*rubbing hands together*  This is where things get interesting. Anyone could tell you Cole, deGrom, yadda-blabbity-blue are top 20 starters.  I could ask some bean counter in Modesto, California who the top 20 starters are and he’d know, and he counts beans! Anyone can count beans! Honestly, why is he counting beans? Seems like a waste of time. Unless he’s making sure each can comes with 239 beans, because one more would be too farty! Any hoo! The top 40 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball is a bit like the top 20 for 2020 fantasy baseball. It could go dozens of ways.  This is the way I went. Here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Also, Razzball Subscriptions are now open. Early subscribers get Rudy’s War Room. All projections listed here are mine and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball:

ALL PROJECTIONS ARE BASED ON 60 GAMES PLAYED, DUE TO COVID-19. BE SAFE OUT THERE!

STARTER RANKINGS BEGAN AT THE TOP 20 STARTERS FOR 2020 FANTASY BASEBALL

21. Clayton Kershaw – This tier starters in the top 20 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball. This tier ends here.  I called this tier, “Using your own streaming password.” Checked out Kershaw’s stats fully expecting to like him. This was the year to get back in on him, I thought. I’m done pussyfooting around — womansprivatesfooting if your work computer censors certain words. This was the year! I’m in on you, you sumsabeach! I want him! That was what I was screaming before looking at his stats. Then I looked at his page and took a quick nap from boredom. I need to be riveted all the time, y’all! He still can’t throw more than 180 IP, his velocity is down to 90 MPH, which is, honestly, silly terrible, and his FIP was 3.86. Yo, who are you, Mike Fiers without the snitching? I’m sorry, Cousin Sweatpants, I can’t get in on Kershaw. 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.42/1.05/60 in 61 IP

22. Jose Berrios – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Ed-Rod. I call this tier, “Upgraded out of the bathroom into economy.” This tier name is a very poor excuse for a humblebrag. Another example would be, “Not saying I’m a baller, but my rent check cleared.” Or, “Sold a lamp on eBay…*blows on knuckles*…Buyer paid for postage.” This tier are all guys who you will draft and tell someone else about it, and they will find it less than impressive. Don’t worry, I got your back. I’m glad you were able to upgrade out of the bathroom to economy and I’m glad you drafted these guys. As for Berrios, I nearly ranked him in the top 20. Something I think that is lost on people drafting, that is so obvious. You are drafting for 2020, not for last year. Sure, Berrios wasn’t amazing all of last year, but his dip in the 2nd half was so obvious. It was the first year he threw 200 IP, and his 7.57 ERA in August and 4.31 ERA in September tanked his year. In fact (Grey’s got more!), it wasn’t even that bad of a 2nd half. Three random starts sank him, when he gave up 20 ER in 16 IP. Take those starts out of his year, and his ERA on the year was 3.03. Another year under his belt and he feels like a lock for a safe 9 K/9, 3.50-ish ERA year with a chance for more. 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.54/1.11/76 in 75 IP

23. Trevor Bauer – This tier started in the top 20 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball. This tier ends at Ed-Rod. I called this tier, “Upgraded out of the bathroom into economy.” As for Bauer, “Sorry, honey, I own Trevor Bauer.” That was me refusing sex last year. It was easier to justify, then saying I had a headache. This is a “his stuff” ranking. Yes, his ratios were killer last year, and not killer as in good, but as the Golden State Killer, and 23 and Me revealed Bauer was actually related to Robbie Ray and not an ace. So, what do we do now? Do we draft his 240+ Ks because that’s damn good with the chance for him to locate his pitches better and cut his walk rate so he’s more of a 3.50 ERA pitcher and not the 4.50 ERA guy he was last year? Or do we ignore the last question I posed? Or now ignore the last two questions? Or three? Or–Damn it with the questions! As I said opening this blurb, I think his stuff is too good to not draft. 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.61/1.16/96 in 80 IP

24. Lance Lynn – 33 years old is the new 25 years old for pitchers. Not sure what’s going on. Has anyone explored the recent surge of 30-something pitchers coming into their own? If hitters have the Launch Angle Revolution, pitchers have the Dorian Gray Revolution. Charlie Morton started DGR, and now there’s no stopping old-timers. Greinke scares me, but not his age as much as his fastball that’s a throwback to ’89. Pitchers been doing this shizz longer than Master Ace. Yo, how about Ed O.G. drops a new album and Nolan Ryan comes back with a 3.50 ERA while cashing a 401K? That’s 400 and one Ks, not some retirement plan. So, Dorian Gray led Lynn to an increase in velocity — 93 to 94 MPH — and a new pitch mix where he threw his cutter more, which was an absolute boss pitch. His cutter produced a 23.1% K% with a curve 12.5% time for 40.2% K%. The absolutely clincher is his newfound control, that saw his walk rate fall almost two walks per nine and his first strike percentage going up almost ten percent. Oops, Lance Lynn is now Master Ace. Not to mention, which is what I say right before mentioning something, the Rangers’ new park is going to be better for pitchers. Think about this:  Is it easier to throw hard in 105-degree heat with 99.9% humidity or is it easier to throw in a climate-controlled dome? See Tropicana Field for further illustration.  2020 Projections: 6-2/3.58/1.20/88 in 76 IP

25. Eduardo Rodriguez – Now that we’ve all seen this top 40 can we agree there’s plenty of pitchers to draft? You could leave this top 40 with three starters, without drafting a top 10 SP, and take a few flyers later and be totally fine in most leagues. Remember, you’re not trying to get a 3.15 ERA for your whole team and a 13 in ERA out of 12 teams. Save that heroism for saving cats. All we want is around a 3.60 ERA and squeaking out a 9 to 11 points out of 12 teams. Any hoo! Ed-Rod, founder of Scientology and dude who has ridiculously similar stats year-over-year and they’re good, but no one seems to want to own him. If anyone else had 213 Ks and a 3.86 FIP, they’d be drafted in the top 12 starters. Oh wait, they are! They’re named Kershaw, but he has about 2,000 more innings on his arm and hasn’t thrown 200 IP in five years and Ed-Rod just did. 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.64/1.24/81 in 76 IP

26. Brandon Woodruff – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Odorizzi. I call this tier, “Hugh Jackman’s marriage.” This tier is all guys who you might find in the Cone of Uncertainty but are very real, just like Hugh Jackman’s marriage. As for Woodruff, already gave you my Brandon Woodruff sleeper. It was written on my GoFundMe for a new Squatty Potty. One small note about that, when I wrote it, I thought he’d be a sleeper. Now I see him being drafted higher in some leagues. He still feels like a guy who will be forgotten in friends and family leagues, and his ranking in the 150s overall on ESPN supports that position. Also, I go over him in the video at the top of the page. 2020 Projections: 6-2/3.43/1.12/77 in 68 IP

27. Dinelson Lamet – Already gave you my Dinelson Lamet sleeper. It was written while enjoying a pamplemousse La Croix. 2020 Projections: 4-2/3.86/1.22/81 in 62 IP

28. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Jays. That’s…interesting. *scrambling to see Ryu’s interleague ERA vs. AL teams* 3.84 ERA in 86 2/3 IP with a 8.8 K/9 and this is still too small a sample. Plus, as I always say, you can’t just say a guy’s away stats are what he’d now do when he’s calling a place home. Also, what is going on with Ryu’s early draft price? Maybe it’s still early for ADP and I shouldn’t assign any real truth to where guys are going, but like Hugh Jackman’s marriage to his grandmother, it’s very real how late Ryu’s been going so far this year. I get it, I get it, I GET IT! He’s not a 1-something ERA pitcher, so y’all are compensating for that, but like me with my Happy Socks in my pants, you’re overcompensating. He didn’t just have a Cy Young-type year last year. He had a 1.97 ERA in 2018, too. In six seasons, his career ERA is 2.98. Okay, fine, ERA is stupid. He has a 1.01 WHIP two years in a row. WHIP’s stupid too? Fine, but these are two of the categories you’re hoping to get from your starters. Wins are just stupid stupid. Nothing can be figured from those. So, that leaves us with Ks. He has a 8 K/9 and a 1.2 BB/9, so, you got it, you’ve figured out a reason to not absolutely love Ryu. He’s merely a 2.75/1.01/150 guy. Shucks, what a shame. For penance, I will dye my skin whiter and cat-o-nine-tails my back like a villain in a Dan Brown book. Even if you think the AL could be less kind for Ryu, how much worse will he be from a 2.75/1.01 ratio guy? Fifty points on ERA? Sixty? Five points on WHIP? Ten? He suddenly won’t have one of the best walk rates in baseball? I’m going to be conservative with his projections and they still look great.” And that’s me quoting me! 2020 Projections: 5-2/3.32/1.09/57 in 62 IP

29. Zac Gallen – Super conflicted on where to rank Gallen, because I’m worried about his innings, and if he’ll get enough of them. I actually wrote a Zac Gallen sleeper that I didn’t publish, because I was worried he might get bumped for Merrill Kelly, but I’m going to assume the D-Bags do the right thing, so I now present to you my Zac Gallen sleeper in all its glory:

Prior to the trading deadline of nineteen after twenty, the Miami Marlins of Florida traded Zac Gallen to the Diamondbacks of Arizona for Chazz Jazzum and history was in motion. Never before in the history of major league baseball trades had the Diamondbacks or the Marlins been on the good side of a trade, so that was about to change for the better for one team. Once the dust had settled, and Torey “From MTV’s Challenge” Lovullo had swept up the victorious dead snake skin, the Diamondbacks emerged to a place they had never been before, trading for a great pitcher vs. trading one away. I will stop talking about the Diamondbacks making a smart pitching move for once before I jinx them into signing Ray Searage to manage their staff. (Then they signed Mike Leake, which is almost as bad as Searage). Last year, Zac Gallen put up the line 3-6/2.81/1.23/96 Ks in only 80 IP. Now if you’re attuned to “Da Smarts” like yours truly, you might be thinking, “Looks good, but with so few innings thrown there’s no way he throws many eye-pees in 2020.” I hear that, but he also threw 91 1/3 IP in Triple-A, putting up 9-1/1.77/0.71/112. Yes, that’s a gorge line. Even better, with ~170 IP thrown between two levels, he could throw ~200 IP this year without pushing too hard. I’m about to faint with a handkerchief to my forehead he is so beautiful, please let’s move on. In the majors, Zac Gallen had a 10.8 K/9, which is purdy, but his 4.1 BB/9 is a warning sign. Oh no, already negativity! Damn, we were loving on him. Wait, there’s good news to follow after…this…period. In the 91 1/3 IP in Triple-A, his BB/9 was 1.7. Ha, are you serious right now? Fine, Triple-A isn’t the majors, but his command all during his minor league career was solid bordering on elite. There’s no way he’s actually a 4.1 BB/9 guy. His devastating four-seamer, smoke show had a 30% strikeout rate, which is elite. How’sever, his four-seamer was producing a 20% walk rate in June and July, i.e., he wasn’t locating it. Then, in August and September, that walk rate fell to around 13%. Still not ideal, but he had a 2.51 ERA in the 2nd half in 68 innings. Gallen gets that four-seamer working and he’s gonna be hard to beat since it’s not even his best pitch. Hello, changeup. His change in September produced a 45% strikeout rate, a 40% whiff and 27.8% of time he used it as his put-away pitch. Small sample, sure, but this is who he is. He has four pitches, but as the fastball and change go, so goes Gallen. Then, stepping back to the bigger picture, he elicited a ton of weak contact. In  659 fastballs thrown, he only gave up three homers and five doubles, across four months, even though his fastball is fly ball heavy. 22.1 % of pitches seen are swung at. That would be the 6th best rate in the majors, right in front of Giolito and deGrom. 71.7% of pitches that are strikes are swung at, that would be bottom ten (or top ten, depending on your POV), similar to Greinke. In other words, his pitches are not recognized. Also, his pitches generate a ton of foul balls (28.6%). More weak contact and not recognizing. Speaking of not recognizing something, quick rant. Baseball statistics can be confusing to the uninitiated, but what really makes shizz totally bizzonkers is how every baseball stats site uses their own terminology and stats. Half of them don’t even call certain pitches the same thing. For unstints, Statcast and Fangraphs say Gallen has a cutter and Baseball Prospectus and PitchF/X say it’s a slider. Then you have some sites removing gravity from pitch movement and others keeping gravity. I wonder if gravity will affect my head when I blow my top. Is this some kind of nerd pissing contest? Just get on the same page! Any hoo! I’ve given you enough to chew on with Gallen and why he should be drafted in every league. 2020 Projections: 5-2/3.42/1.17/73 in 63 IP

30. Jake Odorizzi – I’m all-in on Odorizzi’s breakout last year. He went from a 8 K/9 to a 10 K/9 with a bump in velocity from 91 MPH to 93 MPH, and a fastball that became…well, good. Pitches in the 90-92 MPH range had a .566 SLG. Pitches in the 93-95 MPH range had a .471 SLG. Batting average for the league on 90-92 is .298. For 93-95, it’s .263. wOBA goes from .398 to .352. Odorizzi’s fastball was the fifth best in the league behind Cole, Flaherty, Buehler and, um, Teheran. (Teheran’s major issue was he lacked command, but he even had a 3.81 ERA last year.) Right behind Odorizzi for fastball value was Giolito, Lynn, Soroka, deGrom, Scherzer–It’s hard to find “bad” pitchers with an effective fastball. Only reason I didn’t rank Odorizzi in the top 20 starters (seriously), because he lacks a devastating 2nd pitch. His slider is okay; his cutter is good enough. The one caveat here is if he loses the velocity, but he’s 29 years old and, as we see with guys like Morton, newfound velocity doesn’t just disappear. Odorizzi’s being drafted like a number three or four, but I see a strong number two. 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.48/1.24/68 in 64 IP

31. Shohei Ohtani – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Sale. I call this tier, “Coffin sleds.” The number one seller at the Mt. Everest gift shop is coffin sleds. Followed closely by Klondike bars and “I Survived the Traffic on the Northeast Ridge” t-shirt. If you want to reach the mountaintop, you might think a guy in this tier will do the trick, but you’re gonna be shopping for coffin sleds.  As for Ohtani, his fans — Ohstanis — come for you hard with righteous indignation when you try to tell them not to draft him. Recently, I was in an Italian ristorante, and I ordered Penne Vodka and the waiter, Giuseppe, unbeknownst to me was an Ohstani, and started yelling at me that I didn’t order the vodka sauce with rigatoni because it sounds like Ohtani. It got ugly before I diffused the situation by threatening to give them a one-star Yelp review. “Easy, Giuseppe, or I will compare you to Buca di Beppo on Yelp.” That’s what I said to him. By the way, is it me or does Buca di Beppo sound like a place someone goes before they’re murdered? Hmm, maybe it’s me. Any hoo! Ohtani has thrown more than 100 IP zero times since 2016 and is coming off Tommy John surgery. I get it, you bought all these coffin sleds and you’re trying to get some use, but WUT. How many innings are people seeing here? 120 IP? Okay, nah. Ain’t happening. 100 IP? Okay, that seems fair. Actually wouldn’t be surprised if we hear from the Angels at some point in March or April that he has a 100 IP inning limit. Control is usually last thing to return and if Ohtani has a 3.8 BB/9 before surgery, what’s he gonna have after? Bazinga, this is getting negative. So, I’m figuring this will be a lost year for him. Some great starts, maybe even a great month or two. But a whole season? Won’t ever happen. Sorry, Ohstanis. 2020 Projections: 3-2/3.48/1.23/45 in 38 IP

32. Zack Wheeler – Here’s what I said when he signed with the Phils, “Let’s do a mental health check on Wheeler. Yes, I have my reasons. Well, I have one big reason. He wanted to go to the Phils because it was near Jersey. *holds obvious Rorschach inkblot that looks like New Jersey* Wheeler takes a moment, then, choked up and misty-eyed, “I see Valhalla.” Who knew proximity to ‘being able to obtain pork roll’ could have such sway, yet here we are. Wheeler’s had a home run allowed problem in his career and Philly would be a hell of a place for it to resurface. Also, since I’m bagging on him, let me also say he’s had one tremendous half in the last two years and a ton of iffy months around that. He also pitched well in August and September of last year, so maybe he enjoys the 2nd half. 4.69 ERA 1st half; 2.83 ERA 2nd half last year. The year before went 4.44 vs. 1.68. Can I trade for him in July? Then sign me up! Pitching being what it is, you have to take what you can get and I could see trying to get Wheeler.” And that’s me quoting me! 2020 Projections: 5-4/3.67/1.22/75 in 74 IP UPDATE: Don’t draft.

33. Noah Syndergaard – Legitimately don’t know why he gets drafted much higher than I want him every year. Guessing people don’t trust projections. Well, I do and see him as a 9-ish K/9 guy with a 3.85-4.05 ERA projection every year and that doesn’t equate to a top 20 starter. Sure, he’s had one year where he did work (10.7 K/9, 2.60 ERA), but he’s shown that level once and hasn’t even hinted at it since 2016. Who knows, maybe this will be the year he returns to glory, but I wrote a schmohawk post for him last year because he was so overrated, and I was dead on. Yet, he’s just as overrated again this year. This might be a case where for some people the mythical figure he projects eclipses the actual projections. Thor vs. Noah; Greek God vs. Chobani, the Greek yogurt. UPDATE: Welp, goodbye. 2020 Projections: 8-5/3.87/1.21/121 in 116 IP

34. Carlos Carrasco – Cookie comes with a few question marks, due to his bout with leukemia. By the way, has a Luke ever married a Mia? Because the wedding invitations would be awkward eh-eff. Hmm, file that under things I might’ve been better off not saying out loud. So, love Carrasco and the real-life storyline, but, after throwing 80 IP last year and health issues, well, I don’t know. Nothing in his profile is jumping out as being a warning sign. He had a goofy-high ERA (5.29), but that was a small sample thing, and his K/9, velocity and walks were all solid. Feels like you might get a cheap 150 IP, 3.35 ERA, 180 Ks or 75 IP as he bounces in and out of the rotation. Wish him well, but I’m not going in at his current price. 2020 Projections: 3-2/3.54/1.17/55 in 46 IP

35. Corey Kluber – Here’s what I said this offseason, “The Rangers traded Delino DeShields Jr. and Emmanuel Clase for Corey Kluber. Finally, someone that likes Delino DeShields Jr. as much as me! Indians tried to not compete last year, but at first you don’t succeed in not succeeding, don’t try, don’t try again. Cannot wait to see what the Indians get for Francisco Lindor. Maybe Clint Frazier and a bucket of balls gets it done. You’d think Indians would be against trying to tank, being more a team that wants its horse in the race, but, wow, MLB is completely broken. Teams that should and can be good are going out of their way to tank. I saw someone (think it was a Cleveland-area radio sports show host) say something like, “Indians can’t afford these players so this is their only option.” Yo, the Indians owner, Dolan family, is worth $6.5 billion, according to Forbes. That’s not according to their bank, because you can’t count that much money in a lifetime. If the Dolans can’t afford a $25 million dollar per year contract, then who can? Bezos? Does Amazon need to buy all MLB teams? If so, can we get Jack Ryan day at the park? That might be fun. This isn’t even about whether Kluber is broken for good either, because his salary ($17.5 mill) should be affordable for any team, even if the player is broken. Blake Treinen got $10 million for Pete Bourjos’s sake! Any hoo! For Kluber fantasy value, I’m torn, because he feels like the type who can gut out a solid season, but that is soooooooooooo — yes, eleven O’s! — anecdotal and isn’t based on anything. But, also in his favor, he saved his arm last year from throwing another 200+ IP, which has to be good. Yes, I know his arm was injured, but it was a broken forearm. I’m not a doctor, but a forearm isn’t an elbow or shoulder injury, and a broken one is better than a strained one. Unfortunately, he had to be removed from a rehab assignment last year, due to diminished velocity, and, prior to  the injury, his velocity was down and his ERA, FIP, xFIP were all up. Just too much risk and I’m out on Kluber this year.” And that’s me quoting me! 2020 Projections: 4-3/3.81/1.17/61 in 59 IP

36. Robbie Ray – Struggled for longer than I care to admit (20 seconds) on whether it made sense to be back in on Bauer but not Robbie Ray. Only thing I can really point to is Bauer’s shown better command. Ray is near-bottom, just-awful, do-you-need-your-eyes-checked walk rates; Bauer is just iffy. 2020 Projections: 4-4/4.06/1.35/89 in 69 IP

37. Luis Severino – If you know anything about my drafting of starters, you know I am risk averse. This tier doesn’t feel as risk averse as I’d like to be. *shrugs* Pitching is a bit of a mess, if you’ve been in a cave studying the difference between stalagmites and stalactites for the last year. (We really need one name for ones on the ceiling and one on the ground? C’mon, English language!) After returning from a shoulder injury (lowercase yay!), Severino’s velocity dipped like a stalactite and his value was grounded like a stalagmite. (You want these words? Then I’ll use them!) Here’s a blurb from ESPN right after the injury last March that made me laugh (the reporting by these guys is hella something), “The defining piece of Severino’s evaluation was an MRI that revealed rotator cuff inflammation. Of the types of injuries a pitcher could receive to his rotator cuff, inflammation might be the most favorable. Had the MRI revealed a strain or a tear, Severino could be facing a much steeper climb to getting back on the mound. Tears, after all, have effectively ended some pitchers’ careers.” That’s from before the season and Severino didn’t return until the last week of September. Glad it wasn’t bad, huh? If you think I’m cherrypicking, later in that article they said he’d be back by May 1st. Of course, he later had a lat issue, but, c’mon, we all know it was a shoulder problem. His velocity then was down when he finally did return from 97.6 to 96.1 MPH. That sounds like a negative, but that’s actually why I’m still drafting him. 96 MPH is still plenty hard enough. Break off a 85 MPH slider or 88 MPH change with that fastball and Severino is a 10+ K/9 still. The only question is if he can throw 175+ IP, and, with the state of pitching, I’m taking the risk the Yankees don’t need Chance Adams for their rotation and Patch Adams for Severino.  UPDATE: Headed for Tommy John surgery, he’s been removed from the rankings. Too bad, so sad. 2020 Projections: 8-4/3.24/1.04/128 in 112 IP

37. Chris Sale – People I see drafting Chris Sale A) Didn’t own him last year B) Owned him last year and are looking for payback. C) There’s no C. D) Owned him last year and their mothers were right when they said you are a self-sabtoger. E) Didn’t own him last year but are self-sabotagers and want to get in on the action of self-harm. F) me. G)rey Albright says H)I). His velocity dropped by 1.5 MPH and he’ll be 31 to start the season. Maybe he can halt the decline and bounce back, but 95 MPH to 92-93 MPH makes a huge difference and the injury stints are becoming routine, and, just in this past December, Dr. James Andrews was checking his elbow. Now if Dr. James Andrews wants a new, smaller hot tub to go inside his much bigger hot tub, Sale will be done. UPDATE: If only I could’ve placed a bet on whether or not anyone drafting Sale in the first few weeks of drafts would regret it. Damn, I would’ve been a billionaire (assuming I could bet a billionaire dollars and had even odds, but then I technically would’ve been a billionaire already). While singing Happy Birthday twice, I’ve washed my hands of Chris Sale. He’s temporarily ranked here, but I wouldn’t draft him anywhere, and the next step I imagine will be crossing him out of the entire rankings. UPDATE II: Out for 18 months with Tommy John surgery. So, in some ways, we’re all having Tommy John surgery. 2020 Projections: 5-2/3.35/1.06/83 in 64 IP

38. Max Fried – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until the top 60 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball.  I call this tier, “Sideways bosom.” There’s safety in numbers. The number three, for unstints, is safe. The number 3 also looks like a sideways bosom. What’s more comforting! These pitchers should be a fantasy number 3 like a sideways bosom. This is a repeat of last year’s fantasy number three tier name, because I like to keep things samesies for when I put together my pitching draft tool. It makes things easier for me. Sorry, you’ll get over it. As for Fried, already gave you my Max Fried sleeper. It was written without knowing true joy. 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.77/1.27/68 in 64 IP

39. Mike Soroka – I considered just doing a separate “Braves rotation” tier. I could see Soroka, Hamels, Fried, Faultynoogiewitz and whomever is #5 all being worth owning in fantasy and being a top 40 starter. Unless the Braves have one of the best rotations in history, it’s unlikely to happen like that, so the Denny Neagle-led 1998 Braves’ rotation can sleep easy, remaining the best of all-time. Finding it hard to fault Soroka, though. My biggest quibble for him is his jump in innings from 2018 to ’19, but is that even a thing anymore? Member The Verducci Effect? It was even capitalized like some official scientific theorem, rather than just some rando cherrypicking stats. It states, for those unfamiliar:  When a 25-year-old or younger pitcher sees a jump in 30 innings, it will cause arm injury or serious regression the following year. Yeah, okay, but chuck out body type, actual workload in this games, workout regimen, arsenal, coaching and about 15,000 other factors, which apparently don’t matter at all. Just 30 innings. 29 innings and we good. 31 innings and we done. How was this “Effect” never challenged? It’s so preposterous. Any hoo! Soroka saw a huge jump in innings, but that is the only down side I’m seeing for him. He was 14th best for average exit velocity (87 MPH) and 6th best for controlling barrels. He had the 5h best ground ball rate and, while not a flashy strikeout rate, he walks no one and forces weak contact. He could regress from his 2.68 ERA (and prolly will, since that was unreal), but as long as he doesn’t get severely unlucky on BABIP, he should be a solid number three. 2020 Projections: 4-2/3.66/1.10/56 in 68 IP

40. Madison Bumgarner – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Diamondbacks. I think we’re gonna find that Bumgarner was partially a product of his environment — nature vs. nurture vs. Googling what nature and nurture are. His career home ERA (2.72) and away ERA (3.53) show this, naturally (nurturally?) because everyone is better at home. I’ve said this many times before, but unless you’re drafting George Clooney’s character from Up In The Air, think about how well anyone performs at home vs. away. You’re in your own bed, you’re with your family, you get to see your wife–Wait, are these still positives? I kid, Cougs, I kid! Performance at home is a thing, so that Bumgarner performs better at home isn’t surprising. So, if he was a Yankees pitcher for the last ten years, the Yankees might’ve won a World Series — snap! — and Bumgarner might’ve been exactly the same pitcher calling New York home, i.e., he’s not entirely a product of AT&T, Pac Bell or whatever telecommunication overlord is ruling San Fran. However, Telecommunications Field is accounting for a bit more than just home cooking. Now, is he, as Steamer is projecting, a 4.63 ERA pitcher? That seems a tad pessimistic. He was a 8.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 3.90 FIP pitcher last year with increased velocity. He’s only 30 years old, and pitchers nowadays are like, ‘Yo, Charlie Morton rub some old man goo on my hands I wanna be good again in my late-30s.’ So, I’m not out on Bumgarner completely if the price is right, but I’m also not completely crazy about him in his new home. Hey, Grey, you want some thorns with those hedges!” And that’s me quoting me quoting pitchers talking to Charlie Morton! 2020 Projections: 5-3/3.72/1.12/68 in 70 IP

 
  1. Harley Earl says:
    (link)

    Great stuff here Grey.

    I totally agree with your assessment on Flaherty. He’s top four, and quite possibly top two. If he puts together an entire season like last year’s second half, he’s the NL Cy Young. Love the guy.

    Interesting take on Lance Lynn. I’m still worried about his walk issues coming back. Just being off a hair in his mechanics could take him back to 2017 or 2018. Yikes. I hope you’re right though, and I agree that it seems like pitchers in their 30s figure things out and take their pitching to a whole new level.

    Lastly, a question. I understand why you haven’t ranked him yet, but I’m curious what you think about Julio Urias. Yeah, his innings will be limited but I’ve read the Dodgers might give him 150 innings this season. It’s time to take the kid gloves off. If that’s the case, I believe he could easily be a top 25 pitcher. His numbers are great, and even at less than a full workload he seems like a breakout possibility. Maybe i’m just being too optimistic.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks!

      Lynn also is in a new park — yum!

      Urias will give an amazing 150 IP or an amazing 110 IP… That’s why he hasn’t shown up yet

      • Harley Earl says:
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        Haha!! Yeah, I’m all about some Lance Lynn again!!

        That’s a funny take on Urias, and I totally agree. It will be amazing but who knows how much it will be!

        Agree!

  2. galica says:
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    Grey!!!!

    Great top 40 for SP report!

    a. Am not enamored by many of these guys so I think I’ll be shopping for pitching earlier (like 2 in between picks 5 and 8) rather than later for my #1/2 SPs.

    b. Subscribed! Counted the months until the end of the season…8 x 30 days…ergo, ipsofacto, the 250 days won’t expire until after the season ends. Right? Grey, you with me?

    c. In this group I would definitely own Woodruff, Lamet, Ryu, Odorizzi and maybe Lynn. The others can take a walk. Like Greinke at his price, never. Samesies for CK, love him but no Siree.

    d. MLB quote of the day

    [This one’s a tribute to Rudy’s father, Oscar Gamble.]

    ‘They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.’ (Referring to the disorganization of the Yankees’ organization)

    The amazing Oscar Gamble, RIP. He was a raw talent and didn’t get a lot of time to practice before going to the show but had like HR/AB ratio that was almost a HR every 3 days so definitely razzball nation material.

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • zombie says:
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      Could Oscar Gamble Quote o’the Day all season. With an occasional Topps card screenshot; with no quote necessary. Entertaining (& yeah, underrated) player.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Yes, zombie, yes!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks!

      A. Wow, no Lamet? No Berrios? Shame!

      B. Nice! Thanks!

      C. So, now you’re in on them?

      D. Awesome!

  3. Big Magoo

    Big Magoo says:
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    Berrios is one of the few SPs in the top 100 overall who feels a bit undervalued. Durability? 32 games started in each of the last two seasons (392 IP total). Check. Productivity? Sub-4 ERA (with mostly neutral luck) and around a K per inning. Check. Velo? Holding steady around 93 mph on his fastball. I’ll give him a check there too. Divisional strength? The Tigers and Royals are bottom feeders, and the Indians are treading water. White Sox are better, but they’re not the Yankees or Dodgers in terms of being a lineup to avoid at all costs. Check. Team defense is better with the addition of Donaldson, and Buxton catches everything in center. His secondary pitches have gotten mixed results though, and he misses fewer bats than you’d like out of an ace. The late season meltdowns are an issue as well. Still plenty to like here.

    Lamet looks like Archer 2.0. Wipeout slider, but just a two pitch guy with a fastball that grades out poorly. Durability is a big issue too.

    Woodruff is the real deal, but pitching in Milwaukee isn’t exactly ideal. You’ll have to pay up for him too (ADP hovering in the 80s).

    Not entirely fantasy related, but I’m really impressed with what the DBacks have done over the past few years. They’ve lost superstar talent (Goldy, Greinke, Corbin) while getting younger, cheaper, and ultimately better. Hit a home run with Marte (Ketel, but look to have gotten Starling on the cheap too). Escobar too. MadBum and Ray at the front of the rotation, with Gallen and Weaver as the upside guys and Kelly and Leake as the inning eaters. Walker, Kelly, Peralta, Ahmed. Just a really solid group. The bumbling Dave Stewart era feels like a lifetime ago.

    • Peacecoast says:
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      I agree with everything this guy just wrote

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        Peace, Peacecoast!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Great point on the DBacks! Hadn’t thought about it, but they fixed the mess Dave Stewart left them pretty well

      I agree on Berrios and I can see that on Lamet, he might be more dangerous than I’m accounting for but those Ks in Petco? Muah!

      As I said on Woodruff, I think in casual leagues, he’ll be a bargain

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        Yeah, I was just looking at Gallen and Ray on this list, and thinking about all of the moves they’re made recently. Haven’t even reached MadBum or Weaver (who I think still has upside) yet in the rankings. Just a solid club. Should make a run for a wild card spot.

        No Hendricks? I thought you said you loved him? Lies!

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Hendricks is in Fried tier, coming tomorrow… I like Gallen a lot, just hope he gets his IP

          • Big Magoo

            Big Magoo says:
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            I figured. He’s the type of pitcher you usually throw in the “fine” pile. I like him as a ratio stabilizer. Hard to find those guys once the aces are off the board.

            The intrigue for me is whether or not Marquez pissed you off enough to include him in a tier to avoid…

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              I can’t go near Marquez, there’s too much baggage with Coors… even if he’s great, you still worry about him at home… lesson learned last year…

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Oh and exactly with Hendricks — he’s “fine”

              • Big Magoo

                Big Magoo says:
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                I meant fine for you. I love Hendricks. Put him in the Kershaw/Greinke pile of guys who don’t need velo to be effective. Great command and secondary stuff.

                Coors is tough. I was surprised at how high people were on Marquez last year. I see a few of those guys that I’m scratching my head on this year. Will talk more about it tomorrow (assuming Marquez makes an appearance).

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Sounds good!

  4. Dr Easy says:
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    “It was written without knowing true joy.” Grey burying ennui and malaise deep into his rankings.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Ennui! FTW

  5. Jonny Stash says:
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    Wow! I’m impressed that Gallen is ranked so high. His minor league numbers last year were scary terry. With the “juiced ball” in AAA Gallen definitely showed he can limit hrs. Another fun fact to see improvement on Gallen is that his GB% should increase too. I’m excited that you are excited about Gallen.

    It’s interesting to see how Brandon McKay will improve this year as he was just as dominating in the minor leagues as well… at pitching

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I’m excited you are excited that I’m excited!

      Meh on McKay, I’m out

  6. Rodent says:
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    Just where in your bizarro universe is Mike Soroka?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      You’ll have to wait and see

  7. Dubs23 says:
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    Your rankings say this is a no brainer but figured I ask since I can: $5 Sonny Gray for a $2 Soroka

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      Very surprised we haven’t seen Soroka ranked yet! I woulda leaned his way but pretty obvious its Gray and not close for, uh, Grey.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Gray

      • Dubs23 says:
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        Somehow this got changed to Royce Lewis and A Rosario for Gray…still Gray?

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Sorry, you’ve lost me, what now?

          • Dubs23 says:
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            Sorry. Original offer of a trade was Sonny Gray for Soroka which we all agreed was easily Gray. The guy changed the offer and is not a $5 Sonny Gray for a $6 A Rosario and a free Royce Lewis.

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              How deep is this league? Does a free Royce Lewis matter?

              • Dubs23 says:
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                12 teams. 6×6 with OPS and QS. Not really on Lewis. We can keep 3 minor leaguers on top of the normal 9 guys we can keep. With Gray I would have Paddack, Gray, Woodruff, Soroka as potential keepers. I have Bogaerts at SS so Rosario would be MI for me if kept.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Doesn’t sound great for either side, tbh…I’d prolly go Gray, but can’t you trade for a piece you need more, like an OF?

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    I mean, assuming you need an OF

  8. LaRockakis says:
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    No Paddack, huh?

    Any worry that Gallen’s unhittable-ness drops off when “the pros” get more film on him/see him more?

    • i don't want to brag but i have irritable bowel syndrome says:
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      paddack was on the last list (i.e. better than these)

    • Timmmuhhh says:
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      Paddack was in the top 20 (14 I think).

    • Cram It says:
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      He’s in the top-20, sizzlechest.

      • LaRockakis says:
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        Woof. What a dumb bass.

        • Cram It says:
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          You got it, liver lips.

  9. Ryan says:
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    You missed a giant asterisk next to ‘Glasnow’s 7 Wonky postseason innings’ against the electronic banging trash cans

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Meh, it’s 7 IP

  10. zombie says:
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    Even when you are re-quoting you, it’s still funny. Your love for DeShields knows no bounds. When Kluber was dealt, I thought that you would feel justified. Wish that I was in one of your leagues. I’d grab DeShields early and flip him for a #2 starter. Wouldn’t even need to sell it. It would be me quoting you, re- quoting yourself. Speaking of #2 starters, in 12 Team H2H with restricted streaming, which tier do you recommend grabbing one? Maybe the trustworthy Mr. Jackman’s Marriage grouping? Thanks. Best Arms Ranking in the biz.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks! Hmm…How restricted? 2nd starters can begin as early as Darvish’s tier

      • zombie says:
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        Somewhere around 60 acquisitions a season. 3 Keepers per team. So if you’re a good Razzball disciple and don’t keep a pitcher (even in this format), you hope that someone above Darvish is available to take with your first/second pick. Then, not certain when you start looking for the #2 starter. Maybe wait until the Jackman tier? You’ve got to think that a Woodruff might find his way down there. But a Castillo 1, then Odorizzi 2, to start your staff just doesn’t feel that formidable.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          It doesn’t sound bad (Cast/Odor), but prolly Jackman, but anyone above obviously isn’t terrible if price is good — I.e., Darvish/Berrios

          • zombie says:
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            Agreed. Thanks, Grey!

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              No problem

  11. Michael says:
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    This is RP related, but if my league has a SV + HLD category instead of just straight saves I shouldn’t be paying anything for RP right?

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      Yes, generally agree with that

    • Peacecoast says:
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      agree. since my league switched to S+H I literally leave it to the last rounds to draft some good RP and I finish top 3 usually every year in S+H. The few times I’ve reached on a Miller or Betances it has never worked out.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Agree with others

  12. Curtis Jones says:
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    I’m taking Glasnow in Cutline leagues for the chance of greatness, but you’re on point here and it makes me sad. Probably need to avoid in roto leagues, because chances are he’s not making it a half season, much less the entire season.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Ya know, in Best Ball it’s not terrible bc you’re going for absolute ceiling

  13. Big Ticket says:
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    Great stuff, Grey! Love the Bauer rank. I think a whole year with Derek Johnson as pitching coach is going to work wonders for the guy. Plus he was hurt last year. I’m all in.

    Keeper league question for you. Shallow roto league, OBP and SLG instead of AVG and HR. I get to keep 8. Locks are Trout, Bryant, Muncy, Eloy, Tatis, Robles, Bieber. I thought my 8th would be Suarez, but the shoulder surgery has me spooked. Other options for 8th keeper would be Villar or Paddack. Thanks Grey!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks! Agreed on injury too!

      Meh, Paddack I guess, you have SBs

      • Big Ticket says:
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        Yeah I like Paddack way better than Villar, but I’m hearing you on depth of pitching. And in a shallow league, it seems like 30-40 SB is more valuable than SP. Freaking Suarez is killing me

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          You might be overreacting to Suarez — remember Bregman had shoulder surgery last Jan. It didn’t affect him

          • Big Ticket says:
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            I had forgotten that, but he didn’t miss time, right? Reds GM said Suarez was probably not ready for OD. Have you updated projections for Eugenio or is there not enough info on the injury yet?

            Also, on Bauer, am I crazy to target him around SP16? After Sev, before Morton?

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              I haven’t updated Eugenio yet… Rudy removed 8 games worth of ABs — If he’s fine by March 15th, he’ll be in there OD

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Not crazy on Bauer, but he did have some issues last year — Morton is a bit safer

  14. Lenny says:
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    Wow. No Montana? I thought for sure based on how you talked about him in the fall that he would have been in the 20-30 range.

    Love these lists. Seeing 4 of my SP keepers listed in my 12 teamer is giving me hope. Not double rainbow hope, but hope.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Joe?

      Thanks!

  15. Lenny says:
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    Montas*

    • Michael says:
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      Yea where’s Frankie??

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Oh, he’ll be along shortly… I see him more as a #3 and we’ve only started the 3s with Fried

  16. Schwann says:
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    Grey am I crazy for keeping a $10 Lynn over a $40 Lindor? It’s a 16 team league and a clear top 10 guy like Lindor will probably go $50+, but with this size league the top 30 pitchers usually go for $20+ and I think SS is deep this year so I can get a top 15 guy for a reasonable price

    • The Great Knoche says:
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      I’d want Lindor. You’re talking about a potential top 5 overall guy vs a top 15 SS.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Lindor

  17. Krivo says:
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    Ooof, just getting caught up and I see I’m going to have quite the decision in keeping Corbin or Paddack. I guess it might be the #12 starter back into the draft in the ol’ 18-teamer.

    • The Great Knoche says:
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      I think I’d lose Paddack. Still hasn’t gotten all the way up on innings yet for a full year and Corbin has been very good and consistent.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Wha’ happened to NUX?

        • The Great Knoche says:
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          That’s Knucks.

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Oh shoot! My b

            • NUX says:
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              Present