The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Starting Pitchers, #161-200
It’s been a slow off-season. Like, a really slow off-season. With the hot stove frigid, fantasy baseball players haven’t had many ways to quench their thirst, unless they’ve thrown themselves head-first into football, basketball, or hockey. January and February can be some of the darkest months of the year (figuratively and literally), but fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.
While you were celebrating the holidays and ushering in the New Year, our brave group of writers has been ranking, debating, re-ranking, re-debating, and re-re-ranking over 600 players for dynasty leagues. The fruits of our efforts will be filling January, February, and even some of March with the deepest, most thoroughly and painstakingly selected dynasty baseball rankings on the internet. We have top-50s, top-125s, top-200s, top-500s (of course!), and even ultra-deep prospect rankings.
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2018 consensus rankings by continuing to look at the league’s top starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, kicking it off with Ray Searage’s newest patient.
You wake up to the sound of steam hissing and the smell of hot metal. You try to sit up. Your back screams with disapproval after hours slouched on a wooden bench seat. After some effort and much wincing, you manage to rise from your seat, still hunched over in pain. You grab your coat and shuffle gingerly towards the front of the train.
You step off the train and onto the platform. You straighten up, prompting every single joint in your body to crack. It’s painful, but somewhat of a relief too. A grizzled old man in his mid-30s approaches you.
“Welp, here we are. End of the line. Oh? You still need another starting pitcher? Well, them’s slim pickins ‘round these parts. Only two kinds of pitcher come outta this God-forsaken place: Fifth Starters, and Guys Who Have Dr. James Andrews on Speed Dial.”
He chuckles at his own joke.
“You want a prospect? Well then you best start walkin’ now, because they’re a long ways away and no one’s quite sure where they’ll end up”
He turns and walks away, explaining his joke to himself with a gleeful satisfaction “They’re both injured all the time AND so old that they still use ‘speed dial’! HAH!”
161) Steven Brault, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Brault is one of the many starters that Pittsburgh can throw out there in 2018. He’s just not likely one of their first choices. While he is a solid option, he lacks the upside of other prospective rotation candidates like Mitch Keller and Tyler Glasnow. Best case scenario here is a fourth starter profile with decent strikeout potential. Not bad at all. (Jake Devereaux)
162) Tyler Anderson, Colorado Rockies (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 133)
Oh! A decent starter in his prime with solid strikeout numbers? Oh, and he limits walks too? But, he plays in Coors. Did I take the wind out of your sail? He does his best to keep the ball on the ground and from not going over the fence. Is it good enough? Probably not. (Jake Devereaux)
163) Stephen Gonsalves, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 157)
Gonsalves has a very intriguing fastball/change-up combo that he uses to great effectiveness most of the time. One thing he hasn’t shown an ability to do is keep the ball in the yard at the Triple-A level. To become an effective pitcher and a true rotation option for the Twins, Gonsalves must add an effective third pitch to his repertoire. The slider has been just ok so far. (Jake Devereaux)
164) Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 181)
What do we have here? 96 MPH heat? Check! 70 grade curveball? Check! Sure, Toussaint might not always know where it’s going, but damn it looks pretty when it’s on its way. If you want to take a gamble on a live arm with an elite starter’s tool kit, Toussaint is your guy. (Jake Devereaux)
165) Dan Straily, Miami Marlins (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 147)
I’m not sure if you heard, but Straily is glad that Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich left the Marlins. If I am a fantasy owner of Straily, I would not share his excitement. He is the fantasy equivalent to saltines, perfectly fine in a pinch, but not the food you ask for. Plan accordingly. (Jake Devereaux)
166) Erick Fedde, Washington Nationals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 158)
I just don’t really see it with Erick Fedde. It seems like his prospect hype has always slightly outshined his real world fantasy value. The profile isn’t exciting. His trademarks include: middling strikeout potential, a good groundball rate, and a tendency to give up hard contact too often. Could he be a solid 4th or 5th starter? Sure, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it. Expect to see the unexciting Fedde up with the big league club should someone get hurt. (Jake Devereaux)
167) Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Oakland is a pretty good place to pitch. Lefties with three solid pitches who show good command at 19-years-old are also pretty good. This combo works for me. If it all breaks right we could have a number three starter here. Not bad. (Jake Devereaux)
168) Joey Wentz, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
There is just so much to like here. Wentz is a 6’5” lefty with a nice fastball/curveball combo, and at 20 he is already building up his innings. Last season he threw 131.2 innings pitched at Low-A Rome while striking out over a batter per inning. The command needs some work, but the stuff is there to be a top of the rotation guy. (Jake Devereaux)
169) Adalberto Mejia, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
One of the reasons why the Twins are shopping so hard for starting pitching is uninspiring options like Mejia. If that sounds harsh, ask yourself what he does well. I asked myself that, and I answered with “not too much.” I do not see much upside other than opportunity: if the Twins don’t sign a few more arms he will likely start for a period of time. (Jake Devereaux)
170) Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 69)
The old So-Cal cobbler: maker of shoes and four decent pitches. Shoemaker is one of the few big leaguers who regularly throws a split-fingered fastball, I love that pitch, and it’s effective and pretty. Last year he was injured, but this year he should be back to full health and in the rotation. With the Angels expected to be excellent defensively and competent offensively he is a great sleeper. (Jake Devereaux)
171) Matt Moore, San Francisco Giants (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 72)
He’s just never figured it out. Moore will try to yet again this year as the number-two starter in Texas. Moore was the first can’t-miss pitching prospect by whom I was burned, and you never forget your first. While he still has upside in spades, his old home run issues continue to persist. (Jake Devereaux)
172) Luis Perdomo, San Diego Padres (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Perdomo is not exciting, but he does keep the ball on the ground. Since the Padres are still very much in their rebuild, he should log innings as a starter next year and provide decent ratios. Excitement level: When your leftovers finish being reheated in the microwave. (Jake Devereaux)
173) Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 95)
De Leon’s fantasy value has almost exactly mirrored the success of the Tampa Bay Rays and the promise of their future. Once it looked bright, now it looks like a disaster. But good news De Leon owners: there’s still time for the 25-year-old to figure it out. Don’t forget, this guy was once a can’t-miss pitcher of the future and dominated in the minor leagues back in 2016. (Jake Devereaux)
174) Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 148)
In the second half last season Gibson pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 70 strikeouts over 76.2 IP. This was in large contrast to his first half of 6.31 ERA with just 51 strikeouts over 81.1 IP. Gibson began throwing a four-seam fastball and a curveball more often to very good results. We will see how this continues to shake out. (Jake Devereaux)
175) Adonis Medina, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
In one year Medina went from striking out nobody to striking out everybody. Pretty cool right? I agree. He did so with a new and improved slider that now makes him relevant for us in fantasy leagues. If striking guys out is cool then consider Medina Miles Davis. (Jake Devereaux)
176) Dane Dunning, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Somewhat lost in the stockpile of talent the White Sox have built is Dunning, a former first round pick in 2016. While Dunning isn’t the most exciting of these prospects, his plus control and three solid offerings make him worth owning in most fantasy leagues. (Jake Devereaux)
177) Beau Burrows, Detroit Tigers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Burrows is just 21 years old and pitched last year in Double-A for 76.1 innings. He held his own and didn’t blow anyone away, but man: 21 is really young for that level. Burrows has already made it up the ranks faster than the guy ahead of him on this list and he is two-years his junior. (Jake Devereaux)
178) Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Having success at every level means something, and Alzolay has done just that. While he doesn’t profile as a front-line starter, Alzolay is looking more likely by the day to figure into the back end of that Cubs rotation at some point. Depth is valuable, especially in leagues that roster over 30 guys. (Jake Devereaux)
179) Luis Ortiz, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 129)
Bad body, good pitcher. How many times have you heard that about Ortiz? If you haven’t already, let me reinforce the narrative. Ortiz has fantastic stuff and could very well end up a solid number three starter. If he looked more like other pitchers he would be higher on this list. (Jake Devereaux)
180) Mike Matuella, Texas Rangers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Four pitches, and all of them solid for the 6’6 right hander out of Duke University. Injury issues are the only reason he is so far down this list. If you want a high impact lotto ticket then look no further. I am buying up all the Matuella stock I can. (Jake Devereaux)
181) Clayton Richard, San Diego Padres (Age: 34, Previous Rank: NR)
Much to everyone’s surprise, the other Clayton made 32 starts in 2017- more than the previous four years combined (23). I thought this guy had a “Good when healthy” rep, but his best ERA as a starter was 3.75 waaaay back in 2010. He does possess on elite skill – inducing ground balls, with a near 60% groundball rate in 2017. That rate should result in a better BABIP than his .351 mark last year. Expect an ERA just north of 4, and don’t expect much in the way of strikeouts or wins. (Jeff Good)
182) Collin McHugh, Houston Astros (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 75)
Hey, what are you doing down here pal? Don’t you belong up with the Good pitchers? Oh, you only made 12 starts last year due to a posterior impingement in your right elbow. Well, that sounds bad, but you pitched fairly well when you came back, so what’s the deal? Ah, I see, there’s rumors you might move to the bullpen. Yeah, that’d be a problem. Latest news has you stretching out as a starter though! With workloads down across the league, if you start even 25 games and provide your normal mid-to-high 3s ERA and an 8+ strikeout-per-nine, I’d be pretty happy given your draft price. (Jeff Good)
183) Martin Perez, Texas Rangers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 184)
I could probably just copy/paste Perez’s 2017 write up here and get away with it. Once you adjust for league-wide changes, Perez put up pretty much the same season as he did in 2016. So if Clayton Richard just has too many punchouts for you, then Martin Perez is your dude. (Jeff Good)
184) Ricky Nolasco, FA (Age: 35, Previous Rank: NR)
Really? A 35-year-old without a team who had a FIP over 5 last year? And that got him moved ON to this list after missing last year? What do you want me to say? Nolasco used to be that frustrating-to-own pitcher who would turn in good and bad starts completely at random, regardless of who he was playing against. The match up nightmare; the fantasy whack-a-mole. At this point you’re just hoping he pops up on a team at all. (Jeff Good)
185) Jason Vargas, New York Mets (Age: 35, Previous Rank: NR)
A Tale of Two Seasons.
April-June: 2.22 ERA, 2.1 BB/9, 8 HR and a .235/.285/.347 slash against
July-October: 6.66 ERA, 3.9 BB/9, 19 HR and .293/.368/.558 against.
Congratulations if you listened to literally every fantasy expert and sold high on Vargas before he pitched in the All Star game.
Going forward, throw Vargas on the “Warm Bodies” pile. If a mid-4s ERA and a WHIP north of 1.30 gets the job done, then by all means, roll Vargas out there one more time. (Jeff Good)
186) Andrew Cashner, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
Without looking, guess how many starts Cashner made over the last 3 seasons. If you’re like me and didn’t own him in that time, you probably guessed somewhere in the 50s or 60s and, like me, will be shocked to learn that he actually made 86. That was the good news. The bad news is that his K% has fallen from a peak 26.5% in 2012 to just 12.2% in 2017. It feels lazy to use BABIP (.266), LOB% (74%) and HR/FB (8.6%) these days, but what can better explain why he beat his FIP by 1.21? Oh, and he’s in Baltimore now. If Clayton Richard just didn’t walk enough guys for you, then Andrew Cashner is your dude. Seriously though, I wouldn’t even touch Cashner in a 20 team AL only league. (Jeff Good)
187) Jakob Junis, Kansas City Royals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Ah, finally, a YOUNG fifth starter! Picked in the 29th round in the 2011 Draft, Junis is a big developmental win for the Royals by just making it to the Majors. He was generally ranked outside the Royals’ top 10 prospects, but from what I could find he had good command with average stuff. His 2017 peripherals bear that out, with modest strikeout and walk rates that look better than anyone’s listed in the 180s (other than McHugh’s). This is a guy from whom you can reasonably anticipate a low-to-mid-4s ERA and an only slightly painful WHIP. (Jeff Good)
188) Jose Urena, Miami Marlins (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Jose Urena managed to have worse peripherals than Ricky Nolasco: higher walk rate, lower strikeout rate and even a higher FIP (5.20). Only five qualified starters had a lower K/9 than Urena, two of which I’ve already had to write up! Again, it feels lazy to cite BABIP and LOB%, but his were .249 and 79%. There’s no competition for his job, but that’s about all he offers. If you want an idea of what to expect from Urena in 2018, just look at Adam Conley’s 2017. (Jeff Good)
189) Adam Conley, Miami Marlins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 114)
Conley had remarkably similar peripherals to Urena. They had the same strikeout rate of 15.6%. Conley’s walk rate was 9.1% (vs. Urena’s 8.8%), and both had HR/FB rates around the new normal 13% with a lot of fly balls (pushing 60% FB+LD%). The only difference was that Conley’s BABIP and LOB% were both closer to league-average, which lead to an ERA of 6.14 (vs. Urena’s 3.82). Buy both Conley and Urena expecting closer to Conley’s 2017 numbers. (Jeff Good)
190) Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 117)
Well, at least Ian Kennedy still held a K/9 over 7.5 to go with his high walk rate and ERA around 5. Woof. In an era where strikeouts are going up, Conley and Kennedy are both significantly down in the past couple years. That’s more expected of a 33-year-old than a guy in his 20s in Miami. (Jeff Good)
191) Mike Fiers, Detroit Tigers (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 149)
You know that fun fact that Clayton Kershaw has lowered his career ERA every year since entering the league? Well Fiers has basically done that but in reverse. Since putting up a 2.13 in 2014 he’s registered 3.69, 4.48 and 5.22 in each year since. He got his strikeout rate back over 20% after a dip in 2016, but his walk rate and home run rates also spiked. The results were about what you’d expect. Detroit is in the tank, so they’ll run him out there no matter how bad he is, but the punchouts do give him a leg up on the “high-ratio guys with jobs” pile he’s in here. (Jeff Good)
192) Trevor Cahill, FA (Age: 29, Previous Rank: NR)
Can I just call Cahill “Mike Fiers but without a job”? Not enough? Okay, he also walks more than Fiers. Still not doing it for ya? Yeah, me neither. Pitchers like this will make you kick yourself for not taking Clayton Richard. (Jeff Good)
193) Tyler Chatwood, (Age: 29, Previous Rank: NR)
Leaving Colorado for a legit World Series contender makes Chatwood way more interesting than the rest of this list. That is, if you ignore his 10.7% career walk rate. Even in his “good” 2016 he walked almost 4 per 9. That said, he’s kept his groundball rate in the upper 50s for two years, which should translate into a below average BABIP outside of Coors and in front of the Cubs defense. He should also get his HR/FB% down from 22% to something closer to league average. The WHIP will be bad (like 1.40 bad), but he’ll likely get more wins and have a better ERA than any of the names above (again, except for McHugh). (Jeff Good)
194) Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Unlike some the one-trick “innings” ponies above, what Pivetta provides is strikeouts. Let’s call him a younger Mike Fiers, who also has younger Mike Fiers’ K rates (24% in 133 MLB innings). He’s got a mid-90s fastball that sounds good but gave up a .956 OPS. He’s gonna need to learn to both control and command that pitch better if he wants to throw it 2/3 of the time. His slider, on the other hand, which he only threw about 15% of the time, had a 45.5% K rate and held opponents to a .527 OPS. That’s a legit weapon, but he needs to put a lot of work into his fastball (and practically non-existent change up) to make the whole package work. If he does take a step forward, he could manage a low-4s ERA with better than a K per inning. If he doesn’t, he’ll be right back up around the 6 he put up last year and possibly back in Lehigh Valley where he logged 56.2 innings before being called up. (Jeff Good)
195) Kendall Graveman, Oakland A’s (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 159)
I really want to love a name like Grendall Kaveman, and though I felt like he’s been a disappointment prior to writing this, he’s actually been pretty consistent through his young MLB career. Strikeout rate around 15%, walk rate around 6-7%, groundball rate right around 50%. No outliers in his luck stats. Just a solid 4-ish ERA guy with a high WHIP (due to allowing too much contact). He missed some time last year with a shoulder injury, but if he can throw 160 innings I feel pretty confident projecting him for a 4.20 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 100 Ks. It’s boring, but it’s better than several of the names above him who would commit crimes, perhaps even murder, to get an ERA that starts with a 4. (Jeff Good)
[Ed. Note- I know, I saw it too. “That’s intentional,” he said]
196) Nick Martinez, FA (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Oh great, another free agent starter with an ERA over 5 that doesn’t strike anyone out. Martinez did post a career-best 5.9% walk rate in 2017, but he had to replace his slider (which had been good in 2014-15, but bad in 2016) with a cutter that wasn’t much better. I guess I’d take him over Nolasco, but that’s praise so faint you need 3 hours of exposure with a deep-space telescope to see it. (Jeff Good)
197) Seth Lugo, New York Mets (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
After impressing in a fluky 64 inning, 2.67 ERA debut in 2016, Seth Lugo’s 2017 was comparatively disappointing: 101.1 innings with an ERA a full 2 runs higher. To his credit, Lugo did improve both his K% and BB% in 2017, and his luck stats were a little over-corrected, so I might lean closer to his 3.95 FIP than his 4.71 ERA going forward. Actually, that makes him better than, like, seven of the guys above him… except that he’s a Met so of course he missed time with injuries to both his elbow and shoulder. Sooo… 100 innings is about all you can really bank on. (Jeff Good)
198) Rafael Montero, New York Mets (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Guys? GUYS? I thought relievers wasn’t until next week? Yes, yes he did start 18 games last year… Fine, FINE. I’ll write him up.
In 2017 Rafael Montero improved his walk rate to 12.2% . You read that right- his career mark is 12.6%, so that was indeed “better.” Okay, in 155.1 career innings as a starter Montero has a 4.69 FIP, 1.62 WHIP and a 9.8 K-BB%. There’s a good chance he’s the Mets 6th starter and opens the season in the bullpen until someone gets hurt. Being the Mets, that will probably be mid-April. He doesn’t even have one trick to fall back on. (Jeff Good)
199) Edinson Volquez, Texas Rangers (Age: 34, Previous Rank: NR)
He’s 34 and had Tommy John in August and will miss all of 2018. This officially pays off my “Has Dr. James Andrews on Speed Dial” Joke. That is all. (Jeff Good)
200) Daniel Gossett, Oakland A’s (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Genuine Real Human Being Daniel Gossett had the 4th most starts for Oakland in 2017 with 18. That’s the only positive thing I could find to say about him. “It’s not the sexiest arm” is an understatement. (Jeff Good)
Since those last two were short, and I am new to The Dynasty Guru and didn’t get to participate in the consensus rankings, here’s a couple names that I would have included in my top 200 over these 5th starters who might not actually have a job and/or are likely to post an ERA over 5.
Chris Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
If you’re taking pitching prospects in this range, you could do a lot worse than Rodriguez, a 4th round pick by the Angels in 2016. His stuff took a big step forward in 2017, even if it didn’t translate to the stat line. He’s now got a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a hard slider and what should be an average curve. He’s still in low-A, so there’s a ton of work to do, but to me the profile looks a lot like Shane Baz, minus the cutter, and with less advanced secondary pitches. If you’d rather not roll the dice on Ricky Nolasco, put your chips on Chris Rodriguez. (Jeff Good)
Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
The stuff says 5th starter, but his eight (!) unintentional walks over 173.1 IP and quick ascent from Low-A to Double-A last year suggests he may be that magical unicorn with enough command to overcome having average stuff. “The next Josh Tomlin” may be faint praise, but it IS praise and unlike Tomlin, he’s still young enough and in a good system to possibly improve his arsenal. You could also call him “Jake Junis with even better command” if you want a more direct comp on this list. (Jeff Good)