Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…
Overreaction is part of human and donkey nature. Recency bias is unavoidable. But in a world where those who adapt not only survive, but thrive, could the risks of overreaction be outweighed by the rewards of adaptation? Good question. You have a lot of good questions.
I remember a few years back when Grandpa-Donk smuggled a three pound rib-eye steak out of the grocery store under his shirt, even though he had $200 burning a hole in his pocket. Did my family overreact and make gramps come live with us? Of course not; we all had a nice laugh over some grilled rib-eye and went on with our lives.
But when Gramps-Donk caused a 12 car pile up on Dixie Highway, without a license, in a car he “borrowed” from his neighbor, that’s when we knew it was time to make a move. So we did what any good family would do and threw the old goat into that nursing home from Happy Gilmore. Adapt and thrive.
I’ll now relate this insensitive and poorly thought out analogy to starting pitchers in fantasy baseball. After a month of overreacting to mostly meaningless spring pitching performances, we finally have a two-start regular season sample for many pitchers; the March days of experimenting with drugs and new pitches are over, these guys are now trying their best to get hitters out. Two-starts may seem like a small sample, but in an age when most starting pitchers will only reach 25-30 starts, two-starts is actually 6-8% of their season. It’s time to start reassessing.
Before getting into some of my early season risers and fallers, I do want to address the Bartolo Colon sized elephant in the room: The re-juiced baseballs. Small sample sizes and that’s what she said jokes aside, I fully believe we’re headed for record power numbers this season. What does this mean for us as fantasy baseballers? I think it means the elite top tier arms are even more valuable than they already were. With a surge in power we can expect increased pitching rates across the board, meaning a guy who gives you 200 IP of sub 3.00 ERA can really move the needle. Just some food for thought as we monitor the ever changing landscape.
Now let’s take a look at some pitchers who may need to adapt to poor genital blood flow…
Chris Sale – (-4) The Red Sox claim they aren’t concerned about Sale’s decreased velocity. I have no idea what to think, but I’m concerned enough about a possible shoulder injury to move him down a bit. This could be a great buying opportunity, I just don’t want to risk it.
Ross Stripling – (-9) Chicken Strip’s fastball is looking less like fresh KFC and more like the week old leftovers Grey tosses out into my pen. I don’t want to yell fire prematurely on a guy I liked a lot preseason, well, I guess I kind of want to.
Miles Mikolas – (-10) The Lizard King has pitched about as well as I’d expect that gecko from the Geico commercials to pitch. I could qualify all of these with an “it’s early” tag, but Mikolas lacks strikeout upside in the first place so it’s hard to give him much of a leash if he’s going to be allowing more baserunners this year.
Matt Strahm – (-12) I pushed back the release of this post because I wanted to get another look at a few of these arms Sunday; Matt Strahm was the number one guy on that list. A huge part of the reason for my excitement about Strahm this preseason, other than his 18 egg per day diet, was the reports of his velocity increasing to 95-96 mph this spring. In his first start he topped out around 92 mph and was sitting 90-91 mph for most of the outing. It’s a couple innings into his second start right now and I’m seeing more of the same. I still think he can be a successful major league pitcher, but Strahm’s upside is limited a little if he’s only throwing 90-92 mph.
Then we have the pitchers who may need to contact their physicians due to erections lasting longer than one week…
Matt Boyd – (NA) I should be fired for not including Matty B in my preseason top 100, which counter-intuitively included 155 pitchers. Fortunately for me, no other writers would accept the sugar beet and hay compensation package offered for this position. Boyd’s insane 40.7% K rate and 20.2% swinging strike rate aren’t sustainable, but there could still be K’s in bunches here. Make sure he’s owned in your league.
Joe Musgrove – (+9) We also discussed Musgrove in depth on our podcast back in early March. Thru his first nine innings, Musgrove boasts an incredible 73.3% first pitch strike rate and a sexy 15.3% swinging strike rate. What does it mean? The Itch speculates these rates could be leading indicators of a breakout, and I agree.
Freddy Peralta – (+23) Freddy P was absolutely lights out in his second start of the season against the Reds last week. His eight shutout innings came on the wings of a nice increase in fastball velocity. Peralta averaged 90.8 mph on the fastball in 2018 and has averaged 92.5 mph thru two starts this year. I saw him hit 95 and 96 mph multiple times in the 7th and 8th inning in his start against the Reds. This is BIG. Just beware that Freddy is a two pitch pitcher and has thrown over 82% fastballs so far this year. It’s really tough to take the next step as a two pitch guy, especially with that kind of fastball usage.
Tyler Glasnow – (+6) Glasnow is a 6’8′ horse who averages 96.6 mph on his fastball and, like Musgrove, he’s gotten ahead of hitters at an incredible rate with a 72.1% first pitch strike rate so far. Unfortunately, like Freddy P, he’s more or less a two pitch guy right now. But the stuff is so good for both Glasnow and Freddy, I just wanna dream.
Anyway, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball:
Injured: Luis Severino, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Foltynewicz, Rich Hill, Jimmy Nelson, Andrew Heaney, Alex Wood, Carlos Martinez, Clay Buchholz, CC Sabathia, Danny Salazar, Taijuan Walker, Danny Duffy, Ryan Borucki, Edinson Volquez, Matt Moore
On the Farm: Forrest Whitley, Alex Reyes, Jesus Luzardo, Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, Brent Honeywell, Mitch Keller, Joe Ross, Daniel Mengden, AJ Puk, Luiz Gohara, Justus Sheffield, Gio Gonzalez, Jamie Barria
Unsigned: Dallas Keuchel
Find Donkey Teeth on Twitter @DonkeyTeeth87. Subscribe to his podcast: Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs & Baseball Savant.