There’s one big question on everyone’s mind: what type of balls will 2020 bring? Will they be wrinkly? Sweaty? Blue? People are wondering about the baseballs, Donkey. Oh right, baseballs, thanks random italicized voice!

Let’s face it, we have no idea what next year’s balls will look like. Hopefully they aren’t engorged, lumpy, or discolored, but we just don’t know. And we won’t know for certain until early April 2020. What we do know is, regardless of how salty next year’s balls taste, there will be a bunch of pitchers drafted early who get hurt or just flat out stink (see: Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell, Carlos Carrasco, Jameson Taillion, & Luis Severino from 2019) and there will be lots of pitchers drafted late, or not drafted at all, who sneak into the end of season top 25 starting pitchers (see: Lucas Giolito, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Sonny Gray, Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Mike Soroka, Domingo German, & Jake Odorizzi from 2019). Grey has almost fully brainwashed me over at his Fade Top Pitchers School of Philosophy and Sexuality. Yes, it’s just as weird as it sounds over there.


Top Pitchers to Fade Next Year 101

Gerrit ColeI’m currently participating in a 2EarlyMock for 2020. Not only did Cole go #5 overall in my draft, but he also settled in with a final ADP of #11 across all six of the 2EarlyMocks. Don’t forget, Cole’s a free agent after this season. While he’s an ace no matter where he lands, there’s at least a little reason for hesitation if he doesn’t resign back in Houston. Charlie Morton carried his Astro’s magic over to his new home in Tampa but we don’t know if that applies to all former Astro resurrections. And as Grandpa-Donk always says, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Find cheaper pitching.

Max Scherzer – It’s always tempting to pay up for that organic hormone free whole milk instead of the free chunky milk you find on the street which might be spiked with roofies. If there’s one ace I could be convinced to take early, it’s the one with one blue eye. Like a fine wiener, Scherzer seems to only get better with age. This will now be five straight seasons of sub-3.00 ERA and 200+ strikeouts, but his streak of 200+ innings will finally come to an end at an incredible six straight. Mad Max’s ADP came in at #12 in the 2EarlyMocks which is out of my price range for a 35 year old arm.

Shane Bieber – Discovering Biebs is my claim to fame. He was signing karaoke in a dive bar down the street from the barn where Grey lets me live. In my preseason rankings the young ace slotted in at #19 overall. Please don’t look at where I ranked Marquez and Kikuchi. At this point it may seem like I was low on Biebs, but I was actually the highest on him out of all 57 experts participating in the Fantasy Pros rankings competition this year and Bieber finished the preseason as the 49th pitcher off the board in NFBC drafts (#138 overall). Unfortunately, Bieber clocked in at an ADP of 29 in the 2EarlyMocks and he’ll be yet another arm out of my price range in 2020. Time to scour the karaoke bars for the next big thing.


Milk On Sale

James Paxton – Big Maple was the first arm I drafted onto my 2EarlyMock team all the way down at pick 93. It’s a crazy value considering the numbers he’s posted over the past month: 3.34 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 38 strikeouts across 29 2/3 innings pitched. He did finish with an ADP of 80 in those mocks and I’m afraid that price will only continue to rise, but I’ll be monitoring closely.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – The second pitcher I selected in my 2EarlyMock, Ryu also seems like an absurd value at pick 118. It’s true his last four starts have been terrible, you can’t trust him to stay healthy, he’ll turn 33 next year, and he becomes a free agent this off season. Wait, why do I like him again? Oh that’s right, over his previous 224 innings prior to his four most recent starts Ryu had posted a 1.64 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP. That’s a large sample of incredible numbers, don’t lose sight of them because of a few sub-par weeks.

Brandon Woodruff – Woodruff was in the midst of a real breakout prior to his oblique strain in mid-July. The K-rate was up, walk rate was down, and swinging strike rate up. The wood is rising for Woodruff. At 26 years old, he’s a perfect candidate to make the jump into ace territory. I’ll be watching closely to see where the ADP settles, he’s only been selected in three of the six 2EarlyMocks so far with a preliminary ADP of 110, but also a wide range of 68-136.


Anyway, here’s my top 50 starting pitchers for 2020, yell at me in the comments if I’m forgetting anyone:

Rank Name Team Age
Tier 1
1 Max Scherzer Nationals 34
2 Gerrit Cole Free Agent 28
3 Jacob deGrom Mets 31
4 Walker Buehler Dodgers 24
5 Justin Verlander Astros 36
Tier 2
6 Jack Flaherty Cardinals 23
7 Shane Bieber Indians 24
8 Mike Clevinger Indians 28
9 Blake Snell Rays 26
10 Lucas Giolito White Sox 24
11 Stephen Strasburg Nationals 30
12 Luis Castillo Reds 26
13 Chris Sale Red Sox 30
14 Patrick Corbin Nationals 29
Tier 3
15 Aaron Nola Phillies 26
16 Charlie Morton Rays 35
17 Chris Paddack Padres 23
18 Trevor Bauer Reds 28
19 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 31
20 Jose Berrios Twins 25
21 Hyun-Jin Ryu Free Agent 32
22 James Paxton Yankees 30
Tier 4
23 Noah Syndergaard Mets 26
24 Corey Kluber Indians 33
25 Carlos Carrasco Indians 32
26 Zack Greinke Astros 35
27 Tyler Glasnow Rays 25
28 Shohei Ohtani Angels 25
29 Luis Severino Yankees 25
Tier 5
30 Mike Soroka Braves 21
31 Zac Gallen DBacks 23
32 Madison Bumgarner Free Agent 29
33 Yu Darvish Cubs 32
34 Brandon Woodruff Brewers 26
35 German Marquez Rockies 24
36 Domingo German Yankees 27
37 David Price Red Sox 33
38 Sonny Gray Reds 29
39 Max Fried Braves 25
40 Matt Boyd Tigers 28
41 Zack Wheeler Free Agent 29
42 Caleb Smith Rays 27
Andrew Heaney Angles 28
43 Brendan McKay Rays 23
44 Eduardo Rodriguez Red Sox 26
45 Mike Foltynewicz Braves 27
46 Frankie Montas Athletics 26
47 Steven Matz Mets 28
Tier 6
48 Robbie Ray DBacks 27
49 Kyle Hendricks Cubs 29
50 Dinelson Lamet Padres 27
51 Julio Urias Dodgers 23
52 Dustin May Dodgers 21
53 Dallas Keuchel Free Agent 31
54 Julio Teheran Braves 28
55 Dakota Hudson Cardinals 24
56 Ryan Yarbrough Rays 27
57 Joey Lucchesi Padres 26
58 Jose Quintana Cubs 30
59 Mike Minor Rangers 31
60 Pablo Lopez Marlins 23
61 Reynaldo Lopez White Sox 25
62 Sandy Alcantara Marlins 24
63 Griffin Canning Angels 23
Tier 7
64 Jake Odorizzi Free Agent 29
65 Jordan Lyles Free Agent 28
66 Jon Gray Rockies 28
67 Chris Bassitt Athletics 31
68 Aaron Sanchez Astros 26
69 Zach Plesac Indians 24
70 Aaron Civale Indians 24
71 Sean Manaea Athletics 27
72 Miles Mikolas Cardinals 30
73 Jeff Samardzija Giants 34
74 John Means Orioles 26
75 Wade Miley Free Agent 32
75 Matt Strahm Padres 27
76 Adrian Houser Brewers 26
77 Mike Fiers Athletics 34
78 Tanner Roark Free Agent 32
79 Homer Bailey Free Agent 33
80 Yusei Kikuchi Mariners 28


Others in the conversation: Kolby Allard, Michael Kopech, Elieser Hernandez, Ross Stripling, Trevor Richards, Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, Danny Duffy, Alex Young, Nathan Eovaldi, Cole Hamels, Anthony Desclafani, Eric Lauer, Zach Eflin, Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, Chris Archer, Brad Keller, Marcus Stroman, Mitch Keller, Michael Pineda, Lance Lynn, Zach Davies, Drew Verhagen, Steven Brault, Cal Quantrill, Dylan Cease, Jordan Yamamoto, Joe Musgrove, J.A. Happ, Jake Junis, Mike Montgomery, Chase Anderson, Marco Gonzales, Tony Gonsolin, Forrest Whitley, Jalen Beeks, Adam Plutko

Find Donkey Teeth on Twitter. Subscribe to his podcast under The Razzball Podcast feed on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs & Baseball Savant.



  1. Matty says:

    Do you anticipate McCullers being worth anything next year in that magic ‘stros rotation? Or do you suspect he’s still another year off of his old form after TJ.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Good call, he’d slipped my mind. Thanks for reminding me.

      I’m interested in McCullers next year assuming he doesn’t have any set backs. I think anywhere in the 60 to 75 range is reasonable if he’s ready by spring and there’s big upside from there…

  2. Malicious Phenoms says:

    Hey Donkster,

    You see Tony Gonsolin in the Dodgers rotation in 2020.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Hey MP,

      I think there’s a pretty good chance he’s part of that 9 man rotation business they pull throughout the year but it depends if they decide to bring any free agents in.

      • Malicious Phenoms says:

        Michael Fulmer worth anything in 2020

  3. papasmurf says:

    Do you see Mize cracking the top 50?

    Of course, lots of unknown and he probably will have a strict innings cap, but it seems injury is the only thing to stop him from being good right away.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Mize is a good call and I could see him cracking the top 50 at some point next year. He could easily be next year’s Paddack, but really depends what kinda games the Tigers wanna play with him since they’re very unlikely to be competitive.

  4. Malicious Phenoms says:

    Michael Fulmer worth anything in 2020

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Nah I think Fulmer’s a deep league flier at this point

  5. Grey

    Grey says:

    Opening of this article sounded like a doctor trying to explain complications to Mitch Haniger

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      “Just lop it off, doc!”

      • Grey

        Grey says:

        NOOOOOOOO! I said I have to MOP it off! It was dirty!

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:

          This why malpractice insurance is so high!

          • Grey

            Grey says:

            Haha, Obama stole my balls

  6. The Great Knoche says:

    10 team where you have to start 5 SPs. Keeping DeGrom with the other values?

    Paddack $7
    Snell $9
    Clevinger $14
    Flaherty $14
    DeGrom $30

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Do you only get one? If so I think I’d take the Flaherty savings…

      • The Great Knoche says:

        I can keep all if I want. DeGrom was my question. Keep him or save the money for bats since I have so much other value,

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:

          Ah gotcha. How much will he go for at auction? Can you trade him maybe?

          • The Great Knoche says:

            Guessing between $35-$40.


            • Donkey Teeth

              Donkey Teeth says:

              I’d try to find someone else who agrees he’s a $10 discount and flip him for a solid bat. If you can’t get anything done then it’s not the end of the world to kick him back.

  7. Hernan says:

    wow, very aggressive on Ohtani and Julio Urias…., guess you expect big innings increase with those 2…, super interesting , as always…, I think guys like Montas, Lamet and Heaney have top 25 starter written all over them…, lol, Donkey Teeth, BDon and The Itch in Razzball, Love it, Love it , Love It!!!!!

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Thanks Hernan! I think even 130 innings of Ohtani could put him in top 20 territory and really same goes for Urias.

      I like those three as well, definitely see the top 25 upside.

  8. Harley Earl says:

    Lance Lynn going to fall off the wagon again in 2020? I would think he’d be top 80 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him collapse either.

    • Harley Earl says:

      Now I just read B-Don’s column and I’m confused. He loves Lance Lynn. So what’s the dealio?

      Here’s what B-Don says about Lynn:

      “Lynn has the highest fastball velocity of his career in his age 32 season. His pitch mix has changed slightly as he’s moved away from such heavy sinker usage and throwing more of the four seamer and cutter. Whatever the changes, they’ve worked all season and Lynn is going to be an interesting pitcher to evaluate and rank for next season.After a rough 2018 that had people thinking he was done as a quality MLB pitching option, Lance Lynn has bounced back, and while I know it’s not a fantasy baseball stat, do you realize he has the 2nd highest WAR (at Fangraphs) among pitchers and 9th overall. Lynn has the best K rate, BB rate, and swinging strike rate of his career along with the 11th best batted ball rate (min. 300 events).”

      And that’s me quoting B-Don!

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Lynn’s a deep league guy to me.

      The numbers will probably be there at year end but there will be stretches of extreme boredom or worse. Not a guy I’ll be excited to draft…

      • Harley Earl says:

        Well yeah, he’s a deep league guy. But he’s also a top 50 pitcher this year. Getting him in a low draft pick would be golden.

        I’d rather have Lynn next year over several of the guys you’ve got listed. I mean, Kikuchi? Homer Bailey? John Means? Yuck. Rather have Lynn. He’s redefined himself.

  9. Uncle Slappy says:

    Any thoughts on Lance McCullers’ outlook for 2020?

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      Hey Uncle Slappy,

      Someone asked about McCullers above and here’s what I said:

      “Good call, he’d slipped my mind. Thanks for reminding me.

      I’m interested in McCullers next year assuming he doesn’t have any set backs. I think anywhere in the 60 to 75 range is reasonable if he’s ready by spring and there’s big upside from there…”

      • Uncle Slappy says:

        Sorry, I missed that…need to check my monacle prescription!

        Thanks DT…appreciate your work!

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:

          No problem, thanks for reading!

  10. John Kolo says:

    Any thoughts on Luke Weaver going into 2020? I know we can’t really expect more than 130 IP from him, but he showed a lot this year in his 1/3 of a season. I feel like he could be around your Tier 5, in the early 40’s around Heaney/McKay/E-Rod range. What say you?

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:

      I actually jotted Weaver down yesterday as a name I forgot, completely agree with you. Definite injury risk but he was in the zone earlier this year and I’m curious to see if he can keep it going once healthy. It also seems like he’s gonna be very cheap in drafts.

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