Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Starting pitchers: You can’t live with em, you can’t win your fantasy baseball league and then use the championship trophy to score babes without em. I know, you won’t be able to do that second part either way, but it’s called fantasy baseball for a reason.

Starting pitchers remind me of grandparents. Oh boy, where’s Donkey going with this one? Don’t worry Grey’s random italicized voice, I won’t get into my James Shields pants peeing analogy.

When they’re young, visits with gramps and granny are full of excitement and unexpected gifts; those times are as magical as a Walker Buehler vs. Jack Flaherty locker room sword fight. But as time passes, and our elders age, it’s not all ice cream, pizza and 13 strikeout gems. Hips are fractured and ulnar collateral ligaments are severed. The pizza and ice cream is replaced by prune juice and fruit cakes, with a side of 8 earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning.  And of course there’s the erectile dysfunction, brought on by another Tyler Chatwood misfire.

In this biweekly top 100 starting pitchers column, I’ll track developments of decreased blood-flow, fractured hips and, most importantly, those mythical GILFs (Grandmothers I‘d Like to play Fantasy baseball with; what did you think it stood for?) as they rise across the fantasy pitching horizon. Here’s a little GILF tease along with my preseason top 100 to hold all you grandmother lovers over…

German Marquez (#12) – I have a thing for Germans. I already documented my love for this German here.

Mike Foltynewicz (#16) – Folty increased his slider usage from 22% in 2017 to 27% in 2018 with great success. Opposing batters hit only .107 against the slider, and the pitch registered a lofty 17.9% swinging strike rate. I don’t expect another 2.85 ERA season, but a line of 14-9/3.40/1.15/210 in 190 innings seems well within Folty’s reach.

Shane Bieber (#22) – The Biebs fan club is now accepting applications! I was drafting Bieber around pick 200 in early winter drafts, but his stock has risen all the way up to the 150 ADP area as of late February. I still love him at that price. The phenomenal control (4.7% BB rate!) and ability to induce whiffs with his elite slider (26.2% swinging strike rate!!!), gives Bieber upside few can match. If he can develop a third pitch, there could be multiple gold records in his future. For 2019 I give Biebs a line of 14-7/3.40/1.15/190 in 190 innings with room for more.

Yusei Kikuchi (#27) – You say Kikuchi, I say get on my fantasy team! Japanese pitchers are usually successful their first time through the league (see Dice-K, Darvish, Tanaka, Maeda, Ohtani). Heading into 2018, The Kooch was comfortably nestled between Ohtani and Mikolas as the second best pitcher in all of Japan. He suffered a “down” season last year with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP which, along with an expected innings limitation, has stifled his draft hype. I don’t expect that to last long, buy-in now before everyone notices just how good Kikuchi is this spring. I’ll project him for 12-6/3.50/1.15/150 in 160 innings and there’s plenty of upside from there.

Tyler Glasnow (#34) – Some pitchers succeed working with Ray Searage, others wish they’d develop early onset Alzheimer’s so they can forget they ever worked with him. Glasnow falls into the second bucket. No longer having to walk the plank in Pittsburgh, there’s now new hope for Glasnow to deliver on his immense potential. He cut down on the walks after arriving in Tampa last summer and if he can find the right pitch mix to complement his electric fastball, look out!  I’m giving him a conservative line of 10-7/3.80/1.25/180 in 155 innings, but that’s only scratching the surface.

Jesus Luzardo (#53) – Looking for this year’s Walker Buehler or Jack Flaherty? Look no further (keep a close eye on #54 Forrest Whitley as well). Baby Jesus is an exciting lefty pitching prospect on the brink of the majors. Bob Melvin has already alluded multiple times to Luzardo having a chance to break camp with the major league squad. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but either way, he shouldn’t be kept down long. After completing this top 100, I went to see where Fantasy Master Lothario Albright ranked all of these GILFs. Most of these sexies were in shouting range of my ranking, but Luzardo was slotted in all the way down at #119, despite Grey stating he likes him. Did ESPN brainwash Grey the day he ranked Jesus? Consider Grey’s ranking Exhibit A as to the bargain bin price on Luzardo in many leagues. I’ll add a qualifier that you may need to adjust this ranking down (and Whitley) if your league has a short bench making it tough to stash prospects. Still, I have faith in Jesus to rise to the majors fast with a line of 8-5/3.35/1.25/135 in 130 electric innings, he’s a must own in any keeper format.

Ross Stripling (#55) – Chicken Strip was a stud in the first half last year, cutting down on his walk rate and increasing his strikeout rate. People are quick to forget the ace-like numbers (2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 108 Ks) Strip posted in 95 first half innings before the Dodgers limited him in the second half. This shouldn’t be a surprise for a 28 year old breakout pitcher who has never thrown 130 innings in his career. Grey has Stripling slotted at #80 in his starting pitcher rankings and he points to the lack of a rotation spot tempering his excitement. Grey also mentions a Kershaw injury opening a rotation spot at some point. We may have already reached those crossroads. The Dodgers also have the human blister, Rich Hill, in their rotation and they like to employ a 13 man rotation by exploiting the 10 day DL. All this is to say, I think Stripling will find his innings, one way or another. I’m projecting Strip for 9-6/3.55/1.15/130 in 130 innings.

Yonny Chirinos (#80) – Here’s a guy few fantasy baseballers are talking about. Maybe people are sleeping on Yonny because his dulcet musical notes put them to bed. Oh, that’s Yonni with an “i” you say? Then I have no idea why Yonny’s being drafted as the 161st pitcher off the board right now. He didn’t even make Grey’s overall top 500! Wait, am I the idiot? Yes, but that’s beside the point! When it comes to Chirinos, is it the Tampa opener that’s scaring people off? Yarbrough won 16 games last year with an opener. Chirinos is a mature GILF having thrown 168 minor league innings in 2017. He enjoyed success in his major league debut last year across 89 innings, he doesn’t walk many hitters (6.8% 2018 BB rate), he strikes out his fair share (20.3% 2018 K rate) and I hear he has perfect pitch on the cowbell. MORE COWBELL! I’m looking for Yonny C to take another step forward in 2019 and I’ll give him a line of 9-5/3.70/1.20/135 in 150 innings.

Brad Keller (#81) – I have to give a shout out to The Itch on this one. He’s driving the Brad Keller razzwagon, I’m just sipping prune juice in the passenger seat. Keller is 23 years old and hes now thrown 130+ innings four straight seasons between A-ball and the majors. He strung together a sneaky good 2018 season, especially in the 2nd half where he posted a 18.9% K rate and 7.3% BB rate on his way to a 3.04 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP (77 second half innings). Keller isn’t the most exciting name and won’t light the world on fire with strike outs, so take your particular league settings into account before pulling the trigger. I expect him to have a bit more value in 14 team leagues and deeper. A 2019 line of 10-8/3.75/1.25/125 in 165 innings seems well with in reach.

And that’s a wrap for Donkey’s preseason GILFs! Now for the highly anticipated top 100 starting pitchers. But first, a few notes about this list. This is my preseason top 100 for draft purposes, geared toward standard 5×5 leagues. Once the regular season is underway, this list will become more of a snapshot in time; effectively how I’m valuing starting pitchers for the month ahead. This means injured arms and prospects like Whitley, Luzardo and Paddack will be removed from the list, assuming they don’t break camp. Beware: It can be tough to stash these types of players in leagues with very limited bench spots, so be sure to adjust accordingly for your specific league settings. Anyway, here’s the list…

 

Rank Name
1 Max Scherzer
2 Jacob deGrom
3 Justin Verlander
4 Chris Sale
5 Blake Snell
6 Corey Kluber
7 Gerrit Cole
8 Trevor Bauer
9 Carlos Carrasco
10 Aaron Nola
11 Walker Buehler
12 German Marquez
13 Patrick Corbin
14 Luis Severino
15 Jack Flaherty
16 Mike Foltynewicz
17 Noah Syndergaard
18 James Paxton
19 Zack Greinke
20 Jameson Taillon
21 Madison Bumgarner
22 Shane Bieber
23 Stephen Strasburg
24 Miles Mikolas
25 Zack Wheeler
26 Mike Clevinger
27 Yusei Kikuchi
28 David Price
29 Jose Berrios
30 Robbie Ray
31 Luis Castillo
32 Masahiro Tanaka
33 Charlie Morton
34 Tyler Glasnow
35 Chris Archer
36 Yu Darvish
37 J.A. Happ
38 Kyle Hendricks
39 Clayton Kershaw
40 Hyun-Jin Ryu
41 Joe Musgrove
42 Reynaldo Lopez
43 Andrew Heaney
44 Sean Newcomb
45 Kyle Freeland
46 Nick Pivetta
47 Dallas Keuchel
48 Josh James
49 Alex Reyes
50 Carlos Martinez
51 Jon Gray
52 Jon Lester
53 Jesus Luzardo
54 Forrest Whitley
55 Ross Stripling
56 Alex Wood
57 Eduardo Rodriguez
58 Joey Lucchesi
59 Nathan Eovaldi
60 Jose Quintana
61 Rick Porcello
62 Trevor Williams
63 Kevin Gausman
64 Rich Hill
65 Chase Anderson
66 Carlos Rodon
67 Cole Hamels
68 Collin McHugh
69 Kenta Maeda
70 Tyler Skaggs
71 Marco Gonzales
72 Jake Arrieta
73 Zack Godley
74 Steven Matz
75 Michael Wacha
76 Trevor Richards
77 Wade Miley
78 Kyle Gibson
79 Dylan Bundy
80 Yonny Chirinos
81 Brad Keller
82 Jimmy Nelson
83 Freddy Peralta
84 Mike Fiers
85 Jake Junis
86 Jake Odorizzi
87 Jhoulys Chacin
88 Tanner Roark
89 Tyler Anderson
90 Clay Buchholz
91 Anibal Sanchez
92 Matt Harvey
93 Vince Velasquez
94 Nick Kingham
95 Dereck Rodriguez
96 Luke Weaver
97 Ryan Yarbrough
98 Jeff Samardzija
99 Chris Paddack
100 Matt Strahm
101 Wade LeBlanc
102 Trevor Cahill
103 Anthony DeSclafani
104 Marcus Stroman
105 Michael Fulmer
106 Mike Soroka
107 Touki Toussaint
108 Domingo German
109 Derek Holland
110 Julio Teheran
111 Sonny Gray
112 Daniel Mengden
113 Mike Minor
114 Zach Eflin
115 Brandon Woodruff
116 Matt Shoemaker
117 Drew Pomeranz
118 Tyson Ross
119 Danny Salazar
120 Brent Honeywell
121 Michael Pineda
122 Justus Sheffield
123 Aaron Sanchez
124 Brad Peacock
125 Julio Urias
126 CC Sabathia
127 Danny Duffy
128 Merrill Kelly
129 Joe Ross
130 Lance Lynn
131 Jose Urena
132 Jaime Barria
133 Gio Gonzalez
134 Taijuan Walker
135 Lucas Giolito
136 Drew Smyly
137 Luiz Gohara
138 Jonathan Loaisiga
139 Mitch Keller
140 Adam Wainwright
141 Nate Karns
142 Mike Leake
143 Framber Valdez
144 Ivan Nova
145 Alex Cobb
146 Dan Straily
147 Tyler Mahle
148 Ryan Borucki
149 A.J. Puk
150 Zach Davies

 

I’ll be back in a couple weeks with an update. Let’s hope there aren’t too many hip fractures or failed erections between now and then. The season is right around the corner, stay firm!

 

 

Find Donkey Teeth on Twitter @DonkeyTeeth87. Subscribe to his podcast with @DiktaSausagePod: Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

All ADP data courtesy of NFBC and all statistics courtesy of Fangraphs & Baseball Savant.

  1. SLACKS says:
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    Good stuff, Grey’s Luzardo ranking stuck out to me too. Curious why you are down on Clevinger? I’ve been targeting Flaherty and him as my late #1 in early drafts/mocks.

    Clevinger improved his fastball and cutter in 18 to not be as reliant on the slider, and I don’t see anything in his numbers to point at a decline.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @SLACKS: Thanks, Slacks.

      I’m not down on Clevinger. I debated including tiers in this post but didn’t end up doing it. Tier 3 is large for me, it starts at Thor (17) and runs to Berrios (29). I have no problem bumping Clevinger toward the top half of that tier. They’re all fairly close for me and it’s just preference.

      I have Clev jotted down for 14-7/3.40/1.20/185 in 185 innings. I agree, not much of a decline at all, but I do have minor concerns about the workload of a 28 year old who had never thrown 160 innings prior to the 200 innings last year…

  2. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    Nice work! Whitley over Luzardo though.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz: Damn, I should’ve asked “What Would Prospect Jesus Do”. I felt Luzardo had a little clearer path to MLB innings though…

      • The Great Knoche says:
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        @Donkey Teeth: yup, I doubt Whitley sees too many innings this year without injury. See Dodgers Urias

    • @Ralph Lifshitz:
      Great work, DT!

      Thanks for the Keller shout! *Glances around the Razzwagon* Plenty of good seats available!

      PS: don’t run from your Donkey progeny. They might visit when you’re serving fruit cakes!

      • Donkey Teeth

        Donkey Teeth says:
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        @The Itch: Whats with all prune juice on your Razzwagon?

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          @Donkey Teeth: If you’d ever had prune juice, you wouldn’t ask. It’s a magical fruit.

  3. Grey

    Grey says:
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    I got the sweetest letter the other day at Razzball HQ, saying their child was also born with Donkey Teeth and they had no one to look up to until you came along. They wanted to thank you personally but I told them you’re too busy and to stop writing.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @Grey: Whatever you do, don’t give them my address! They’re probably just after child support!

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        I hear that, DT… Someone asks me for child support, I send them a link to crutches for babies

  4. Johnnyhobbes says:
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    German way lower in ESPN points leagues. At what round do I “reach” or German ? I very been seeing him go after wheeler a lot. (Just as a reference for you).

    This list and Grey’s list is fire.

    I fly too close total he sun typically and I live ilon streaming matchups because I invariably go hitter first four rounds … Maybe only three this year… But probably 4.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @Johnnyhobbes: Thanks, Johnny.

      I’d be eyeing him anywhere after pick 60 but you might be able to land him quite a bit later….

  5. HERNAN says:
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    lol, Excellent as Always…, wondering about Tampa’s “opener” strategy.., do you think more teams will be “open” to try the “opener”?,,,,,,,,It seems is perfect for teams trying to protect young pitchers and back from injury guys, more effectively limit their innings,,,,, Although, I guess my favorite follow the “opener” guy, Matt Strahm is gonna be needed in bullpen.., with Castillo(forearm) and Weick( cancer treatment ) no lefty in bullpen…, there goes our dreams of 120 innings of Hodgepadre, with extra benefits(throw him on the road(no coors)…. interesting , with Luis Castillo , supposedly working on slider during off season( increase in usage was a big part of turnaround (2nd Half) in 2018.., watch out,,,, not always the case, but Castillo + plus slider= Ace!!, Taillon with more Ks!!, Kaillon!!!…., Love Flaherty, lol, gave a lot for him in favorite Dynasty League…, a lot!!! Awesome Reading!!!

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @HERNAN: Hernan! Thanks man.

      I do think other teams will follow suit with openers. It makes too much sense. And you did give up a lot for Captain Jack, but he’s worth it!

  6. 183414 says:
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    Took Ozuna @ #70, hoping to get Marquez @#75. One of those nights. Marquez, Bieber (that one hurt), Glasnow, Maeda, Pete Alonso, and Stripling all taken 1 ahead of me.
    This was my 1st of 5 drafts where I was snakebitten repeatedly.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @183414: Ouch!

  7. stayinhot says:
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    Thank you Mr Teeth, great work as always.

    I see lots of value in those pitchers between 40 and 60, can see me taking 3 or 4 in that range.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @stayinhot: Thanks, stayinhot.

      I agree, might even extend that out to 70…

  8. FANTASY ICON says:
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    Nice list. The one that sticks out for me is Rodriguez at 57. I have him in my top 30.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @FANTASY ICON: Thanks, Fantasy Icon.

      Grey has him up at #28 as well, so I guess I might be the low man. I see the upside appeal and if he’s able to get to the 158 IP Grey has him projected for then I probably do have him too low….

  9. gobiggreen says:
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    Thanks for the write-up! How are you going to adjust your approach in a QS league for teams that have an opener? I guess we have to avoid them like the plague?

    As fantasy players, is the answer to get rid of the QS leagues and implement W+QS? Thoughts? Emotions? Expletives?

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @gobiggreen: Hey gobiggreen,

      Good question. Yes, in shallower leagues I think you hit it on the head with just straight avoiding. In deeper leagues (say 14+ teams) I could see nabbing one or two of them at a bargain in the last couple rounds while everyone else is avoiding…there’s always leagues that overcompensate.

      My ideal solution would be to use a W and/or QS category with a condition that you can only get a max of 1 W/QS per player per game, so we aren’t double counting. Hopefully programmers can set something like that up in the future.

  10. Donkey Teeth

    Donkey Teeth says:
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    My man Folty has fallen and he can’t get up! Life-alert! Someone get his man a hip replacement!

    With this “elbow soreness” news I’m moving him down to #39 for starters, Tommy John has to be in the back of our minds. He’s just not worth the risk with so many other good options available.

  11. Steven Deutsch says:
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    Kershaw at 39? C’mon. The haterade has gone too far. At worst, he should be in the low-mid 20s even with the injury concerns.

    Anyone taking Chris Archer or Tyler Glasnow over Kershaw definitely deserves what will be coming to them….and that’s an L.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @Steven Deutsch: Passing on Kershaw isn’t going to lose anyone their league.

Comments are closed.