2014 Dynasty Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers: #1-20

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:

  1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers (26-years old)
  2. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals (25-years old)
  3. Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers (27-years old)
  4. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins (21-years old)
  5. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox (25-years old)
  6. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants (24-years old)
  7. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals (28-years old)
  8. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays (28-years old)
  9. Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds (27-years old)
  10. Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers (29-years old)
  11. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers (31-years old)
  12. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals (32-years old)
  13. Mat Latos – Cincinnati Reds (26-years old)
  14. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates (23-years old)
  15. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies (30-years old)
  16. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners (27-years old)
  17. Jordan Zimmermann – Washington Nationals (27-years old)
  18. Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays (26-years old)
  19. Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers (30-years old)
  20. Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants (29-years old)

Thoughts:

  • 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:

11 comments

  1. Ryan says:

    Where might Teheran come in, in your mind?

    Very much considering keeping him over Zimmerman, primarily due to the fact that I can keep him for 5 years, vs. just 3 for Zimmerman.

    Thoughts on that move?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’m still finalizing my next 20, but Teheran is going to come in as part of the Top 30. I would understand the idea of being able to keep Teheran an extra two years, but I would still side with Zimmermann. Pitching is risky to begin with, I’d prefer to maximize the value now (as long as the age is reasonable)

  2. james says:

    I am a little surprised not to see one of the two big time pitching prospects on there. Archie Bradley and Taijan (sp) Walker. Both have seen success in the upper minors, and Walker until this slight injury was almost a sure thing to make the big league rotation this year.

    I know in dynasty leagues i am also a little strange in that I refuse to really hold onto anyone i do not see as being a potential elite player unless i really need somone at that position. That idea has served me well in the past, and has led to some very insane teams. It also means i generally am more likely to get players i want since in one new player draft i nabbed Archie bradley passing up more sure things in Tillman and Cashner.

  3. Mike says:

    I see a Mat Latos and a Matt Cain, but no Matt Harvey? I know he’s a “question mark” but TJ surgery is now highly successful and the guy is an absolute bull dog. He might be pitching by the end of this year. I’m probably jumping the gun as he might be in your next set but I just want to make sure he wasn’t forgotten. Today I was offered Harvey for Gausman and Cashner. I’m thinking of doing the deal because as much as I like Gausman, I think I can get Kyle Zimmer to replace him as a hard-throwing prospect on the rise (or maybe Jon Gray). Plus Gaus pitching in the AL East concerns me a bit. So to me, it’s Cashner for Harvey which seems like a no brainer.

  4. chris says:

    I would have thought Tanaka would make this list. I suppose this time last year he will make the list with a solid 2014 (much like Darvish is now considered a top 20.) These lists do play it conservative.

  5. Rotoprofessor says:

    james – I like both of those propsects, but there is still a lot of uncertainty around them. I would much rather take younger pitchers who have already proven that they can do it in the Majors.

    Mike – Nope, Harvey was not forgotten. He is high up in the next 20! As for the trade, it really depends on your strategy and position to compete this season. Obviously long-term Harvey is the better option, but if you are looking to win in 2014 there’s no value in Harvey.

    chris – I’m not as high on Tanaka as some people are, though he is going to be high up on the next 20. I will go into details when I post the next 20, but his drop of Ks in ’13 and the potential for control issues this season (as we saw with Darvish in his first season) does cap his value for me.

  6. Mark says:

    No Cliff Lee in the Top 20??? That has to be an oops right?

  7. Chris says:

    I see this as a very generous placement of Verlander. His last two years were beyond elite, but as a 31 year old reaching the tale end of his prime (especially as a workhorse for a number of years now) with declining velocity, that’s too high for me. Add in the fact that he only had 2 years of elite production. He was a 3.5/1.2 guy all the up until his 29 year old season. Odds are that he will return to those numbers with decreased velocity, if not worse.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It’s a fair point, but you will probably have others who argue that Verlander is too low and should be higher. Just curious, how low would you drop him?

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