Surprise!! Kershaw is back! Again. Hopefully for the last time. We all love Kershaw whether we own him or not (come on, the guy builds houses in third world counties in his off time). Therefore for the good of baseball, Kershaw should be allowed to have a personal masseuse on the field at all times to loosen him up between pitches. Anything that back needs, get that masseuse in there and rub it out. No more DL stints! Someone get me Manfred’s number. Of course, for every give there is a take, and we lost Carlos Carrasco to a nasty comebacker off the elbow. It doesn’t sound like he’ll be gone too long, but he’s off the list this week. Outside of that we had a relatively quiet week for starting pitchers. We lost the likes of Aaron Sanchez and Jose Urena to the DL, but those guys aren’t leaving anyone’s season hanging in the balance. Michael Wacha does appear to be gone for a significant amount of time with an oblique strain though, and that is a more significant loss. Despite the fact that he seemed obscenely overrated by the Razzball community, I didn’t want to see him go. Especially considering he’s being replaced by John Gant. Yay. We’re also in that dead zone before the midseason call ups, so we don’t have too many debuts to discuss this week on the list. Most starters pretty much pitched like you’d expect them to this week as well, so there wasn’t a ton of serious moving and shaking. That makes this sound like a bit of a dance, which I guess it kind of is. I prefer the Mashed Potato, myself. Since there isn’t a ton of movement, I want to touch on some of the guys I haven’t talked about this year in addition to a few newcomers to the list.

The Newcomers

  • Shane Bieber, CLE (SP62) – Bieber is back up and earned his second win of the season, shutting out the lowly Tigers over seven strong innings with nine K’s and just one walk. Three walks through three starts is about par for the course with Bieber, whose command is nothing short of pinpoint. He’ll help carry your team in WHIP, and won’t even be a negative in strikeouts the way many of the other low walk starters will. Guys like Mikolas, Mengden, even Manaea aren’t helping you much in K’s, but Bieber actually has a 12% whiff rate. He’s got a good shot to continue to move up from here, perhaps into SP40 range if he continues this K-BB%.
  • Rich Hill, LAD (SP69) – If you have the slightest idea what to do with Rich Hill, you’re doing better than me. The Superblister is gone for the time being, but we all know it can come back at any time, like a C.H.U.D.. Hill came back from the DL this past week and did something he hadn’t done in months: he dominated. He held a very good Cubs offense to three hits in six innings without yielding a run. Maybe what he needs to do is change his name to Rich Mound and become a new man. Put all this Superblister business behind him once and for all! Also, he pitches from a mound, so it makes sense you see. Anyway, if I had Hill I doubt I could get anything for him so I reckon I’d roll him out and hope for the best. He seems to either kill it or suck hard, but we’ve seen him go on crazy runs in past years so what the hell. Live a little.
  • Domingo German, NYY (SP78) – There were some curious commenters last week wondering why I hadn’t ranked German. Well, technically it was an error as I meant to include him in the 90’s somewhere and failed, but it also seems that I’m on the conservative side of the German spectrum. There’s no denying he’s missing a ton of bats. If he had pitched enough innings to be a qualified starter for the league leaderboards (which he is nowhere near), his 15.8% swinging strike rate would rank second in baseball behind only Max Scherzer. His 78.7% zone contact rate would be fourth, behind just Scherzer, DeGrom, and Sale. I like that stat because it tells me his stuff is good enough to pound the zone with and still miss bats. I don’t deny that. What he has struggled with, however, is control. It’s been better over his past five starts, and that’s why I bring him to the list as an option. If something has clicked with him, I don’t want to miss out on just how good he can be. He’s worth a flier in all formats, I will say that. I’ve never been a huge fan of his delivery though, and he’s dealt with plenty of injuries as well. He’s one of those “just in case” adds.
  • Jaime Barria, LAA (SP88) – I’ve started to come around to Barria a bit recently. Solid ERA/WHIP, but bad peripherals have scared me off. Well now that he’s got nearly 50 innings under his belt, we’re starting to get a sense of who he really is as a Major League starter. His 12.1% whiff rate is very nice, and he’s getting chases out of the zone as well at 34%. His changeup and slider each get 18%+ whiffs, with the changeup looking solid enough to be able to lower his currently ugly .349 wOBA vs righties. He’s got a way to go before he’s a real asset anywhere, but he’s on my radar now.

The Unheralded Starters

  • Mike Clevinger, CLE (SP34) – Who really is this Clevinger fella? He looks way different (on the stat sheet, anyway) than he did in 2017. Last year it was a huge 10.13 K/9 but an equally huge (you know, relatively speaking) 4.44 BB/9. This year? 8.18 K/9, 2.91 BB/9. Despite those different results, the ERA’s have been almost identical at 3.11 and 3.00. The Clevelander demands respect. His pitch mix is basically unchanged, and although his velocity is up a half a tick, he’s allowing more contact and getting fewer whiffs. His first pitch strike rate has shot up from 63% to 67% though, and he’s pitching in the zone nearly 3% more. That command has clearly taken a step forward, making him a more reliable starter. He also gets bonus points for having sweet hair and a bunch of tattoos.
  • Matt Boyd, DET (SP52) – You can’t get a more “take it or leave it” profile than Matt Boyd, which is probably why I haven’t written about him yet. At least as far as I remember. He doesn’t get much exposure pitching on a tanking Tigers club, and his 7.26 K/9 isn’t exactly flashy like a neon sign for an all you can eat Chinese buffet. Man, I could go for some Chinese food right about now. Boyd has relied on a .242 BABIP for his 3.63 ERA, so worse days are probably coming. He isn’t a soft contact maestro, with a 35% hard contact rate that isn’t impressing anyone, so that BABIP isn’t gonna stick around. It is impressive, however, that he has been able to be a solid streaming option while losing three miles per hour on his fastball!!! Yes, his fastball dipped from 92 in 2017 to 89 this year. His slider is actually down six MPH, but that has provided more of a velocity gap and has made the pitch more effective. In fact, in terms of pitch value, his slider was his worst pitch last year. This year, it’s been his best pitch. What a wild world.

The Top 100 Starting Pitchers

Rank Name Prev Rank
1 Max Scherzer 1
2 Chris Sale 2
3 Corey Kluber 3
4 Luis Severino 4
5 Clayton Kershaw N/A
6 Justin Verlander 6
7 Jacob DeGrom 7
8 Gerrit Cole 5
9 Trevor Bauer 9
10 James Paxton 8
11 Aaron Nola 10
12 Blake Snell 11
13 Zack Greinke 12
14 Jose Berrios 15
15 Madison Bumgarner 16
16 Charlie Morton 13
17 Patrick Corbin 20
18 Lance McCullers 17
19 Alex Wood 18
20 Carlos Martinez 19
21 Nick Pivetta 21
22 J.A. Happ 25
23 Rick Porcello 22
24 Ross Stripling 41
25 Gio Gonzalez 23
26 Eduardo Rodriguez 24
27 Sean Newcomb 26
28 Miles Mikolas 27
29 Tyson Ross 28
30 Tyler Skaggs 29
31 Jack Flaherty 32
32 David Price 31
33 Jose Quintana 30
34 Mike Clevinger 35
35 Dylan Bundy 42
36 Sean Manaea 36
37 Mike Foltynewicz 33
38 Caleb Smith 34
39 Kyle Gibson 43
40 Michael Fulmer 48
41 Jon Gray 45
42 Dallas Keuchel 46
43 Kyle Hendricks 37
44 Tanner Roark 38
45 Joe Musgrove 40
46 Joey Lucchesi 44
47 Jake Arrieta 47
48 Luis Castillo 56
49 Jameson Taillon 52
50 Marco Gonzales 53
51 Carlos Rodon 54
52 Matt Boyd 51
53 Jon Lester 68
54 Zach Eflin 60
55 Kenta Maeda 49
56 Vince Velasquez 63
57 CC Sabathia 70
58 Fernando Romero 58
59 Daniel Mengden 55
60 Andrew Heaney 57
61 Cole Hamels 59
62 Shane Bieber N/A
63 Zack Godley 69
64 Kevin Gausman 61
65 Dylan Covey 62
66 Sonny Gray 79
67 Reynaldo Lopez 64
68 Kyle Freeland 74
69 Rich Hill N/A
70 Junior Guerra 66
71 Mike Montgomery 76
72 Steven Matz 71
73 Zack Wheeler 73
74 Sam Gaviglio 84
75 Luke Weaver 67
76 Wade LeBlanc 86
77 Jakob Junis 77
78 Domingo German N/A
79 Jordan Lyles 78
80 Jake Odorizzi 65
81 Ivan Nova 95
82 Anibal Sanchez 80
83 Nathan Eovaldi 81
84 Chad Kuhl 72
85 Jhoulys Chacin 82
86 Nick Tropeano 83
87 Freddy Peralta 87
88 Jaime Barria N/A
89 Clay Buchholz 85
90 Tyler Anderson N/A
91 Jonathan Loaisiga 93
92 Seth Lugo 88
93 Tyler Mahle 89
94 Mike Leake N/A
95 Mike Fiers 91
96 Clayton Richard 92
97 Anthony DeSclafani 99
98 Mike Minor 94
99 Chase Anderson 96
100 Brent Suter 97



You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken

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chris pierce
chris pierce
4 years ago

Drop Caleb for Bieber?

4 years ago

Educate me please because that “zone contact rate” metric you cited in the German blurb is new to me. For context, what would league average be?

Reply to  Dokken
4 years ago


Really appreciate that explanation, insightful, thanks so much!

Reply to  Dokken
4 years ago


Thanks! Good explanation, I don’t love all the new stats out there but this one seems like it could be useful in the future!

Just wondering since I’m new to zone contact rate, after how many starts do you think it would take for their zone contact rate to “normalize” I guess? Like yeah a horrible 1st start or 2 or a great 1st start or 2 would slant most stats. But if a guy had say 10 starts would you expect his zone contact rate to go up or down dramatically in the future? Or would say 20 starts give you that much of better idea of how good that pitcher really is?

Skinny Mike
Skinny Mike
4 years ago

Need a little advice from a ‘pert! Who do you like better this week?

Shane Bieber @ Stl
Tanner Roark @ Phi


4 years ago

Another owner has expressed interest in my best trade chips. This year and one more of both Juan Soto and Acuna. I also have the next two years of Vlad.

I have #9 Bauer, #15 MadBum, 40 Fulmer, 45 Musgrove, 51 Rodon, and 56 Velasquez on my team.

#13 Greinke & #32 Price are available and I need some pitching stats (QS,K,ERA,WHIP)

Giving up Soto seems too high to only move up that much…same with Aucuna and Vlad.

Is it really going to be that big of impace to add Greinke and Price if I’m basically replacing VV and Rodon?

4 years ago

Dream Warrior Dokken – Looks like Skaggs is now starting Monday against the Royals, so makes for a more favorable start than against the BoSox. Trying to decide whether to pick him up or not. My SP drop candidates would be Bieber and C Rodon. Or hold? Thanks.

The Shoe
The Shoe
4 years ago

Thanks for the great analysis, Dokken! Musgrove’s last start burned me, so I’m having a difficult time agreeing with how you’ve ranked him ahead of Eflin, Bieber, and Peralta who I’m thinking to drop him for. Are you still just as high on Musgrove after his last start, and do you think the gap between him and the guys I listed, particularly Bieber and Peralta, is really as large as it seems in your ranking?

p.s. Clevinger’s hairdo is definitely a think of beauty.

The Shoe
The Shoe
Reply to  Dokken
4 years ago

@Dokken: OK hmm. So I asked Son a very similar question, but if you had to pick three guys out of the following who would they be?

Gibson, Eflin, Peralta, Musgrove, Bieber, Velasquez

I know I could go by your rankings, but perhaps you have some guys you like better than others even if you have them ranked lower (hope that makes sense).

4 years ago

Help me out a little, please. I have an OF lineup of Rosario, Desmond, Mazara, and Cespedes. My UTILs are Cruz and Gurriel. I would be comfortable with a top 25-35 pitcher to get me through the season. Nobody wants Cespedes and nobody wants to pay fair for Mazara. So I’m left with overpaying Mazara and a couple pitchers I see are Rich and Bieber. I prefer to not lock myself down with that last UTIL spot, I’m still eyeing batters like Buxton and/or Tucker to pick up.

Trading Mazara for Hill. Should I do it? I looked at Hill’s game today and I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks. 3 of his 4 runs were batters that he HBP. Is Hill, or even Bieber, have enough of an upside to chase to trade Mazara away for?

Reply to  Dokken
4 years ago

@Dokken: So I’ll need to convince myself to pry over Pivetta for my Mazara. It’ll be tough, I’m pretty stubborn. One last question. I really want Buxton off F/A, been watching his results all week and loved his swing for his homer he hit this week. Can I justify dropping Castillo (good 2-start next week), Cespedes, S. Gray, Stroman (noticed you didn’t rank him), or risk waiting until rosters lock tomorrow to drop Loaisiga?