2021 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 200 DYNASTY LEAGUE STARTING PITCHERS, #51-125

WELCOME BACK!!! Despite a scorching hot stove (I can’t believe the player you’re thinking of did or did not sign with the team you thought they would!), these long winter months can be some of the darkest of the year (figuratively and literally). But fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2021 consensus rankings by listing our 51-125 starting pitchers in dynasty leagues.


51. Asa Lacy, Kansas City Royals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

Asa Lacy was a stellar performer in the SEC, college baseball’s toughest conference, finishing off his college career with a wild 17.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in a shortened 2020. The stuff matches the statistics, with an elite four-pitch mix and a fastball touching 98 MPH. He was the no-brainer top college pitcher off the board, offering true frontline starter upside, and he should move quickly—expect him to reach the majors in 2022. (Jordan Rosenblum)

52. Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 47)

After opting out for 2020, Michael Kopech will be more than two years removed from Tommy John surgery—ready to make a big impact for the White Sox in 2020. He struggled with walks at times in the minor leagues, but racks up strikeouts with a strong four-pitch mix, headlined by a fastball that can reach 100 MPH. Control issues will likely keep him from being a top 30 starting pitcher, but he should be a reliable back-end top 60 starting pitcher already in 2021, with plenty of Ks. (Jordan Rosenblum)

53. German Marquez, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 51)

German Marquez is an elite talent but is also unfortunately signed to pitch for Colorado through 2024. You’ll love his away starts, but be forced to bench him for many of his home starts. If he ever leaves Coors, he instantly rises at least 20 spots in the dynasty rankings. Given his team-friendly deal and Colorado’s recent interest in shedding salary, as well as their openness to trading away stars, there’s definitely reason for hope in this regard. (Jordan Rosenblum)

54. Mike Clevinger, San Diego Padres (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 7)

The Padres big midseason acquisition will miss the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He should be a full go for 2022. Starting pitchers out with Tommy John are always tough to analyze, as most fantasy managers are present-oriented and (understandably) lack the patience to wait a full year for recovery. However, if you’re not competing in 2021, you should be all over Clevinger as the Tommy John discount is real. He’s an easy top 25 starting pitcher when healthy; look for him to return to the top 25 in next year’s edition of our starting pitcher ranks. (Jordan Rosenblum)

55. Pablo Lopez, Miami Marlins (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 137)

Pablo Lopez took a step forward in his age-24 season, posting a career-best, comfortably above league average 3.98 SIERA and 3.73 xFIP. In 2018 and 2019, he was more league average—impressive considering his age. He will probably regress slightly toward career norms in 2021, and his MILB and MLB track records don’t suggest more upside here than what we saw in 2020, but he should nonetheless be a solid SP3 for a long time to come. (Jordan Rosenblum)

56. Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 95)

Sandy Alcantara struggled in his minor league career, keeping the ball on the ground, but posting weak strikeout and walk rates. His strikeout and walk rates were similarly weak in his 2019 rookie season, but he nonetheless managed to post a sub-4.00 ERA. He took a big step forward in 2020, posting league average strikeout (23%) and walk rates (9%), and continuing to keep the ball on the ground (49% groundball rate). His SIERA improved from 5.28 to 4.39. Consider his lackluster minor league pedigree, and similar pitch mix and velocity year-over-year, it’s wise to expect a healthy dose of negative regression in 2021. His ability to keep the ball on the ground should anyway keep him eating MLB innings for the next couple of years—just don’t count on a repeat 2020. (Jordan Rosenblum)

57. Zack Greinke, Houston Astros (Age: 37, Previous Rank: 29)

Zack Greinke has consistently been losing velocity for a few years now, yet he continues to perform despite his advanced age. He’ll be a free agent after 2021, but there are no indications he has any plan on retiring. He hasn’t posted a SIERA above 4 since 2016 (4.11) and he hasn’t posted an xFIP since 2007 (4.14). Go ahead and keep counting on him as a top 40 starting pitcher—conservatively—each year until he gives you a reason to do otherwise. He’s a master of his craft and has shown he can thrive with average fastball velocity in the upper-80s. (Jordan Rosenblum)

58. Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 37)

Forrest Whitley still possesses the talent that had him ranked near the top of prospect lists a couple seasons ago, but a down 2019 in the minors, paired with health concerns, have muted enthusiasm somewhat. On the bright side, Baseball America reported he looked like his normal self in 2020 at the alternate site—before getting shut down with elbow soreness. While he’s a good reminder of the volatility of starting pitchers, he’s still much more than a cautionary tale—pay attention to off-season health reports, as few prospects offer his upside and track record (even allowing for his down 2019). (Jordan Rosenblum)

59. Luis Patiño, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 53)

Luis Patino became a rare pitching prospect to debut in the majors before his 21st birthday, a testament to the scouting hype surrounding him. He probably wasn’t MLB-ready, with a 7.27 BB/9 and a 6.03 xFIP in 17 IP out of the bullpen. Nonetheless, his hype is intact, well evidenced by the Rays trading Blake Snell for a package including Patino, and his scouting reports continue to be glowing. Statistically in the minors, he was consistently strong but not quite elite—and always super young relative to the competition. He offers one of the more exciting combinations of risk-reward in these rankings, and could start for Tampa in 2021. (Jordan Rosenblum)

60. Framber Valdez, Houston Astros (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Framber Valdez was one of baseball’s biggest breakouts in 2020, though it wasn’t impossible to foresee. He was consistently great in the minors, burning an obscene number of worms with a 67% peak major-league equivalent groundball rate. He struggled with walks in the majors in 2019 but continued to flash potential with his rare propensity for inducing groundballs. His walk rates have always been a bit high so expecting some regression is wise—but he’ll more than make up for it by keeping the ball in the park and striking out his fair share. You won’t have any complaints relying on him as an SP3 for your squad for the next couple of years. (Jordan Rosenblum)

61. Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 75)

I’ve been a fan of Musgrove’s since he was in the Toronto Blue Jays system. For Musgrove, it all revolves around health. He started the 2020 season hurt, and after three starts he had a 6.75 ERA, a 16.2 BB%, and only a 25 K%. He was scratched from his next start with a sore ankle but then was placed on the IL with right triceps inflammation. He returned a month later and destroyed the competition. His strikeout percentage jumped up 13 percentage points to 39%. His walks dropped 11 percentage points to 5% and his ERA, not surprisingly, dropped to 2.16. He was then traded to the San Diego Padres this winter and he will finally be on a winning club. Keep an eye on his velocity because when it drops a few ticks, you know it is time to move him to the bench. With the move, his opportunity for wins drastically improve and would be a great target if you are competing now in your league. Then you to can say “We did it Joe” when he helps you grab that championship. (Shelly Verougstraete)

62. Max Meyer, Miami Marlins (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

The Marlins shocked the world when they selected Max Meyer with the third-overall pick. Not that he is a poor pitcher, it was just that Asa Lacy was still on the board but I guess they went with the ‘Get your guys’ strategy. Meyer’s slider is easily his best pitch and was the best slider in the draft class. He began his college career as a closer but moved to the rotation his sophomore season. He has two pitches right now and could be an elite reliever on just that alone. Miami has been a pitching development machine and I hope they can work with Meyer to develop that third pitch. However, with the amount of depth they have, they could switch things up and move him to the pen a-la Garrett Crochet. (Shelly Verougstraete)

63. Aaron Civale, Cleveland Baseball Team (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 98)

After a great debut in 2019, Civale struggled with the long ball in the shortened 2020 season. After giving up zero home runs on his sinker and slider in 2019, he saw six balls fly over the fence between those two pitches. That being said, there is still a lot to like here. First, he is in one of the best organizations for pitching development. Secondly, his SwStr%, as well as K%, both increased in 2020 while his walk rate came down a bit. He has a bottomless arsenal, and I have faith in him, and his team, that they will find that perfect combination. He could become a great number two or high-end number three starter. (Shelly Verougstraete)

64. Eduardo Rodríguez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 39)

It seems that Eduardo Rodriguez can never catch a break. After missing time in previous seasons for things like twisting a knee on a wet bullpen mound, he finally threw 200+ innings in 2019 and had the best season of his career. Then 2020 happened. He contracted COVID-19 and then missed the entire season due to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Basically, he could not exercise or do anything strenuous so his heart could heal. Yikes! Because of this, he fell drastically in our ranks but there have been reports that say he is ready for the season. Rodríguez, honestly, is a wild-card and could be an interesting gamble to take in your league. (Shelly Verougstraete)

65. Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 85)

Grayson Rodriguez ‘might’ be my favorite pitching prospect at the moment. He was drafted out of high school with the 11th overall pick in 2018 and has been one of the youngest guys at every single stop. He has added velocity and his fastball currently sits in the mid-nineties. He also has an above-average changeup along with a mid-seventies curveball with an up and coming slider. He spent the summer at the Alternate Site and evaluators raved about his arsenal and his ability to repeat his mechanics, especially for someone as tall as he is. He should begin the season in High-A and (hopefully) finish the season in Double-A. (Shelly Verougstraete)

66. Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 88)

Jarred Kelienic was not the only Seattle Mariner that was getting rave reviews at the Alternate Site. Gilbert, who was drafted 14th overall in 2018, showed an uptick in velocity and was constantly hitting the upper nineties with his fastball. Just like Rodriguez, Gilbert is very tall and gets great extension which adds to his deception. He finished the season in Double-A and should make his debut in 2021. Seattle Mariners fans should be excited, as Jerry DiPoto’s plan is finally going to show some results on the field (Shelly Verougstraete)

67. Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves (Age: 37, Previous Rank: 36)

Here at TDG, we start Ranking SZN pretty quickly after the season ends and we all thought there was a high chance Morton would retire. Surprise! He didn’t. He signed a one-year deal with the Braves which should be his last year in the majors. After three seasons where his ERA decreased each season, 2020 saw it jump up to above 4.00. He gave up more line drives and harder contact, and his strikeout percentage dropped from 30% down to 25%. He now moves to the NL East which should be a bit easier for him. That being said, I need to see how he looks in the spring before I jump back in. (Shelly Verougstraete)

68. Corey Kluber, New York Yankees (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 30)

After missing time in 2018 because of a fractured arm and oblique strain, things were looking up for Klubot. He was on a new team and he was on the last year of his deal. Well, his season ended after one inning that resulted in shoulder surgery. Many teams were interested in him this offseason and after a great throwing session, the Yankees signed him to a one-year deal. With his advanced age, recent injury, and his home park, I’m still going to steer clear. Even prior to his injuries in 2018, the two-time CY Young winner was starting to show areas of decline. I hope that I am wrong in my pessimism as I have been a member of the Corey Kluber Appreciation Society for years but I’ve been thinking about turning in my card (only from a performance standpoint). (Shelly Verougstraete)

69. Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 181)

After many years of wishin’, and hopin’, and prayin’, we finally saw Gausman show off what made him a fourth overall pick by the Orioles back in 2012. After spending the second half of the season in the Reds bullpen, he signed a one-year deal with the Giants. At the time, I thought they were going to use him in the pen or maybe long-relief but I was wrong. Gausman is a two-pitch pitcher and with one of those pitches being a splitter, it makes him even more volatile than the typical pitcher with only two-pitches. However, he took the Giants qualifying offer so he will remain in San Fran at least for one more season. Due to his career-year, it might be time to trade him, if you are not competing this season, as I doubt he will better than what he showed in 2020. (Shelly Verougstraete)

70. Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 67)

After X seasons in the majors, I think we all know who Andrew Heaney is at this point. There will be times where he will go deep into the seventh inning with 10+ strikeouts but then come back out and only go four innings while giving up three home runs which totally kill your ratios. He pitches in the AL West which is filled with ho-hum teams (sorry to anyone who may be a fan) so there should be opportunities for him to pick up more wins this season. He does typically miss time so don’t expect more than 125 innings but I guess there are worst pitchers to have on your team. (Shelly Verougstraete)

71. David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 42)

Peak Price expired in 2015. Since that season his metrics have declined. His 2018 season with 16 wins reflected horrible sabermetrics. Maybe that means he is getting lucky? Spanning from 2010 to 2016, Price pitched at least 200 innings in every year but one (2013). Since 2016, he has never met that 200IP mark again. I am kind of leery of adding a 35-year-old who has pitched less than 110 innings in two of the last three years that he posted stats, especially when he chose to set out all of the 2020 MLB season. Price will definitely be drafted sooner in redraft leagues due to his pedigree but I would avoid him at all costs in dynasty leagues. (Brett Cook)

72. Deivi Garcia, New York Yankees (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 124)

It will be interesting to see how Deivi develops this year. He began the 2019 season in High-A and finished in Triple-A, and, of course, he pitched in the majors in 2020. Will he be in New York on Opening Day? More than likely, yes. Deivi concerns me long term given that he is only 5’9″. On the flip side, he does have three 60-grade pitches. If it sounds like a future battle between his size and his arsenal then we are onto something. If the arsenal wins then you have a potential stud starting pitcher. If the size loses then you may have a future closer or setup guy. (Brett Cook)

73. Emerson Hancock, Seattle Mariners (Age: 21. Previous Rank: NR)

When I look at a fantasy pitching prospect, this guy oozes what I am looking for. Let’s just start off with the control which is graded at a 55. For Hancock being 21 years old, this excites me. The control plays up more when you consider that he has three potential plus pitches. His arsenal features a future 65-grade fastball, 60-grade slider, and 60-grade changeup. He also features a 55-grade curveball. He also has the size that you are looking for in a starting pitcher, as he is 6’4″ and weighs over 200 pounds. In my opinion, he more than likely will not be this low on a dynasty league ranking for a long time after this year. (Brett Cook)

74. George Kirby, Seattle Mariners (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

I can’t help but think of Nintendo when I think of Kirby. His name is definitely 80-grade. This gives him the best name grade on this 71-80 list because I love Nintendo. Moving to weightier fantasy baseball boxes to check for a dynasty starting pitcher, he has a pretty decent arsenal that features a future plus fastball and an above-average slider and curveball. He also has a changeup projected to be an average pitch. What I love the most about Kirby (besides his 80-grade name) is his control. With not seeing much from Kirby so far, I would say we are still looking at a mid-rotation starter. (Brett Cook)

75. Marcus Stroman, New York Mets (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 98)

This is the second guy in this section of rankings (71-80) that chose not to play in 2020. I like the production that you get from Stroman. He doesn’t light up like the strikeout numbers. Do I want more? Always. His walkout numbers aren’t outrageous either. I personally ranked Stroman 76 in my dynasty rankings, and here he is on TDG’s collective list at 75. It is like it was meant to be! We know what we are going to get with Stroman. If he moves up the rankings this time next year then it will only be five to ten slots. (Brett Cook)

76. Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Baseball Team (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 77)

My heart wants to pump this guy into the top 40 rankings, but my mind says, “Back up, Terry. Put in reverse, Terry.” The reason why I want to pump him into the top 40 is that Cleveland does an excellent job at developing starting pitchers. Just look at their pedigree over the last ten years. So when I look at McKenzie, he checks all the boxes for the next potential stud in Cleveland’s rotation. McKenzie features two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. He also has an above-average changeup and control. McKenzie is another guy that may never be this low again, so grab him where you can. (Brett Cook)

77. James Taillon, New York Yankees (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 21)

Looking at this list, Taillon is definitely an immediate upgrade in moving from the Pirates to the Yankees. When he was a Pirate, he was basically on my no draft list. He was actually outside of my top 100, but if I could redo my rankings he would get a bump. He was a 14 game-winner in 2018. When 2019 came around, Taillon was highly sought after, but a Tommy John injury shut him down that year. He didn’t throw a pitch in the MLB in 2020. One more thing that has to be mentioned is how great his sabermetrics are. If Taillon can get back to 2018 form in New York, we may see Taillon jump to around his previous ranking of 21. (Brett Cook)

78. Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 52)

Oh, look, another Pirate! You know what that means, another guy I am going to stay away from in fantasy baseball. He has been touted as a potential frontline starter but we haven’t seen anything from his major league career that justifies that potential. This isn’t to say he can’t get to that point. We just haven’t seen this sort of production from him yet. The good news for Keller is that he only has a small sample size (16 starts) over the last two seasons. Keller is another guy to target for dynasty leagues because his value could grow this season. (Brett Cook)

79. James Paxton, Free Agent (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 22)

Part of me wants to say that Paxton’s production from 2017 to 2019 is something we will not see from him. The other side of me wants to wait and see what 2021 brings for Paxton. Paxton played in five games in 2020. Paxton actually had a couple of decent starts in 2020, so I am not closing the door on “The Big Maple” just yet. With Paxton being 32, paired with the question marks on his production moving forward, this is a solid spot for him. (Brett Cook)

80. Simeon Woods Richardson, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)

Richardson is projected to be 2nd or 3rd in a rotation. Richardson has a big frame, standing at 6’3″. He has two pitches that are graded as potential plus pitches with his fastball and changeup. His control is graded at 60. For a 20-year-old, all of this excites me. He has only had limited time in High-A, but I am excited to see what we see from Richardson in another full season. With not much noise from Toronto’s alternate site, it will be interesting to see where Richardson will begin in 2021. You could argue that he begins the season in High-A to pick up where he left off, and you could also argue that his alternate site production punctuated his High-A career, and that that he will begin 2021 in Double-A. We will have to wait and see. (Brett Cook)

81. Jose Urquidy, Houston Astros (Age: 26, Previous rank: 77)

It’s probably best to just ignore the 29.2 innings Urquidy threw in 2020. He missed the start of the season due to a bout with COVID-19, and when he returned, his velocity was down. His K/9 was a sad 5.16, but he managed a 2.73 ERA through the good fortune of a .209 BABIP. His numbers probably won’t look much like that going forward. His 2019 MLB line of 8.78 K/9, 1.54 BB/9, and a 3.95 ERA is likely a lot closer to his true ability. In particular, that walk rate is exciting – he has very good command and should produce a helpful WHIP. He lacks a dominant out pitch, but mixes his four offerings well. Urquidy looks like a safe bet to begin 2021 in the Astros’ rotation, and should be a useful fantasy starting pitcher with some potential for growth. (Ben Sanders)

82. Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners (Age: 29, Previous rank: 119)

Gonzales was one of the most valuable pitchers in fantasy baseball in 2020, thanks to seven wins in 11 starts, a 3.10 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. It seems unlikely that a soft-tossing lefty whose fastball velocity sits in the high 80s can repeat that over a full season. His ERA was right around 4.00 in 2018 and 2019 and should regress back in that direction. His 8.27 K/9 last season was not that exciting despite being a career-high, and his 8.4% swinging-strike rate doesn’t support it maintaining even that level. On the bright side, his excellent control (0.9 BB/9 last season) keeps the pitch count down, allowing him to go deep into games and get wins and quality starts. He’ll be a helpful rotation piece for a few more years, but it’s likely we’ve already seen his best season. (Ben Sanders)

83. A.J. Puk, Oakland A’s (Age: 26, Previous rank: 44)

Puk isn’t sliding down the rankings for lack of talent. He’s posted very good strikeout rates at every level and has four promising pitches, including a fastball that can reach the upper 90s. The problem is that he’s only been on the mound for 36.2 innings in the past three seasons. All of those, including an 11.1-inning MLB debut, came in 2019, after his 2018 Tommy John surgery but before the shoulder operation that wiped out his 2020. Puk is getting rather old for a prospect, and is at the point where you’d hope to see some MLB production soon. He should get a chance to begin the upcoming season in the Oakland rotation. The ceiling is still really high, but he’ll need to stay healthy, shake off the rust and improve his command to reach it. (Ben Sanders)

84. Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 26, Previous rank: 141)

Gonsolin has a 2.60 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over 86.2 innings in his first two MLB seasons. He can thank batted-ball luck in the form of a .230 BABIP for some of that, but I think a mid-3s ERA is reasonable to expect with his impressive repertoire. He relies mainly on a fastball that averaged 95.1 MPH last season and an excellent splitter, and mixes in a slider and curve. He showed great command with a 4% walk rate, although his minor-league record suggests he may have trouble maintaining that. The biggest question has nothing to do with his ability, but his role on the pitching-rich Dodgers. With a guaranteed starting spot, he could become a mid-rotation fixture for dynasty teams, but in a relief or hybrid role his value depends on league format. (Ben Sanders)  

85. Dallas Keuchel, Chicago White Sox (Age: 33, Previous rank: 103)

Keuchel has always been a crafty pitcher, but to somehow manage a 1.99 ERA with a fastball velocity among the absolute lowest in MLB was a ridiculous achievement. It won’t happen again, of course. His .255 BABIP is likely to regress, but not nearly as likely as his 4.7% HR/FB rate, which was less than half of his previous best mark. You can trust Keuchel to induce a bunch of groundballs, eat up some innings, post decent ratios and probably win a bunch of games for the emerging White Sox. Just don’t expect much help in strikeouts or another sub-2 ERA. (Ben Sanders)

86. DL Hall, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 22, Previous rank: 109)

Hall has all the tools to be one of the best left-handed starters in baseball. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, his curveball and changeup both have potential to be plus pitches, and he’s had a 29% K-rate so far in the minors. His 13.5% walk rate, however, suggests his control could use some work. The Orioles also don’t have a great track record with pitchers lately – their most promising arms in recent years (Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman) didn’t find success until they left hitter-friendly Camden Yards and the brutal AL East. Hall might eventually be good enough to succeed anywhere, but more development is needed. (Ben Sanders)

87. Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 24, Previous rank: 69)

Canning likely would’ve missed the first couple months of last season, had they actually happened, due to “chronic changes to the UCL,” the latest in a history of elbow problems. However, he got through it with a series of biological injections, and made 11 starts once MLB resumed. His results were inconsistent, and though his 3.99 ERA was an improvement over the 4.58 he posted in his 2019 debut, his K-rate, BB-rate, WHIP and fastball velocity all moved in the wrong direction. Canning’s four-pitch mix gives him a good chance to eventually be a mid-rotation starter, with upside for more if he can develop a dominant offering. He’d likely be higher on this list if not for his elbow woes, which I fear may lead to Tommy John surgery at some point. (Ben Sanders)

88. Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 23, Previous rank: 93)

Lodolo threw 18.1 absolutely dominant innings in the low minors in 2019 after being drafted seventh overall by the Reds. He also got lit up in 2.1 MLB spring training innings in 2020. It would be nice to have a decent-sized sample of his work against an appropriate level of competition, but the pandemic denied us that. Lodolo lacks a dominant pitch that would give him ace upside, but his curveball, changeup and mid-90s fastball are all promising. H has good command, a smooth delivery, and an ideal 6’6, 205-pound frame. He’s a good bet to be a mid-rotation SP in the future. (Ben Sanders)

89. Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 26, Previous rank: 135)

Mahle’s fastball has always been pretty good, but his search for a decent breaking pitch has been an ordeal. His 4.98 ERA in 2018 was due in large part to the terrible performance of his slider. He abandoned it in 2019 in favor of a curveball, which had a better pitch value but didn’t really help his overall line. In 2020, he unveiled a revamped slider with much better results. His strikeout rate soared to 29.9% and his ERA dropped to 3.59. It wasn’t perfect – his .255 BABIP and 10.3% HR/FB rate suggest some favorable batted ball luck. His 10.4% walk rate was also not ideal, although his strong control in the minors leads me to believe he can improve that. Assuming the slider keeps working for him, Mahle could be more of a mid-rotation starter than a back-end guy. (Ben Sanders)

90. Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals (Age: 24, Previous rank: 122)

Singer looked ahead of schedule in his rookie season. He used an effective sinker-slider combination to keep the ball down, producing a 53.1% groundball rate. His 23.2% K-rate, 8.7% BB rate, and 4.06 ERA look nice at the back of a fantasy rotation, and he should be capable of similar numbers in the future. To take another step forward, he’ll need to develop his changeup into a viable third pitch. He threw it just 4.7% of the time last season, so it’s definitely a work in progress. If it improves, he has mid-rotation upside. (Ben Sanders)

91. JOSIAH GRAY, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 23, PREVIOUS RANK: 86)

Josiah Gray has impressively ascended to the number one prospect in the Dodgers farm system since being part of the return package in the trade that sent Yasiel Puig plus more to the Cincinnati Reds. Many scouting reports predict Gray as a middle of the rotation arm at a minimum, with significant upside. He features a fastball that sits in the mid-nineties with natural movement that plays well in today’s game. He already deploys an effective slider with sharp downward movement as his second pitch and is continuing to develop a tertiary changeup. In his limited time in the minors, Gray has kept his average BB/9 under 2.5 while averaging over 10 K/9. Even more impressive, he has only allowed four home runs in over 180 innings pitched in the minors. There was plenty of talk during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season that Gray could make his major league debut although it never came to be, so don’t be shocked to see him on the mound in the majors in 2021. (Bob Cyphers)

92. MASAHIRO TANAKA, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 70)

Tanaka recently agreed to a two-year contract with the Rakuten Eagles seemingly ending his MLB career after seven seasons with the New York Yankees. I guess never say never, but this seems likely that it marks the end of his fantasy relevancy. (Bob Cyphers)

93. GARRETT CROCHET, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)

Garrett Crochet certainly made the most out of 2020 as he was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago White Sox on June 10th and made his major league debut on September 18th. Fun fact, he is the 22nd player to ever make his major league debut without playing any minor league games after being drafted (last was Mike Leake in 2010). Crochet made five relief appearances totaling six innings pitched in which he gave up only three hits, walked none, and struck out eight. Unfortunately, his season came to an end with injury concerns, something that has plagued him throughout his amateur career as well. Luckily the injury was diagnosed as a flexor strain with no structural damage in his arm and he should be good to go for the start of the 2021 season. His plus-plus fastball (with an average velocity sitting in the triple digits), plus slider with good velocity and sweeping movement, and potential to continue developing a change-up almost reminds you of a similarly tall, lanky leftie once in the White Sox system. His immediate ascension to the majors puts Crochet in a great position to maintain his role, but his ability to stay healthy will ultimately drive whether he finds himself in the starting rotation or in the back end of the bullpen locking down games going forward. (Bob Cyphers)

94. ELIESER HERNANDEZ, MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)

Elieser Hernandez offers a very intriguing pitching profile going into 2021. In 2020, his game took leaps in important areas such as his strikeout percentage jumping to 32.1 percent (8 percent increase), 4 percent increase in Whiff%, and his walk rate decreased 2.7 percent to 4.7 percent. These increases put him in some of the league’s best percentiles for these stats.  At the same time, his average exit velocity increased by almost 5 mph and his hard-hit rate increased 6.7 percent. These numbers put him in the bottom percentiles for these stats creating quite the conundrum when trying to define his profile moving forward. Hernandez lives on the edge, of the strike zone that is, with 51.4% of his pitches on the edge of the zone, well above the league average of 39 percent. He also peppers the zone at a 57.2 percent rate, again above the league average of 49.9 percent. His pitches are below-average in velocity with only average movement, but he has a very consistent release point and the velocity difference between his pitches keeps them effective. If Hernandez can maintain the gains from 2020, while maintaining or even improving in the other areas noted, he is a middle-of-the-rotation arm with upside. (Bob Cyphers)

95. CLARKE SCHMIDT, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 121)

Clarke Schmidt generated a lot of buzz in Summer Camp last season but was ultimately left off of the (delayed) Opening Day roster. He did get his “cup of coffee” later in the season but only pitched 6.1 innings with mixed results. Schmidt deploys an impressive four-pitch arsenal, all of which are at least average with most projected as above average. His fastball and slider exhibit very high spin rates that combined with his above-average control and command make them excellent swing and miss weapons. He has spent the off-season diving into the analytics of his pitches which has allowed him to better define his pitch arsenal as well as continue to increase his spin rates. Schmidt will look for the opportunity to compete for a back of the rotation spot for the Yankees in 2021 and should be a definite contributor this season. (Bob Cyphers)

96. JOHN MEANS, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 133)

John Means is attracting a lot of interest going into the 2021 season despite going 2-4 with a 4.53 ERA last year. What has people talking is his last four starts in which he only gave up four earned runs in 23.3 innings with 30 strikeouts and three walks. These aren’t cherry-picked starts either as they came against the formidable offenses of the Mets, Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays. The beginning of the 2020 season was rocky for everyone, but this was especially true for Means who suffered from a “dead arm” that delayed his debut and he also missed time due to a death in the family. Anyone can easily see why it may have taken him a while to get into form and in a better mental space, but when it looked like he finally was right the shortened season came to an end. Further support for his end of the season performance is his Statcast numbers which show significant increases in key areas such as velocity (+2.1 mph on his fastball), strikeout rate (+4.9 percent), whiff% (+4.1%), and walk rate (-2%). Pitching in the American League East with Camden Yards as your home field feels like the deck is stacked against Means, but if these gains are maintained he has the potential to regain All-Star status as he did in 2019 as a rookie. (Bob Cyphers)

97. JORDAN BALAZOVIC, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: 107)

Jordan Balazovic has shown continued growth since being drafted out of high school in 2016. He has continued to grow and fill out his frame since beginning his professional career which has helped his pitch mix develop as well. He has a naturally cutting fastball that sits in the mid-nineties, with three additional pitches that he mixes in well and can all miss bats. He averaged over 12 K/9 between 2018-2019 at the Single-A level working primarily as a starter. He has not pitched above Single-A yet in his career and also has not surpassed 100 innings. The 2020 season did not help further his development in either of these aspects, but he was able to get some work in at the alternate site and reportedly looked good and maintained his-90s velocity jump from 2019. Balazovic should be a name to watch this year to see just how quickly he rises through the minor leagues. (Bob Cyphers)

98. DOMINGO GERMAN, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 76)

The last time we saw Domingo German on the mound in a major league game was in 2019 when he won 18 games in 24 starts. He posted a 4.03 ERA, nearly matching his SIERA (4.06) and slightly overperforming his xFIP (4.22), with 9.63 K/9 and a career-best 2.45 BB/9. He was then suspended for the entire 2020 season for violating the MLB’s domestic violence policy. This was obviously his most heinous action by far, but there were several others throughout the year, including a cryptic social media post stating he was done with baseball, that have many questioning his dedication to the game. He is currently on the Yankees roster, but it sounds like their upper-management and coaches will have a face-to-face talk when he arrives for spring training about his future with the team. He projects as a backend of the rotation arm for 2021, but he may have an upward climb to earn it against some of the younger arms in the system instead of simply being an incumbent. With all this said, and speaking from a strictly baseball oriented position, German can again be a solid contributor in fantasy this year if he can regain his 2019 form. (Bob Cyphers)

99. BRENDAN MCKAY, TAMPA BAY RAYS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 45)

Brendan McKay made his major league debut in 2019 totaling 49.0 innings pitched with a 2-4 record, 5.14 ERA, and 1.41 WHIP. Despite the uninspiring numbers, McKay flashed his ability to miss bats averaging over 10 K/9 in his big league starts. His command let him down as he averaged almost 3 BB/9 which is high for someone who usually commands the strike zone so well. It seemed he was ready for a major league workload of 150-plus innings in 2020 as a prominent piece in the Rays rotation, but was delayed joining the club due to a positive Covid-19 test. He later found himself undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing arm thus ending his season before ever throwing a pitch in a game. It does not appear that McKay will be ready for the start of Spring Training in 2021, but he should be a significant contributor to the Rays pitching staff, especially in light of the recent departures from their rotation. Assuming his shoulder is right and recovered he should be given the opportunity to replenish a spot in their rotation and reclaim his previous spot in dynasty rankings. (Bob Cyphers)

100. MATTHEW LIBERATORE, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: 81)

Matthew Liberatore was the name that headlined a trade between the Rays and Cardinals in the off-season heading into 2020 (at least until Randy Arozarena put his two cents in). Regardless, the 21-year-old Liberatore is ranked third among Cardinal prospects and still expects to have a bright future in the majors. In 2019 he posted an impressive overall line of 6-2 with a 3.10 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in 78.1 innings at Single-A during an up and down season. He struggled with his command and control at times causing his overall results to suffer. His sweeping 12-to-6 curveball headlines his plus-pitches along with his fastball and changeup. He is still developing his slider which could obviously further enhance his pitching repertoire, and likely add more strikeout potential. Another player whose innings development was hampered by the cancelation of minor league play in 2020, Liberatore will continue his ascent through the minor leagues in 2021 which should be relatively quick as long as he can maintain his command and control. (Bob Cyphers)

101. LUKE WEAVER, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 55)

After a forearm injury ended his breakout 2019 campaign, Weaver was on everybody’s sleeper list going into 2020 based on his ceiling and deflated cost. He wasted little time in disappointing those managers, starting the year off with back-to-back 6 ER outings in 4 innings or less. He may have been the victim of his injury amplifying the effects of the unusual offseason preparation, as his struggles can likely be attributed to differentiating between command and control. Without seeing a change to his walk rate, his 4 seam fastball drifted down and curveball drifted up to meet in the middle of the zone, causing his flyball and homerun rates reached career highs. Still respectable strikeout (23.3% in 2020) and walk (7.6%) rates, a previous track record of good command, and a healthy and normal spring training set the table for him to get back to a form close to his 2019 peak. (Aaron Cumming)

102. CHRIS BASSITT, OAKLAND ATHLETICS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 165)

Below average stuff and below average command are not usually a recipe for this level of success. Bassitt has defied the odds with his solid 2019 campaign, and superb 2020 season. A fastball heavy approach has helped him decrease his walk rate for 3 seasons straight. On top of playing in one of the most pitcher-friendly stadiums in the majors, a deep arsenal and effective pitch mix help limit the barrels and hard contact against him, so he should continue to perform better than his peripherals (2020: ERA – 2.29, xFIP – 4.49; 2019: ERA – 3.81, xFIP – 4.61; 2018:  ERA – 3.02, xFIP – 4.52). Bassitt will be a ratios boost to any fantasy roster, and will regularly go deep enough into games to accumulate solid win and strikeout totals. (Aaron Cumming)

103. HUNTER GREENE, CINCINNATI REDS (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: 94)

Hunter Greene may be the highest-variance player on this entire list. If he reaches his potential, he could land among the top 30 pitchers in all of baseball; however, if his luck stays the same and he can’t develop his secondary stuff, he may not even be ranked on this list next year. He hasn’t pitched in a professional game since July 2018, due to an arm injury and Tommy John surgery. Nearly 2 years removed from that surgery now, he will look to expand his arsenal beyond just his 100+ mph fastball. Still just entering his age-21 season, Greene has youth on his side to reach his incredible ceiling, plus the benefit of the Driveline influence on the organization’s pitching development. The upside is tantalizing, but the risk may be too much to bear. (Aaron Cumming)

104. JUSTUS SHEFFIELD, SEATTLE MARINERS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 155)

In 2020, Sheffield traded his 4 seam fastball for a sinker, with extraordinary results. His new pitch is basically the poster child for the newly discovered phenomenon of seam-shifted wake. The way he throws that pitch enhances the movement beyond what would be expected. His sinker actually graded out comparably to Kyle Hendricks’ and Jack Flaherty’s. Coupled with a still improving wipeout slider, the 24-year-old is building on prospect pedigree and cultivating a dominant arsenal that could see him catapult up this list next year, similar to Dylan Bundy (128th in 2020, 44th in 2021). His power suppression gains are sure to see some regression to the mean (a 4.4% HR/fly ball rate is unsustainable), but they came with genuine skills improvements that we should trust. (Aaron Cumming)

105. MICHAEL PINEDA, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 120)

Pineda pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 2020, but that came in only 5 starts against fairly weak central division opponents, and with the good fortune of giving up 0 home runs. He continued his trend from 2019 to becoming a fly ball pitcher, so don’t expect that luck to continue. Still, Pineda is what he is at this point: a command focused innings eater with a strikeout rate around 22% and walk rate around 6%. There’s no real upside to be had here, but he can stabilize the back of a rotation with an ERA in the low 4s, and a WHIP around 1.20. (Aaron Cumming)

106. MATTHEW BOYD, DETROIT TIGERS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 71)

Following a stalwart 2019 campaign, Boyd spent the offseason working on making his changeup more effective. Unfortunately, the disruption to his pitch mix seemed to make everything else less effective. He also dealt with lower body injuries (hamstring, plantar fasciitis) that went unreported during the season. Those factors assuredly played a role in his regression back to his subpar 2018 and earlier skills, and even worse surface stats (4.97 xFIP, 6.71 ERA, and 1.48 WHIP in 2020). With an arsenal similar to Patrick Corbin, you can see the upside for Boyd. If he can get back to locating his fastball up and in to righties, while recapturing his slider’s put away stuff, his guaranteed volume in a young Tigers rotation could result in a huge bounceback and great value. (Aaron Cumming)

107. CALEB SMITH, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK 83)

Caleb Smith is basically the lite-version of the pitcher he was ostensibly brought in to replace, Robbie Ray. An above average strikeout rate along with an above average walk rate make him a valuable, but volatile fantasy pitcher. With the trade from Miami to Arizona, the downgrade in park (despite the humidor) makes his extreme fly ball profile a massive risk (his 65.6% fly ball rate was the highest among any pitcher to make even a single start last year). If your roster can handle the ratios risk, and you want a boost to your strikeout totals, Smith is the guy for you. (Aaron Cumming)

108. DANIEL LYNCH, KANSAS CITY ROYALS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 89)

Lynch increased his velocity leading up to the 2018 draft, pushing his stock into the first round. He then increased his velocity in again 2019 before an injury cut his season just short of 100 innings. After returning from that injury, his velocity went up yet again, touching 99 MPH. That kind of work ethic and drive to improve, with the foundation of 5 potentially above average pitches, is what makes him the top pitching prospect in the Royals system. While several of the other prospects from that organization debuted in 2020, Lynch has yet to pitch in a professional game above the High-A level. No matter, he is expected to make his debut this year, and should be a solid all-around contributor from the start. If he improves his command with the same fervor that he improved his velocity, expect him to be a top 50 starting pitcher going into 2022. (Aaron Cumming)

109. ZACH EFLIN, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 166)

Eflin has seemingly been primed for a breakout for several years now. He rewarded his loyal supporters in 2020 with his first season of a sub-4 ERA, and his supporting stats suggest he deserved far better than that. He has demonstrated some of the best command in the league, but his step forward last year is the result of a huge jump in strikeout rate. After only posting 1 season above a 19% K rate, he had a 28.3% rate last season. He changed his pitch mix from 4 seam/slider/sinker, to throwing more than 50% sinkers and bumping up his curveball usage. The spin on his sinker and curve are near perfect mirror images, making both of them more difficult for the hitter to pick up. If these adjustments stick, and the results follow, then Eflin will be well inside the top 75 starting pitchers this year. (Aaron Cumming)

110. EDWARD CABRERA, MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: 151)

Cabrera is another of the many recent success stories for the Marlins’ pitching development department. A huge fastball and good slider led to a breakout 2019 that saw him skyrocket up prospect lists. A shoulder injury derailed a potential promotion in 2020, but with that bit of extra seasoning, you should expect to see improvements with his changeup and command. He will certainly start 2021 in the minors, but could get a quick call, and has #3 starter fantasy upside in the near future. (Aaron Cumming)

111. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (Age: 38, Previous rank: 16)

Let us all thank Kate Upton for saving Justin Verlander from the clutches of depression and giving us the chance to watch one of the best ever do his best, ever. It didn’t matter that he was on the wrong side of 35 after the 300 whiffs he posted in 2019. Sadly, the mileage on the arm came calling and Verlander had to make the difficult decision to get Tommy John and miss the 2020 season. Well, maybe given the state of baseball at the time it wasn’t such a difficult decision. Anyway, Verlander is now my favorite pick in the back end of a dynasty startup draft. The recent news on his recovery was positive and there is an outside chance he comes back late in the year in 2021 and pitches again in 2022. The potential ROI on a Verlander draft and stash is significant. (Kyle Brown)

112. Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 127)

Old man river, that old man river, he must know sumpin’, but don’t say nothin’. Eovaldi is basically the definition of an avoid for dynasty leagues…or is he? Other managers might see the state of the Red Sox and the recent relegation (2019) to the bullpen for Eovaldi and turn their nose up. In reality, the situation in Boston and the 2020 success that Eovaldi enjoyed means two things: job security and innings. There isn’t much upside here, but Eovaldi doesn’t walk guys, which helps limit the damage he allows when the hard hits show up, and they do show up consistently. He still has the elite fastball velocity (97.4) and has been throwing his cutter more often. The results in 2020 were solid enough to merit a late-round selection in 2021, just don’t have any illusions about what you are getting. (Kyle Brown)

113. Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 62)

Manaea provided us all with a glimmer of dominance at the tail end of the 2019 season before getting absolutely torched in the playoffs (Yandy!). When you look under the hood, even that one spell of dominance where Manaea finally struck out more than a batter per inning was not supported by advanced metrics. His 1.21 ERA that year came with a 3.42 FIP. At 29 years young, I don’t think we are ever going to get anything in the “above-average” category from Manaea, well, ever. If you are in a deeper league and need someone who will throw innings when healthy, Manaea could serve a role. That said, you are most likely better off taking a flier on a young gun than investing in a pitcher who has shown time and time again that he can’t miss enough bats to be fantasy relevant. (Kyle Brown)

114. Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 57)

Oh, how the mighty prospects do fall. The pedigree can only get you so far, folks. Dylan Cease is the type of pitcher I avoid. Despite a giant fastball and slider, Cease has been unable to generate a lot of swinging strikes at the major league level (9.2 SwStr% in 2020). Walking guys at a rate of 10% plus with a dinger problem is, uh, a big problem. Cease has given up a whopping 27 home runs in his 131.1 major league innings. He replaced some curveballs with changeups last season and the results were not positive. The FIP on his 4.01 ERA in 2020 was all the way up to 6.36. I am officially out on Cease, and you should be too. (Kyle Brown)

115. Jordan Montgomery, New York Yankees (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)

It has taken Jordan Montgomery a lot of time and a Tommy John surgery to get to this point, but he has finally started to put it all together. The 6’6″ lefty turned in the best season of his career in 2020. Pay no attention to the 5.11 ERA and focus instead on the 3.87 FIP and 1.84 BB/9. Montgomery also turned in his best SwStr%, best O-Swing%, and best average exit velocity allowed in the sprint season. All of those numbers portend well for the future, making Montgomery one of the best sleepers on this list. (Kyle Brown)

116. Shane Baz, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 21, Previous Ranks: 72)

Shane Baz has an electric fastball. That’s it, that’s the analysis. Truthfully, I will never be over Shane Baz being the “Player to be named later” in the Chris Archer deal, but if he doesn’t end up a full-time starter I may be able to move on, eventually. Baz presents a common theme this far down dynasty lists: pitchers with elite stuff who can’t control it enough to project as effective starters. Add that to the fact that he pitches for Tampa and you have a recipe for a 2-3 inning opener or reliever role looking you squarely in the face. The Rays are a confounding team for fantasy managers. They tend to get the most out of their players, but they do it in a way that tanks the player’s fantasy value. (Kyle Brown)

117. Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 124)

Alek Manoah is a gigantic man. Standing 6’6″ 250 pounds, Manoah pairs an elite slider with an above-average fastball and absolutely wasted hitters in his professional debut in 2019. What I like most about Manoah is that despite his size he has produced a BB/9 that is better than the previous year every season since joining West Virginia as a freshman in 2017. It can often be very difficult for large-and-in-charge pitchers to maintain their mechanics and control, but Manoah seems to have no problem in that department. Manoah and his brother purchased a space and started a gym during the lockdown to stay in shape, focusing on improving Manoah’s changeup. If he can develop his change into an average or above-average pitch he will become a SP3 (or better) type of pitcher for the Jays. Given a normal 2020, Manoah would have likely destroyed the minor leagues, so get in while the getting is good and his talent is still going somewhat unnoticed. (Kyle Brown)

118. Dane Dunning, Texas Rangers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)

After losing all of 2019 to Tommy John surgery, Dane Dunning’s dazzling debut was a delight to drool over for dynasty dudes and dudettes everywhere. He profiles as a good-not-great type of pitcher who can compile decent strikeout totals with an ERA in the low 4s. The move to Texas is a positive one for Dunning. The new ballpark in Texas leans pitcher-friendly and the other hurlers in the organization (be they MLB or MiLB at present) are not going to push Dunning out of the rotation any time soon. While his arsenal might be a little “meh,” he makes up for it with pitchability. (Kyle Brown)

119. Jake Odorizzi, Free Agent (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 74)

Admittedly, it is more than a little difficult to rank a pitcher who does not currently have a mound to throw from. Odorizzi is not the type of pitcher who will simply be good wherever he signs. In fact, his value might be maximized if he signs with a team committed to pulling him before he goes through the order a third time. It’s no secret, but once he hits the third time through the order the “odor” in Odorizzi really starts to stand out. The most recent reports link him to the Rays (good!), Mets (good!), Twins (fine!), and the White Sox (very, very bad!), so keep an eye on where he lands before you decide to take a flier on him in the late rounds. That said, he should still be good for a decent K/9 this season. (Kyle Brown)

120. Brailyn Marquez, Chicago Cubs (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 143)

Left-handed starters who throw triple-digits do not grow on trees. Can Marquez stick as a starter? That remains to be seen. It can be difficult to assess the talents of a pitcher such as Marquez simply by looking at the minor league stats. If you can control a triple-digit heater – even a little bit – then you are simply going to annihilate minor league hitters. The question for Marquez will be if he can throw his slider for strikes and develop his changeup into a usable pitch. If he continues to rely on the heater as his main (only?) weapon he will get pushed into the pen. (Kyle Brown)

121. Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners (Age: 29, Previous rank: 159)

Kikuchi made many positive changes in 2020, even though he posted an ERA over five for a second straight season. His fastball velocity rose from 92.6 all the way to 95. He not only added a cutter to his repertoire, he threw it 40% of the time, the most of any of his pitches, and it was effective. His K-rate rose from 16.1% to 24.2%, and his groundball rate climbed from 44% to 52%. Bad luck hurt his overall line, but so did occasional control issues – he had three starts where he walked four or more batters, and in all three he allowed at least five runs and failed to make it out of the fifth inning. The arsenal is much improved, so if he can find the strike zone with more consistency, Kikuchi could become the solid fantasy starter we hoped for when he arrived from Japan. (Ben Sanders)

122. Cristian Javier, Houston Astros (Age: 24, Previous rank: NR)

Javier is hard to figure out. Was his 3.48 rookie-season ERA lucky? Yes, if you look at his 4.94 FIP. But not if you look at his Statcast numbers, which included some of the weakest contact in MLB and a 2.94 xERA. He struck out less than a batter per inning, not coming close to his lofty minor league K-rates, but also didn’t struggle with control as much as usual. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher, giving up too many homers but also getting lots of popouts. His fastball has below-average velocity, but he still threw it 63% of the time, relying on a deceptive delivery. His slider is easily his best secondary pitch, and the only one he throws regularly. It’s a similar profile to Freddy Peralta, which doesn’t exactly clear up what to expect. Like Peralta, Javier comes with intriguing upside but a lot of risk, and it’s unclear whether he’ll end up as a starter or reliever. (Ben Sanders)

123. Drew Smyly, Atlanta Braves (Age: 31, Previous rank: NR)

Smyly was fantastic in the 26.1 innings he threw for the Giants in 2020, striking out 37.8% of the batters he faced. His fastball velocity was higher than ever, and his curveball virtually unhittable, producing a 50% whiff rate. He turned that into a one-year contract with a loaded Braves team, and the short-term upside is enormous. Of course, so is the risk. Tommy John surgery cost him all of 2017 and 2018, and he was awful in his 2019 return. Even in 2020, he missed a month with a finger injury, and didn’t go deep into games when he did pitch. Smyly is the type of pitcher dynasty teams in win-now mode should look to gamble on. However, if you want a dependable long-term contributor, look elsewhere. (Ben Sanders)

124. Zach Davies, Chicago Cubs (Age: 28, Previous rank: 173)

Davies went from the Padres to the Cubs in the Yu Darvish trade. That’s probably good for his dynasty value just based on job security—San Diego is a great place to pitch these days, but there’s no guarantee he would have been able to stay in the Padres’ loaded rotation. His best pitch is easily his changeup, and increased usage of it (41.3% in 2020) led to a career-best season. He won seven games, had a 2.73 ERA, and a much-improved (but still mediocre) 22.8% K-rate. Batted ball luck was also a factor, and his .249 BABIP probably won’t repeat. Like most pitchers whose fastball sits below 90 MPH, Davies doesn’t have much fantasy upside beyond eating innings at the back of a rotation. (Ben Sanders)

125. Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 23, Previous rank: 129)

McClanahan has moved quickly through the Rays’ system. He was a late first-round pick in 2018, ended 2019 in Double-A after two promotions, then made his MLB debut in the 2020 postseason after spending the regular season at the Rays’ alternate site. His fastball has touched 100, his curveball also looks like a potential plus pitch, and his K/9 was above 10 at every level in the minors. There are questions though – is his changeup good enough to be a viable third pitch? Does he have the command to remain a starter? If the answer to both of those is yes, McClanahan could be a potential high-end SP. If not, there’s a lot of ways that Tampa Bay might choose to use him, and most of them aren’t ideal for fantasy purposes. (Ben Sanders)

The Author

Shelly Verougstraete

Shelly Verougstraete

1 Comment

  1. Mark D.
    February 10, 2021 at 11:06 am — Reply

    FYPD in a dynasty sim league: Meyer or Hancock? Which one has the highest ceiling? The highest floor? Everyone seems to rank Meyer higher, but I’m afraid by the risk he’s a relief pitcher.

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