Not your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…
I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise, but Grandpa-Donk is what they call a “Donk of all trades”. At one point in his legendary life, the venerable jackass even tried his hoof as a weatherman. In fact, he was one of the first weatherdonks on television back in the ’50s.
When I was just a little donkus, no bigger than Trevor Bauer’s poodle, Gramps would gather all us youngins round and tell us about his days of Hollywood stardom. The weather forecasting tools back in his time were just as primitive as the are now, so he was frequently way off on his prognostications. But he always delivered his forecast with the classic family wit, mixing in his token skyarrhea toilet humor and even the occasional dong joke, which was very risque back in his day. Grandonkey would always finish his meteorology tales with one bit of sage advice, “Find an occupation where you can be wrong 90% of the time and people still come back for more”.
Writing the Top 100 Starting Pitchers post in 2019: the year of the juiciest of juiced balls, and baseballs, I imagine is exactly like being a weatherdonkey. Just other day, when The Kooch was getting lit up for the 17th consecutive outing, G-Donk called me up to tell me how proud he was that I had discovered my niche. Actually, he called to ask where he might find a fresh pair of Señor Crappers, but I could sense the pride in his voice.
The only thing we know about 2019 Starting Pitching is there’s going to be lots of rainy days with a few random sunny days mixed in, followed by a tornado which will destroy what’s left of your already fugly ratios. Your 2019 fantasy pitching staff is more or less going to be Seattle with a little bit of Kansas, but we’re all living there in rainy tornado alley with you; so quit your whining and grab an umbrella!
Speaking of umbrellas, Mike Minor has provided a pleasant refugee from the storms this season, and he’s only become sturdier as the summer monsoons set in, sporting a 1.70 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 37 June innings. Unfortunately, there’s some large red regression fairies lurking here, the first of which is a massive and unsustainable 97.5% strand rate over this past month. Pair that with a lucky .200 June BABIP, and Donkey begins running for new shelter. I’d aggressively shop Minor if someone in your league thinks he’s actually a top 20 pitcher, but I wouldn’t sell him for a cup of Grey’s baby gravy. I’ll take a guy that might continue getting lucky over a cup of Grey goo any day.
Some other pitchers I’d want over the sample of Grey’s pancake batter….
Aaron Nola (+8) – It’s taken me 3 months to figure this out, but I finally got there: Aaron Nola is a pitcher we need to be homeschooling. In 66 1/3 home innings this year, Nola now has a 2.45 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts. In 29 2/3 road innings, he has a 7.28 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts! With those splits, I wouldn’t even want Nola near the rest of the team on the road. Just leave him at home!
Jose Berrios (+11) – Joey Raspberries has quietly cemented himself as one of the most consistent and reliable starters in the game. Anyone who can go six plus weeks without a major blow up is for sure a sorcerer. The slightly above average strikeouts are really the only thing separating Berrios from fantasy ace territory. Are elite strikeouts his next level of sorcery? I wouldn’t count on it, but a sorcerer’s floor is really high.
Tommy Milone (+44) – I said to grab Tommy Boy Milone before his June 17th start. Since then he’s thrown 16 1/3 innings with a 2.20 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 14 Ks. Basically the only good pitcher in all of baseball as far as I can tell. How bout we just call it even for the whole Kikuchi thing? Oh c’mon! I mean, if you combine Kikuchi’s 91 1/3 innings with those 16 1/3 innings from Milone then I’m pretty sure you have an ERA less than 18.00.
Yusei Kikuchi (-42) – It’s time to buy Kikuchi! Sorry, now I’m just messing with you guys. Kikuchi really can’t be owned in anything less than a 20 team league, or a deep dynasty. Even then, he’s riding the pine for now. Would I rather own Kikuchi or that cup of Grey’s man cream? Coin flip.
Zac Gallen (NA)– Most fantasy folk are hyped about Gallen, and for good reason. His stuff is nasty and the strikeout upside is formidable. Do you sense the ‘but’ coming? The most innings Gallen has throw in any professional season is 147 and he only threw 133 innings last year. Right now, he already sits at 101 innings on the season and there’s very little reason for the Marlins to push him in 2019. I also won’t be surprised if he’s sent back down in the near future.
Elieser Hernandez (+45) – Two weeks ago I said, “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.” And that’s me quoting me! Since then he’s tossed 16 2/3 innings with a 3.24 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 19 strikeouts. I’m not sure which of the Marlins youngsters gets sent down once Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez are healthy, but Elieser is making just as good of an argument to stay as the others.
Adbert Alzolay (NA)– We profiled Alzolay on the most recent Fantasy Sausage Pod. Our main reservation was his lack of a rotation spot once Kyle Hendricks returned, but we also speculated that someone else in the Cubs rotation would be hurt sooner rather than later. Sure enough, Cole Hamels has hit the whatever they call it now list with an oblique, and Adbert should remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Get Alzolay’d!
Hyun-Jin Ryu (+1) – I had a discussion with Fantasy Master Lothario about Coors the other night while Ryu was getting clobbered in Colorado. My conclusion was that we’ve reached the point where you can’t start anyone in summer Coors with these helium baseballs. Not deGrom, not Verlander, not Max, not even Uncle Rico. And Uncle Rico could throw it over the mountain back in ’82. I still believe in a healthy Ryu as much as I believe in Uncle Rico. And who doesn’t believe in Uncle Rico?
Dario Agrazal (NA) – This guy was in Game of Thrones, right? No? I’m not actually interested in Agrazal, an older Pirates pitcher, outside of NL-Only leagues and very deep mixed leagues. The truth is, I just like the name. That said, he’s been pretty good in the minors over the past couple seasons, and hardly walks anyone with only 11 free passes thru 79 minor league innings this year. Don’t get too excited now, he was just sent back down and I’m sure there’s some turbulent storms lurking here once he’s back in the majors.
What did you say was in that little cup again?
Blake Snell (-2) – Saturday Donkey: Holy Snell this guy is terrible right now! Like worse than Kikuchi bad! The good news is his velocity is right in line with last year, the K’s are still there, the underlying numbers say he’s been a bit better than his ERA, and we know Snell is capable of being the best pitcher in all of baseball. It’s not without risk, but the buy-low window is wide open.
Sunday Donkey: Bah! The buy-low window just slammed shut on my hoof! Someone call a vet!
Steven Matz (-22) – 7.36 ERA in 29 1/3 June innings? Has Matz been taking pitching lessons from Kikuchi?! I think Mets, I mean Matz, will be useful for another stretch at some point in the 2nd half, but he can’t be owned in shallower leagues right now. Move on.
Jack Flaherty (-7) – I just can’t mutiny against Captain Jack. Everything, including the eye test, tells me he’s a lot better than the 4.75 ERA he sits at today. The strikeout potential is still huge and he’s walking less hitters than last year. His average fastball velocity is also up a full mile per hour from last year. Flaherty is my top buy-low pitcher as we head into the 2nd half.
Anyway, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball:
Injured: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, Domingo German, Caleb Smith, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, Pablo Lopez, Spencer Turnbull, Luke Weaver, Jimmy Nelson, Alex Wood, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nate Eovaldi, Jon Duplantier, Jose Urena, Gio Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey, Dylan Covey, Jefry Rodriguez, Jeremy Hellickson, Tyson Ross, Marco Estrada, Danny Salazar, Taijuan Walker, Ryan Borucki, Edinson Volquez
On the Farm: Jesus Luzardo, Alex Reyes, Mitch Keller, Aaron Civale, Framber Valdez, Mike Foltynewicz, Forrest Whitley, Matt Manning, Dario Agrazal, Lucas Sims, Casey Mize, Justus Sheffield, AJ Puk, Jose Suarez, Kyle Wright, Kyle Freeland, Erik Swanson, Tyler Anderson
Suspended: Frankie Montas
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.