played 30 games in the outfield, meaning he’s an outfielder for our purposes. We can’t assume that a player will have eligibility at a position in the future (so no Hanley Ramirez at 1b for these rankings) or that a player will lose eligibility at a position in the future. This should clear things up for all non-Javier Baez/Jurickson Profar players, and we’ll do our best to explain where those players are ranked when the time comes. All DH types, such as Evan Gattis and David Ortiz, appear on the 1B rankings, as we will not be doing a UTIL rankings list.
The next grouping of starters begins with a 23-year-old that was thrown into the fire that is a major league rotation of a horrible team and survived, albeit with mixed results:
101) Matt Wisler, Atlanta Braves (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 105)
Wisler saw a strange and drastic shift in value in 2015. He was a top-50 prospect going into the year and was seen as a solid dynasty asset, but his stock plummeted after graduating to the major leagues last year. He struggled to the tune of a 4.71 ERA in 19 starts, which probably shouldn’t have been a shock as Wisler may not have been ready for the majors. Interesting, Wisler’s now gone from being valued as a top-50 prospect to a fifth starter by most. It’s best to split the difference here, as a boring but decently valuable starter in the majors–like Mike Leake.
102) Jeff Hoffman, Colorado Rockies (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 119)
Hoffman had a very exciting comeback from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and flashed the stuff that could have made him the top pick in the 2014 draft before falling to a torn UCL. Then, a dynasty leaguer’s worst nightmare occurred: waking up to find that he had been traded to the moon, er, the Colorado Rockies. Hoffman has electric stuff and could be able to overcome Coors, but there’s plenty of risk due to his lack of strikeouts in the minors and home park. Hoffman does have a lot of upside, though, and could be a good SP2 when on the road. At home, he may be more of a SP4.
103) Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 57)
Cain was a top shelf pitcher for years with the Giants before a disappointing 2013 campaign. Metrics indicated a likely bounceback, but an injury plagued 2014 and 2015 have left Cain’s career in serious peril. He’s not without hope, but a 5.79 ERA in 60.2 innings in 2015 doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence. Cain had his elbow cleaned up a bit late last year, and there’s a chance that he can at least provide some value in 2016. After all, Cain is still just 31 and was a top of the rotation arm for several years.
104) Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 101)
The 2015 season wasn’t a banner year for Harvey, starting the year with a fractured fibula and then experiencing elbow pain while rehabbing from the leg injury. A strained flexor mass put an end to his season before he threw a pitch, and more elbow pain cut instructs short for Harvey. Luckily, Harvey avoided Tommy John surgery and is reportedly doing well now. He has serious upside, and if injuries haven’t diminished his pitches too much, Harvey could be a SP2. That said, it’s hard to know if the stuff comes back, and Harvey is in an organization that isn’t exactly known for developing pitching prospects. He’s a classic high risk/high reward pitching prospect.
105) Luis Ortiz, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Ortiz broke out in a big way last season, with a 1.80 ERA and 8.29 K/9 over 13 A-Ball starts. He has been excellent in his short time in the minors since being drafted with the 30th overall pick in 2014, and has lots of upside. Ortiz does have his concerns, namely in terms of durability, but he’s a very good pitching prospect who may be undervalued by many. Possessing SP2 upside, Ortiz could become a top pitching prospect with a healthy 2016.
106) Grant Holmes, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 162)
The 22nd overall pick in the 2014 draft impressed in his first full-season, racking up strikeouts (10.19 K/9), while also keeping runs off the board (3.14 ERA). As excellent as those numbers were, Holmes did take a bit of a step back in control, as is reflected in his 4.70 BB/9. Still, Holmes is a very solid pitcher. He doesn’t have as much upside as the two prospects in front of him on this list, but he’s likely a mid-rotation starter with a chance for more if his command improves.
107) Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 77)
After a big second-half with the Yankees in 2014, many hoped McCarthy could carry his momentum over to the Dodgers last season. Things got off to a very strange start, though, as McCarthy was striking out batters at an elite rate (11.35 K/9) but also giving up a bevy of home runs. These two opposites combined into a 5.87 ERA, 6.22 FIP, and 2.67 xFIP in four starts. Are you confused yet? Well, things got more cloudy when McCarthy tore his UCL and required Tommy John surgery. Now he’s set to return around the All-Star break, and it’s anyone’s guess of what to expect. McCarthy has upside, but he lacks durability and much of a track record of late.
108) Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 192)
Despite going 72nd overall in the 2014 draft, Honeywell has quickly ascended the prospect ranks. Armed with a nasty attitude, Honeywell breezed through batters in A-Ball last season. You’ve probably heard about his splitter and screwball, but the key to Honeywell’s success has been his feel for pitching and top-shelf command. Honeywell doesn’t have the elite offering that you’ll look for in an ace, but he’s not a terribly risky investment and has a decent shot at reaching a SP3 value.
109) Kyle Zimmer, Kansas City Royals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 110)
Speaking of risk, I present to you: Kyle Zimmer. On paper, Zimmer looks like an ace. His pitches are excellent and the overall package is enough to get fantasy owners giddy about his upside. Unfortunately, in real life things are different. Zimmer’s shown a complete inability to stay healthy, and made just seven starts last year (along with some bullpen appearances). There are questions over whether Zimmer can stay in the rotation, though he could be a dominant reliever. Zimmer’s floor is incredibly low, but his upside makes him worth hanging onto.
110) Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Maeda is the latest starting pitcher to come stateside from Japan, following the footsteps of Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish. Although Maeda doesn’t come close to possessing the upside of those two, he’s still an intriguing fantasy value. Maeda looks very likely to settle in between the third and fifth spot in the rotation, and overall looks like a SP4. There is wiggle room in that projection on both sides, though. Take that as you will, but Maeda’s not a bad pitcher and his high floor makes him a worthy target in dynasty rookie drafts this offseason.
111) Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 129)
Nelson’s fantasy value peaked in 2014–before he even reached the big league–thanks to a 1.46 ERA in 16 starts in Triple-A. Fantasy owners that were scouting stats got quite excited for his debut, but the 4.93 ERA Nelson posted in the majors lowered expectations. Nelson did bounce back a bit in 2015 with a 4.11 ERA. Although he’s never going to live up to that first-half of 2014, Nelson’s a solid SP5 with a chance for improvement.
112) Edinson Volquez, Kansas City Royals (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 160)
The right-handed Dominican returned to the American League for the first time since 2007, and actually had a very productive season for the Royals. Eclipsing 200 innings for the first time in his career, Volquez provided a 3.55 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, striking out 155 batters along the way. There’s virtually no room for upside, with him approaching his mid-30’s, but the stout Kansas City defense should help him produce solid ratios for the near future.
113) Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 67)
Tillman seemed primed for a potential breakout, cracking the top-75 in our SP rankings last year. His WHIP shot up to 1.39 due to an increase in walks and overall decline in peripherals. We decided not to make the same mistake again, but then again, the chance that Tillman is simply trying to make life difficult for TDG has not yet been ruled out.
114) Michael Fiers, Houston Astros (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 139)
An afterthought in the deal which brought Carlos Gomez to Houston, Fiers pitched extremely well for the Astros down the stretch. He can be erratic at times, but he’s maintained a very good strikeout rate (9.1 K/9 career), and figures to make plenty of starts this year, given the uncertainty of many of the rotation options currently ahead of him on the Astros’ depth chart.
115) Vincent Velasquez, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 175)
Acquired by the Phillies in the haul that sent Ken Giles to Houston, Velasquez profiles like a younger Mike Fiers. The strikeouts will be there, but his control requires improvement in order for him to break the top-100. He figures to battle for the last spot in Philadelphia’s rotation, but there’s a chance he could be relegated to the bullpen, a role which he might be better suited for in the long-term, where he could be a shutdown closer.
116) Cody Reed, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
One of the three lefties sent from the Royals to the Reds in exchange for Johnny Cueto, Reed made major strides in his new organization. We’re dealing with small sample sizes here, but Reed’s strikeout rate nearly doubled after the trade, and he has a decent shot of breaking camp with the big league club and is a strong candidate to move up the list in next year’s edition.
117) Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 68)
Coming off a career season, Hughes — or as Donald Trump would say, “Phil Yous” — disappointed in every aspect last year. His strikeouts dropped precipitously, and he failed to stay healthy for the entire season. His walk rate is historically good, but his stuff is about as hittable as any. Going into his 30’s, Hughes’s best years are likely behind him.
118) C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 150)
It was encouraging to see the veteran lefty improve virtually across the board in 2015, but his season was cut short by bone spurs in his elbow. He’s expected to be ready for Opening Day, but if not, dynasty owners can find comfort in this sultry YouTube video dedicated to the @str8edgeracer.
119) Francis Martes, Houston Astros (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
When an organization promotes a 19 year old to Double-A, dynasty owners should take notice. The right-handed Martes dominated hitters in his first taste of A-ball, resulting in a promotion to the dreaded California League. Martes was not only unfazed by the hitter’s league, he actually thrived– striking out 37 in 35 innings–while giving up just one home run, resulting in a second promotion. Given how aggressive Houston has been with Martes, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see him in the majors at some point this season.
120) Kris Medlen, Kansas City Royals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 144)
Currently listed as Kansas City’s fourth starter, Medlen could prove rather valuable pitching in front of one of the best defenses in baseball. Having already required two Tommy John surgeries, Medlen is running out of ulnar collateral ligaments. The odds that Medlen will throw even 150 innings in 2016 are pretty slim as the former-Brave enters his 30’s.
Commentary by Ben Diamond and Matt Pullman