THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2023 TOP 200 DYNASTY LEAGUE STARTING PITCHERS, #1-50
Continuing with our highlights of the league’s top Starting Pitchers, as judged by our collection of industry experts, below are the players ranked #1-50.
Welcome to this year’s top ten SP write-up. An exciting time for all entering into a 2023 season bursting with promise and anticipation, we get to celebrate some really talented players on the mound. Each of these pitchers can anchor your fantasy roster. Each one has some minor flaws to be acknowledged. Each one is as dreamy as the next. To celebrate their greatness I have decided to line them up (at least the top-10!) and interview them as contestants on “The Drafting Game”. The show where you find out if you should love them (draft them) or pass for greener pastures with a different pitcher. (Sam Wirsching)
1. Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 1)
Buck Jewelry (Host): Good Evening and welcome to The Drafting Game! My name is Buck Jewelry and I am your host for the game show where you get to meet your aces and make decisions about who should be anchoring your rotations!!! I will have the same three questions for each and for you watching at home pay close attention. And remember, you really can’t go wrong with any of these fine fine contestants! Let’s start with our number one pitcher, the second-year running, Corbin Burnes!
Hello Corbin, so nice to meet you. After breaking into the rotation in 2020 and finishing seventh in Cy Young voting, you lit the world on fire in 2021, taking home the Cy Young and leading the league in ERA and K/9 among qualified pitchers. You followed that up with a very solid 2022 season in which you took the mound 33 times and averaged just over 6 innings a start. While you didn’t win the Cy Young, you led the league in strikeouts with 243. Tell me Mr. Burnes, what should I expect the next 3-5 years with you anchoring my rotation?
Corbin Burnes: Buck thanks for having me again this year. It is an honor to repeat at this position and that is the first thing I would like to highlight is my consistency. Adding me to your roster means bringing an elite pitcher that has shown his upside year over year. The other thing I would like to point out is that at 28 I am in the middle of my prime. I have nothing preventing me from doing my best work for your roster. I mean, have you seen my statcast?
Host: Good Answer, good answer! In a startup draft where do you see your min bid being?
CB: Well, obviously I would like to say #1 overall, but I realize there are a number of attractive young hitters that make that decision tough. I would say somewhere around the turn in a 15-team league. I do pair up with a good 5-category hitter as a 4-category starting pitcher.
Host: Yes you do! Now, Corbin, I do have to ask you, are there any flaws that our drafters should be concerned with?
CB: Actually, I didn’t end 2022 very strong Buck. My strikeout rates dropped and my HR/FB% more than doubled. Lastly, I only threw 6 quality starts in my last 13 overall starts. But don’t worry, all the projection systems seem to like me for 2023, and with a 5 pitch mix led by my mid 90’s cutter and a nasty curveball, I plan on being around for a long time. (Sam Wirsching)
2. Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous Ranking: 21)
Host: Let’s turn our attention to someone who has been in the majors for only two years, but in that time has become a household name in the fantasy community: Shane McClanahan! Shane was drafted by the New York Mets in 2015, but passed on them to go to the University of South Florida. He was then drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the 2018 draft. And after spending time in the minors through the 2019 season he broke into the majors in 2021 and hasn’t looked back. Armed with three plus pitches: a 4 seamer, changeup, and curveball and a show me slider, what he has done has been incredible. In 2022 he finished with a stat line of 12-8 in 28 starts and 166.1 innings. He accumulated 194 strikeouts against 38 walks with a 2.54 ERA and a 0.926 WHIP. Shane, tell me what I should expect from you for the next 3-5 years anchoring my fantasy roster.
Shane McClanahan: Well Mr. Jewelry to be honest I feel like I can promise you the world. I play for an amazing organization when it comes to maximizing everyone’s ability. The Rays are going to win a lot of games the next few years, and I plan on being a big part of that. Between my bullpen keeping me in line to win a lot of games and the strides I have made on the diamond… I mean Corbin talked about his statcast, but mine is also very red.
Host: That is very impressive indeed. Tell me Shane, where do you see your min bid being?
SMc: Easy. I should be taken before the second turn in a 15-team draft. I would like to add I am 3 years younger than Mr. Burnes. I wouldn’t be shocked if I was taken as the first starting pitcher in some drafts. I have people that appreciate me and my skills. I pair great with an elite OF/CI at your next pick. Or another pitcher. Actually, I pair great with anyone.
Host: Shane that feels like a bold statement for how last year ended. Can you talk about that to address your concerns?
SMc: Absolutely. I had some shoulder issues last year that took some of the wind from my sails. I was removed from my start at the end of August as a precaution. I only went 5 innings the rest of the season. If there was honestly something wrong with my shoulder I would have been completely shut down. I am not worried and Mr. Jewelry I am ready to show what I can do to not only win a chip in real life, but to help your fantasy squad win one as well. (Sam Wirsching)
3. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees (Age: 32, Previous Ranking: 2
Host: Our third starter to talk to has been at our near the top of these lists for the last few years. Gerrit Cole broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was only 22 in 2013. In 2018 he made the jump to the AL and the Houston Astros where he had a two year run of dominance that was complicated by the aftermath of the Astros scandal. And so in December of 2019, he went to the Evil Empire, I mean the New York Yankees. In the three years since he has finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting each year. He has also taken the mound every five days and gotten great results. But does his fall to third mean he is losing his grip on being an elite starter? Gerrit tell us why you should be anchoring our fantasy rotation for the next 3-5 years?
Gerrit Cole: This is crap already. I don’t want to be here. My agent said I had to. How could you let an upstart be ahead of me on this list. It wouldn’t be that way in a redraft drafting special. I would be considered 1B with Corbin above. I should be anchoring your rotation because I don’t have the shoulder/neck issues that Shane McClanaHACK has. I am going to continue to strike out hitters at elite rates, I don’t issue many free passes. I am everything you would want.
Host: In redraft, you definitely look more attractive. So then where do you see your minimum bid being in dynasty drafts? And is the difference justified?
GC: No it isn’t justified. People hate me because I am successful. Well, that and I had to find a different way to get my stuff hidden on my uniform. But once I did I was fine. Why are you asking me about that?
Host: Gerrit, we didn’t ask you about that. Where should you be taken?
GC: Honestly I think somewhere around the second turn in a 15-team league. I admit I am defensive, sorry for the rant. People see I am 32 and they get nervous. But I know that I have several more years on this arm. I play for a great organization for accumulating wins. I already bring everything else.
Host: I agree that you have a great track record, but tell me about your flaws. What should I be worried about?
GC: Well I seemed to have taken on a hard-hit problem. I led the majors in home runs allowed with 33. I saw what they did in Baltimore. They moved the fences in Toronto. Move them at Yankee Stadium!!! Problem. Solved.
Host: Well that certainly is a take, Gerrit. Anyways… (Sam Wirsching)
4. Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins (Age: 27, Previous Ranking: 11)
Host: (Continuing) Our next Pitcher is someone who has made his way up the rankings list and breaks into the top ten for the first time. Sandy Alcantara was acquired for Marcell Ozuna before the 2018 season. He struggled with his command, but in spite of that Miami kept pushing him out every 5 days starting in 2019. Sandy figured somethings out during the 2020 season and has shown that he has that dawg in him. In the past two seasons, he has thrown 434.1 innings, and done so with a significantly lowered walk rate. This has caused his WHIP to go from being between 1.2-1.4 his entire career before 2020 to an eye-popping 1.075/0.98 for 2021/2022. Sandy what should I expect from you the next 3-5 years as an anchor in my rotation?
Sandy Alcantara: Thanks, Buck! I DO have that dawg in me! My organization has shown to be able to develop pitching talent and I am the crown jewel for the organization so far. I will go in and pitch every 5 days. I will go deep into games. I will be consistent. And I am still learning and in the middle of prime. I plan on adding value to your squad for the next 7-10 years.
Host: (Barking loudly like a dawg) Ruff!!! Ruff Ruff Ruff! Ruff Ruff!!
SA: I feel you. Thanks.
Host: So that said where do you think your min draft pick should be at?
SA: This is tough, but I honestly don’t feel much different in value to those you listed before me. And I feel like I have far less questions than those listed before. I would think somewhere in the middle of the second round in a 15-team roto startup. I pair nicely with a high K starting pitcher. Cristian Javier comes to mind.
Host: Yeah he is so dreamy. I was hopeful he would have been here this year for this Drafting Game.
SA: Next year. Be patient.
Host: So Sandy before you go, what concerns should managers consider when drafting you?
SA: Honestly my lack of strikeouts necessitates my need for significant innings. But I am getting better. I have it in me to take another step. (Barking like a dawg) Ruff!! Ruff Ruff!!!! Ruff!
Host: I couldn’t have said it better myself dawg, and I get paid to talk. (Sam Wirsching)
5. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 29, Previous Ranking: 10)
Host: Drafted in the first round by the Phillies in 2014 Aaron Nola became a staple in their rotation by 2017. In fact since the start of 2017 Aaron has started 170 games. It’s nuts. In addition, he has four seasons of more than 180 innings pitched and 220 strikeouts. If 2020 had been a full season there is reason to believe it would have been five. Here for the second year in a row, Mister Aaron Nola!
Aaron Nola: Howdy y’all! It is a pleasure to be here again. I like that my number keeps getting smaller. It should have been smaller this year. (Looks at the host annoyed and a little peeved)
Host: I like it! A chip on the shoulder. What are we going to expect if we draft you for the next 3-5 years?
AN: Well go to the internet and look at my stats. Seriously. I get a little bit better each year. I am getting you 200 innings of more than a strikeout an inning, great ratios, and the Phillies win games. You are getting four categories of excellence.
Host: You know (checks Google on his iPhone) you are right. You haven’t had any dip, and any real peak. You just get better every year. Where is your min pick in a draft?
AN: You can usually find me being taken as early as the middle of the second round. For drafters that like high-floor/risk-free investments early, well… I am your guy.
Host: So what is your risk profile for some drafting you to consider?
AN: I don’t think there is one. Besides health which every pitcher has to face, I do everything well. My success doesn’t depend on an elite four-seamer. My change and sinker are elite. As is my pitch mirroring. I am just your basic bitch elite pitcher.
Host: You know something now that we have talked I realized how wrong I was about you. I bet you are underrated from a trade perspective.
AN: The managers that roster me already know. Welcome to the show Buck. (Glares at Buck Jewelry with lots of energy)
Host: Heh, yeah… Moving on… (Sam Wirsching)
6. Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 29, Previous Ranking: 6)
Host: A real life team having one starter on this list is amazing. To have two is too much. But the Milwaukee Brewers did it again. Brandon Woodruff was the number six pitcher last year, and after a rigorous process he ended up at six again. Drafted by the Brewers in 2014 he broke into the majors in 2017 and by 2019 was a fixture in the Brewers rotation. He features four pitches: a fastball he primarily relies on and a changeup, curve, and slider. When he is hitting on all cylinders he can be just as effective as the names above him. How are you doing tonight Brandon?
Brandon Woodruff: I am doing good tonight Buck. It is so nice to be here again. I hope this is the year to make my big move and take over Corbin Burnes as the number one pitcher.
Corbin Burnes: Fat chance Woody!
Host: Corbin go to the green room and enjoy the buffet. It’s Woody’s turn, I mean Brandon. Sorry, Brandon.
BW: He ruins everything.
Host: Onto the questions what do you bring to my roster the next 3-5 years?
BW: Buck that is a great question. As you saw starting in 2020 I can pitch. I feel like I am in the middle of my best years and 2023 is when I show the world what I can do when healthy for the whole season. I am ready to run.
Host: That would be nice since we haven’t seen you sniff 200 innings pitched in a single season, let alone a stretch of them. What should be your min bid in a dynasty startup?
BW: Corbin put you up to that didn’t he? He has only done it once and you made him first on this dumb list. I fricking hate you guys. Gosh. (Takes a deep breath to compose himself. Looks down and then back at the camera) I don’t think the market values me accordingly, so I would venture I can be had at the end of the second round easily.
Host: I agree the market doesn’t value you correctly. What flaws get highlighted by them and what needs to happen to see you make the next step, if you have it?
BW: OUCH! A little harsh there Bucky. Watch yourself. I think I do, but it is going to require a season where I get to 200ip. That really is what is keeping me from being a top 5 pitcher. But if I can’t put it together I don’t think I should be this high next year.
Host: Look, we agree on something Woody! (Sam Wirsching)
7. Jacob DeGrom, Texas Rangers (Age: 34, Previous Ranking: 4)
Host: Speaking of someone who needs everything to come back together again, I want to introduce to the screen Jacob DeGrom. Formerly of the New York Mets, he has been born again in Texas waters with the Rangers. Breaking into the majors in 2014 as a starter in New York, Jacob DeGrom started immediately building his resume as the best pitcher after 2010. He was a machine, increasing his velocity, his precision, his dominance. And then 2021 and 2022 he had some significant questions about his shoulder, his durability. What are these healing Texas waters going to bring? Jacob, welcome to the stage.
Jacob DeGrom: Thanks.
Host: So Jacob, why should someone choose you to anchor their fantasy rotation for the next 3-5 years?
JD: Because for the last two years I have been sick of being in New York. Do you know how much Cohen would have given me to stay if I hadn’t had all of those questions surrounding my health? I mean the other guys showed off their statcast page, but I am just as pretty.
Host: Wait… Did you tank the last two years?
JD: Watch yourself Bucky boy. I would never throw anything. I mean not give my all. I throw with everything. Damn it. Why are you confusing me? You must be part of the New York media.
Host: Umm… No. Curious where you see yourself going in dynasty drafts?
JD: That is a good question. My age is something that makes some managers shy away. In spite of my ranking here I think the end of the third round is where I am going to be going.
Host: So is that the concern fantasy managers should consider when drafting you?
JD: My age and my “injury history” (Jacob makes air quotes with his hands/fingers repeatedly for 10 seconds staring at them while he does this)
Host: Right, the healing waters of Texas, the healing waters of Texas. (Sam Wirsching)
8. Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves (Age: 25 Previous Ranking: 151)
Host: Which brings us to Spencer Strider. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 draft out of Clemson, Strider did something in 2021 I haven’t seen another player do. He played in 5 different levels. Starting in Augusta, he also played in A+ Rome, AA Mississippi, AAA Gwinnett, and 2 uneventful innings in Atlanta. If that didn’t get the people’s attention, his 2022 end of the year statline had everyone’s full and undivided by then: 11-5 in 131.1 innings (11 relief appearances to begin the season followed by 20 starts), 202 strikeouts, 2.67 ERA, and a 0.995 WHIP. Spencer, how did you go from unknown to most desirable? And as a follow up what should we expect in the next 3-5 years?
Spencer Strider: Its very zen. I have a very simple offering of a fastball and a slider. Sometimes I don’t always get the calls I want. And I am okay with that, because both of my offerings are almost impossible to hit. Just wait until I adjust to the league. And lord help my foes at the plate if I master a changeup. My four-seamer is already one of the best in the league. My slider is a natural k machine. And you set your sights on 3-5 years? I hope for at least double that. I am not even in my prime yet. Seriously Buck I mustache you a question, after watching me pitch in 2022 where would you take me in a draft?
Host: Wait, what? Are you asking me the questions? That’s my job!
SS: So where are you drafting me Bucky baby? (Spencer confidently twirls the end of his old-timey mustache)
Host: (Giving into Spencer’s irresistible charm) I would probably draft you ahead of some of the others if you asked me. But that’s following my heart, following my head I might take you even earlier.
SS: Yeah Bucky, you sure would.
Host: (coming to his senses) Stop this you scandalous scamp! Spencer, what should potential fantasy managers be worried about when they draft you?
SS: That the other teams in the league will quit because of how awesome your roster looks with my name on it. (Sam Wirsching)
9. Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (Age: 27, Previous Ranking: 25)
Host: Next in line to let us know why we should choose them to anchor our rotation is Dylan Cease. Drafted out of High School by the Cubs they decided to throw the farm at the White Sox for Jose Quintana (Checks notes: Jose Quintana. JOSE QUINTANA???). The trade included Eloy Jimenez (Checks notes: They included Eloy Jimenez and TWO OTHER PLAYERS???) We need to pause for Station Identification (host collects themselves during the voice over)
Voice Over: Need help with your Dynasty League? With anything? Ask The Dynasty Guru. Now available online at www.thedynastyguru.com or on discord with a donation. The Dynasty Guru, We’re here for you!
Host: And we’re back! To talk about Dylan Cease, and how after the White Sox boosted him from the Cubs he developed into a frontline ace. In spite of the major league team getting hijacked by a disoriented octogenarian for the last two years Cease has done nothing but improve some of his underlying metrics. In 2022 his expected stats were all at or above the 90th percentile. In addition, he has made 64 starts in the last two seasons. Very impressive. Audience, say hello to Dylan!
Dylan Cease: Thank you for having me! This has been a heck of a journey that started as a kid leaving High School in Milton GA to pitching in Chicago.
Host: Why would we choose to have you anchor our rotation in fantasy and what do you expect from yourself the next few years?
DC: You know Buck, I can’t think that far ahead. I am literally focused on my next start every time. I haven’t missed anything in the past 3 years, and I can’t imagine missing one in the next three. My goal is to be the best version of Dylan Cease I can be, and every year I look to take a step forward somewhere. Honestly, my strength is how high my floor keeps raising each year. I offer a significant amount of safe production.
The only thing I feel like I need to work on is walking batters. I led the league in walked batters in both 2020 and 2022. Can you imagine me without a walk problem?? I would hard to keep out of the top spot.
Host: I love it! You sound really grounded. What do you think your min draft pick in a dynasty startup is and as a follow up what concerns should fantasy managers know when drafting you?
DC: I think right now that could be anywhere in the early fourth round. But by next year I hope to make that price a bargain. As for future drafters, I would say that if my control gets worse it could affect some other things, but I don’t give up hits, hard contact, and I strike out a ton of hitters. I don’t think I have a lot for my managers to be concerned with.
Host: Word Dylan Cease. Word. (Sam Wirsching)
10. Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 25, Previous Ranking: 19)
Host: After a fun and lengthy process we have come down to our last pitcher. Number ten. Alek Manoah. And let me tell you that here at The Drafting Game we love Thicc Bois. And while names like Daniel Vogelbach, Rowdy Tellez, and Franmil “The Franimal” Reyes get us excited, you good sir take us all the way. Drafted in 2019 out of Clemson you came out of the lost season to start 20 games in 2021 with a number of signs that showed significant promise. Your 2022 campaign didn’t disappoint as you went 16-7 in 31 games started. Manoah accumulated 180 strikeouts with some elite rates: a 2.24 ERA and a 0.992 WHIP. You pitched 196.2 innings in one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball, the AL East. Alek Manoah, welcome to the top 10 at number 10!
Alek Manoah: Thanks for being here. But I have a question about all of you sports commentators. Are you all weirdos obsessed with my appearance?
Host: Maybe? Sorry?!? We aren’t shaming you. Indeed we acknowledge you are a top athlete entering the peak of your craft. We know some sports commentators like to talk about almost anything and yet they should just keep quiet on when it comes to body image. No, we are here to celebrate your inclusion here. What are we looking forward to with you anchoring our fantasy rotation for the next few years?
AM: I accept your apology and understand. I am here to talk about baseball, not my physique. As far as your fantasy rotation goes I plan on providing a safe floor with lots of innings. I am young and not even in my prime. If you draft me you get the best years I have to offer anyone.
Host: I agree. And the market seems to be bullish on your value, where do you see yourself being drafted in a dynasty startup?
AM: I think I could be a pitcher taken before the third round in some drafts. I will acknowledge people like thicc bois.
Host: Hey, didn’t I get in trouble for…
AM: (interrupting) My body, my prerogative to talk about it.
Host: Fair enough. So then Alek what risk do fantasy managers need to consider when they draft you?
AM: Well I have four pitches, but if I can’t get my changeup to come around, or take a step forward with my sinker I could regress a small amount. I need to figure out how to get my strikeout rate to return to 2021 levels.
Host: If you are going to have problems, working on your third and fourth options as a path to improved success is not a bad place to be. I’m with you and rooting for your on-field success.
Host: And thanks to all the pitchers who joined us today. From the middle of nowhere USA I am Buck Jewelry reminding you if you ever get a chance to take more than one of these guys for your roster there’s nothing stopping you but yourself. Until next time, Good Night!
11. ZACK WHEELER, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 7)
Zack Wheeler continues to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the league and is one of the few SPs that can be counted on to go deep into games and compile innings. While Wheeler oftentimes gets overlooked for younger options with more upside or perhaps a few of the still elite elder statesmen, Zack continues to be a very solid option in Dynasty and Redraft leagues alike. Like with all pitchers, health has been a mild source of concern, after finishing 2022 strong and throwing 153 innings Zack Wheeler would appear to be a solid option moving forward. With 5 straight seasons of posting a FIP under 3.50 Wheeler’s skills are reliable and strong. In 2022 he posted a 2.89 FIP with a 9.6 K/9. (Drew Spurling)
12. SHANE BIEBER, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 5)
Shane Bieber possesses many of the same qualities as the aforementioned Zach Wheeler. A pretty reliable workhorse that is even younger than Wheeler. Unfortunately, the health surrounding Bieber has been a bit more worrisome as it would appear there may be a slight velocity decline on Bieber’s fastball thus leading to his overall skills being less dynamic. That said Bieber remains one of the best SPs in the game and if you believe his skills plateau or maybe even rebound slightly then now would be the perfect time to be acquiring him in dynasty leagues as some of your league-mates might be even more skeptical of Bieber than this ranking would insinuate. He is also coming off of a season in which he was able to throw 200 innings so its quite possible that Bieber could be a somewhat safe target at a depressed price. With a career 3.00 FIP and a 2.87 FIP in 2022 the only thing lacking in Bieber’s repertoire is the elite strikeout potential of some of the other names in the top 20. (Drew Spurling)
13. SHOHEI OHTANI, LOS ANGELES ANGELS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 27)
I think when you consider Shohei Ohtani as a Starting Pitcher alone this ranking makes quite a bit of sense. It’s clear Ohtani has established himself as an SP 1, however, it’s difficult to place him ahead of many names on this list as a pitcher alone. I think we have to factor in some elevated risk of injury even if it’s difficult to quantify exactly. It’s clear Ohtani is putting more stress and effort on his body as compared to other Starting Pitchers most definitely by hitting and running the bases. That said most of the risk is tied to Pitching in my eyes and Ohtani does have an apparently athletic and durable build as far as Starting Pitchers go. In the end, his versatility will lead him to be a top-10 player most likely even in weekly formats, and probably the 1st overall pick in daily formats. Quite frankly this might be the best overall player in all of baseball. With a 2.40 FIP across 166.0 innings and 219 strikeouts in 2022 to accompany his skills as a hitter this is a player to draft or trade for at any even remotely reasonable price. (Drew Spurling)
14. JULIO URÍAS, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 8)
Honestly, you would do well to draft or acquire as many of the Starting Pitchers as you can in this top 50. However, as talented as Julio Urias is, it is possible that he is being slightly overvalued based on a few factors. The first factor is that Urias is 26 years old, which is great for Dynasty leagues, unfortunately only a minuscule number of pitchers are dominant for more than for years, let alone the 10 years of production that we might be dreaming of with a 26-year-old pitcher. Another factor is that while Urias has a solid career of 8.9 K/9 across seven seasons, he does not possess the strikeout upside of almost all of the rest of the pitchers in the top 20. Urias does play for the Dodgers who are known to regularly field an above-average defense but with the shift rules being changed for 2023 it’s possible Julio Urias is due for just a little bit of natural regression. Most definitely still a very solid target in Dynasty leagues Im just not sold on reaching for him at this price. (Drew Spurling)
15. ZAC GALLEN, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 24)
I like many others am a huge proponent of Zac Gallen. He throws a solid 5-pitch mix consisting of the 4 Seam Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter, and Slider. Gallen commands all of the pitches well. He also does a great job of not relying on any one pitch too much. He throws the 4 seamer around 48% of the time but does a great job of mixing in the curve, changeup, and cutter at roughly 22%, 15%, and 14% rates respectively. It comes together beautifully to keep the hitter off balance. A common theme in this article, I believe the only thing that can hold him back is injury. Zac Gallen appears to be healthy heading into 2023 and poised to keep delivering solid returns with a great arsenal. (Drew Spurling)
16. LUIS CASTILLO, SEATTLE MARINERS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 20)
I think Luis Castillo may have been briefly flying under the radar to some degree in dynasty leagues after having a down year with the Cincinnati Reds in 2021 posting a 3.98 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP. In the two seasons since that time he has made strides to regain the form that he had also shown in the two years leading up to 2021. We can’t help but also point out that the Reds’ ballpark is one of the worst places to pitch in the majors for run suppression. Now with the Seattle Mariners after a move during the 2022 season, Castillo is poised to continue on the strong showing he put up with the team to the tune of a 3.17 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, and 2.91 FIP. This is someone that should remain solid for many seasons to come even if his career 9.8 K/9 limits his ceiling, the number did rise to 10.6 K/9 during his stint with Seattle to close out the year. (Drew Spurling)
17. CARLOS RODON, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 38)
I would have to say this is probably the pitcher that is most mispriced inside the top 20, (aside from the complicated ranking of Ohtani as an SP). While I understand the injury concerns from the past, today we are here to acknowledge Carlos Rodon is a top 5 – 8 Starting Pitcher in both Dynasty and Redraft formats alike. He is coming off of two straight absolutely dominant seasons. In 2021, finally healthy with the Chicago White Sox Rodon posted an incredible 2.65 FIP across 132.2 innings with an astounding 185 strikeouts. In 2022, Rodon was arguably even more impressive, being just as dominant but this time with a full workload of 178 innings. Rodon compiled 237 strikeouts good for a 12.0 K/9 and a 2.25 FIP. There is no reason to continue to fade Rodon, if you do, it’s at your own peril. (Drew Spurling)
18. KEVIN GAUSMAN, TORONTO BLUE JAYS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 23)
Kevin Gausman is a great success story with his career having a late renaissance after joining the San Francisco Giants and then the Toronto Blue jays. I think that Gausman is a worthy member of this top 20 and a very solid option, especially for teams looking to compete in 2023. I do wonder if we might be buying high at this point in his career though. I do expect him to remain solid but I think it’s more likely regression comes sooner rather than later as opposed to betting on him to remain elite. It will be interesting to see how much the new shift rules also affect him this year as well. In 2022 Kevin Gausman threw 174.2 innings with 202 strikeouts with an incredible 2.38 FIP. Gausman relies heavily on the splitter throwing it nearly 35% of the time and it has been a great pitch for him. An undeniably solid option, I think I just like others in this range a little bit more. (Drew Spurling)
19. MAX FRIED, ATLANTA BRAVES (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 16)
Spencer Strider has rightfully garnered an incredible amount of attention after his impressive debut in Atlanta’s rotation this past season. Do not let that distract you from the fact that Max Fried is also one of the best pitchers in all of the MLB. With sweet, reliable, and repeatable mechanics from the left side. Max Fried is another one of my favorite targets potentially as your Ace or maybe as a very strong 2nd option in your Dynasty rotation. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect Fried to ever become one of the top 5 options in the league, I do expect his value to be fairly stable for several years to come. I think you can comfortably invest in Max Fried. (Drew Spurling)
20. GEORGE KIRBY, SEATTLE MARINERS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 52)
Currently, George Kirby probably has one of the shorter track records in the top 20 with less dynamic pure stuff than someone like Spencer Strider. However, just like Striders teammate Max Fried, George Kirby might also be one of the safer long-term targets, especially for young dynasty teams looking to open up a competitive window. It is difficult to poke any holes in George Kirby’s game as he possesses rare control over all of his pitches for a 25-year-old. If forced to be critical it might appear currently that he does not possess the strikeout upside of some other pitchers in this range after posting a 9.1 K/9 in 2022. That said he really doesn’t have to improve on his strikeout rate to justify this ranking so it is possible he continues to creep up this list heading into next year’s version of these rankings. A 3.39 ERA, 1.208 WHIP, and a 2.99 FIP are numbers that inspire confidence from a rookie moving forward. (Drew Spurling)
21. CRISTIAN JAVIER, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 134)
In a career-high 148 innings pitched last year, Cristian Javier was a revelation. Brought along slowly in the Astros development process, he didn’t even have a spot in the Opening Day rotation to begin the year. After a month as a swingman, the right-hander joined the rotation and never looked back. Javier’s bread and butter slider was great again, saving almost 11 runs over the course of the season. He paired it with his deceptively dominant four-seamer. Leaning on this fastball for nearly 60% of his pitches, it paid off with a 27.3% whiff rate.
While he can throw a curve and change, Javier is essentially a (really good) two-pitch pitcher. Last season’s xFIP was almost a full run higher than his actual ERA (3.53 xFIP vs 2.45 ERA). Yes, it’s xFIP but I’m still preaching some caution here. Not a lot though as there aren’t many pitchers capable of striking out 200 batters in a season. Look for Javier to improve his innings total and cross that 200 K threshold in 2023. (Chris Knock)
22. TYLER GLASNOW, TAMPA BAY RAYS (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 28)
Tyler Glasnow was AMAZING last year. He allowed a 1.35 ERA, stuck out 13.5 K/9 and had a 30.8 K-BB%. He definitely would have been in the Cy Young conversation had he pitched more than checks notes… 6.2 regular season innings. Oh yeah. He had TJS in August of 2021 and only made two regular season starts this year. The Rays actually used his starts as part of his rehab process to prep for a deep playoff run. But then the Guardians swept them in two games during the Wild Card round. Glasnow got in one October start to almost double his IP with another five pitched. He struck out five in that game and allowed only two hits.
All that’s to say, we don’t have much to go based on his ‘22 performance. But we do know he’s another five+ months past his surgery day. He still struck out 15 batters in 11.2 total innings last year. His FB velocity in the short sample was on point with his career speed. And the Rays signed him to a 2-year extension. Draft him with confidence, though because it’s the Rays and he’s a TJS recoveree, you may not want him to be your SP1 like someone. (Chris Knock)
23. DUSTIN MAY, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 45)
Weird, my second TJS recovery arm in only three pitchers. This gives me a good time to elaborate on my approach to TJS-recovery pitchers. When they are sky-high ability types (like Dustin May, like Glasnow), I’ve officially decided that in almost ALL scenarios I want to hold them and burn the IR spot. With their ceilings and relative success rates with initial TJS these days, selling them at a discount feels like it haunts you a year later. Yes, there are definitely specific exceptions to this (flags do fly forever) but not many.
Anyways, Dustin May was great in his pre-injury handful of games in ‘21. He was not as consistently good on his return this past season. His K% was his career low and his walk rate was his career high. But command is notoriously the last thing that returns post-TJS, so don’t be too nervous. The Dodgers will definitely take their time unleashing May this year, but hopefully he should get 120ish innings. Draft him early in a start up but do not expect him to lead your rotation… yet. (Chris Knock)
24. JOE MUSGROVE, SAN DIEGO PADRES (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 26)
Joe Musgrove’s two seasons in San Diego haven’t quite lived up to the gaudy fantasy stats he produced in his final season in Pittsburgh. Specifically, his strike-out rate has trended down and this has turned off some from wanting to roster him. This is your chance to pounce! Musgrove has a four pitch mix he uses effectively, with an exceptional fastball/cutter combination. He’s using that mix to limit hard contact. He was in the top 10% of avgEV allowed and the top 12% of HardHit Rate.
While Musgrove may not strike out batters at the same rate he did in the shortened 2020 season, he’s walking fewer batters. Last year, his 2 BB/9 IP was in the top 20 for BB/9 IP of qualified pitchers. He’s also pitched 180 innings in each of the last two years. This is the kind of stalwart arm you want to complement some of the riskier types. If you pair him with a May or a Glasnow then you are in a good place. (Chris Knock)
25. FRAMBER VALDEZ, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 47)
Pending his health, with Framber Valdez you know what you’re getting at this point. He’s a bulk arm where the fantasy-relevant counting stats are fully dependent on the number of innings pitched. Making 31 starts and throwing 200+ innings last year, Valdez was a throwback to a whole five years ago when Quality Starts were bankable for us fantasy folks. The sinkerballer racked up 194 strikeouts while only walking 8.1% of the batters faced. Both numbers sound great but aren’t as sexy as some of the high-ratio names.
Your fantasy roster should include a Valdez or a pitcher of his ilk (Alcantara, a healthy Buehler, Urias, Webb, etc). Outside of Sandy, Framber is a great target and has the pitching repertoire to continue to climb in rankings over the next few years. (Chris Knock)
26. MAX SCHERZER, NEW YORK METS (AGE: 38, PREVIOUS RANK: 14)
Ignoring the 2020 season, last year was the ONLY full season Max Scherzer didn’t pitch over 170 innings. Unfortunately, “missing five+ starts due to a recurring oblique injury as a 37-year-old” is a reason for pause when marveling at his history. Statistically, last year’s performance was pretty much on par with the rest of Mad Max’s career. His fastball is still as lively as ever and he didn’t drastically overperform any expected statistics. In some areas, he’s actually improving with age. Last year he allowed a career-best 7.5% HR/FB ratio.
While under contract for another two full seasons, you can almost guarantee Scherzer will be busting his chops and further compiling those fantasy stats as much as he can. I would be surprised if he didn’t hit the 200-strikeout mark next year, as long as he pitches 160 innings. Trade for him if you’re competing or draft him to be a top-15 pitcher for the next 2 years. (Chris Knock)
27. NICK LODOLO, CINCINNATI REDS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 72)
The first-round pick in the 2019 draft for the Reds, it’s safe to say the Nick Lodolo hype train has taken off this past off-season. His 130 strikeouts in 109 MLB innings helped net a 3.66 ERA and 3.29 SIERA. And while he was great after returning from a back strain in early July, he was disgusting (good disgusting, not bad disgusting) for the final month of September. In his final six games, he struck out almost 35% of batters while averaging six innings per start.
Lodolo uses a fastball/slider combo and sprinkles in a change up just often enough to keep batters off balance. When he’s not striking someone out, he’s keeping the ball on the ground with a wonderful 46% ground ball rate. I have to provide one counterpoint to all Lodolo’s rainbows. Remember that he pitches in Great American Ballpark and allowed a 15.1% HR/FB rate last year. While that is somewhat concerning I’d still look to pay up for Lodolo, this young arm is worth it. (Chris Knock)
28. TRISTON MCKENZIE, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 69)
Raise your hand if you thought Sticks McKenzie would throw over 190 innings last year. I couldn’t see if you raised yours, but his durability sure surprised me. Which, after diving in a bit was unfair of me. McKenzie has only been on the IL once in his 3-year career. Beyond health, he was able to limit walks bringing his 11% BB rate in ‘21 to a solid 5% rate this past season. His K rate followed suit unfortunately last year, as McKenzie’s 24.8% strikeout rate was essentially league average. While not fantasy sexy, those changes do help keep pitch counts low.
From my angle, I see a young arm who’s learning how to be effective. He used three different pitches last year pretty evenly. McKenzie would set up batters with his 4 seamer, and take them out via the slider or with his excellent curve. That curve was his money strike-out pitch – a 45% whiff rate and a disgusting 52% K rate all on its own. Having that pitch on the ready while being employed by the Guardians should have McKenzie on your radar. (Chris Knock)
29. JUSTIN VERLANDER, NEW YORK METS (AGE: 40, PREVIOUS RANK: 55)
I won’t lie, I absolutely love that we are able to enjoy the continued domination of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer right now. Having both with universally lower rankings than their ages is an impressive feat. There are also some similarities (beyond age and current employer) between the two last year. Verlander threw 175 innings as he returned from his Tommy John surgery. His HR/FB% is now under 7% too. These guys don’t know how to suck at pitching and it’s awesome.
Verlander’s K% did ‘drop’ to 27% this past year, down from the insane 33+% rates of the pre-TJS Astros years. But he’s still in the top quartile of the league. Just like with Scherzer, you know what you’re getting with Verlander this season. A top 20 arm in a redraft sense this year and likely again next. Beyond that though… let’s just say you should roster Verlander now and worry about tomorrow later. (Chris Knock)
30. LUIS SEVERINO, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 57)
It wouldn’t be proper to wrap up my segment of pitcher comments without a 4th recent TJS recoveree. Severino actually had his procedure just before COVID reared its ugly head in the US, but suffered a slew of other injuries during his rehab process and only pitched 6 innings in 2021. After essentially 2 full seasons off, the Yankees eased Severino back and limited him to 102 innings last year. He pitched well and did what we dynasty fans enjoy – limited hard contact and struck out batters at a good rate.
Now that he’s back, Severino is still throwing a fastball/slider/change combo but the Yankees have added a cutter which he’s thrown almost 10% of the time in ‘21. Despite his TJS recovery, the new mix worked and his K-BB% was over 20% last year. The larger mix helps keeps the ball on the ground as well as striking batters out. He had a near 45% GB rate last season, which was his best since his 2017 breakout. Another year out from the surgery, I could see 150+ innings this year at a continued, excellent level. I would love to roster Severino as an SP3. (Chris Knock)
31. Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 15)
Logan Webb won 15 games, logged 192.1 IP with a 2.90 ERA, yet dropped 16 spots in our rankings. His slider was far less effective, falling from a 47.1% whiff rate in his breakout 2021 to just 31.1% last season. That sent his K-rate tumbling from 26.5% to 20.7%, and as a result, ERA estimators are skeptical of that sub-three mark.
Webb may not look as exciting as he did after 2021, but he feels safer with a second strong season under his belt. His 6.2% BB-rate and 56.7% groundball rate were both excellent, giving him a solid floor as someone you can count on for quality innings in the middle of your fantasy rotation. If he can recapture the slider, the ceiling is high as well. (Ben Sanders)
32. Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 56)
Hunter Greene’s fastball averages 99 MPH. His slider is awesome. His Baseball Savant comparisons based on velocity and movement include Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom and Spencer Strider. He struck out 30.9% of the batters he faced as a rookie, and he’s only 23. He could be the best pitcher in baseball someday. The sky is truly the limit.
The sky is also where a lot of his pitches go. Greene had just a 29.3% groundball rate, which is a big problem for a pitcher in homer-friendly Cincinnati. That led to a 1.72 HR/9 and 4.44 ERA despite all the strikeouts. The solution might be his changeup, which he threw just 5.3% of the time last season with terrible results. If he can start getting some grounders with it, hitters will truly be helpless. But for now, his enormous upside comes with a lot of risk. (Ben Sanders)
33. Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 17)
Robbie Ray couldn’t repeat his 2021 Cy Young performance, but at least he didn’t go back to walking everyone. Almost all his metrics regressed in 2022, but his BB-rate saw only a modest increase from 6.7% to 8%, well below the double-digit marks he put up for much his career. He finished with a 3.71 ERA and 1.19 WHIP – hardly amazing ratios, but certainly tolerable when they come with 212 strikeouts.
Home runs are a bigger issue than walks for Ray at this point, as he’s allowed more than 1.5 HR/9 for four straight seasons. His repertoire is now almost entirely composed of fastballs and sliders, even against righties, which can be a dangerous game. I don’t think that approach will produce more elite seasons, but it should be good for some more big strikeout years. (Ben Sanders)
34. Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 35)
Logan Gilbert won 13 games and dropped his ERA from 4.68 to 3.20 in his second MLB season, but it wasn’t really the true breakout his dynasty managers were hoping for. His K-rate, BB-rate and WHIP all moved slightly in the wrong direction, and while he did do a better job keeping the ball down, most of his success was the result of leaving more runners on base. The ERA is likely to regress to the high 3s if he doesn’t improve this season.
Gilbert’s biggest potential growth area is his secondary pitches. He throws a slider, curve, and changeup, none of which get particularly great whiff rates. He has excellent command of his 96-MPH fastball, which gives him a high floor, but finding an out pitch could really unlock his potential. (Ben Sanders)
35. Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 33)
Grayson Rodriguez looked very much like the top pitching prospect in baseball last April and May, carving up Triple-A with a 2.09 ERA and 30.8 K-BB%. His MLB debut seemed just around the corner until he suffered a lat strain that kept him out until September. His command wasn’t there when he returned, leaving some lingering concerns.
The best development of 2022 for Rodriguez had nothing to do with his own performance. The Orioles moved in the fences at Camden Yards, transforming it from a hitter’s haven to a place where the likes of Dean Kremer and Austin Voth managed to post ERAs in the low 3s. Rodriguez has a high-90s fastball, maybe the best changeup in the minors, and multiple good breaking balls. If he’s back to 100 percent, he could make an immediate impact at the MLB level this season. (Ben Sanders)
36. Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 109)
Nestor Cortes defies logic. His 2.90 ERA in 2021 looked like a bit of a fluke, and yet he followed it up with an even better 2.44 in 2022 without any significant changes. His fastball sits in the low 90s, he lacks a dominant secondary offering, and he gives up lots of flyballs, yet the results were spectacular.
Regression should set in a little bit. His .232 BABIP is likely to rise and carry his ERA up with it. That said, it hasn’t all been luck. Cortes has had a K-BB% better than 20% the last two years, and if he can maintain that, he’ll continue to have success, even if not to the same extreme. (Ben Sanders)
37. Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 9)
Freddy Peralta had a 4.42 ERA when he went on the injured list with shoulder problems in May, but all the peripherals suggested he was still the same pitcher who dominated in 2021. After his return, he posted a 2.75 ERA – and all the advanced numbers were bad. His 23.7% K-rate was the biggest concern. Peralta has had problems with walks and home runs before, but even at his worst he racked up the strikeouts.
Injuries have plagued him throughout his career, perhaps not a surprise given his small stature (5’11, 199 pounds) and unusual delivery. Early on he seemed destined for the bullpen, but he’s simply too good not to start. You can count on the whiffs coming in bunches as long as he’s on the mound, it’s just a question of how often that will be. (Ben Sanders)
38. Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 44)
Yu Darvish had the worst strikeout rate of his career in 2022, not surprising given his age. What was surprising is that he had one of his best years, with 16 wins and a 3.10 ERA. Batted ball luck gets some of the credit, as his .250 BABIP was a career-low, but his walk rate was excellent for a third straight year, proving that control issues are far behind him.
Darvish is something of a mad scientist on the mound, never afraid to tinker with an arsenal that’s known to include up to 11 different pitches. That may be part of the reason he’s had an inconsistent career, but it could be a good thing as he moves into his late 30s. His creativity will help him continue to succeed even if his velocity starts to fade. (Ben Sanders)
39. Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 3)
Walker Buehler had his second Tommy John surgery in August, and is a longshot to pitch at all in 2023. He was an unquestioned ace at his peak, with great velocity, a deep arsenal of pitches, and all the advantages that come with pitching for the mighty Dodgers. His K-rate was trending down even before his injury, though, and he’ll have a lot to prove in 2024. He’ll be a free agent after that season, and if the Dodgers don’t like what they see, they could move on.
The situation makes Buehler a tempting trade target for a rebuilding dynasty team. If he returns to form in 2024 and signs a long-term deal to stay in L.A., he’ll rocket back up to the top 10 of these rankings like nothing ever happened. Sure, there’s a lot of risk, but it’s not like building around pitching prospects is a rock-solid plan either. (Ben Sanders)
40. Jesús Luzardo, Miami Marlins (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 66)
It seems like Jesús Luzardo has been toying with the emotions of dynasty managers for too long to only be 25 years old. His upside is clearly high, but something always gets in the way of that seemingly-inevitable breakout. He racked up the strikeouts but struggled with command early in 2022, then missed nearly three months with a forearm strain. When he returned, his walks went down, but so did his strikeouts.
The final results weren’t bad, though – a 3.32 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with a 30% K-rate in just over 100 innings. His fastball averaged 96.4 MPH, and his curve and changeup both produced whiff rates over 40%. It’s been a painful process, but those who remained patient through Luzardo’s development may finally reap the rewards this season. (Ben Sanders)
41. BLAKE SNELL, SAN DIEGO PADRES (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK 42nd)
Blake Snell looked to be more like himself this past season and even though it didn’t quite show in his record. He finished the season with an 8-10 record in which he pitched 128 innings in 24 starts. He finished with a 3.38 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 171 strikeouts giving him a 12.02 K/9 rate. He suffered a groin injury at the beginning of the season but was healthy after he came back in late May. He will be the #3 in the Padres rotation in 2023.
- He didn’t seem to stray away from what he did last year with his pitch mix. He continued using primarily his four-seamer at a 55.5% clip and his slider 24.3% clip. He stuck with using his slider at a higher clip and ditching his change-up (5% of the time) from last season. A flip of what he did in his time with the Rays.
- His velocity ticked up a bit for his four-seamer, slider, and curve. While the change decreased by 1.5 mph from last season.
- His slider’s value rose to 11.2 runs above average. Which was the highest for his career and it was the first time one of his pitches (which was also his slider) reached double digits in pitch value since 2018.
- He was able to get hitters to chase more with his swings outside the zone increasing 5.4% from last season.
- The slider averaged 88.9 mph (93.0 mph max) with 16.9 revolutions and Four-Seam Fastball averaged 95.8 mph (98.9 mph max) with 16.0 revolutions
Snell seems to be heading back to the same success he had in Tampa and should only be better for 2023 as Zips and Steamer have projected. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
42. EURY PEREZ, MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 19, 2022 RANKING: 99th)
Perez and the guy right below him are easily two of the most coveted pitching prospects in fantasy baseball. Standing 6’8 with a deceiving delivery that has a release point so far to the 3B side that it made me flinch from a batters eye video. He looks like a giant Pedro Martinez. No not because of the way he pitches but look at the dude. I really don’t know what these kids are doing and eating to become giant versions of other players. You can’t help but be impressed by someone who is only 19 and has such an advanced feel for his pitches. In 2022, he primarily pitched in Double-A ball where he started 17 games and finished with a 3-3 record. His strikeout clip was 34.1% with 110 hitters going down in 77 innings. He walked 25 which was at an 8% clip. Hitters hit .221 against him with his ERA a shade under 4.00. He did get shut down after an August start in which he only pitched 1.1 innings and gave up six runs on four hits. Two of those hits were home runs. The Marlins didn’t have him pitch for over a month due to arm fatigue and a lat injury. He did come back in mid-September and pitched a rehab game in A ball where he went 2 innings. He moved up to Double-A for one start and also pitched only two innings. He struck out four in each game but in his Double-A start, he also walked four. In 2021 he pitched 78.0 innings so it will be interesting to see if the Marlins will limit his innings this season. With still having to pitch against another level of competition in Triple-A and the Marlins having a lot of pitching depth on the major league roster.
- A fastball that has a vertical break and can hit triple digits.
- Curveball that has a decent hook and runs in the upper-70s
- A change-up that has a 61.4% swing and miss rate and lands in the upper 80s. The hitters barely hit .200 against this pitch.
- A slider that runs in the mid-80s is also considered a plus pitch by scouts.
- Control grade ranges from a 50 to 60 grade
I don’t see Perez pitching in the majors until 2024 unless he totally dominates a number of starts if he ends up in Triple-A and the Marlins are in playoff contention in September. But, don’t tell him I said that. I don’t want to get torn into two. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
43. ANDREW PAINTER, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (AGE: 19, 2022 RANKING: 184th)
If I can only go back one year and paid more attention to what was being said about this kid. He is the one player who I wish I could have drafted or picked up on any of my teams. I am a bit surprised to see Perez over Painter in our rankings because I think Painter had a more dominant season. But, it was against lower competition with 17 of his 22 starts being in A or High-A ball. Painter has a simple delivery with a release point that looks a bit higher than a ¾ slot with a kick that reminds me of Max Max and Justin Verlander. He looks to load a bit lower than those guys but that can look that way because he is much taller at 6’7. There are no superlatives that I can come up with that haven’t described this kid already. He doesn’t have the grades for his secondary pitches as Perez does but he has better control of all of his pitches. He was named the MLB Pipeline pitcher of the year because of a 1.56 ERA/0.89 WHIP to go along with 155 Ks in 103.2 innings with only 25 walks.
- He has a four-seamer and a two-seam fastball. The four-seamer has great movement and spin. It runs between 95-97 mph and elevates to hitters. The two-seamer plays off well with a 92-94 mph range and a sinking motion to the hitter.
- Curveball runs 12-6 and he pairs it well with the fastball. Scouts know this will be a plus pitch for him as well. It runs in the upper 70s and is his go-to pitch against lefties.
- His slider has a sweeping motion and is perfect for going after righties. Some scouts say this is his second-best pitch after the fastball. It also has a high spin rate and runs in the low 80s.
- The change-up is my favorite pitch in his arsenal. Another pitch that can be a plus pitch if it isn’t already. Maybe because he uses this pitch the least, it freezes the hitter whenever he decides to throw it. One kid stood in the batter’s box for at least four or five seconds after Painter threw the change at him to strike him out. He talked to himself on the way back to the dugout and stopped to look back at the big screen in centerfield to see what had happened.
- He pitched every scheduled start and in six of his last eight starts, he threw a minimum of six innings and had 56 strikeouts and only 5 walks.
- His last start of the season was his worst outing. He gave up five runs on seven hits with two of those being home runs in four innings.
A lot smarter people around the game of baseball have said he is the next generational pitcher and I agree. It is probably too late but if you have an opportunity to get him in any possible way for your fantasy team. Don’t hesitate!!! (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
44. TONY GONSOLIN, LA DODGERS (AGE: 28, 2022 RANKING: 101st)
Not that long ago a brand new Guru had the task last February to give his analysis on a certain Mr. Tony Gonsolin at the 101st spot of our rankings. He proclaimed that if Gonsolin was available in the later rounds of your draft. You should take a flier on him because of the upside he had already shown and the support of the Dodgers’ lineup. Well, well, well… Guess that writer was pretty dead on with his analysis. Yeah, I’m sure you figured out that it was yours truly who wrote that. Not to toot my own horn but Too-too-too-goooooo! You can check it out right meow if you like.
“You’re Welcome.” Gonsolin rewarded those who heeded my advice with an “MLB The Show create a player” season with a record of 16-1 in 24 starts in which he pitched 130.1 innings. His .941 winning percentage led all of MLB. Opposing hitters hit an average of .172 against him and .207 BABIP (batting average balls in play). For those who only speak sabermetrics, he had an ERA of 2.14/3.12 xERA/3.28 FIP with a 0.87 WHIP. He, unfortunately, didn’t qualify for the MLB leaders in those stats because he didn’t reach the 162 minimum innings. But, he was ranked 6th in WPA/Leverage Index with 3.5 and 7th in REW (same as RE24 except converted to a win scale) with 3.7. Yeah, I learned almost all of those sabermetrics when I checked out how well my guy Goooose’s 2022 season went. In short, let’s agree that all of that means that Ryan was right (RWR).
- Gonsolin has an elite split-finger fastball that has a 70 grade and a considerable value of 16.7 runs above average. He threw it 27.5% of the time which has been the norm for his career. His slider is also valued at a high value of 9.1 runs above average.
- He relied less on his four-seamer which had a 0.0 value. He went with his curve more than ever before and he ended up with a 4.6 value which was the highest in his career for that pitch as well.
- Gonsolin did miss five starts when he ended up on the IL towards the end of the season with a forearm injury.
- In his first start back he only pitched two innings with three strikeouts and gave up three hits and one run against an anemic Rockies offense. That could have been a rehab start for the postseason. Either way, he still needed 64 pitches in those two innings.
- His only postseason appearance was worse. He threw 67 pitches in only 1.1 innings and gave up four hits on one run.
I like to say that Gonsolin will only get better from here but his last two outings and another trip to IL didn’t instill confidence in me to go out on that limb. I think he takes a step back even if he stays healthy. I have a feeling I’ll be writing about him in the 70-85 range of the rankings next season. Hopefully, I’m wrong so we can add to the more prolific “Ryan was wrong again” stat (RWWA). (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
45. KYLE WRIGHT, ATLANTA BRAVES (AGE 27, 2022 RANKING: 142nd)
I pictured Kyle Wright punching me in the face and saying, “The price is Wright, b*tch!” after he was not even an afterthought on our rankings a year ago. We did have him ranked 142nd in the 2021 rankings even though he had two forgettable stints with the Braves prior to that. Did we all here at TDG just proclaim, “This guy sucks!” I don’t think it was that but, he certainly made us look like jackasses.
- In 2019 he started the season in the Braves rotation but was demoted to Triple-A after three dismal starts in April. He seemed to turn it around and went 11-4 in 21 starts with a 4.17 ERA during that time. That earned him another opportunity in mid-July for another spot start with the Braves. But, again he got shelled and gave up seven runs in 2.2 innings and was optioned back to Triple-A till late September. He joined the Braves bullpen when rosters expanded with mixed results in limited action. After that cup of coffee in the majors, I couldn’t believe he was a professional MLB starting pitcher. He would have helped the Braves more by working at the snack bar.
- In the abnormal 2020 season, he was brought back up to the majors and had better results. He went 2-4 in eight starts with a 5.21 ERA in 38 innings. At this point, he probably told pitching coach Rich Kraitz his lack of success was driving him crazy. To which Kraitz replied, “You know what is driving me crazy, you not throwing the ball in the zone.” He did have a good performance in his one starts in the playoffs where he pitched six innings of shutout ball.
- He started 2021 with a spot start for the Braves with again similar results. He pitched 4.1 innings and gave up two runs on three hits. He was sent back to the minors where he spent most of the season in Triple-A. Again he did very well and had a 10-5 record in 24 starts with a 3.05 ERA. Again the Braves in the middle of that season gave him another spot start. I can imagine Rich Kranitz telling Wright before the game. “Alright, Kyleee. Nice and easy.” Wright lasted only lasted two innings and gave up five runs on four hits with three walks to the Mets. Afterwards Kranitz said to him, “That was not nice and easy.” The Braves still had confidence in him and had him on their postseason roster for their World Series run. He came through in game four of the World Series when he was brought into the first inning with the bases loaded and only one out. He was able to limit the damage by giving up only one run he inherited and proceeded to pitch four more innings to help the Braves win that game.
- At that point, he probably thought he’d never make it in the majors. Maybe it was simply the success he had in the World Series that boosted his confidence to be a 21-game winner in 2022. You jackass! It was more than that. I was able to come across four key differences in the way he approached the 2022 season.
- First and foremost was a difference in his pitching mechanics. He changed his release point which was highlighted when he went from the 36th percentile in 2020 to the 76th percentile in the extension rankings. That difference can change everything, especially for one who doesn’t rely on triple-digit velocity.
- Second, he made a drastic change to his pitch mix and improved his spin rate. The curve was the key pitch to his 2022 success. His spin rate jumped up to the 82nd percentile and he used it 20% more than in previous seasons. All of the pitches ticked up in velocity while his fastball/sinker jumped up to the 70th percentile in spin rate as well. He decreased his usage of his slider by 20% as well. I can see him after each outing screaming at Kranitz. “Alright, let’s go! You like that old man! You want a piece of me?”
- With those drastic improvements, he became a groundball pitcher. Hitters hit into the ground 55.6% of the time while only hitting fly balls at a 19.6% clip on batted balls. A drastic difference from his previous three seasons with hitters hitting fly balls at a 39.4% clip against him and only 42.4% on the ground.
- He didn’t want just a piece of the majors. He wanted the whole thing. A combination of those improvements and the confidence he had to have gained in that 2021 playoff run seems to be the key reasons for his transformation in 2022. Will he be able to build on that or will hitters adjust to his changes? Wrong or Wright. Kyle Wright has made me a believer. Get what I did there? Ok, I think you had enough. Wright on! No! Know you had enough. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
46. PABLO LÓPEZ, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 30)
Oft-injured with a balky shoulder, Lopez finally put together a full season worth of 32 starts over 180 innings for the Marlins, blowing his previous career high of 111 1/3 innings out of the water. Perhaps the quantity caught up with him as Lopez allowed a 2.97 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in his first 16 starts, but a 4.60 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his final 16 starts. Or maybe you could point to the line drive that Lopez was hit with in his June 10th start as the beginning of his downturn (4.68 ERA in 109 2/3 innings after that date). Either way, the Twins weren’t turned off by his performance down the stretch, sending Luis Arraez out for Lopez. To be fair, between Lopez, Tyler Mahle, and Carlos Correa, risk aversion was not in the Twins’ vocabulary this offseason. Having allowed a barrel rate that plummeted down to the bottom-20 percentile last season, 2023 will be a big year to see if Lopez can both stay healthy and stay strong through a full year. (Bob Osgood)
47. CLAYTON KERSHAW, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 35, PREVIOUS RANK: 43)
Kershaw isn’t for everybody, which is a weird thing to say about a future Hall of Famer who had a 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and was the 28th starting pitcher on the Razzball Player Rater in 2022. However, Kershaw failed to eclipse 22 starts for the second year in a row and his injury list is piling up in a hurry. Biceps, back, shoulder, and forearm injuries are all on that list over the past five years, some of which have appeared in multiple seasons. He missed 57 days to the IL last season and depending on your league format, it isn’t always easy to stomach the missed time year after year. On the field, Kershaw continues to be vintage, with the fastball, slider, and curveball all allowing batting averages against of .212 or lower. The looping 73 mph curveball had a 43.8 Whiff% and 29.9 PutAway% in 2022, per Baseball Savant, and continues to be one of the most fun pitches to watch in baseball. You’re signing up for two IL trips with Kershaw but the 35-year-old has barely slowed down on the mound and will always keep your ratios in check. (Bob Osgood)
48. LUCAS GIOLITO, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 12)
Those who drafted Giolito as their redraft ace in 2022 are unlikely to roll the dice again after being subject to a 1.44 WHIP last season. Someone reading this probably even followed Giolito up with Jose Berrios and still hasn’t recovered from that beating. Giolito declined significantly in every Statcast batted ball metric, as well as velocity and spin rates. That being said, after having a career .263 BABIP allowed entering 2022, the .340 BABIP last season seems a bit drastic, which is why his 4.23 xERA and 3.66 xFIP tell a bit of a different story from the 4.90 ERA. After three straight seasons in the top-11 in AL Cy Young voting, it’s hard to imagine the 28-year-old Giolito has completely lost it. Now is not the time to sell in dynasty but after a hot start, it might be that time. (Bob Osgood)
49. LUIS GARCÍA, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 39)
A trendy sleeper entering 2022, Garcia followed up his rookie season with a very consistent and similar season. 15 wins on the World Series-winning Astros, with a 3.72 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and exactly a strikeout an inning didn’t derail anyone’s fantasy season. Garcia throws four solid secondary pitches, all of which allowed a .204 BA or less in 2022. His mediocre fastball allowed 14 of the 23 home runs he surrendered in 2022. Garcia hasn’t been showing up on any “sleeper and breakout articles” for 2023 which just might make him the perfect safe pick in the middle rounds in redraft. He went five innings or more in every start from June 15th-on last season and has a chance at a win on a great team every time out. Now if they could just figure out how to separate all the Luis Garcias in MLB on our spreadsheet exports… (Bob Osgood)
50. AARON ASHBY, MILWAUKEE BREWERS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 62)
One of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball in 2022, Ashby was an ideal breakout candidate pick for this upcoming season. Well, at least until February 8th when Brewers general manager Matt Arnold announced Ashby was behind schedule with left shoulder fatigue. Why can’t we have nice things? Ashby’s elite strikeout rates in the minor leagues didn’t miss a beat in his first 139 career innings, sporting a combined 27.1 K% in 2021-2022. The hope was that 2-10 win-loss and tenuous rotation spot after the Wade Miley signing might throw a few people off entering 2023 and allow for a great later-round value in redraft leagues, or a buying opportunity in dynasty. The 1.43 WHIP last season wasn’t great, and his control has always been a concern, but here’s to Ashby being this year’s Zac Gallen who just ends up being a “bit behind schedule” and we all laugh at this news in September. (Bob Osgood)