July 20-July 26, 2020
Well, hello everyone and welcome back to your favorite place to hear about split fingers, Razzball’s Top 100 Starting Pitcher List! If you’ve been a good fantasy baseball manager, you’ve already bookmarked the previous article while you were drafting your teams and social media should be cheering your wise moves. If you’ve been a bad manager and Grey put you in his basement, well, you’re probably sitting next to me right now eating from a hoarded supply of Pop Tarts. Leave me the strawberry!
Before we get to the list, let’s check up on a couple of important news bits. If you follow me on Twitter @everywhereblair, some of these updates are already old stories for you. In case this is your first time here, I’ll catch you up: I update the Google Doc below daily in response to hearing about Covid news, rotation management, and summer training performances. Bookmark this page and check it out to get the most up-to-date pitcher rankings for your drafting needs. By following me on Twitter, you’ll hear first when I update the Top 100 Starting Pitcher List.
Shane Bieber — My man Yummy has taken the #2 spot going into the heavy draft season, largely because several other top pitchers have question marks. For a brief while, Bieber took the #1 spot–it’s like his second home! However, Gerrit Cole’s impressive outing on Friday–5.2 innings, 87 pitches–undid the early rumors that the Yankees were going to limit their pitchers to start the season. Bieber’s got three above-average pitches, a Cleveland Spiders team that will support him defensively, and enough bullpen support to not lose those critical wins. Most importantly, Razzball readers are going to own Bieber in a ton of leagues because his ADP over at NFBC is 27. Bieber is currently the 6th pitcher off the board in most leagues. In an ideal world, you’re getting two awesome hitters in the first two rounds and then taking Bieber in the mid-3rd round. Or, shhhh, maybe you take Patrick Corbin or Mike Clevinger later. Shhh! Don’t wake the Spiders!
Walker Buehler — Walker, LA Ranger, spent his Covid-induced off-season doing less baseball and more ranger-er-ing, whatever that means. As a result, Buehler is set to start 2020 more like an opener, with Dustin May likely taking a secondary “piggyback” role before giving way to the bullpen. I knocked Buehler out of Tier 1, and he now sits firmly with other star pitchers who have short leashes or limitations to start the season in Tier 2. You probably won’t own Buehler anyway because people are irrationally high (hehe!) on him. Buehler has great stuff, but the reality is that he has a huge question mark in his innings potential.
Shohei Ohtani — You know I love Ohtani-san, but he’s been miserable in summer training. He’ll be pitching only on Sundays, so he’s in line for ten starts, assuming he doesn’t get knocked from the rotation for poor performance. He’s an upside pick, but most drafters will take him earlier than you because they don’t remember that the next forty pitchers on the list will have basically the same stats with a lower ADP.
Ross Stripling — He’s here! Stripling owns a killer curveball–4th best in the majors last year–and he throws it 28% of the time. In a 60-game season, that’ll work. The problem is that Stripling’s other pitches are league average or worse. If this was a young prospect, I’d say, “Hey, pay me like Mookie!” Or, I’d point out that prospects have a lot of time to develop. Stripling is 30 years old, though, and the Dodgers tried to get rid of him in the off-season while protecting Dustin May. Instead, it looks like the Dodgers will protect May by reducing his innings, and Stripling will get a chance to rack up Ks and Wins. Take a look at his ridiculous curveball below. If you draft him, imagine him throwing that thing 30% of the time and you whiffing 100% of the time.
Dustin May — OK, baseball Razzball is just a Dodgers stan account now. But! Hear me out. At the time of writing, it sounds like Dustin May is going to “piggyback” on Walker Buehler’s starts, because Buehler is only stretched out to 3 innings right now. Imagination scenario time: Buehler goes 3-4IP for 2 starts, and then May comes in to pitch another 3-4IP. The Dodgers put up a couple runs because that’s what Dodgers do, and the bullpen finishes the game. Who gets the W in those games? May does. If May piggybacks for Buehler, it could be an easy 1-2 Wins early in the season. For a dart throw, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Especially in best ball formats, there’s no reason not to grab May–he’s got two elite pitches, the Dodgers love him, and he’ll be turning 23 at the end of the year. His NFBC ADP is 264, so he’s gonna be available in your draft. That’s a quality dart throw.
Kwang-Hyun Kim — Carlos Martinez looks like a lock to make the Cardinals rotation, so Kim has left the Top 100. That said, the Cardinals rotation features old man Wainwright, the oft-injured C-Mart, the wild Dakota Hudson, and Miles “Unable to throw in April” Mikolas. Kim is absolutely worth a dart throw in deep leagues because there’s no way that Cardinals rotation stays 100% intact through the year.
Dylan Cease — The videos we’re seeing out of summer training show an unbelievable curveball. In a 60-game season, Cease can throw that a ton and make hay. That said, he had the 6th least valuable fastball among starters with 70+IP last year. There’s a lot of potential for his season to go sideways. Dart throw.
Nate Pearson, Hyun-Jin Ryu — The Buffalo Blue Jays are coming to town! The Blue Jays will have to play their “home” games in a U.S.-based minor league or spring training ballpark in 2020. These parks are extremely hitter friendly. I didn’t move any of the Jays starters down in the Top 100 list because you weren’t exactly drafting them for ERA, were you? That said, if you go in for one or any of them, you might want to grab some ratio-improving relievers at the end of your draft to help out with the dingers that will fly out of Buffalo.
Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough, Brendan McKay: You know what Covid does to dreams and workplace stability? Imagine the Rays going into 2020 with that rotation fully healthy. They’d need, what, one run a game to go 60-0 and win the World Series? Instead, 4/5 of the starting rotation missed time in summer training due to (reasons). Charlie Morton will take the mound for the season opener, and it sounds like everybody else will be healthy enough to pitch in the season. That said, we’ve seen that starters 2-5 are behind on their pitch counts, and will likely be weak plays early in the season.
Jordan Yamamoto — Marlins sent him to the “alternate site” so it looks like he won’t make the opening day roster. Yamamoto has three plus pitches at the age of 24 and should be on your radar for waiver wire pickups and dynasty leagues.