What a disgusting tease of a week that was. Some people like to be teased I suppose, but in this very important fantasy baseball circumstance I’m not all about it. Just as I was all set to toss Clayton Kershaw back into the fold, he leaves his first start with back tightness and it’s back to the DL dungeon for at least a month. Same story with Alex Reyes, who I was all set to gush about this week. Sadly, he left his first start with the Cardinals after just four innings and is lost to the DL for a long, long time with a “significant” lat strain. The loss of Kenta Maeda is sad since he was pitching so well, while the loss of Jeff Samardzija is less so since he’d been horrendous. Addition by subtraction? Perhaps. We also lost Noah Syndergaard, although hopefully this will be the only week he drops from the rankings since his finger injury isn’t considered to be serious. Because of all the injuries and a general lack of blow-ups from mid-tier starters, there weren’t a lot of fallers this week. So rather than nitpick a few minor laggards, let’s look at a bunch of new entries to the Top 100, and a couple risers as well. I feel like such an optimist!
- Carlos Rodon, CHW (SP54) – I’ve been a sucker for Carlos ever since the day he was drafted, so let me get that out of the way right off that bat. He’s shown us glimpses of what he’s capable of, which is ace-like numbers. Unfortunately he’s spent a good portion of his MLB career on the disabled list. What we can definitely expect is a strikeout per inning thanks to a 93-MPH heater from the left side and a wipeout slider. He was also getting more comfortable with his changeup last year – not that it was a great pitch – but it serves as a third piece to help turn over a lineup, and 12% usage was the highest of his young career. The walk rate ticked back up though, which has been is other main issue behind health. He is set to make his final rehab start Sunday at Triple-A and if all goes well he’ll be back with the White Sox this week. He’s looking good with 20 K’s over 12.2 IP in his rehab starts, so stash away if he’s available in your league.
- Nathan Eovaldi, TB (SP83) – Eovaldi might have flown under the radar in his return to action as a less prominent name on the tanking Rays. He blew that notion to smithereens with six no-hit innings against the A’s in his debut, walking one and striking out four. Despite being one of the hardest throwers in baseball among starters (97 MPH FB) he has only a career 6.56 K/9. He has solid control, but without swing-and-miss stuff his ceiling isn’t too high. To frame that further, he hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2013. Don’t get overly excited.
- Anthony DeSclafani, CIN (SP95) – I have always loved DeSclafani because I can use his name to rhyme with Gwen Stefani in my rap battles. He’s my secret weapon. He is also another pitcher in addition to Eovaldi who hasn’t given you meaningful MLB innings since 2016. He’s been far less dominant in his rehab starts than Rodon, and his upside is also much lower since he doesn’t feature overpowering stuff. He has much better control though, and despite his homer-proneness (is that really a word?) in his rehab starts, he’s typically been very good at limiting the long ball (career 0.98 HR/9). I wouldn’t bother to look at him as anything more than a stream in standard mixers, but in 15+ team leagues he could be a regular contributor.
- Frankie Montas, OAK (SP97) – It’s about time I rankie Frankie. What the hell is going on in Oakland? Are they building a real team there? Last week saw meteoric rises up the list for Daniel Mengden and Trevor Cahill, trying to catch Sean Manaea who is already just inside the top 30. Now we’ve got Frankie Montas up from the minors and trying to get in on the action. He tossed eight shutout innings in a 16-0 shellacking of the Royals last week, and now has just one earned run over his first 14 IP with the team. Time for the wet blanket. As with Eovaldi and DeSclafani, he doesn’t have the type of stuff to miss a ton of bats and is more of a control guy. There isn’t a ton to be encouraged about so far unfortunately aside from the ERA, with a 25% line drive rate, 40% hard contact rate, and 5.79 K/9. I’d only be looking to stream him in the friendliest of matchups, but you may be best avoiding him altogether.
- Caleb Smith, MIA (SP38) – Despite the best efforts of the Marlins, it looks like they actually have a good pitcher here. Perhaps, a very good pitcher. Smith uses his slider nearly 30% of the time, and it’s a good one. He also throws 93 MPH from the left side with 12% changeup usage. Sound familiar? It’s a similar skillset to Carlos Rodon. Smith has also suffered from a lack of control with a 4.15 BB/9 on the year, but it’s been better since his first four starts. In seven starts since, he has a 2.21 ERA/0.84 WHIP over 40.2 innings with a 10.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. That’s quite the run. I’d be looking to grab him anywhere I can.
- Zach Eflin, PHI (SP76) – Last year I titled an episode of the Nasty Cast “No Eflin Way” because of how disinterested I was in Eflin when he strung together a few deceptively nice stats. You might have noticed that I used it again for the title of this article. Don’t judge me! Good titles are hard to come up with! Anyway, last year he posted a 4.90 K/9. That’s almost impossibly bad. This year? 10.04 K/9. Insert shocked face gif here. The results haven’t come just yet with a 4.50 ERA over 26 innings, but the 18.6% K-BB% has me watching. His ERA indicators are all well under 4.00, and his swinging strike rate is up to 9.6%. That’s about league average, so I do see the strikeouts regressing, especially with a really bad 22.7% reach rate on pitches outside the zone. He’s throwing his slider 11% more than last year at 24% and so far the results are fairly positive. He’s not a standard mixed league guy just yet, but keep an eye on him.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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