2020 Dynasty Baseball RankingsDynasty Baseball

The Dynasty Guru’s 2020 Top 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, #1-30

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2020 consensus rankings by looking at the 30 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues.

1. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 10)

What a way to go into your first year of free agency! He threw 200 plus innings for the third year in a row. He also threw 326 strikeouts to go along with a 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 20 wins. He kept tinkering with his pitch mix this season. The sinker that he used as his third pitch in his Pirates days is pretty much non-existent, being thrown about 2% of the time. He increased the usage of a wicked 89 MPH slider to go along with his 97 MPH four-seam. He signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees this off season so there is little doubt those 20 wins from this past season will decrease. Cole is an easy #1 pick for dynasty purposes. (Shelly Verougstraete)

2. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets, (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 2)

Jacob deGrom threw his third consecutive 200+ inning season, picked up his second consecutive Cy Young award, and won fewer than 15 games for the second year in a row. LOLMets. deGrom has changed his pitch mix in recent years, moving from four-seam/slider/sinker to four-seam/slider/changeup, which obviously increased his SwStk% from 10-13% to 15%. Do not be scared away because of his age, other than TJS in 2012 and a September shut down in 2016, he has been very healthy. (Shelly Verougstraete)

3. Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 11)

Walker Buehler might have finally recovered from Dodger-itis after starting in 30 games in 2019. While he might not get as many swings and misses as you would think, his 12% SwStk has him ranked as #20 in qualified starters, and he is able to limit walks which makes him an absolute stud for your dynasty team. He pounds the zone with four-seamers and cutters and uses the slider and knuckle-curve out the zone to get the batter to miss. His K-BB% puts him in the class of deGrom, Verlander, and Cole, which is not bad company to be around. At only 25 years old, Buehler is as close as you can get to ace and should move into that top tier soon. (Shelly Verougstraete)

4. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 4)

On the surface, it looks like Snell took a big step back from his 2018 CY Young campaign. He did miss a significant amount of time this year after dropping a table on his toe and having loose bodies (ew) cleaned up in his elbow after the season. Digging in a bit deeper, he was getting a bit unlucky. His expected statistics (0.205xBA /0.327 xSLG) were drastically different than his actual statistics (0.241 BA/0.391 SLG). His SwStk% of 17.7% was a career-high and he was able to keep his BB% at a respectable 9.1% While 2018 might be Snell’s career year, there is little doubt that he cannot come close to those numbers again. (Shelly Verougstraete)

5. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 18)

Flaherty’s second half was absolutely insane. In 99.1 innings,  he had a 0.91 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 124 strikeouts and won seven games. Incredible. Obviously, Flaherty is going to regress. #analysis. In all seriousness, there was a change made in the second half that makes what he did more than just luck. He changed his pitch mix a bit. He still was throwing predominantly four-seamers but he started to incorporate his sinker and two-seamer more, especially earlier in the count. This led to more swing and misses which put him ahead in way more counts. By throwing more four-seamers, he was able to limit home runs. Going forward, you should expect a mid three ERA with WHIPs in the 1.10-1.20 range. He will be an anchor for your rotation for years to come. (Shelly Verougstraete)

6. Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 45)

We ranked Shane Bieber #45 last year so to shoot all the way up to the sixth overall starting pitcher is pretty impressive. (Is it too late to say Sorry now?) Bieber has a three-pitch mix (we won’t talk about that poor changeup) and he pounds the zone with his 93 MPH four-seam. When he debuted last year, he would throw his slider in the zone about 40% of the time but now he is throwing it more outside of the zone to get batters to chase. He has excellent command and his 4.7 BB% should stabilize your WHIP category. However, not everything is as it seems. His four-seam fastball, like a bunch of recent Indians pitchers, is quite poor. It does not get a bunch of whiffs and was lucky as his xBA and xSLG were much higher than his actual BA and SLG. Bieber has really poor average exit velocity (90.4 MPH) and hard hit% (43.1%) so there will be “Bad Days” where he does not have the feel for that slider and…”Hold Tight” as your ratios will be on a “Roller Coaster” ride. Even with that being said, Bieber is only 24 years old and makes him a guy to bet on in your dynasty league, just don’t expect 2019 like production. (Shelly Verougstraete)

7. Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 19)

The Cleveland Indians have been blessed with amazing front-line starters in recent years and you can add Clevinger to the growing list. Unlike Bieber, Clevinger has been able to limit hard contact, with his hard hit% hovering around 34% He added about two MPH to his already lights out four-seam and impressively all four of his pitches have 30%+ Whiff%. With that added velocity and great command, he was able to get batters to chase more pitches out of the zone. If it wasn’t for a back injury and then an ankle injury during his first start from the IL, we would be looking at another 200+ IP from him. But never fear, the Sunshine always rises and expect more of the same from Clevinger going forward. (Shelly Verougstraete)

8. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 21)

For the first time since 2014, Stephen Strasburg got over the 200+ inning threshold and had a career year, which saw him as not only a World Series champion but also World Series MVP. He also made a pretty big change to his pitch mix by increasing his curveball and two-seam usage and proved to be an effective remedy to his decreased fastball velocity. While we may never see a season + postseason dominance from Strasburg, he is still an anchor for any dynasty league rotation. (Shelly Verougstraete)

9. Chris Paddack, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 62)

What an impressive debut of the Sheriff last year. In 140.2 IP, he had a 3.33 ERA, 153 strikeouts and an impressive 0.98 WHIP. Not too shabby for a two-pitch pitcher. Paddack has an amazing four-seamer that he pounds in the upper portion of the strike zone. He typically follows that with an 84 MPH changeup out of the zone trying to get batters to chase. His first half was MUCH better than his second half (2.84 ERA vs 4.01 ERA) and his season was cut short as the Padres limited his workload. There have been reports that Paddack is working on a new pitch. If he can master a third pitch, the sky’s the limit. If not, I’m unsure he can keep up the pace. (Shelly Verougstraete)

10. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 1)

It was a tale of two seasons for Chris Sale in 2019. He dealt with a shoulder injury late in the 2018 season but that did not stop him from striking out Manny Machado for the final out of the World Series. He was rewarded with a five-year extension which quelled our worst fears. However, his velocity was down throughout Spring Training and had a 6.30 ERA at the end of April. He then when on an absolute tear for the next two months. In 71.1 innings, he had a 2.78 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 116 strikeouts. However, he began to experience elbow soreness and in 46 IP, he had a 5.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 70 strikeouts before being shut down in the middle of August. He saw Dr. James Andrews (Gasp!) and received a PRP injection but was cleared to begin a throwing program in early December (Phew!). There are obvious major questions when it comes to Chris Sale but if we believe reports that he is healthy, he is a no-doubt top 10 pitcher. (Shelly Verougstraete)

11. Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 29)

 If Castillo did not pitch half of his games in Great American Ball Park, he would be in everyone’s Top 10. Fortunately, he is quite good at producing ground balls which will keep the ball in the park. Steamer has him throwing 190 innings this season and barring a crazy HR/FB or BABIP year, it is quite easy to see Castillo repeating the performance he put up last year. (Joe Garino)

12. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 7)

The last time Max had an ERA above 3 was in 2014 when he was with the Tigers. His SIERA in 2019 was 2.93 and there is good reason to suspect he will age gracefully. He posted a career-high K% in 2019 (35.1%) and is projected to throw over 200 innings while posting an ERA and FIP slightly above 3. After arguably his best career season he drops back 5 spots. Despite this, if your team is in win-now mode, Scherzer can probably be had for below market value due to his age. (Joe Garino)

13. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 3)

If any owners are wondering what happened here, simply compare Nola’s 2018 HR/FB to his 2019 (10.6% – 17.4%). Obviously, the ball was juiced this year but in 2017, a similar HR environment to this season, Nola posted a 12.7% which is a much more realistic number. Among qualified starters, Nola went from the 15th lowest HR/FB to the 10th highest. There is a real buy-low opportunity here as Nola was #3 on this list last year. I fully expect Nola to be in the Top 10 on this list next year, but for now, it is time to see if Nola owners will budge and send him your way for a below-market rate. (Joe Garino)

14. Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 156!!!!!!!!)

It finally happened, Lucas Giolito broke out and lived up to his prospect status when he was traded for Adam Eaton a couple of years back. Giolito doubled his K% in 2019, while also bringing his BB% down by 3%. It was an incredible transition for a starter who looked destined for mediocrity. Giolito was a consistent performer the entire year, and you could even say he got unlucky in the second half with a few too many balls going over the fence (I think I’m catching onto a trend here). Moving forward I have complete trust in Giolito as a Dynasty ace, and at 25 years old we can expect to see him high on this list moving forward for years to come. (Joe Garino)

15. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 6)

Thor definitely needs a new hammer after his 2019 campaign, but I have yet to see him hanging out with a raccoon and a tree this winter. His 3.60 FIP gives some hope to fantasy owners as he seems to have underperformed his peripherals. Steamer expects a slight rebound from Thor, but I believe the ball will have a significant impact on his 2020. Regardless, I firmly believe that 2019 is close to his floor. He wasn’t bad, but since he has not been the guy fantasy owners expected after his age 22 and 23 seasons. He was a sensation in 2016, but a good amount of time has passed since that season. I don’t expect him to be who he was in 2016 moving forward, but he should be somewhere in the middle between his 2019 performance and his legendary 2016. (Joe Garino)

16. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros, (Age: 37, Previous Rank: 13)

Entering his age-37 season, Justin Verlander is looking better than ever. He was known for throwing harder the further he pitched into a game, and the same can be said of his career. He posted a career-high K% in 2019 and his second-lowest BB% (2018 was his highest) and is showing no signs of slowing down. I have always thought of him as the Tom Brady of Baseball, and that comp feels better every year. At some point in the future, he will not be pitching in the MLB. Whether that is in 2022 when his contract is up, or in 2030 after winning his 11th straight Cy Young, he should be a viable fantasy option for the rest of his MLB tenure. (Joe Garino)

17. Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves, (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 36)

I fell in love in 2018 and shed a couple of tears in 2019 when my darling was scooped up in all of my re-draft leagues. Entering his age-22 season, Soroka is younger than Jack Flaherty was when he appeared at #18 on this list last year. He has impeccable control for a pitcher his age and is arguably one of the most valuable dynasty assets out there. His K% doesn’t pop off the screen like the other names on this list, but hitters have trouble getting the ball in the air against him. His profile feels like one of a solid starter in his late 20s, but he is not in his late 20s. The sky is the limit here and this might be your last chance to buy in before he becomes Walker Buehler. (Joe Garino)

18. MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres, (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 48)

I have seen some reports where Gore is compared to Clayton Kershaw. He made it to Double-A as a 20-year-old and held his own, but did not repeat his Advanced-A performance (79 IP, 1.02 ERA, and a 38.2% strikeout rate). He should start 2020 at Double-A, and he could make the majors by 2021 with a potential call-up later in 2020 if the Padres stumble into contention. If he was the #1 on this list by 2023 I would not be surprised, but he should stick in the top 20 for a long time. He’s the number one SP prospect, and if you own him you hold onto him real tight and don’t let go for anyone not named Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr., or Juan Soto. (Joe Garino)

19. Luis Severino, New York Yankees, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 5)

Severino was #5 on this list last year after posting back-to-back incredible seasons. Injuries kept him out for pretty much all of 2019, and people seem to have forgotten just how good his last seasons were. He is still quite young and moving forward he definitely has a question mark next to his name. Despite that, Severino represents a risk that is 100% worth taking. His value has not been this low in years, and if he rebounds to 85% of his original value he should shoot right up this list. One of the riskier options that is ranked this high, but I would still value him as a fantasy ace moving forward unless proven otherwise. (Joe Garino)

20. Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 17)

After Corbin’s transformation in 2018, he followed it up with another excellent performance. He has put away any potential injury concerns from the earlier parts of his career and has become an excellent option for the Nationals in their stacked rotation. He turns 31 in July but is still projected to be a well above average starter moving forward. His peripherals took a slight step back in 2019, but they are still quite good. He holds similar value to other names on this list, but can probably be had for relatively cheap due to his name no longer being a sexy fantasy name. (Joe Garino)

21) TYLER GLASNOW, TAMPA BAY RAYS, (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 56)

Glasnow is a hard man to miss at 6’8” and routinely hitting 101 on the radar gun. He has always had an electric fastball sitting at 97.36 mph in 2018 and 97.62 in 2019, and now he finally has the curveball working. His curve went from below average to 17th in Fangraphs value per 100 thrown and that led to the changeup working better along with having the #1 fastball value per 100 in all of MLB (60 IP minimum). He was also second of all qualified in Baseball Savant’s xwOBA ahead of Hader, Cole, Verlander, Degrom and Scherzer in the top 10. It all came together for a 1.78 ERA and 0.890 WHIP over 60 innings.

While the upside there is obvious, the downside is equally apparent. Glasnow just can’t seem to stay on the field. From 2015 to 2019 he has averaged 116 innings per year. Tampa Bay is great at maximizing talent and merging it with actionable data, but do they have enough data to help him stay healthy, or does he maybe have a problem in his mechanics that is causing these repeat injuries? (Britt Engelbrecht)

22) SHOHEI OHTANI, LA ANGELS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 20)

Oh Boy! Shohei Ohtani came over from Japan being heralded as the #2 pitcher in the world behind Clayton Kershaw (guess who’s on the list next!) and went down with season-ending 2019 with Tommy John surgery. He “finished’ rehab in December but it is speculated he may be out from pitching until May. Despite probably pitching with an elbow injury for most if not his entire first year, Ohtani showed some serious stuff. His fastball hit 102 mph and his sliders and curveballs made hitters look silly. His 15.6% swinging strike percentage would have put him third in 2018 behind Sale and Scherzer.

He’ll be limited to starting once a week potentially for his entire career which will cap his ceiling from ever being a top 3 pitcher with the floor of being a middle reliever or full-time batter since he has been great behind the plate as well. Now, if you have him in a daily lineup league where you can use him at both SP and UTIL, he has easy #1 overall upside, and might end up setting fantasy records with his production. (Britt Engelbrecht)

23) CLAYTON KERSHAW, LA DODGERS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 12)

Clayton Kershaw is among the greatest pitchers of all time, and after all the talk of the back and his innings load, he quietly pitched in 178 very effective major league innings in 2019.  The velocity on his fastball dropped from 93.21 mph in 2017 to 91.31 in 2018 and finally to 90.54 in 2019. He was 15th in ERA (3.05) but 41st in FIP and 22nd in xFIP. He remains very good but he’ll need to continue to reinvent himself to stay elite deep into his 30s. (Britt Engelbrecht)

24) JOSE BERRIOS, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 14)

Berrios is a victim of a market overcorrection here. It’s hard not to get caught up in the vicious beauty of his curveballs, but he probably didn’t deserve to be as high as 14th last year after a 3.84 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 192 innings pitched. He actually improved his ERA to 3.68, his walk rate to a career-low 2.3 walks per nine innings, and pitched a career-high 200 innings and fell to 24th. Still just 25 years old, there is room for more growth after a down year of effectiveness for his dirty curve. (Britt Engelbrecht)

25) JESUS LUZARDO, OAKLAND ATHLETICS (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: 26)

Combining very good command with three plus pitches gives Luzardo a chance to be something special. He was limited to 55 innings last year and topped out at 109 innings the year before. It might take a few years for him to reach a fantasy-relevant workload and might not see the fantasy playoffs until he can pitch 180+ innings. If you can’t be patient with Luzardo as he builds up his innings, trade him for a win-now guy, the returns will be nice. (Britt Engelbrecht)

26) TREVOR BAUER, CINCINNATI REDS, (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 8)

After breaking out big, Bauer more than doubled (!!!!!) his 2018 ERA to 4.48 in 2019. Despite pitching on torn ligaments in his ankle he pitched 213 innings and maintained great strikeout numbers with 10.7 strikeouts per nine for a total of 253, fifth in all of baseball. If he can meet himself in the middle on some of his stats he is a great buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues since he will likely find his way out of Cincinnati in 2021. (Britt Engelbrecht)

27) BRANDON WOODRUFF, MILWAUKEE BREWERS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 153)

Of players that pitched 100 innings, only six pitchers had a better FIP than Woodruff, and only twelve a better xFIP. He had the third-highest fastball value in baseball behind Cole and Flaherty in only 120 innings. His top four months for average fastball velocity were the last four months of last year, topping out at 100 mph. He’s finally a sure thing starter for the Brewers. He’s only 27. Are you not entertained?!? (Britt Engelbrecht)

28) CASEY MIZE, DETROIT TIGERS, (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: 50)

Mize was drafted as the #1 overall pick and didn’t disappoint as he made 15 Double-A starts compiling a 3.20 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP with 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He has a four-pitch mix that should help those Double-A stats translate to the majors with a knockout splitter that was compared to Tanaka’s before he was drafted.

Making it to Double-A is impressive and could lead to him starting at Triple-A to start the season. It’s possible Mize makes the majors this summer, but the Tigers would be smart to manipulate his service time as they manage his young arm innings. He should continue to rise in the rankings as he gets closer to the majors if he stays healthy. But as is with most pitching prospects, injuries will be what derails him. Shoulder inflammation shut Mize down last year and elbow injuries in college will always be in the back of your mind. (Britt Engelbrecht)

29) ZACK GREINKE, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 36, PREVIOUS RANK: 28)

Greinke is another in the growing number of mid-30s pitchers having great success. With a 2.93 ERA and 0.982 WHIP he had yet another fantastic season at 35 years old. Let us not forget that he is now in pitcher euphoria with the Astros for the next two years. He’s been effective for most of his career with a low 90’s fastball and he should be able to stay effective even sitting at 90 mph on the heater. Greinke’s fastball, curveball, and changeup all remain very effective at 36, and he should be able to build on last year with a full offseason of the Astros’ “advanced scouting”. (Britt Engelbrecht)

30) COREY KLUBER, TEXAS RANGERS, (AGE: 33, PREVIOUS RANK:9)

After five years of 200-plus innings, 220-plus strikeouts, sub-3.50 ERA, and sub-1.10 WHIP seasons The Klubot finally broke. But it wasn’t necessarily a “pitching injury” since he went down May 1st after getting hit by a line drive on the forearm. His rehab was delayed later with an oblique injury. This is an opportunity for rest for Kluber who only had 44 innings of mileage last year. This presents a big buying opportunity as Kluber is a special pitcher, and for context there are nine 30-plus-year-old pitchers ranked above him. (Britt Engelbrecht)

 

The Author

Shelly Verougstraete

Shelly Verougstraete

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