The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty Starting Pitchers, Nos. 121-140
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.
Our last grouping of starters was led off by a current Braves starter, and our next group is started by a pitcher who hopes to join him in Atlanta by the time they actually might be competitive:
121) Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 198)
Saying that Toussaint has command issues is like saying that Kanye West has ego issues. In 2015, after he was sold traded to Atlanta, he walked a remarkable 6.1 batters per nine innings as a 19-year-old in A-ball. The raw stuff is there to develop into a top of the rotation starter, but the command is going to be what ultimately decides his fate.
122) Reynaldo Lopez, Washington Nationals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 187)
Lopez is expected to take his talents to the Double-A level in 2016, where we could see him launch up prospect lists if he continues to harness his stuff. Led by a top-of-the-scale fastball that hovers around 98 MPH and occasionally touches 100 MPH, he will continue to start until it’s clear he’s destined for the bullpen. Even then, he should stay on your radar as he could be absolutely lights-out in the late innings.
123) Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 41)
What a difference a year makes, huh? Wood’s stuff took a sizeable step back and his strikeout rate plummeted. He’s still a groundball machine with some upside, but he’s in a tough spot. The Dodgers have so much depth that Wood will be pitching for his rotation life while Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu rehab. He could end up in the Dodger bullpen–or even worse–could be dispatched to Triple-A Oklahoma City, as he does have options remaining.
124) Yovani Gallardo, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 85)
The good: Gallardo posted a 3.42 ERA, 13 wins and a 49.3 percent groundball rate in 2015. The bad: literally everything else. He averaged less than six innings per start, and lost another tick off the fastball. He’ll turn 30-years-old by opening day and no longer has the ability to miss bats. If you are in the market for 180 unwatchable innings, Gallardo has you covered.
125) Brady Aiken, Cleveland Indians (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
High school pitchers do not get drafted number one overall without being burdened with extraordinary talent. There is risk with Aiken, extreme risk, but the payoff could be powerball-esque. The scouting reports tend to say the same thing; huge fastball, plus change-up, plus curveball and possibly plus command. That is the formula for a number-one starter. This ranking could look silly next year.
126) Rubby De La Rosa, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 159)
De La Rosa has been on the radar of dynasty league owners for a long time. His stuff can be electric, but he struggles with command. If he can win a rotation spot this spring, there is a chance he can breakout in 2016, as he posted above average swinging-strike and contact rates last season. If he can’t solve left-handed batters, I fear we will see him permanently banned to the bullpen in favor of a more well-rounded rotation option.
127) Jason Hammel, Chicago Cubs (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 120)
ESPN’s player rater graded Hammel as a top-40 starting pitcher in 2015, as he induced whiffs at a career-high rate. If he can stay healthy, he’s a safe bet for 170 to 180 SP3-quality innings for a couple of years. If he can’t, he opens the door for Kyle Hendricks or Adam Warren to move in and squat on his rotation spot.
128) Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 118)
After 136 innings of excellent work in the rotation in 2014, expectations were that Shoemaker would solidify himself as a top-40 type starting pitcher last season. Instead, his stuff and command seemed to take a small step in the wrong direction and he allowed far too many home runs. There is still a quality starting pitcher in there, but with no guarantee of a rotation spot, the window for him to provide value may be closing.
129) Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
After being drafted in the 12th round in 2010, Ray struck out a batter per inning and battled command issues in the minor leagues. Ray exceeded most expectations during his first extended major league rotation trial in 2015, as his 21.8 percent strikeout percentage ranked 39th among starters (min. 120 IP), sandwiched between Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. If his command takes a step forward, Ray will be one of the more valuable pitchers ranked on the back half of this list.
130) Jonathan Gray, Colorado Rockies (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 63)
Gray has struggled to live up to the hype and expectations that come with being selected with the third overall pick out of college. His nine start rotation debut in 2015 looks pretty bad on the surface, but there are a few positives to take away from it. His fastball still registered on the high-end of the scale and he didn’t walk batters at a higher clip than he did in the minors. The stuff is still there to develop into a legitimate number two starter, but he’ll be attempting to do it in Colorado.
131) Jon Niese, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 109)
Niese is the definition of an average starting pitcher, but there are reasons to believe he could be a solid, if not above-average option moving forward. The trade to Pittsburgh will allow him plenty of one-on-one time with the witch doctor that is Ray Searage, and his ground ball rate climbed to a career-high level in 2015. The cost of acquiring Niese in your league is going to be very reasonable and it could turn out to be one of the bargains of 2016.
132) Mat Latos, Chicago White Sox (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 26)
Latos wasn’t that bad in 2015, and the talent that landed him at No. 20 on this list prior to 2014 hasn’t just disappeared. Chicago may be his last–and could be his best–opportunity to revive his major league career. It’s a bit of a mystery how Chicago manages to keep everyone healthy every year and that could be what makes this buy-low candidate a safe bet to produce some value in 2016. There is no way to know what is in store for 2017 and beyond, but the price to find out is likely lower now than it will be a year from now.
133) Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 97)
The 33-year-old’s move back to the American League went exactly as expected. He’ll be a solid back-end rotation option for a few more years and there is value in that, particularly in deeper leagues.
134) Jesse Hahn, Oakland Athletics (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 126)
After a fantastic debut in 2014, Hahn appeared primed for a breakout last season. His 52.6 percent groundball rate in 2015 ranked in the top-20 among pitchers (min. 90 IP). An elbow injury derailed a promising start to the season, but it’s being reported that he’s fully healthy this spring. There is a lot to like about Hahn moving forward.
135) Jake Peavy, San Francisco Giants (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 176)
The 2016 season could be Peavy’s swan song, and if he can manage to stay healthy, it could be a productive one. He’s transformed himself into a contact oriented pitcher and he pitches in the perfect atmosphere for it.
136) Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 45)
Two consecutive injury-ravaged seasons have derailed the SP3 train that was Homer Bailey. If his stuff returns with him after Tommy John surgery, he can be a productive fantasy starter into his mid-thirties. I’d recommend buying early before he’s pitching well.
137) A.J. Cole, Washington Nationals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 134)
Cole combines above-average command with three average offerings, but everything appeared to regress last year. His plus fastball hovered around Yovani Gallardo territory in his nine inning cameo at the major league level. If he can find a few ticks on the fastball moving forward, there is an average big league pitcher there.
138) CC Sabathia, New York Yankees (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 133)
Your guess is probably better than mine. I just hope the big fella’ is making strides off the field. He’s a risk worth taking if he’s almost free.
139) Braden Shipley, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 95)
Shipley is somewhere wearing the “I survived the 2016 Arizona Offseason” t-shirt and that’s likely not a good thing for him or his fantasy value. The three above average pitches at his disposal provide him with enough to eventually turn into the 2015 version of Julio Teheran, but he will likely ply his trade in the Pacific Coast League for most–if not the entirety–of the 2016 season.
140) Charlie Morton, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 170)
Morton is a groundball machine. He’s also moving to a terrible home ballpark to pitch in, and pitching for a team that isn’t sweating the small stuff–like winning. He’s guaranteed a rotation spot and there are leagues out there where that is enough to roster him.
Commentary by Frank Sides