2024 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

TDG’S 2024 TOP 200 STARTING PITCHERS: #1-#50

The moment you’ve all been waiting for.

Here are our 2024 #1-#50 Starting Pitchers!

#1-#10

RankPlayerAvg. Rank
1Spencer Strider1.2
2Gerrit Cole2.2
3Corbin Burnes5.6
4Zac Gallen6.4
5Luis Castillo6.9
6Pablo López7.5
7Eury Pérez7.9
8George Kirby9
9Kevin Gausman9.2
10Zack Wheeler10.8

If this group seems underwhelming for a top 10, well, 2023 was a rough year for starting pitchers. Rule changes designed to help offense worked, and the MLB average ERA rose from 3.96 to 4.33. Only three of last year’s top 10 are back in the first tier, and they occupy the top three spots. Four are out due to major injury (McClahanan, Alcántara, Woodruff, deGrom), and three for various levels of poor performance (Nola, Cease, Manoah).

Five of the newcomers to this group were in the 11-20 range last season, and none of them took a particularly huge step forward. They stayed healthy, performed to their usual standard, and climbed the list due to attrition. Wheeler and Gausman in particular feel like they shouldn’t be moving up at age 33, but their consistency is just so hard to find.

We’re not exactly in a golden age of pitching now. Sure, all these guys are good, but there’s no peak deGrom or Kershaw in the bunch. The difference between this group and the next 10 is not that big, so don’t pay inflated prices just to say you have a top-5 or top-10 SP, because who knows if they’ll be here next year.

If there’s an exception it would be Strider. He led MLB in strikeouts and wins by significant margins last season. Sure, that came with a 3.86 ERA, but the underlying numbers suggest it should’ve been a lot closer to 3. His lack of a third pitch is something of a concern, but he doesn’t have significant platoon splits. His elite slider is tough even on lefties, and his changeup has potential to develop. He’s already a star at 25, when many pitchers are just reaching the majors, and the talent is there for him to really distance himself from the pack.

Strider is the second-youngest pitcher on this list. Eury Pérez is by far the youngest. He won’t even be able to drink legally until mid-April. It’s very rare to see a 20-year-old pitcher perform well at the MLB level, and it’s possible that within a couple years he’ll be No. 1 by far. That upside is why he’s in the top 10, but in the short term there are some issues. One is that the Marlins plan to limit his innings this season after a back injury last year. The other is that ugly 54.8% flyball rate. It was especially bad after his return from a brief sabbatical to the minors – 67% in August and September! Even in spacious loanDepot Park, that’s going to lead to a lot of home runs. Keep an eye on his batted ball data early in the year and see if he can get the ball down a little.

Castillo also comes with flyball concerns. His 38.9% groundball rate isn’t terrible, but it’s surprisingly low for a guy whose career rate is over 50%. He’s throwing his sinker and changeup less and relying heavily on his four-seamer, throwing it 44.4% of the time last season. The four-seamer had an impressive 33% whiff rate for a fastball, and his reliance on it seems to have cured his early-career walk issues. He no longer hurts your team in WHIP, and so far his ERA hasn’t suffered. It’s possible the home run rate blows up at some point, but for now it looks like a positive tradeoff for fantasy purposes.

Castillo’s change of approach may have a lot to do with his 2022 trade to Seattle, as Kirby also pounds the zone with four-seamers. Kirby’s 2.5% walk rate last season was ridiculously good – Greg Maddux only did better than that once. Kirby is great for the WHIP and for eating up innings, but his issue is the lack of a strikeout pitch. None of his three most-used secondaries have produced better than a 22.1% whiff rate either of the past two seasons. The command gives him a high floor, but the K-rate keeps him from being truly elite, for now at least.

Maybe Kirby should try a sweeper. It worked for López, who developed the pitch last offseason. His career-best 29.2% K-rate was largely the result of the sweeper getting a 36.6% whiff rate. Some tough luck in the form of a .313 BABIP kept him from a truly dominant season, but if that corrects itself this year, look out.

Gallen also had some BABIP troubles last season with a .301 mark. That’s not that bad, but considering he was at just .263 for his career before that, it was something of a surprise. In a way it was a positive to see Gallen succeed without hit-suppression sorcery, and while his 2.54 ERA and 0.91 WHIP from 2022 may be unrepeatable, last season’s 17 wins could be attainable for the foreseeable future as the young Diamondbacks continue their rise.

On the positive side of the luck ledger last year was Cole, with a 2.63 ERA. When a pitcher has been as good as he has for so long, it’s easy to just assume he totally deserved it. I mean, he’s Gerrit Cole. He just knows how to pitch, right? Maybe, but his K-rate (27%) and swinging strike rate (11.7%) both declined significantly and at 33, that could be the start of a trend. His numbers can regress and still be very good, but I wouldn’t bank on another sub-3 ERA season.

Burnes also saw his K-rate drop, but I’m less concerned there. He’s a few years younger, and the strikeouts rebounded to 28.1% after the break. The move to the Orioles should also help – Burnes has a career 3.65 home ERA and a 2.88 road mark, and his expected home runs per Statcast would’ve been 18 in Baltimore last year as opposed to 25 in Milwaukee.

(Ben Sanders)

#11-#20

RankPlayerAvg. Rank
11Tyler Glasnow12.4
12Yoshinobu Yamamoto12.5
13Grayson Rodriguez16.3
14Logan Webb17.6
15Blake Snell17.9
16Freddy Peralta19.3
17Framber Valdez19.4
18Aaron Nola20.5
19Shane McClanahan21
20Tarik Skubal21.4

Three of the guys in this tier could very well make the jump up into the top 10 by this time next year if they can maintain a clean bill of health this season. In Grayson, you have a former first-round pick that was seemingly destined to be an ace. After a rocky start to begin the season which found him relegated back to Triple-A Norfolk for the month of June, Grayson came back from the minors and posted an encouraging second half. He finished the year with a 4.35 ERA and a 16.9% strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So why are we so high on Rodriguez? An encouraging second-half which saw his WHIP drop from 1.74 to 1.10, a three percent drop in his walk rate and a history of dominating the high-minors. Player’s don’t develop in a linear fashion sometimes, and Grayson may have taken a detour on the road to stardom, but it looks like he is finally back on track and poised to take a leap forward this season. I`m a little more bullish on GRod`s innings this season, most projection systems are forecasting him to pitch 150+ innings, but he threw 163 innings last year between Norfolk and Baltimore. I don`t think 180 innings is out of the question, he has smooth effortless delivery and the frame to handle a front-line starter workload.

There are a few ol`reliable pitchers in this group that should give you lots of innings between Nola and Webb.

Glasnow and Skubal are just electric when on the bump, the problem is obviously that they spend so much time off it. Glasnow has only completed 100+ innings twice in his major league career, last year with 120 and 111 back in 2018 when he was traded to Tampa Bay. I will be honest, I don`t roster him anywhere and don`t think I ever will as the price is usually too steep for me. The talent is undeniable though, his strikeout-to-walk rate (K-BB%) is in the elite tier, with the 25% he posted last season as his lowest from his time with the Rays. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers manage all of the pitchers they acquire. They have stated they will go with a six-man rotation and mix in additional rest days for their starters to keep them fresh for the playoffs.

Speaking of the Dodgers, Yoshinubu Yamamoto is poised to break into the top 10 or even top 5 dynasty starters after this season. He needs to prove that he can pitch a full season against major league hitters and how the Dodgers will handle his workload. There is little doubt in my mind that he will be a buzzsaw through the NL this year and for years to come. Yamamoto throws an easy 95 with great arm-side run to his fastball. The splitter is his best pitch by far and will most likely be the best in the majors. It sits at 90mph and was rated at a 155 Stuff+ from his World Baseball Classic starts. He also shows a plus-plus curveball and a passable cutter that he commands well. There probably won`t be any two-start weeks for Yamamoto, but those are overrated in the fantasy world as it is. He should throw 150-160 stellar innings this year and will be appointment viewing. In a recent dynasty start-up we did in the Discord, I took Yamamoto as the fourth pitcher off the board in the third round after Strider, Eury Pérez and Cole had gone before him.

For the third consecutive year, Freddy Peralta lowered his walk rate and in his age 27 season is poised to be the Brewers’ opening day starter.

(Ryan E)

#21-#30

RankPlayerAvg. Rank
21Jesús Luzardo21.6
22Max Fried22.2
23Kodai Senga24.6
24Bobby Miller24.7
25Logan Gilbert26.3
26Joe Ryan26.7
27Kyle Bradish28.6
28Shohei Ohtani31.1
29Gavin Williams31.8
30Cole Ragans32.8

If I had to summarize this group with a single descriptor, I’d tell you for each arm within, the best is yet to come. Though I actually don’t really think that. So I lied. But I won’t lie any more I promise! And to make up for that social faux pas, I’ll tell you that I exclude two names from that ‘best is yet to come’ statement. One name is likely obvious and the other not so much… so who is who? Let’s jump in and find out!

Welp, I’m not burying the lede here. Jesús Luzardo is one of those names where I’m not certain on the future. Before I start into why, let me clarify in that I don’t think he’s set to fail. In fact, I have him ranked as my 19th dynasty starting pitcher – even better than our combined 21 rank. 208 strikeouts in 178 IP, with a 3.69 SIERA backing up his 3.58 ERA, he’s quite good. He has a four-pitch mix, leading the way is a great 4 seamer and a slider that grades out 10% better than average per Pitching+. But everything else is basically average and I think 2023 was the ceiling. Additionally, he’s entering 8 years out from his first Tommy John Surgery. There’s increasing evidence that the risk of reinjury of the UCL occurs at 7 years post initial surgery.  All this taken together means I’m not looking to buy Luzardo currently.

NL East brethren Max Fried and Kodai Senga are the next two arms in our ranks. They represent two different types of aces to boot – Fried is more and more the innings eater type with a solid WHIP and ERA whose strikeout totals are driven by his health. Senga is the K machine whose outings (and your fantasy results) can be easily disrupted if he’s missing the strike zone with his secondaries. The fastball and ghostfork lived up to the hype his rookie year and 200+ K’s to open his MLB career sets a high bar going forward as he enters his 30s.

Bobby Miller and Logan Gilbert are our next names, two young arms that are currently living up to the hype that followed them as prospects. Miller would be my bet to skyrocket a tier or two in this bunch. His debut season was great and checked the boxes I look for. Close to a 25% K-rate, a SIERA matching his actual ERA, and he limited hard contact w/ an avgEV of 88 mph and less than 1 HR allowed per 9 innings pitched. The dude throws gas and I think the biggest risk to his profile is the same for every arm – risk of injury. Gilbert followed up his solid sophomore season with yet another solid 190 innings. He’s got a four-pitch arsenal he commands well but lacks the top of the rotation characteristic of a bigtime strikeout pitch. If he’s the best arm on my team, I’d be aiming to add another better arm. But if he’s the third or fourth name to count on, then I am feeling great with my team’s rotation.

Joe Ryan and Kyle Bradish are the next names up. Joe Ryan had himself a career year last season, his fastball is otherworldly at times and his command overall is just as good. A 24% K-BB rate is phenomenal to see out of an MLB pitcher. And while he was able keep opposing bats missing all season, his control did waiver as the season progressed. When control artists miss the zone, they typically also allow more homers when overcorrecting back into the zone. And that’s exactly what happened with Ryan last year. In the first half, he allowed 1.3 HR/9 and 2.6 in the second half. I’m not totally worried but I am cautious that perhaps we may have seen his great ceiling. And even with the recent news of Bradish’s barking elbow, I’m not too worried either. I may even say as a dyno manager I’m excited. Rebuilding squads should be trying to buy the dip if he’s on a competitive team. The 2023 Bradish Breakout was real, and in 2024 I fear no initial TJS concerns.

Emphasis on the word ‘initial’ in that paragraph (how about that segue!). Shohei’s avoidance of a second TJS has me worried long term. I would be surprised if he never pitched again but I do see future teams being wary of giving him a starting pitcher’s workload. The Dodgers are savvy, and they may still find a way to make it work. I just won’t expect even a 150 inning season right now.

Gavin Williams and Cole Ragans round out our top 30. Both are young arms with loads of potential, though a year ago only Williams would have been unsurprising to see here. Williams had a solid debut season, throwing 3.5 pitches consistently. His fastball is his ticket, and his slider was effective typically. If you’re looking to get Williams on your roster, it means you believe in the Guardians’ pitching development history. It’s not a bad gamble, he just may take another year or so to really turn into that SP2 we all are hoping for. Ragans is worthy of the hype, in my opinion, and has the most upside of anyone on this list. His 5 pitches can all be strikeout pitches, if he can command them. And that’s the crux, isn’t it. Command and health are always our biggest question marks with bigtime pitchers, and yep, they’re just as big questions here with Ragans. My opinion with Ragans if you don’t roster is you have two choices: 1) Overpay now to get him on your roster or 2) overpay later if he gets hurt. He’s going to be worth it.

(Chris Knock)

#31-#40

RankPlayerAvg. Rank
31Dylan Cease34.4
32Tanner Bibee35.8
33Paul Skenes35.9
34Joe Musgrove36.6
35Sonny Gray38.9
36Zach Eflin39.5
37Justin Steele39.8
38Ricky Tiedemann41.3
39Hunter Greene41.5
40Bryce Miller50.2

Pitching is weird.  It has so much variance from year to year.  This season’s ace will be next year’s bum, or a player who could have been the final draft pick in their class could be a dynasty staple.  Enter Dylan Cease – he was a legitimate ace in 2022, with a 2.20 ERA and a 20% K-BB%.  But he took a significant step back in 2023, giving up more hard contact and struggling with his command.  All his pitches lost velocity, which was a big reason for the inflated 4.58 ERA.  The good news is that despite losing a tick, the stuff is still good, and the 4.10 SIERA indicates there was some bad luck last year.  Ceas’s ERA estimators since 2021 are around the 3.70 mark, so it’s hard to say if he will ever get back to ace status, but he should be a solid fantasy #2.

If we’re going by ERA estimators, Tanner Bibee may be about to go down the same road as Cease.  Bibee was outstanding last season, with a 16% K-BB% and a 2.98 ERA. But his 4.19 SIERA and below-average whiff numbers indicate there was some luck involved.  Only his changeup has an above-average swinging strike rate.  But the command is excellent (7% BB%); overall, he does a good job limiting hard contact.  He probably takes a step back in 2024, but he’s only 24, and Cleveland has a history of producing stud pitchers, so it’s also possible I get surprised.

I’m hoping for my Pittsburgh friends that Paul Skenes works out.  The Pirates don’t have the best track record for developing arms, but Skenes is a generational pitching prospect.  All three of his pitches are elite, and he commands them well.  The first-overall pick might need some time in the minor leagues to refine his pitches, but I would be slightly surprised if the All-Star Break didn’t call him up.  He has the size, athleticism, and work ethic you need to build a team around.

I don’t like shoulder injuries in pitchers.  Elbows don’t scare me; shoulders do.  And while he’s entering Spring Training with no limits, and he was solid in 2023, I still can’t help but feel nervous.  His 3.05 ERA and 24% K% last year quieted those concerns, but his ERA estimators suggest he wasn’t pitching well.  A 3.77 SIERA isn’t great, likely due to the low signing strike rates (only 11% overall).  And while they aren’t terrible, they’re only just above average.  Musgrove should be a solid option for rotation if he’s healthy, but I’m not sure if we’ll see those ace-like strikeout numbers again.

A typical off-season that didn’t involve rehabbing an injury was the trick for Sonny Gray.  His 184 innings were the most he’s thrown since 2015; all his pitchers saw a slight jump in velocity.  It’s not much, but it’s enough to earn an ERA under 3.00 and 183 strikeouts.  Gray’s whiff numbers are about league average, so he’s probably not going to strike out more than the 24% batters this year, but he’s going to a Cardinals team with a daily solid infield defense behind him.  There are probably a few more fantasy-relevant seasons left for the 34-year-old.

Zach Eflin did two things in 2023.  First, he became the newest product of the Rays pitching factory, and he was one of the few Rays pitchers to survive the season with his UCL intact (I joke, but the Rays pitching injuries killed a few of my teams last year).  Eflin’s already great control became elite with a 3.4% walk rate, and his sinker helped him avoid hard contact, which led him to a career-high 26.5% K% and 3.50 ERA.  Eflin also added a few RPMs onto his secondary pitches, which helped his curveball and changeup get whiff rates over 30%.  It’s easy to say that Eflin will regress in 2024, and maybe he will give back some of the ERA gains. His 3.30 SIERA is in line with this ERA.  Eflin is the real deal.

I’m honestly torn on what Justin Steele is.  Before getting into it, his 2023 season was great.  A 3.06 ERA and a 20% K-BB% are what you would want from an ace.  But the more I dig into Steele, the more I think Steele will have trouble repeating that in 2024.  He’s not a strikeout pitcher, and even though a 24% K% is good, it’s not great.  Steele relied on his command (5% BB%) and groundballs to limit damage.  His cutter and slider were good, but not that good; the slider gets slightly below average whiff numbers (31%).  Plus, left-handers torched his cutter, the pitch he throws the most, to the tune of a .440 wOBA.  Steele locates this pitch well to right-handers, but it feels like a tightrope act without big whiff numbers.  I’m not saying to go and get rid of him ASAP because he was able to put together a good season.  But he’s probably closer to high three ERA than low, as his 3.61 SIERA suggests.  But if I were to get an offer for him that valued him as an ace, I might take it.

Pitchers like Ricky Tiedeman are the ones that break my heart.  Mid-90s fastball, two plus secondaries, and huge strikeout numbers make me overlook the red flags, such as the 14% BB%, the injuries, and the low amount of innings pitched.  Tiedman missed three months this season due to a biceps injury, keeping him to 36 innings.  When he did pitch, he was dominant, with a 40% K% in Double-A and 43% in Triple-A (only four innings).  But these swing-and-miss numbers came with walk rates between 13-14%, which does not spark joy.  There’s little doubt in my mind that Tiedeman is an elite pitching prospect with tons of upside, but the risk with this arm is genuine.

Hunter Greene’s 2023 season was disappointing, thanks to a 4.82 ERA, but there are some natural signs of life.  The 31% K% is elite; all three of his pitches get above-average whiffs, and his SIERA was over a run lower than his actual ERA (3.74).  There’s little doubt that he will post the big strikeout numbers; everything else is a question.  Can he get the walks under 10%?  Can he find consistency with his fastball shape?  Can he get the flyball rate under 49%?  Because as long as hitters are hitting it into the air at Great American Ballpark, the best ballpark for hitting runs, the ERA and WHIP will be a drain.  The tools for a breakout are there.

When you describe Bryce Miller, you could say identical things about him as George Kirby and Logan Gilbert—excellent fastball command and secondary that are good, not great.  The difference with Miller is that his secondary pitchers are arguably the worst of the three.  Miller’s floor is still high thanks to the four seamer he commands so well, and he has added two new pitches to his arsenal, so there’s still some upside here.  But until he improves that 225 K%, I’m unsure if he’s a viable fantasy pitcher outside of deeper leagues.

(Colin Coulahan)

#41-#50

RankPlayerAvg. Rank
41Walker Buehler42
42Sandy Alcantara42.5
43Jackson Jobe43.3
44Andrew Painter44.2
45Shane Baz45.3
46Cade Horton47.4
47Bryan Woo55.8
48Emmet Sheehan82.4
49Carlos Rodón50.9
50Jacob deGrom52.5

This tier can be coined the “injury risk and hopeful youth” tier.  Each of these ten can be lumped into either of these two categories or both.  Talk about high ceilings!

A pre-draft Tommy John patient, when Walker Buehler finally debuted, he was nails. By the end of his second season in pro ball, Buehler had already debuted in Los Angeles and he was an immediate impact starter.  Fast-forward to June 21, 2021, MLB cracked down on “sticky stuff” and Buehler was one of the pitchers with the biggest spin decreases.  In spite of that, Buehler continued to excel, with a record of 15-7, a 9.00 K/9 and 2.47 BB/9, and had a 3.07 ERA.  However, because of the crackdown, he did tinker with his fastball, including adjusting his mechanics.  Then on August 23, 2023, Buehler underwent a second Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair.  Let’s point out that the list of two-Tommy John surgery patients is a mixed bag, but there are some success stories to inspire some confidence (Nathan Eovaldi, James Taillon, Daniel Hudson).  This is all to say that Buehler was an elite dynasty pitcher; the crack down led to some metrics decreasing, but he still performed after adjusting his mechanics; and then he had a second Tommy John surgery, where full recovery is not a guarantee.  It is a risky profile, but Buehler is just 29 years old with four great seasons under his belt.  At No. 41 in our rankings, he is still a pitcher that I would roll the dice on.

The unanimous 2022 Cy Young Award winner, Sandy Alcantara has been a workhorse.   He has started 138 games and has averaged over 6.1 innings per start.  In his career, at least for our game, his K rate is mediocre, but he does limit walks (2.69) and gets a ton of ground balls (50.6%).  Most recently, 2023 did not treat Alcantara well.  He followed up his Cy Young season with a 4.14 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and only 151 strikeouts over 184.2 innings.  On top of that, he underwent Tommy John surgery on October 6, 2023.  The recovery will cause Alcantara to miss the 2024 season.  How much did his elbow affect his 2023 performance?  Will he be a workhorse when he returns?  These are valid questions.  I think that Alcantara can bounce back to his pre-TJ form.  For a pitcher who was our No. 4 ranked starting pitcher going into last season, getting Alcantara at No. 42 is a steep discount that I would jump all over.

The third pick in the 2021 draft, Jackson Jobe appears Detroit-bound in 2024.  Jobe has been brought along slowly, only pitching 157 innings over his first two professional seasons (he had a season-delaying back injury in 2023).  When he did pitch in 2023, however, he was unhittable.  Across an astounding five stops (including the Arizona Fall League), Jobe pitched 79.2 innings, putting up a 2.82 ERA with 103 strikeouts, 11 walks, a .230 BAA, and a 1.04 WHIP.  He ended the season with six scoreless innings at Double-A Erie with six strikeouts and no walks.  Jobe brings four pitches to the table, including two new pitches (cutter and sweeper).  He is primed to pitch his home games in one of the league’s friendliest parks for pitchers.  If his velocity (a concern mentioned by Eric L.) and his command hold over a greater number of innings, then we could be looking at one of the next fantasy aces.

Dynasty managers are going to have to wait another year to see Andrew Painter.  Even with an expected two-year hiatus, Painter is still considered a top prospect (including a 60 FV from FanGraphs).  Over the 109.2 innings that we did see from Painter, was saw a 1.48 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 167 strikeouts, and 25 walks.  At 6’7″ and sitting 96-98, Painter makes it very difficult for hitters, especially if he can reach a 60-grade command.  Painting four different pitches, he accompanies a big fastball with a slider, curve, and changeup.  Once healthy, expect Painter to be aggressively moved (it was rumored that he had a chance to make the Phillies out of Spring Training last year), especially for a Phillies team that should still be in a championship window.  In 2023, Dynasty managers saw teams be especially aggressive with young pitchers, and I expect much the same moving forward.  Painter, who already saw Double-A, will quickly be front-lining rotations; buy the dip if you can.

As part of the return to Tampa Bay in the famous Chris Archer trade, Shane Baz hopes to permanently break into the Rays rotation this year . . . and he should.  Beginning in 2019, Baz never posted an ERA over 2.99, outside of his six starts at the major-league level in 2022.  Altogether he has made 9 starts in the majors striking out 10.71 per nine and walking only 2.68 batters per nine, which will play in our game.  Pitching exclusively from the stretch, the 24-year-old’s heater can hit 100 m.p.h. and he complements it with a slider, curve, and changeup.  Baz is currently returning from his September 2022 Tommy John surgery and it has already been reported that his 2024 will have a delayed start at extended spring training.  Thankfully Baz feels good and believes that the delayed start will allow him to pitch all season long without a break and still fall within his innings limit.  For dynasty managers, there may still be a window to acquire Baz because 2024 will be a highly regulated season.  If Baz successfully recovers, his price will surely surge going into the 2025 season.

A flamethrower who has already recovered from a February 2021 Tommy John surgery, Cade Horton’s 2023 was undeniably dominating.  A first-round pick who made College World Series History, Horton began his career a Single A and made it to Double-A in his first professional season, striking out 117 batters over his first 88.1 innings with a 1.00 WHIP.  Horton features a four-pitch mix.  For dynasty managers, 88 innings in his first professional year is encouraging because he should easily eclipse the century mark in 2024, as long as his health cooperates.  Horton is in an organization without a lot of long-term answers in the starting rotation, so it is likely that we see Horton soon.  Like with all pitchers, there is inherent injury risk, but it is a rare talent to strike out 11.92 batters per nine innings and one that is tailor-made for our game.

Locked into the number 5 spot for the Mariners, Bryan Woo raced through the minors to make 18 starts for Seattle in just his second year in professional baseball.  Drafted in the 6th round in 2021, Woo started last year in Double-A where he lit the Texas League on fire with a 2.06 ERA over 44 innings while striking out just over 12 batters per nine innings.  With three distinct fastballs (four-seamer, cutter, sinker), a sweeper, and changeup, Woo has a varied repertoire to keep hitters off balance.  While all of his numbers took a hit upon his promotion Seattle, his 1.33 HR per nine innings sticks out to me as a place where he can improve.  After pitching a total of 131.2 innings last season, dynasty managers can hope that he surpasses 170 this year.  A word of warning; in August 2023, Woo was placed on the injured list with forearm inflammation.  We don’t know whether the forearm inflammation will lead to worse outcomes, but it is something that dynasty managers should keep in mind.

Emmet Sheehan rode a dominant fastball all the way to Los Angeles in his age-23 season.  A sixth-round pick, Sheehan began 2023 with an otherworldly stretch at Double-A where he pitched to a 1.86 ERA over 53.1 innings with 13.85 strikeouts per nine innings.  Before dynasty managers knew it, Sheehan was up with the Dodgers and tossing six no-hit innings in his first start.  After that first start, it was a bit of a rollercoaster season for Sheehan.  He ended strongly and the good news is that we can see a pitch-usage change to help explain it.  Sheehan lowered his fastball usage from 66% in June 2023 to 52% in September.  At the same time, he increased his changeup usage from 11.4% in June to 21.1% in September.   And throughout the season, he slowly incorporated a Sweeper.  For dynasty managers, Sheehan remains a work in progress within one of the best organizations in baseball.  He has two plus pitches and has already shown the ability to improve in-season.  Sheehan should be a rotation anchor for dynasty managers for a long time.

When Carlos Rodón signed his six-year deal with the Yankees, the doubters pointed to his injury history.  Rodón’s medical chart has a myriad of injuries, and of course, Tommy John Surgery.  Over the 2023 season, Rodón suffered from a forearm strain, hamstring strain, and a chronic back injury.  These injuries led to a terrible season on the field for Rodón, pitching only 64.1 innings with 64 strikeouts and a 6.85 ERA.  Injuries have often been the story with Rodón, but it is only a season ago that Rodón was the No. 14 starting pitcher on the ESPN player rater and he was the No. 9 starting pitcher in 2021.  His ceiling is as high as they come and it is understandable for dynasty managers to chase it.  Can he bounce back?  I don’t have a crystal ball, but he did show up a month early to spring training and is reportedly hitting 97 m.p.h. (Link).  At this price, the ceiling is worth it for dynasty managers who are position to win a title in 2024.

The last player in this tier is the personification of injury risk, Jacob deGrom.  After signing a five-year deal with the Rangers, deGrom pitched a magnificent 30.1 innings in 2023, striking out 45, walking only four, and producing a 0.76 WHIP.  He succumbed to his second Tommy John Surgery in June 2023 and is reportedly in line for an August return.  It is no secret that deGrom was the best pitcher on the planet before this second TJS.  As I mentioned above when discussing Walker Buehler, the results of the second Tommy John are a mixed bag.  For me, if I am willing to stomach the risk of Buehler coming back strong (I am), then deGrom is my type of risk as well.  The ceiling is so substantial that for a team with championship aspirations in 2024 and a short-term window, there is no pitcher that can match a healthy deGrom.

(Double R)

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Ben Sanders

Ben Sanders

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