2020 Rankings: Updated Top 40 Starting Pitchers: Injuries, Opt Outs & More Cause Rankings Shuffle

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With the 2020 season seemingly set to get underway we need to revisit our rankings, as things have dramatically changed since March.  The addition of the DH in the National League, players opting out and others getting diagnosed with COVID-19 (and the unknown about their status) are just some of the obstacles fantasy owners are facing.  Let’s take a look at how things currently look, but keep in mind that things can change quickly:

  1. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
  2. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
  3. Justin Verlander – Houston Astros
  4. Gerritt Cole – New York Yankees
  5. Walker Buehler – Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Shane Bieber – Cleveland Indians
  7. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
  8. Mike Clevinger – Cleveland Indians
  9. Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals
  10. Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds
  11. Charlie Morton – Tampa Bay Rays
  12. Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays
  13. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
  14. Frankie Montas – Oakland A’s
  15. Michael Soroka – Atlanta Braves
  16. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies
  17. Yu Darvish – Chicago Cubs
  18. Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals
  19. Corey Kluber – Texas Rangers
  20. Andrew Heaney – Los Angeles Angels
  21. Zack Greinke – Houston Astros
  22. Trevor Bauer – Cincinnati Reds
  23. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
  24. Marcus Stroman – New York Mets
  25. Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox
  26. Max Fried – Atlanta Braves
  27. German Marquez – Colorado Rockies
  28. Sonny Gray – Cincinnati Reds
  29. Chris Paddack – San Diego Padres
  30. Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins
  31. Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers
  32. Joe Musgrove – Pittsburgh Pirates
  33. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Toronto Blue Jays
  34. Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox
  35. Mike Minor – Texas Rangers
  36. Kenta Maeda – Minnesota Twins
  37. Mitch Keller – Pittsburgh Pirates
  38. Joey Lucchesi – San Diego Padres
  39. Tyler Glasnow – Tampa Bay Rays
  40. Dinelson Lamet – San Diego Padres

Notes:

  • Our starting pitching rankings have taken hit since the original Spring Training, due to injuries to names like Noah Syndergaard, Chris Sale and Chris Archer.  That’s not to mention the various starters who have also opted out of the 2020 season, with Michael Kopech and David Price among the noteworthy names (Joe Ross and Felix Hernandez have also opted not to participate).
  • One of the concerns for teams that pitch deep into the post season is whether or not there will be a “World Series hangover” for their starters.  Considering the late start to the 2020 season, that’s no longer a concern for Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and the rest of the Washington rotation.
  • Mike Clevinger is another starter who has benefited from the late start to the season.  Originally he wasn’t expected to be healthy for Opening Day, but that’s no longer the case.  That vaulted him back into the Top 10, as he’s among the elite in the game (he saw his SwStr% spike to 15.2% last season, to go along with improving control).
  • Aaron Nola was a late arriver to “Summer Camp”, after he reportedly was exposed to someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19.  Having arrived and getting on the field, there’s still a chance that he’ll be ready for Opening Day (and even if he was to miss some time, it shouldn’t be much at this point).
  • Eduardo Rodriguez was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is still not in camp with the Red Sox.  Hopefully he’s cleared to return soon, but even then it’s hard to envision him being ready for the start of the season.  Depending on when he’s cleared, his ranking will have to be further adjusted.
  • The final two spots on these rankings were supposed to go to Jose Urquidy and Brandon McKay, but McKay has been away from camp and Urquidy has been placed on the IL for undisclosed reasons.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our Updated 2020 preseason rankings:

PositionLast Updated
Catchers07/06/20
First Basemen07/20/20
Second Basemen07/07/20
Third Basemen07/08/20
Shortstops07/10/20
Outfielders07/13/20
Starting Pitchers07/14/20
Relief Pitchers07/12/20

4 COMMENTS

    • Here’s the writeup from the Draft Guide, I think it’s the best summary of my thoughts on him:

      One key for Heaney will be his health, after being limited to 95.1 IP in ’19, but he also needs to prove that he can avoid home runs (1.89 HR/9), limit hard contact (47.6% Hard%) and get out left-handed hitters (.321/.374/.548). The home run issues are interesting, considering he primarily throws a sinker (58.00%), and while the issue may not go away he should be better than a 33.6% groundball rate. The same can be said for the Hard%, which may have been skewed by the injury. It’s the performance against left-handed hitters that’s most shocking, and likely stems from lacking a third pitch to get them out (he’s thrown 10 changeups, total, over the past two seasons against LHH). He was better in ’18 (.229/.255/.288) and if he can develop that third pitch he has the strikeouts (11.14 K/9) and control (2.83 BB/9) to thrive.

    • He didn’t miss by much, but I’m certainly lower on him than many. Here’s a few excerpts from the Draft Guide as to why:

      – pitching in Arizona he will likely be prone to home runs (44.5% groundball rate in Arizona) and his control was never going to be as good as it was at Triple-A prior to his recall (1.68 BB/9)

      – if someone drives up the value due to his Triple-A success (1.77 ERA, 0.71 WHIP) and solid MLB ERA (2.81 ERA) you’ll want to stay away given the luck behind them (86.5% strand rate at Triple-A, 83.7% in the Majors).

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