Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Back when I was just a young Jack, Grandpa-Donk would regale all us little Donks with tales of his extensive world travels. The old donk especially enjoyed visiting Mexico. On his first venture down south of the border, gramps experienced the full wrath of Montezuma’s Revenge. His exact words, “Coming out both ends for days”. But somehow, after that maiden voyage to the other side of the Rio Grande, G-Donk never again suffered the Hispanic Hershey Squirts.

This reminds me of the curious case of Francellis “Frankie” Montas. Last year Montas started 11 games from the end of May thru October. After posting three quality starts in his first three outings, Montaszuma’s Revenge hit abruptly, as Frankie managed only 2 quality starts over the course of his next eight outings. The Runs were plentiful, if you know what I’m saying.

This season Montas has come out with some solid logs. Game logs, I mean. Thru his first four 2019 starts, the one named Francellis has thrown 23 1/3 IP, boasting three quality starts, a 2.70 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, an increased K rate, decreased walk rate, and loads of fiber in his diet. One cause for optimism this go round, is the addition of a nasty splitter to his repertoire this year which opponents are batting a measly .143 against. The splitter complements an elite fastball which is up almost one full mile per hour from last season, now sitting at an average velocity of 96.6 mph, along with an above average slider. Mr. Montaszuma has also been getting ahead of hitters often in the early going with a lofty 63% first pitch strike rate. Make sure Montas isn’t available in your league, I can wait.


Here are some other guys who may have found the Metamucil…

Kevin Gausman (+28) – We’ve only been waiting around 12 years for Kevin Gas-Can to deliver on his potential. I’d be lying if I said I fully trust this guy, but we can’t ignore what Gausman’s done in his first three starts. Like Montas, KG is getting ahead of hitters regularly with a 60.6% first pitch strike  rate and he’s seen a large boost in K rate from 19.1% to 31%, albeit against some mediocre opponents so far. Gausman has also increase his swinging strike rate from 11.3% to 14.9%, while using his throwing his splitter a whooping 33.2% of the time (21.9% in 2018). Monitor his next few starts closely, there’s a chance this breakout is real.

Madison Bumgarner (+3) – When I published the last edition of the top 100, Grey came trolling thru the comments saying I had MadBum ranked too high. Since that publishing, Bum has posted one very good outing and two mediocre outings, but I’m still very encouraged with what I’ve seen, and there’s some interesting data backing up my optimism. The increases in fastball and curveball spin rate this season are substantial and significant. All of the underlying numbers I care about are improved from last year as well. Bumgarner isn’t the kind of guy you want to make a habit of writing off. Buy low.

Julio Urias (NA) –  I was down by the schoolyard last week and Julio stood me up, but he made up for it with a beautiful line at Miller Park this week. Urias is headed to the bullpen, but I predict it won’t be for too long. Kershaw and Hill are literally sneezes away from the IL. Urias is worth holding onto in all but the most shallow formats and should be useful even in a bullpen role.

Clayton Kershaw (NA) – His velocity is down another tick from last year, but we know Kershaw will show up whenever he can manage to put his socks on. I can’t in good conscience rank a healthy looking Kershaw below #15. As mentioned in the Urias blurb, I doubt this lasts, so enjoy it while it does. I’ll take the under on 130 IP and would be trying to sell if I somehow owned him.

Drew Smyly (+39) – Donkey is recommending a guy with a 7.80 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP, he’s officially lost it! Shut up random italicized voice! Walks have been an issue so far, but the 25.1%  K rate has me aroused. He’s another guy that’s getting ahead of hitters at an impressive clip with a 69.3% first pitch strike rate. I’m not saying to go grab him in a 12-team league, but if you’re playing a deeper format then he’s worth a look.

Here are some guys who may be lacking fiber in their diets…

Yusei Kikuchi (-5) – The Kooch is killing me. I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have mortgaged my mom’s house to invest in Kikuchi Koozies. He’s struggled in the early innings (innings 1-3: 18 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.66 WHIP; innings 4-6: 14 2/3 IP, 3.07 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) and I do think he’s still settling into the MLB scene, but I can’t deny he’s been tough to own so far. That said, the K upside isn’t huge and if you want to move on in shallow leagues then I won’t argue any longer. I’m still buying in deeper leagues, but I might be delusional.

Joey Lucchesi (-31) – Joey Bag O Donuts? More like Joey Bag O Sh*t! Amiright? The FIP and xFIP fairies are whispering that Lucchesi isn’t actually this bad. I do believe those fairies, but he’s also one of those two-pitch guys which really limits his upside. The K potential is fun, but I’m fine moving on for now in shallower leagues. In completely unrelated news, Grey has just fired me, again.

Edit: I wrote this blurb before Sunday’s nice start vs. the Reds, but my position still stands. I think there’s going to be plenty of ups and downs with Joey Bag O D’s.

Stephen Strasburg (-2) – I was all ready to trash Strasburg and then he had to go out and throw an 8 inning gem with 11 Ks in a rehab outing against the Marlins Low-A squad. Wait, I’m being told that wasn’t a rehab outing? That’s the Marlins MLB lineup? My bad.

Strasburg’s average fastball velocity is down a full mile per hour from last year’s average, but it’s in line with where he was when he returned from injury in August and September 2018. To my surprise, he actually had some beautiful numbers across 34 2/3 September innings last year (2.60 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.68 K/9). Now if anyone is buying this recent start against the Marlins as the real Strasburg then I’d sell him before you finish reading the rest of this article, but if you own him he’s probably just a hold at this point. I expect him to be mostly middle of the road with some gems and stinkers mixed in.

Jacob deGrom (NA)– I’m overwhelmed, there are just way too many Mets doctor jokes to choose from. Speaking of Mets doctors, I actually just got a call from my cousin Donkey Lips with some great news: the Mets have hired him on as the new head of their medical staff. He tells me deGrom’s hoofs are in great shape. In all seriousness, will anyone be surprised if deGrom needs Tommy John at this point? If the MRI comes back completely clean today then deGrom will slot back into my #1 spot when he returns, in spite of his early season struggles. deGrom, Scherzer, Bauer, and Snell are all really close for me right now, assuming they’re all healthy. Assemble the prayer hexagon.

Anyway, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball:

Rank Name Previous Rank
1 Max Scherzer 2
2 Trevor Bauer 7
3 Blake Snell* 4
4 Justin Verlander 3
5 Gerrit Cole 6
6 Chris Sale 8
7 Corey Kluber 5
8 Carlos Carrasco 9
9 German Marquez 10
10 Walker Buehler 11
11 Patrick Corbin 13
12 James Paxton 16
13 Clayton Kershaw NA
14 Jack Flaherty 14
15 Noah Syndergaard 15
16 Aaron Nola 12
17 Shane Bieber 19
18 Madison Bumgarner 21
19 Luis Castillo 28
20 Zack Greinke 18
21 Jameson Taillon 20
22 Tyler Glasnow 23
23 Zack Wheeler 24
24 Stephen Strasburg 22
25 David Price 26
26 Charlie Morton 29
27 Jose Berrios 27
28 Mike Foltynewicz* NA
29 Robbie Ray 31
30 Yusei Kikuchi 25
31 Chris Archer 30
32 Joe Musgrove 33
33 Chris Paddack 37
34 Kyle Hendricks 35
35 Masahiro Tanaka 32
36 Domingo German 47
37 Matt Boyd 50
38 Kevin Gausman 66
39 Cole Hamels 68
40 Miles Mikolas 34
41 Collin McHugh 43
42 Hyun-Jin Ryu 36
43 Yu Darvish 40
44 Jon Gray 52
45 Jose Quintana 74
46 Max Fried 96
47 Carlos Rodon 42
48 Eduardo Rodriguez 61
49 Steven Matz 48
50 Yonny Chirinos 49
51 Brad Peacock 56
52 Rich Hill* NA
53 JA Happ 44
54 Matt Strahm 73
55 Caleb Smith 67
56 Frankie Montas 90
57 Trevor Williams 57
58 Trevor Richards 64
59 Kenta Maeda 69
60 Jon Lester* 48
61 Vince Velasquez 94
62 Jake Arrieta 65
63 Brad Keller 58
64 Marcus Stroman 85
65 Kyle Freeland 45
66 Michael Wacha 53
67 Zach Eflin 72
68 Pablo Lopez 76
69 Marco Gonzales 75
70 Joey Lucchesi 39
71 Luke Weaver 109
72 Drew Pomeranz 130
73 Rick Porcello 63
74 Lucas Giolito* 105
75 Freddy Peralta* 41
76 Brandon Woodruff 71
77 Anthony Desclafani 84
78 CC Sabathia NA
79 Jordan Lyles 113
80 Michael Pineda 78
81 Sandy Alcantara 70
82 Kyle Gibson 80
83 Wade Miley 77
84 Sonny Gray 129
85 Aaron Sanchez 87
86 Mike Minor 107
87 Merrill Kelly 89
88 Derek Holland 128
89 Erik Swanson NA
90 Mike Soroka NA
91 Julio Teheran 86
92 Zach Davies 97
93 Spencer Turnbull 91
94 Jake Junis 81
95 Jake Odorizzi 103
96 Tyson Ross 95
97 Drew Smyly 136
98 Tyler Skaggs* 93
99 Brett Anderson* 100
100 Jaime Barria NA
101 Dereck Rodriguez 126
102 Reynaldo Lopez 59
103 Tyler Mahle 106
104 Zack Godley 104
105 Jeff Samardzija 114
106 Chase Anderson NA
107 Trevor Cahill 110
108 Danny Duffy* NA
109 Jhoulys Chacin 83
110 Jordan Zimmerman 92
111 Clay Buchholz NA
112 Homer Bailey NA
113 Trent Thornton 88
114 Nick Margevicius 117
115 Ivan Nova 102
116 Jeremy Hellickson 131
117 Tanner Roark 116
118 Anibal Sanchez 123
119 Felix Pena 133
120 Lance Lynn 142
121 Daniel Norris 120
122 Jared Eickhoff NA
123 Jose Urena 132
124 Ryan Yarbrough 127
125 Eric Lauer 121
126 Chris Bassitt NA
127 Mike Leake 139
128 Dakota Hudson 112
129 Adam Wainwright 125
130 Antonio Senzatela NA
131 Dylan Bundy 115
132 Felix Hernandez 111
133 Jorge Lopez 135
134 Aaron Brooks 118
135 Martin Perez NA
136 Mike Fiers 101
137 Jason Vargas 140
138 Shelby Miller 134
139 Matt Harvey 124
140 Dan Straily NA
141 Ervin Santana 141
142 David Hess 108
143 Tyler Anderson 122
144 Alex Cobb 145
145 Andrew Cashner 146
146 Adrian Sampson NA
147 Chris Stratton 143
148 Chad Bettis 144
149 Heath Fillmyer NA

*Assumes they’re pitching this week

Injured: Jacob deGrom, Luis Severino, Mike Clevinger, Nate Eovaldi, Jimmy Nelson, Andrew Heaney, Alex Wood, Carlos Martinez, Marco Estrada, Wade LeBlanc, Danny Salazar, Taijuan Walker, Ryan Borucki, Edinson Volquez, Matt Moore (season), Matt Shoemaker (season)

On the Farm: Forrest Whitley, Alex Reyes, Jesus Luzardo, Jon Duplantier, Corbin Burnes, Sean Newcomb, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nick Pivetta, Touki Toussaint, Brent Honeywell, Mitch Keller, Joe Ross, Kyle Wright, Daniel Mengden, AJ Puk, Luiz Gohara, Justus Sheffield, Gio Gonzalez, Casey Mize

Unsigned: Dallas Keuchel

Out of the Pen: Julio Urias, Josh James, Ross Stripling, Bryse Wilson, Luis Cessa, Nick Kingham, Framber Valdez, Nate Karns



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.