Not your Grandfathers Top 100 Starting Pitchers…
Grandpa-Donk handled a lot of wood back in his day, if you know what I’m saying. Not that kind of wood! Alright, maybe that kind of wood, it was the 60’s and from what I understand the donkey world was pretty open-minded back then. But the way G-Donk tells it, his hobby of woodworking accounted for the majority of his wood handling back in the day. The old donk enjoyed taking very rough pieces of phallic shaped lumber and smoothing them out into much less rough pieces of phallic shaped lumber. Because it was such intensive and sweaty work, he typically handled the wood shirtless with help from his completely platonic friend Jimmy.
I always think of these stories of my gramps and his very heterosexual buddy handling that rough wood together when I hear the name of my lede for this week’s top 100: Brandon Woodruff. Brandon had a rough start to his 2019 campaign himself, but has begun to mold his season into a masterpiece that would make even Grandpa-Donk and sweaty Jimmy proud. After a seemingly unlucky April, Woodruff has been silky smooth since the calendar turned to May, sporting a 1.55 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP with 29 strikeouts across 25 innings. Impressively, 11 of those innings came in his home hitter haven Miller Park against the Mets and Nationals, while the other 14 innings were tossed in scary road starts against potent Philadelphia and Atlanta squads! I don’t think he’s a sub 2.00 ERA pitcher, but this dude is smoothing out penis-shaped timber with the best of them at the moment. Woodruff has thrust himself a full 30 spots higher in my rankings this week, all the way up to #42.
Here are a few other guys who have been smoothing and thrusting lately…
Hyun-Jin Ryu (+10) – Two weeks ago I ranked Ryu #20 and wrote, “Ryu has been an absolute beast since the beginning of August 2018, sporting a 2.15 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and a 9.41 K/9 across his last 88 IP. He’s walked only 7 batters during this stretch! There’s a legitimate argument for Hyun-Jin Ryu as a top 10 pitcher right now.” And that’s me quoting me while arguing with myself. I won the argument and Ryu is now in my top 10 as he’s extended his scoreless streak to an incredible 31 innings!
Yusei Kikuchi (+4) – I was writing about Ryu, but all I could think about was The Kooch. Is that racist? Is it ever not racist when you have to ask if it’s racist? I’ll just say that I love Asians and stop digging this hole. Since April 26th The Kooch has a 1.95 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in 27 2/3 IP. Is anyone else calling him The Kooch yet? This nickname is going to stick.
Lucas Giolito (+34) – Giolito seems to be breaking out. We profiled him on the most recent Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports: A Fantasy Baseball Podcast. Not to be confused with the Ditka, Sports, and Fantasy Sausage Podcast, which I recommend as well.
Mike Soroka (+3) – They talked about him last week on the Ditka, Sports, and Fantasy Sausage Pod. Just kidding that’s the same link from the Giolito blurb. But no joke, we did go in depth profiling the young Canuck, Soroka.
Frankie Montas (+24) – I gave you my Frankie Montas fantasy along with a bunch of toilet humor a month ago. Montas has been making me look good, which isn’t easy to do. His lack of walks, increased velocity, and addition of an effective splitter make me believe this breakout is real and sustainable.
Stephen Strasburg (+4) – I was fading Mr. Stressbird hard in the early season since he’s been losing velocity for two plus years now. Over the past month he’s slowly crept up my rankings and it’s time to fully admit I was wrong on him, which will then force Strasburg to self-destruct in accordance with the laws of fantasy baseball. He seems to have completely abandoned the slider this year and gone heavy on the curveball; it’s clearly working. Strikeouts are up, walks are down, and groundballs are up. These are vintage Strasburg numbers were seeing, but can he stay healthy? No, no he can’t.
Luke Weaver (+10) – Maybe the Diamondbacks actually knew what they were doing with the Goldschmidt trade. OK, I know, that’s doubtful. But maybe they’ll get lucky. Weaver is looking even better than he did in 2017 when everyone was jumping on board his bandwagon. The swinging strike rate is up over 11%, the walks are down, and he’s increased the cutter usage from 4.8% to 14.5%. That cutter has easily been Weaver’s most effective pitch and looks like the key to his success so far. I don’t hear any fairies whispering regression here, but I’m also not as tight with the fairies as Grey is.
Chris Bassitt (+23) – The Bassitt Hound has been smelling blood with runners on base this season: he has a stunning 100% LOB% in his 32 2/3 IP. That means the only runs he’s given up this year have come on home runs. Pretty incredible and very unsustainable, but he still looks like a 3.50 – 4.00 ERA pitcher with good Ks, and he’s in a nice pitchers park. Oh and there was a lot to like when we profiled him three weeks back on the fantasy sausage pod.
Here are a couple guys suffering from bumpy, deformed wood…
Jack Flaherty (-5) – People keep asking me what’s wrong with Flaherty. I keep telling them I’m not a doctor, but they’re relentless. So here’s my diagnosis: I’ve watched most of Flaherty’s starts this year and A) he’s had quite a bit of bad luck that doesn’t show up in the numbers; B) he’s given up the long ball and struggled with walks at inopportune times; C) he’s faced the Brewers three times, plus the Cubs, Phillies, Braves, and Dodgers; D) There is no D. You call that a D? Shut up Grey’s random italicized voice. Generally I believe Flaherty is the same pitcher he was last year and I’m buying him as a top 15 SP for the rest of the season.
Mike Foltynewicz (-33) – I’ve been on the record as a Faulty Sandwich supporter since he returned from his elbow scare in late April. It’s been a rough month to watch. I had dropped him even lower in my rankings until he went out and threw six solid innings against the Brewers yesterday. Most encouraging from that start was the new life on his fastball; I saw Folty hit 97 mph a couple times and he was even sitting comfortably at 96 mph in the 6th inning after averaging only 94.3 mph thru his first four starts. I think the fastball velocity is a major key for him. I’m not ready to move him back up into my top 30 yet, but Donkey is forever an optimist.
Anyway, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball…
*Fake Dodgers injury, won’t be needed until 5/28
Injured: Corey Kluber, James Paxton, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, Mike Clevinger, Trevor Williams, Vince Velasquez, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nate Eovaldi, Jimmy Nelson, Carlos Rodon (season), Felix Hernandez, Anibal Sanchez, Jordan Zimmerman, Andrew Heaney, Alex Wood, Jason Vargas, Manny Banuelos, Tyson Ross, Marco Estrada, Danny Salazar, Taijuan Walker, Ryan Borucki, Edinson Volquez
On the Farm: Forrest Whitley, Jesus Luzardo, Alex Reyes, Zac Gallen, Jon Duplantier, Casey Mize, Corbin Burnes, Dereck Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta, Touki Toussaint, Brent Honeywell, Mitch Keller, Kyle Wright, AJ Puk, Luiz Gohara, Justus Sheffield, Bryse Wilson, Erik Swanson, Tyler Beede, Tyler Anderson, Nick Margevicius
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.