Another week of pitching injuries with precious few callups, and the back end of this Top 100 is getting ugly. I ranked Carlos Martinez last week with the expectation that he would miss just a single start, but at this point he’s missing multiple turns so he’s out. Intriguing rookies Mike Soroka and Joey Lucchesi are DL’d, and Freddy Peralta really came down to earth in his second start. We’re creeping closer to June when we should expect to see a few more high profile callups…and Alex Reyes looms. His most recent start was 7.2 1-hit, shutout innings with three walks and 13 K’s. Seems ready to me! If you don’t have him stashed yet and he’s still available in your league, stop whatever you’re doing (reading, I suppose) and remedy the situation. If I were forced to rank Reyes before he makes a MLB start, I’d probably initially slot him in around SP30. Chris Archer is at SP29, and I don’t think he’s giving you anything Alex Reyes can’t.
- Kenta Maeda, LAD (+16) – Maeda is coming off a brilliant performance, tossing eight two-hit, shutout innings with no walks and 8 K’s. The catch? It came against the lowly Marlins. The biggest problem with Maeda to this point is simply that he had no guarantee of remaining in the Dodgers rotation. As long as Kershaw is on the DL he has nothing to worry about, and at this point it would make more sense to send Rich Hill to the bullpen if there was a rotation squeeze than Maeda. We’ll get to Hill in a bit. Maeda has a 3.89 ERA but a 2.83 FIP thanks to an elevated .342 BABIP and below average 68.7% strand rate. Thanks to the K:BB he is worth owning in all formats even if he continues to suffer bad batted ball fortune and put up an ERA around four. He lines up for two starts next week against the Rockies at home (not frightening) and to host the Padres as well.
- Kyle Freeland, COL (+32) – It’s easy to ignore a Rockies starter, but this is the Land of the Free! And the home of the Kyle, baby. Freeland can no longer be ignored. Over his last five starts (two of which were at Coors) he has a 1.59 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and a very impressive 23.6% hard contact rate. The only real change in his pitch mix over that span is an increase in his fourseam usage, which is pretty damn promising for a Rockies pitcher. Remember that Freddy Peralta start at Coors when he struck out 13? 89 fastballs. Breaking balls don’t work as well in the thin air, so having a strong fastball is what gets you by at elevation. He doesn’t have an overpowering arsenal so his ceiling isn’t great, but he’s someone you can at least feel pretty good about streaming for now.
- Michael Wacha, STL (+23) – Alright, alright, you guys wore me down! I did Wacha a disservice by omitting him by error for the first two weeks I was putting this list together. I’m rectifying the situation fully, finally. Look, I’m still not convinced that Wacha is actually good, but he’s good enough to crack the top 65. He’s got the 10th highest hard contact allowed among qualified starters at 41%. His 11% K-BB% is just 72nd. His ERA is 3.08, but his SIERA is 4.42. 31.7% line drives allowed is…not promising. I feel like he’s going to implode now just as soon as I bump him up, but with all this in mind, he’s been getting it done.
- Jose Quintana, CHC (-14) – I think I speak for all Quintana owners when I say UGHHHHHHH. Is pitching really that hard? Well yes, yes it is, but that’s not the point here. Q is looking like a shell of his former self this year, although as I’m writing this he’s putting together a nice start against the lowly Reds. He’s rocking a 5.23 ERA, and his peripherals aren’t much better. Were you just reading about Michael Wacha’s hard contact and K-BB%? Because Q is right behind him with a 40.3% hard% (11th in MLB) and 9% K-BB% (77th in MLB). His velocity is down at tick, and at 29 years old he probably isn’t getting it back. Not everyone can be Charlie Morton. With a quarter of the season in the books it’s time to fully reevaluate where we stand with a lot of these starters, and there just isn’t enough here to warrant a “must-hold” label for Q in shallow mixers.
- Jeff Samardzija, SF (-17) – Shark started the season late and those who were waiting for him are wishing he had never showed up. Six starts in he’s posted a 6.30 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and 23:18 K:BB ratio over 30 IP. That is simply horrendous. He’s lucky I even rank him at this point, but we know every starter has rough patches, yatta yatta yatta. He’s still yielding just 27% hard contact, which is promising, and honestly most of his plate discipline numbers don’t look all too dissimilar from prior seasons. However, he clearly needs to make an adjustment. His velocity is down two ticks, yet he’s actually thrown 10% more fastball this year than last year. It’s time to get to more sliders and splitters, methinks. Until he shows us something, he needs to stay on your bench.
- Rich Hill, LAD (-19) – I said Shark was lucky I ranked him, and double goes for you Rich Hill! Has there ever been a starting pitcher than makes you want to go all Ken Giles on yourself than Rich Hill? He’s healthy, he’s hurt, he’s healthy but he sucks, he’s hurt, he’s healthy and he’s good – no wait, he sucks again. In the past he’s at least given you good numbers when he’s not suffering from the Superblister, but this year he has a 6.20 ERA and 4.74 BB/9. Thanks for nothing. If he had actually pitched enough innings to qualify, he would lead the league in hard contact allowed at 46.8%. He’s not just getting unlucky. He’s getting very few whiffs (7.1% SwStr%) and chases outside the zone (21.8% o-swing%). None of this is promising. Unless you’re in an NL-Only league, Hill is expendable.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken