Not your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…
You’re at the local grocer staring at a shelf in the cereal aisle, wishing you were watching baseball and/or Naked and Afraid. Perched next to each other on the shelf are a $4.00 box of Cocoa Puffs and a $2.00 box of Choco Spheres. Do you choose the known quantity name brand or take a gamble on those mysterious spheres at half price? It was always an easy choice for frugal old Grandpa-Donk, he didn’t build his fortune of Donkey-units by purchasing the luxury orbs of chocolate. To this day Gramps would poop himself if we ever brought home a box of Depend’s Diapers. It’s Señor Crapper’s or nothing for the old timer.
In fantasy baseball we face many of these same decisions. Not only pre-draft, as I highlighted in the wildly popular Horse v. Donkey preseason series, but also in-season as we weigh the name brand Jake Arrieta’s against the knock-off Tommy Milone’s. Ooof what has the world come to when these are my choices! Hint: Take Tommy. Are you really about to make a case for a 32 year old pitcher who has thrown 159 minor league innings over the past two seasons and has the average fastball velocity of a kindergartner? Stop spoiling the big reveal, stupid random italicized voice!
Grey rambled through some interesting ideas while tripping on LSD this past week, “Conspiracy Theory Alert! You know how every pitcher is humping the speed gun? It’s true. Everyone wants to throw the hardest. It’s like every pitcher was raised on Nolan Ryan noogies. Velocity is where’s at! Dot dot dot. Or is it?! Damn you, Reversal Question! You nearly gave me a heart attack. If everyone’s throwing hard, then what it is it that hitters see a lot of? No, not the inside of cages. I mean, maybe, but not where I was headed. Hitters see a lot of fast, um, fastballs. What do they not see a lot of? Zack Greinke’s 88 MPH sludge. Of course, if it was meatballs, it would be another thing, but it’s not. Speaking of meatballs, has anyone else noticed Donkey Teeth smells like month old meatballs?” Hey! Start feeding me fresher meatballs if you don’t like my month old meatball musk!
As for Milone, he fits this mold perfectly with his 87.5 MPH average fastball velocity. Am I excited about Tommy Milone? Shizz no, I’m not the one dropping acid. I mean, not at the moment, it’s been a few years. But Milone has always featured very good control and now he’s bringing a 25% K-rate to the table with almost a strike out per inning since being called up a month ago. T-Milone also calls Seattle’s pitcher friendly T-Mobile Park home, he’ll face off against the Royals and Orioles in that home park this week, and Streamonator LOVES those match ups. I’m adding Tommy Boy and hoping I don’t have to call for housekeeping.
Some other knock-off names that have been pitching like the real deal…
Charlie Morton (+8) – Ground Chuck has been pitching more like a Morton’s Steakhouse Filet. He’s carried the Astro’s magic over to the Rays and has even increased his swinging strike rate up to a career high of 13.2% so far this season (11.9% SwStr% in 2018). The 35 year old’s K-rate is also up over 30% for the first time in his career. He’s pretty much the knock-off version of Justin Verlander right now.
Lance Lynn (+24) – The Lance Lynn brand has never been a best seller, but prior to last season Lynn had posted 3 straight seasons of 175+ IP with a sub-3.50 ERA. He’s added a half MPH to his average fastball velocity and he’s throwing a lot more sliders this year, leading to a career high K-rate through 86 innings. In 51 1/3 IP since May 1st, Lynn boasts a 3.63 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 60 strike outs, and the FIP fairies are whispering that he’s actually been even better than that. Anyone care for a bowl of Lance Strasburg? Mmmmm salty beard!
Julio Teheran (+13) – Speaking of fairies, Fantasy Master Lothario has been quick to point out the regression fairies prancing anxiously around Teheran. The thing is, throughout his career Teheran has often been a low WHIP guy who outperforms his FIP/xFIP and harbors terrorists. So I wonder if the fairies might just lightly tickle him with their regression feathers. We can also toss him into the drug induced conspiracy theory bucket with his 89.9 MPH average fastball velo. Let’s call him private label Jose Quintana.
Framber Valdez (NA) – After his 5 starts down the stretch in 2018, walks were the concern with Framber coming into this season. So far he seems to be keeping the walks in check with only 3.46 per 9 innings through 39 IP this year and his rotation spot is starting to feel pretty safe. Plus Valdez gets the Astros magic bump. That gets me thinking, why didn’t anyone give Corbin Martin a bump from their stash? Back to Framber Valdez though: High K potential, good offense backing him, weak division: Sign Donkey up! We could have a discounted Yu Darvish type on our hands here.
Zach Plesac (+12) – I highlighted Plesac in the rankings two weeks ago and then B_Don licked my Plesac on the Fantasy Sausage Podcast after that. I like what I’ve seen from him and suspect he could go on a Mike Soroka type run here.
Elieser Hernandez (NA) – It’s interesting that the fantasy community has been abuzz with hype for Elieser’s AAA teammate Zac Gallen, all the while Hernandez was posting video game type numbers himself: 1.13 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 12.94 K/9 across 48 AAA innings this year! Uhhhhh, yep that’s really good! He’s seen a large jump in his swinging strike rate this year, he pitches in a great pitchers park, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a former Astros prospect. If you’re looking for a deeper name who could blow up (positive or negative) and nobody is talking about, here’s your guy.
Some other hot no-namers who I like, and thought about writing blurbs about, but had to go spend time with Papa-Donk: Merrill Kelly (+31), Brad Keller (+50), John Means (+33). That reminds me, Happy Father’s Day folks! A box of Señor Crapper’s for everyone on Donkey Teeth!
Some false advertising from a few name brand guys…
Chris Paddack (NA) – We often discuss a honeymoon period where rookie pitchers are dominant before scouting catches up to them. We’re likely out of that honeymoon stage with Paddack. The Padres have sent him down to control his innings and he should be back up shortly. I think he’ll still be useful for the rest of the season and I would do my best to hold onto him but the innings limit will continue and I’d expect more of a top 50 pitcher than top 25 pitcher.
German Marquez (-11) – I haven’t been shy about expressing my love for Marquez this year, but I’ll be honest, our relationship has suffered through some rocky patches recently. Pride Month is supposed to be a time where we celebrate together, I don’t know why German insists on spoiling it. The good news is, I’ve watched a lot of Marquez this year and he goes on unhittable stretches often. His stuff is still filthy. The rough outings have usually been isolated innings and many times there are tough luck plays involved. I think Marquez has another elite half season in the arm but I’m bumping him down in the rankings for the time being.
Aaron Nola (-6) – I told you to buy Marquez over Nola back in early February. OK, maybe I should just light that page on fire at this point. What’s that? I’m being told that you can’t light web-pages on fire!? Sonuva! Actually, according to the Razzball Player Rater, through June 15th Marquez has been the 38th best SP while Nola has been the 88th best SP. ::Slowly removes head from oven:: I don’t think Nola is actually this bad, but he hasn’t been able to get ahead in the count this year and he’s not getting the swinging strikes he was last year either. He’ll need to improve in both departments to right the ship. I wouldn’t put too much effort into acquiring A-A-Ron, but if his owner is fed up the buy-low window is probably wide open. Let’s hope that’s a window and not the buy-low guillotine!
Anyway, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball…
Injured: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Tyler Glasnow, Noah Syndergaard, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, Domingo German, Caleb Smith, Luke Weaver, Alex Wood, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nate Eovaldi, Jordan Lyles, Jon Duplantier, Adam Wainwright, Gio Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey, Jordan Zimmerman, Dylan Covey, Jefry Rodriguez, Jeremy Hellickson, Tyson Ross, Marco Estrada, Danny Salazar, Taijuan Walker, Ryan Borucki, Edinson Volquez
On the Farm: Chris Paddack, Alex Reyes, Jesus Luzardo, Zac Gallen, Forrest Whitley, Matt Manning, Corbin Martin, Lucas Sims, Casey Mize, Justus Sheffield, Brent Honeywell, AJ Puk, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Freeland, Erik Swanson, Tyler Anderson
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.