Whew! It turns out taking a week off from ranking these guys makes for a lot of work the next time out. As you might imagine, there is a bit more moving and shaking than normal this week. Surprise surprise, we’ve also had a slew of injuries that continue to take it’s toll on the top 50. We’ve lost Stephen Strasburg, Walker Buehler, and Garrett Richards most notably, with Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard looking lost for extended periods. The aces that are left continue to dominate though, and Trevor Bauer has worked his way into the top 10. We did get Madison Bumgarner back, but he hasn’t looked very sharp and I’m wondering if he belongs in the top 20 at this point. Carlos Martinez has been killing his owners since his return from the DL himself, yet his upside makes it hard to drop him too hard just yet. On the brighter side of things, Tyler Skaggs, with whom we planted flags several weeks ago, continues to climb the list in glorious fashion. Also, I still have no idea how Ross Stripling is suddenly an ace, but he keeps shoving and I keep ranking him higher. I’d consider selling depending on what you’re getting in return, but I’m probably just enjoying the ride if I have Stripling. Let’s go in depth on a half dozen other Risers, Fallers, and Newcomers of interest this week.
- Dylan Covey, CHW (SP62) – We’re still waiting on higher end pitchers getting the call from the minors, such as Michael Kopech, or maybe Mitch Keller. Instead we get…Dylan Covey. I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I was excited about Covey coming back to the majors, and the only thing I do through my teeth is suck soup. It’s relaxing. Covey is surprising us all though, posting a 2.29 ERA/1.30 WHIP over his first six starts. His success can be chalked up largely to an improved sinker, which he is now tossing 64% of the time while scrapping his fourseam. It has a nice 69% ground ball rate, and opposing batters have just a .322 slugging percentage against it. He doesn’t get a ton of whiffs on his main breaking ball, the slider, but it’s been a solid second offering overall. His changeup gives him a third pitch that should help turn the lineup over, adding up to a decent back-end pitcher. The K/9 will fall quite a bit, but he’s firmly in the group of mixed league streamers.
- Jonathan Loaisiga, NYY (SP93) – Why would the Yankees call up Chance Adams when they could call up a guy no one has ever heard of whose name is hard to pronounce!? Truth be told, Adams hasn’t fared too well at Triple-A and Loaisiga had been torching the minors with a 58:4 K:BB over 45 innings. He’s had a myriad of injury woes including Tommy John, limiting his innings greatly over the years. These 50 innings in 2018 are the most he has tossed since his debut in 2013…when he tossed 68.2. Yeah, it’s that bad. He’s on the smaller side as well, making it less likely he’s a starter in the long run. That said, I’d be grabbing him in 14 team leagues and deeper just in case this is a lightning in a bottle type of deal. He flashed good stuff in his debut, with a fastball, breaking ball, and changeup that all looked good. He’s worth a stream in standard mixers as well.
- Mike Foltynewicz, ATL (+27) – It turns out people get cranky when you have a guy allow two runs over four starts and you rank him at 60. It didn’t help that immediately after I finished that week’s list, Folty tossed a 2-hit shutout with 11 K’s. He’s been solid since then as well, so he gets a big 27 spot bump. I’ve had trepidation pushing him too high since he had relied heavily on just the fastball/slider combo, but he’s been using his curve more lately as well and it’s been fine, so that’s good enough for me. He still walks more guys than I’d like to see, but you can’t keep a guy with a 2.16 ERA too low.
- Kyle Gibson, MIN (+23) – As a Twins fan I have seen plenty of ol’ Gibby over the years. More than I’d have liked to, to be honest. It’s been pretty painful. The second half of 2017 he did something strange, however…he was good. He put up a 3.76 ERA with an 8.22 K/9 and 2.58 BB/9, and guess what? He’s still good! 14 starts in he has a 3.27 ERA with a 8.82 K/9, although the walk rate has spiked back up to 3.92. Strange as it may seem, he has a 15%+ whiff rate on each of his changeup, slider, and curveball!! It’s actually pretty nuts that he doesn’t have more strikeouts. He has been fortunate on balls in play though, with a .248 BABIP despite a 38% hard contact allowed. He’s creeping up on top 40 value.
- Luis Castillo, CIN (-26) – Oh, Luis. I’ve given you a lot of rope, and you keep making me regret it. We’re 15 starts in now and you have a 5.77 ERA. Good lord. At least there’s the strikeouts, but you’re officially droppable even in 15 teamers. I’d still have a hard time doing it in that deep a league, but I can’t blame anyone for trying to find better luck fishing in the stream. His xFIP is 4.00, if you’re looking for a silver lining, but he has had this homer issue even when he was successful last year, and pitching in Great American Small Park isn’t doing him any favors. I don’t believe that xFIP one bit. His velocity is slowly creeping back up, so perhaps there’s hope for a bit of a rebound at some point, but it’s hard to see him turning the proverbial corner and having everything clicking again any time soon.
- Dallas Keuchel, HOU (-19) – I probably could have been even harsher in dropping Keuchel, but I have more faith in him turning things around than Castillo. That isn’t to say I have that much faith, mind you, but he seems to only be lacking command at the moment. With a fastball that sits just 88-89, he needs that pinpoint command to pound the bottom of the zone with his stuff, and that hasn’t been happening lately. He’s been elevating and getting pounded. A deep league buy-low isn’t an outlandish idea, but I’d be content not having him on my team in shallow formats. He doesn’t provide much strikeout upside anyway. That beard is mighty fine though, damn.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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