The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Nos. 101-120
It’s been over two months since the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, ending the 2016 baseball season. But if you’re like most fantasy baseball owners, those two months probably feel like two years. Considering it’s still another month until Spring Training even starts, late January has to be the worst time to be a baseball fan. It’s too late to reflect on last year, but next season is too far ahead to look forward to. Luckily, with a little help from The Dynasty Guru, the next month is survivable, as we’ll be ranking and commenting on a whole lot of players over the next six weeks.
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You can view our rankings for previous positions, and the dates future rankings will come out, by clicking the link to TDG’s 2017 Consensus Dynasty Baseball Rankings splash page. With that, let’s continue our starting pitcher rankings, beginning with a player involved in one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory.
101) Shelby Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 37)
Miller’s first season as the future of the franchise was pretty forgettable, as evidenced by his massive tumble down this list. In trying to deconstruct his trainwreck of a season, two factors jump out. His BABIP was a massively inflated .340, which can probably be counted on to go down in 2017. The more troubling number is his 11.8% HR/FB rate, 1.5% higher than his previous career high. There is no guarantee that he will improve that, and if not, he could have a bad case of deja vu this summer.
102) Zach Davies, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 24 Previous Rank: NR)
Davies will slot into a pretty mediocre rotation to begin the season. But for his part, he offers some fantasy upside. His 3.97 ERA in 2016 was in line with his FIP and xFIP numbers and while a touch high, that ERA could potentially come down if his .302 babip regresses back to the mean. His 3.55 K/BB put him squarely in the top-25 among starters. If he continues keep his walks down, he should be a solid 3rd or 4th starter with average to good ratios and around 150 K’s thrown in.
103) Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 35)
With the addition of Taijuan Walker this offseason, it is looking more and more like Corbin will start 2017 where he finished in 2016 – the Dbacks bullpen. The good news is that through 23.1 relief innings last season, he put up a very good 2.97 ERA and 1.03 WHIP while striking out 26 and holding opposing hitters to just a .186 batting average and .544 OPS. Those numbers would slot in near the top of an uninspiring stable of arms so the opportunity is there for him to transition into a very valuable reliever. Of course, the rest of Arizona’s starters haven’t exactly been models of consistency either, and there’s a pretty good chance he ends up starting some as well.
104) Francisco Liriano, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 28)
Interested in an aging pitcher who just had a massive spike in his HR/FB rate, that is now pitching his home games in one of the more hitter-friendly environments, in a division with three other parks in the top half of the league in park factors? It sounds worse than it really is, believe it or not, as Liriano can still be a quality fantasy contributor. He is striking out over a batter per inning and has been pretty healthy, topping 150 innings pitched for five straight seasons. The increased walk rate and his recent reliance on his below-average fastball over his historically much more effective slider is worrisome, but the talent is still enough to make him an interesting buy-low pick.
105) Cody Reed, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 116)
Following the news that Homer Bailey will be undergoing his 1,946th elbow surgery and will start the year on the DL, Reed’s prospects of beginning the season in the Red’s opening day rotation look pretty good. His showing over 10 MLB starts last season was less good, as opponents knocked him around at .324 clip (some of that due to a .362 BABIP) and took him yard 2.27 times per nine innings. That said, he is young and has the potential to put up some good strikeout numbers down the road, but he needs to stop leaving his fastball in the middle of the strike zone.
106) Zack Wheeler, New York Mets (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 48)
Wheeler enters spring training fighting for the 5th spot in an excellent Mets rotation having only pitched one inning in the past two years. The last time we saw him, he was putting together a great second season in which he started 32 games and struck out over a batter per inning. It’s impossible to say how much of that version of him is left or when he will get a chance to prove it. But the soon to be 27-year-old former top prospect is definitely one to keep on eye on this spring.
107) Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox (Age: 32 Previous Rank: NR)
Wright was one of the biggest surprises in 2016. The 31-year-old started 24 games and went 13-6 while putting up a very solid 3.33 ERA and striking out 19.4% of hitters. According to his xFIP, that ERA may be due to come up a bit this season and you can probably expect a few less K’s. But he has an excellent Red Sox defense behind him, so if he can stay healthy he should be a solid 4th or 5th starter again. Just remember that he’s a knuckleballer, so who the hell knows what will really happen.
108) Brandon Finnegan, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 182)
Finnegan will enter his second season as a full time starter for the Reds in 2017, but he will have to make some big adjustments to remain there long term. His walk rate was a ghastly 4.40 per nine innings, allowing batters to reach base at a .326 clip against him. The other main concern is his 39.1% fly ball rate, a jump of over 10 points from his previous season. A continuation of that trend, along with his small stature and pitching environment do not bode well for his continued success long term, though the raw stuff suggests he can overcome some other deficiencies.
109) Sean Reid-Foley, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 21 Previous Rank: NR)
Reid-Foley turned a great season last year by any measure. Over 115 innings across two levels, he posted a 2.81 ERA while striking out 10.1 per nine innings and giving up just 4 long balls. His ultimate upside will never be that of a top of the rotation starter, but he showed some good developmental progress last season as he cut his walk rate in half from 2015. Reid-Foley will likely start the year in Double A and if he continues to have success and show that he can make adjustments, there is an outside shot that he could see some starts in Toronto towards the end of the season.
110) Joe Musgrove, Houston Astros (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
With the Astros’ addition of Charlie Morton this offseason, Musgrove could find himself on the outside looking in on Opening Day rotation. Following his debut on August 2nd, he put up a solid, if unspectacular, 4.06 ERA with nearly 8 strikeouts per nine innings over 10 starts (11 appearances). If he does not win a rotation spot out of spring training, there is a possibility he could start the year at Triple A, though he should receive another shot at starting in the MLB once the inevitable injury bug hits.
111) Tyson Ross, Texas Rangers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 30)
Ross tumbles 81 spots from last year entirely due to the real possibility he may not pitch again. After making just one start last season, Ross went out with shoulder inflammation, eventually requiring Thoracic Outlet Surgery. Since this type of operation is relatively rare, there is not a lot of data on how long (if ever) it takes for a player to make a full recovery. Ross will begin the year on disabled list and there is still no concrete timetable for his return. But if you’ve got room to stash him for a while, you may not find a cheaper price for a pitcher of his caliber.
112) Mike Leake, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 79)
With the exception of that 4.69 ERA, Mike Leake was very Mike Leake-y in 2016. Maybe even more so. He actually dropped his walk rate a couple points and struck out about a batter more per nine innings. And actually, that ERA looks a bit inflated by an out of character .318 BABIP. At 29 years old, Leake is one of the most bankably boring starting pitchers in fantasy.
113) Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 95)
Once (if?) Bradley finally figures out how to realize his potential, every one of us who’ve held onto him throughout his roller coaster of a development process should get a gold star and a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. The good news is that he inched ever closer last year, making 26 starts at the MLB level and posting a 9.08 K/9 while walking 4.26 per nine. As unappealing as that walk rate looks, it’s a marked improvement over his 2015 rate. Long time Bradley owners need to cherish every morsel of possible vindication.
114) Adam Conley, Miami Marlins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Conley should be given every chance to improve on his solid 2016 campaign as he will start the year slotting into the middle of the Marlin’s rotation. However, he will need to bring down that 10.6% walk rate, as letting opponents reach base at .344 clip is usually not conducive to success long term.
115) Jeremy Hellickson, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 150)
The move to the Phillies was just what the doctor ordered, said no one ever… except for Jeremy Hellickson, evidently. He started a career high 32 games and matched a career high with 189 innings pitched. Hellickson’s 2.14 BB/9 was his lowest since his rookie year, and his 3.71 ERA was his best mark since 2012. He should continue to be an unspectacular, but valuable, fantasy contributor.
116) Mike Montgomery, Chicago Cubs (Age: 28, Previous Ranks: NR)
According to the Cubs’ official depth chart, Montgomery is currently slated to occupy the 5th rotation spot. However, he may be better suited as a multi-inning reliever, a role he was used in towards the end of last season. The first time facing Montgomery in games last year, opponents slugged just .283 and he held them to a .201 batting average and .566 OPS. However, they did much better against him the 2nd and 3rd times around hitting a combined .247 with a .510 SLG and an .840 OPS. If that switch to the bullpen happens again, Montgomery could be a sneaky valuable pick up, providing strong ratios and solid strikeout numbers multiple times per week.
117) Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 86)
The third installment of the “Solid but Boring” pitching trilogy, Ian Kennedy may be the best one yet. 2017 marked the 7th straight season in which he has made 30+ starts. That gives us a large enough sample size to safely predict that, barring injury, he is a strong bet to take the ball every 5th day and should be good for about 170-190 strikeouts with an ERA in the high 3’s or low 4’s. That may not be the most exciting profile, but that kind of steady production from a 32-year-old is generally undervalued in dynasty leagues.
118) Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 156)
The 25-year-old Skaggs will be given the opportunity to begin the season in the Angels 2017 rotation after starting 10 games in the second half last year following his recovery from 2014 Tommy John Surgery. His strikeout numbers returned, and even improved, but his control took a hit as he increased his walk rate by 4%. Another concern for Skaggs is obviously his long-term arm health (he left his final start last season after just one inning with forearm soreness), so his workload will be closely watched this year. But if he can remain healthy and rediscover his old control, the former top prospect still has the same mid-rotation upside from three years ago.
119) Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 51)
Kazmir feels like he should be much older than he is. The kids born the year he debuted for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays can finally get into a PG-13 movie without a parent. He experienced a renaissance after returning to the majors four seasons ago, starting at least 26 games in each season while posting a 3.75 ERA and averaging 154 strikeouts per season. However, Kazmir showed some signs of decline last year, notably a spike in both his walk rate and HR/FB rate, leading to a 4.56 ERA. With the Dodgers’ addition of Rich Hill, he finds himself fighting for the 5th spot in their rotation. But Kazmir should find his way to a starting role this year even if he does not win a spot out of spring training.
120) Riley Pint, Colorado Rockies (Age: 19 Previous Rank: NR)
Hey look, some upside! Pint was drafted with the fourth pick in last year’s Rule-4 draft by the Colorado Rockies. He ranks 4th in their system according to Baseball Prospectus and placed 46th in BP’s Top 101. The 6’4” righty features a plus-plus fastball that can reach triple digits with a projectable above-average breaking ball. This package does comes with some control issues (he walked 23 hitters in just 37 minor league innings), though, stemming from an inconsistent delivery. But the bigger concern is, as with every pitcher lucky enough to get drafted by the Rox, how he will handle Coors Field. A high 90’s fastball can travel a long way when squared up, so he will have to learn to command his arsenal to really thrive there. At just 19 years old, there is plenty of time and development ahead before those questions must be answered.