by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that pitching is fragile and you never know when the other shoe is going to drop. There’s an inherent risk in selecting a starting pitcher, no matter how many miles he has on his arm (just look at Matt Harvey, who will miss all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery).
With that in mind, which pitchers are the best options for dynasty league owners? Whose risk is a little too great? Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently look:
- Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers (26-years old)
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals (25-years old)
- Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers (27-years old)
- Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins (21-years old)
- Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox (25-years old)
- Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants (24-years old)
- Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals (28-years old)
- David Price – Tampa Bay Rays (28-years old)
- Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds (27-years old)
- Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers (29-years old)
- Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers (31-years old)
- Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals (32-years old)
- Mat Latos – Cincinnati Reds (26-years old)
- Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates (23-years old)
- Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies (30-years old)
- Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners (27-years old)
- Jordan Zimmermann – Washington Nationals (27-years old)
- Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays (26-years old)
- Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers (30-years old)
- Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants (29-years old)
- The big question hovering over Stephen Strasburg is if he can stay healthy for an entire season, since the talent is hardly an issue (2.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10.44 K/9 over 434.1 career innings). If there is one pitcher who can arguably push Kershaw for the top spot on these rankings, Strasburg would be the guy given his upside and track record (though if Jose Fernandez can replicate last season’s success he would be right there).
- Homer Bailey in the Top 10?! Yes sir, he is! There is some risk, because we are taking a leap of faith that he can maintain his 2013 strikeout rate (8.57 K/9). His underlying metrics support it, however, given his increased velocity (94.1 mph) and a SwStr% of 9.3% or better each of the past three seasons (10.7% in ’13). Couple that with control (2.33 BB/9 or better for three straight seasons) and a solid groundball rate (46.1% in ’13) and there’s an awful lot to like.
- Can Gerrit Cole maintain the improved strikeout rate (7.67 K/9) and control (2.15 BB/9) he displayed upon reaching the Majors? The talent evaluators definitely think so and there is no doubting the stuff. Don’t push him too high up the rankings, but the potential is certainly there.
- Sure Felix Hernandez is only 27-years old, but there are an awful lot of miles already on his arm. It does make us a little bit hesitant in trusting him over the long haul…
- With so many potentially star young pitchers already in the Majors, pitchers like Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander do get bumped down a little bit. That doesn’t make them bad options, but they do have to be discounted slightly.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: