Early 2015 Rankings: Top 30 Starting Pitchers

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Remember, just because a player is ranked in a certain spot doesn’t mean that you are going to have to draft him there.  Take Alex Wood, for instance, who is ranked as a Top 15 starter but likely can be had as a SP3 or below on draft day.  The owner of a 2.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.69 K/9 and 2.59 BB/9 over 212.1 innings as a starter in the Majors, it’s simply not upside that we are referencing.  He has the stuff, has proven it at the highest level and now is not going to have to spend time in the bullpen or at Triple-A.  Look for him to be one of the better draft day bargains.

Who else do we like better than everyone else?  Who do we think is going to be overvalued?  Let’s take a look at our initial starting pitcher rankings to help find out:

1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
3. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
4. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
5. David Price – Detroit Tigers
6. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
7. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
8. Max Scherzer – Free Agent
9. Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
10. Jeff Samardzija – Chicago White Sox
11. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs
12. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
13. Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners
14. Alex Wood – Atlanta Braves
15. Tyson Ross – San Diego Padres
16. Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays
17. Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves
18. Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers
19. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals
20. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
21. Jordan Zimmermann – Washington Nationals
22. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
23. Johnny Cueto – Cincinnati Reds
24. James Shields – Free Agent
25. Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees
26. Matt Harvey – New York Mets
27. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
28. Sonny Gray – Oakland A’s
29. Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds
30. Garrett Richards – Los Angeles Angels

 

Thoughts:

  • Where Scherzer and Shields ultimately land will obviously have an impact on their spot on these rankings.  That’s not to say that they aren’t going to be among the better options in the league, it’s just that they could move a few spots in either direction.
  • Granted, Jeff Samardzija’s move to the White Sox isn’t ideal but his skill set has been evolving and improving over the past few seasons.  We all know that he’s going to have strikeouts (and his 10.9% SwStr% and 34.0% O-Swing% indicate he can improve on his 8.28 K/9) and control.  However the groundball rate has also been trending in the right direction, reaching 50.2% last season.  With those numbers, it’s impossible not to love him.
  • The perception hanging over Gio Gonzalez is that he disappointed in 2014.  Did he really, though?  We took a look at his numbers (click here to view) and at the end of the day the overall view was clouded by injury and inconsistency.  Don’t overreact and undervalue him.
  • It’s become clear that Adam Wainwright is on the downside of his career, despite still producing a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP last season.  His strikeouts were down (7.10 K/9) and he also enjoyed significant luck in 2014 (.267 BABIP despite a 23.9% line drive rate).  His control is going to keep him as a viable option, but drafting him as one of the better options in the league would be a mistake.
  • The player who will likely be the most debated is Johnny Cueto, and we will definitely take a much closer look at him in the coming days/weeks.  It’s important to keep in mind that he enjoyed significant luck last season (.238 BABIP, 82.5% strand rate), could easily allow a few more home runs (0.81 HR/9) and could see a drop in strikeouts (8.94 K/9 in ’14 vs. career 7.41 mark, plus the underlying metrics didn’t justify the jump).  Make sure to check back for a more in-depth look, but the fact is you shouldn’t overpay.
  • Both Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Harvey could be elite options this season, but will they be healthy?  Can they stay healthy?  The questions are going to suppress their ranking, but also make them worth the gamble if the price is right.

Make sure to check out all of our early 2015 rankings:

*** Make sure to pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, complete with projections of over 500 players, expended rankings, sleepers, Top 50 prospects and so much more (including constant updates up until opening day). For just $6 you will get everything you need to dominate your fantasy league! For more information and to place your order, click here. ***

17 comments

  1. scott steelers says:

    I think Arrieta is a top 20 guy. Where do you have him?

  2. Marky Mark says:

    I can easily see Carrasco putting up better numbers than everyone in the 10-15 range.

    And it’s hard to think of Bailey as anything more than a late-round flyer.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    scott steelers – I have him just outside this list, but I could definitely understand some people being higher on him then I am. I expect a regression in his luck (.274 BABIP despite a 22.3% line drive rate) and home runs (0.29 HR/9), which is what suppresses him a bit. That’s not to say that I don’t like him, though.

    Marky Mark – Carrasco definitely has a lot of upside, I’m just tempering expectations a bit with the risk of a regression in his control. As for Bailey, you certainly won’t have to draft him where I have him ranked (which makes him an excellent buy IMO)

  4. Paul Bryant says:

    I think Gerrit Cole finishes the season a top 20 SP. Homer Bailey does not belong on this list.

  5. Jmax says:

    You’d think that when Hamels gets moved he goes ahead of Shark, especially if it’s SD.

    Interesting to see how much MadBums postseason is upping his 2015 ranking everywhere. Had he not had that postseason he wouldn’t be there. I’m not one to buy into that. If anything with the amount of innings the guy threw over the course of the yr and the short layoff, I’d be a little hesitant. After all, it was this time last yr that there was talk of him tiring down the stretch in 2013. I think I’m taking Kluber and Scherzer ahead of MadBum.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      If Hamels is traded to a favorable ballpark, he will definitely move up. It just depends where and if he goes.

      As for Bumgarner, it’s more that he garnered the attention he deserved, not that he’s being elevated because of the postseason. He was going to be a Top 10 starter regardless

      • Jmax says:

        Top 10, no question! I’m thinking more like 8-10. Top 4 ahead of Scherzer, Kluber, and Price though? Ya the difference between 4 and 8-10 seems minuscule but the way I feel is, that top 5 is the elite and after that you see some parity in the next 10 arms. The top 5 is for those guys who strikeout 250+, with a sub 2.50 ERA. MadBum just doesn’t seem to fit in that upper echelon. Time will tell, that’s for sure and I for one can’t wait to see how this plays out

  6. Jmax says:

    Fister > Bailey

  7. Rotoprofessor says:

    Let’s cover the Bailey comments all in one shot. I am not saying that you have to draft him as a Top 30 pitcher, that would be nuts. I am saying that I believe he will be a Top 30 starter this season.

    I’ve had an article written about him waiting to go up, so we are going to run it this morning. Make sure to check that out and let the debate rage on,

  8. Myrick says:

    Cliff Lee?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He fell just short based on the injury/age concerns, as well as the drop on Ks. The control is going to be elite, but he needs more than that

  9. Frank says:

    No love for Fernandez? He might be coming off surgery but the guy was a phenom before injury and he’s by far the youngest ace.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’m a big fan of Fernandez and he’ll be ranked highly in our dynasty rankings. However, he’s not expected back until mid-season so in yearly formats he has to be pushed significantly down the rankings.

  10. Brett says:

    No Jose Fernandez? I know he was hurt, but he should return healthy, and be ranked ahead of several of these guys.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      This is an old list, but with Fernandez expected out for half the season it’s impossible to include him in the Top 30

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