Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

It was established in the first edition of 2019 Top 100 Pitchers: starting pitchers are much like grandparents. Exciting when they’re young and healthy, disheartening when they’re old and feeble. No reasonable mind would dispute the likeness between our elders and dudes who grasp and thrust balls for a living.

Don’t get me wrong, I love grandparents and Clayton Kershaw just as much as the next Donkey, but there’s an unavoidable sadness which surfaces when those we admire begin to fall apart. Here are some pitchers inspiring sadness this spring:

Luis SeverinoShoulder (-11)  The Yanks already announced he’ll be sidelined until May; my money would be on Seve missing more than just the first month. But I don’t have any money because I keep making bets on things I know nothing about, like when baseball players will return to action.

Walker BuehlerDead arm (-1)  Buehler has had many days off this spring. Like, the whole spring. It’s not a great sign, but it’s also possible we’re getting the perfect buying opportunity. Proceed with caution.

Mike FoltynewiczElbow Soreness (-23)  I’m still holding my breath on Folty. I was excited about the Foltwich taking another step forward until this elbow soreness came along. No real news since the initial reports broke, Tommy John potential still lingers awkwardly. Poor Tommy John, Dr. James Andrews is his only real friend nowadays.

Alex WoodBack (-15)  I noted last year that parts of his delivery reminded me of Kershaw. It made sense that a lefty pitcher in Dodgertown might try to learn from C.K. Hopefully Wood isn’t emulating (insert Louis C.K. jerk off joke here) Kershaws spinal health as well.

Josh JamesQuad (-6)  James’s quad strain cost him the chance breaking camp in the Astros rotation, but I have a feeling this is just a convenient way for the ‘Stros to limit his innings early in the season. Then again, maybe that feeling is just the Korean food I bought off that food truck. What’s this world coming to when you can’t trust the Mexican guy selling Korean food out of the back of a pickup truck!?

Andrew HeaneyElbow Soreness (-24)  Same thing I said about Folty applies to Heaney.

Carlos MartinezShoulder (-18)  Pretty much what I said about Severino except no timetable has been given on CarMart yet and there’s a real chance he heads to the bullpen if and when he is healthy.

Jesus LuzardoShoulder (-42)  Jesusssssss, whyyyyyyy?! This is a huge hit for one of the the most exciting young arms in the game. Leaving him in the top 100 is probably a stretch at this point. Next season may be the year he walks on water.

Michael FulmerTommy John (out for season)  Another one bites the dust. I’ll touch on Fulmer a few lines below.

For what its Werth, I’m avoiding all these guys except Josh James, Buehler, and maybe Heaney if he falls well below ADP. Severino, Folty, and CarMart could be worth a gamble if they’re really faded in your late draft, but the smart money says pass and just invest in Fyre Fest #2.


The Blue Pill

The idea of pitchers experimenting with new pitches and drugs during spring training is well documented. Alright, maybe the drugs part isn’t well document, but what else are these guys doing with their spare time? Knitting? Bible study? This is why we don’t read much into spring training stats; because of all the mushrooms, LSD, and peyote going around. But one meaningful item I do take note of during spring training is an increase in libido.

It reminds me of when grandpa-Donk discovered those blue pills. It was a rough week. Eventually we had to breakdown and buy the grandparents a new bed frame so the rest of us Donkeys could get some sleep again.

But instead of a blood flow increase bringing new life to the bedroom, it’s a velocity increase bringing new life to pitchers fastballs which I’m monitoring this spring. These increases can be very meaningful; just ask 2017 Jacob deGrom, 2018 Blake Snell, and 2009 grandpa-Donk. Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs.com generously compiles and shares a list of all notable spring velocity increases over on Twitter. Here are the most intriguing velocity increases this spring:

Name 2018 AVG FB Velo (mph) 2019 Spring Velo (mph)
Tyler Glasnow 95 97-98
Julio Urias 93.1 95-96
Zack Wheeler 95.9 97
Michael Wacha 93.5 94-97
Yu Darvish 93.9 94-95
Matt Strahm 93.5 96
Mike Clevinger 93.6 95-96
Chris Archer 94.7 97
Jake Arrieta 93 95
Martin Perez 92.7 96-97
Lucas Giolito 92.4 93-97
Sandy Alcantara 95.5 96-98
Trevor Cahill 91.8 95
Edinson Volquez 93.9 (2017) 95-97
Ryan Borucki 91.5 94-95
Julio Teheran 89.8 87-93

Now let’s not overreact to a sample so small (that’s what she said…wait, I said that to her). There’s very little to go off here and we don’t know what quality of information we’re looking at, but if it’s true, several of these guys could be headed for a major breakout or resurgence this season.

I’m moving some of these pitchers up slightly in my rankings, mainly because they were already close to the pitchers who were above them. A potential velo increase is a good tiebreaker if I’m on the fence between two arms. I’ll be closely monitoring all of these fellas as real baseball begins. Again, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt until we have a little larger sample (that’s what she said! nailed it that time).


Losing Libido

Name 2018 AVG FB Velo (mph) 2019 Spring Velo (mph)
Michael Fulmer 95.8 88-92
Wade LeBlanc 89 86
Alex Cobb 86 83
Dellin Betances 97.8 89-93
Greg Holland 93 89

On the flip side, substantial spring velocity decreases are big red flags (see: Fulmer, Michael). Fortunately, there aren’t any big names going limp this spring; I had to dip into relievers just to create that losing libido graphic! Needless to say, I’m even less interested in jumping into bed with LeBlanc and Cobb than I was before. LeBlanc Cobb is also the name of a French porn star I met when I was backpacking across Europe after college. Nothing happened between us. Seriously, we were just friends!


Anywayyyyyyy, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball (remember these are my current 5×5 draft rankings, the in season rankings will be more of a snapshot in time):

Rank Name Previous Notes
1 Max Scherzer 1
2 Jacob deGrom 2
3 Chris Sale 4
4 Justin Verlander 3
5 Blake Snell 5
6 Corey Kluber 6
7 Gerrit Cole 7
8 Trevor Bauer 8
9 Carlos Carrasco 9
10 Aaron Nola 10
11 German Marquez 12
12 Walker Buehler 11
13 Patrick Corbin 13
14 Jack Flaherty 15
15 Noah Syndergaard 17
16 James Paxton 18
17 Zach Greinke 19
18 Jameson Taillon 20
19 Shane Bieber 22
20 Zach Wheeler 25 Velo increase
21 Madison Bumgarner 21
22 Mike Clevinger 26 Velo increase
23 Stephen Strasburg 23
24 Miles Mikolas 24
25 Luis Severino 14 Shoulder injury out until at least May 1
26 Yusei Kikuchi 27
27 David Price 28
28 Jose Berrios 29
29 Tyler Glasnow 34 Velo increase
30 Robbie Ray 30
31 Chris Archer 35 Velo increase
32 Luis Castillo 31
33 Masahiro Tanaka 32
34 Charlie Morton 33
35 Yu Darvish 36 Velo increase, looks sharp
36 JA Happ 37
37 Kyle Hendricks 38
38 Clayton Kershaw 39
39 Mike Folynewicz 16 Elbow soreness
40 Chris Paddack 99 He’s really good!
41 Hyun-Jin Ryu 40
42 Joe Musgrove 41
43 Reynoldo Lopez 42
44 Sean Newcomb 44
45 Kyle Freeland 45
46 Nick Pivetta 46
47 Jon Gray 51
48 Jon Lester 52
49 Julio Urias 125 Velo increase & opportunity in LA now
50 Rich Hill 64 Great when healthy, appears healthy

3/22 Update: He’s hurt! Shocker. Move him back down 15 spots…

51 Ross Stripling 53
52 Dallas Keuchel 47 Still no team
53 Alex Reyes 49 Cards bringing him along very slow
54 Josh James 48 Quad injury
55 Forrest Whitley 55
56 Eduardo Rodriguez 57
57 Joey Lucchesi 58
58 Nathan Eovaldi 59
59 Jose Quintana 60
60 Rick Porcello 61
61 Matt Strahm 100 In SD rotation & velo increase
62 Jake Arrieta 72 Velo increase
63 Michael Wacha 75 Velo increase
64 Freddy Peralta 83 Has 5th starter spot in MIL
65 Brad Peacock 124 Has 5th starter spot in HOU
66 Corbin Burnes NA Has rotation spot
67 Andrew Heaney 43 Elbow soreness
68 Carlos Martinez 50 Shoulder injury, major uncertainty
69 Trevor Williams 62
70 Kevin Gausman 63
71 Alex Wood 56 Back injury
72 Carlos Rodon 66
73 Cole Hamels 67
74 Colin McHugh 68
75 Kenta Maeda 69
76 Marco Gonzales 71
77 Brandon Woodruff 115 Has rotation spot in MIL
78 Touki Touissant 107 Leg up on 5th starter spot in Atlanta
79 Domingo German 108 Has rotation spot in NYY
80 Zack Godley 73
81 Steven Matz 74
82 Trevor Richards 76
83 Wade Miley 77
84 Kyle Gibson 78
85 Dylan Bundy 79
86 Yonny Chirinos 80
87 Brad Keller 81
88 Jimmy Nelson 82
89 Mike Fiers 84
90 Jake Junis 85
91 Tyler Skaggs 70 Elbow soreness
92 Dakota Hudson NA 5th starter in STL
93 Jake Odorizzi 86
94 Jholys Chacin 87
95 Tanner Roark 88
96 Jesus Luzardo 54 Shoulder
97 Tyler Anderson 89
98 Clay Buchholz 90
99 Anibal Sanchez 91
100 Matt Harvey 92
101 Jeff Samardzija 98
102 Vince Velasquez 93
103 Trevor Cahill 102 Velo increase
104 Julio Teheran 110 Velo increase
105 Dereck Rodriguez 95
106 Luke Weaver 96
107 Ryan Yarbrough 97
108 Luis Cessa NA Chance for rotation spot in New York
109 Jonathan Loaisiga 138 Chance for rotation spot in New York
110 Anthony Desclafani 103
111 Marcus Stroman 104
112 Aaron Sanchez 123
113 Derek Holland 109
114 Sonny Gray 111
115 Michael Pineda 121
116 Adam Wainwright 140
117 Lucas Giolito 135 Velo increase
118 Mike Minor 113
119 Drew Pomeranz 117
120 Edinson Volquez NA Rotation spot in TEX & velo increase
121 Merrill Kelly 128
122 Ryan Borucki 148 Velo increase
123 Ivan Nova 144
124 Ervin Santana NA Rotation spot in CHW
125 Danny Duffy 127
126 CC Sabathia 126
127 Taijuan Walker 134
128 Mike Soroka 106
129 Zach Eflin 114
130 Matt Shoemaker 116
131 Tyson Ross 118
132 Brent Honeywell 120
133 Justus Sheffield 122
134 Joe Ross 129
135 Dan Straily 146
136 Lance Lynn 130
137 Zach Davies 150
138 Tyler Mahle 147
139 Jose Urena 131
140 Jamie Barria 132
141 Nick Kingham 94 No rotation spot?
142 Martin Perez NA Velo increase
143 Gio Gonzalez 133 Signed with NYY
144 Chase Anderson 65 To the bullpen
145 Drew Smyly 136
146 Mitch Keller 139
147 AJ Puk 149
148 Wade LeBlanc 101 Velo decrease
149 Daniel Mengden 112 Demoted to AAA
150 Danny Salazar 119 Will he ever pitch again?
151 Luiz Gohara 137
152 Nate Karns 141
153 Mike Leake 142
154 Framber Valdez 143
155 Alex Cobb 145 Velo decrease
NA Michael Fulmer 105 Tommy John



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.