Extremely Early 2017 Rankings: Top Starting Pitchers (#1-10)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know the injury risk involved in investing in a starting pitcher early in drafts, look no further than the missed time from Clayton Kershaw in 2016 as evidence.  That said you also can’t argue against the advantage owning one of the truly elite in the game brings to your team.  Who are the best of the best?  Who is worth targeting early on in your drafts?  Let’s take a look at our extremely early Top 10 starting pitcher rankings (keep in mind these will also be expanded as we grow closer to draft day as well):

1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
3. Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets
4. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
5. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox
6. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
7. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
8. Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
9. Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs
10. David Price – Boston Red Sox

Just Missed – Jon Lester (CHC), Johnny Cueto (SF), Jacob deGrom (NYM), Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Thoughts:

  • After missing all of 2015 Yu Darvish returned and showed little effect from the time off, as he posted a 3.41 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 11.84 K/9.  More important was his 2.78 BB/9, given the layoff and history of control issues.  That shows just how much potential he has, and it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • While Jake Arrieta is still one of the better options in the league, do not overlook the control regression he dealt with in ’16 (1.89 to 3.47 BB/9).  It was also a consistent issue (splits of 3.38 and 3.58), which makes it even more concerning.  He simply wasn’t getting opponents to chase outside of the strike zone as much (O-Swing% from 34.2% to 29.6%), perhaps in part to the decreased usage in his slider.  Obviously the upside is still there, but there is an extra level of concern.
  • It’s easy to downgrade Carlos Carrasco due to his limited innings in ’16 (146.1 IP), but when he took the mound he was the same dominant starter that he was in ’15 (3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP).  With strikeouts (9.23 K/9), control (2.09 BB/9) and solid groundballs with more upside (48.5%), he’s a “sleeper” ace once again.
  • Chris Sale got traded to Boston, increasing his potential for W but not altering his outlook in any way.  He’s one of the elite, regardless of where he’s pitching.

Sources – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Last Updated
Catcher01/09/17
First Base01/16/17
Second Base11/07/16
Third Base11/14/16
Shortstop11/21/16
Outfielder12/05/16
Starting Pitcher12/13/16
Relief Pitcher01/02/17

11 comments

  1. Carlito says:

    Where do you rank Carlos Martinez?

  2. Bruuuuce says:

    No Verlander? I understand he’s older, but he should have won the Cy and is clearly recovered from the injuries that killed 2015

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He had a great season, but I’m not buying. All I need to see is his .255 BABIP and 79.9% strand rate overall, as well as his 4.07 ERA in the first half (it’s easy to forget that) as reason to keep him out of the Top 10.

      • Bruuuuce says:

        I discounted the first half somewhat, given that all reports had him still not 100% physically. The other numbers are tougher to ignore. With all of that, does he make the top 20?

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          I haven’t finalized the next grouping yet, bu I’d expect him to be in the conversation. That said, others are going to value him significantly higher than I do, so I am not expecting to own him anywhere

          • Bruuuuce says:

            I’m working on keepers for 2017, and he’s someone I’m considering for a spot. I appreciate your thoughts; they’re giving me cause to consider both sides better. Thanks.

  3. Danny says:

    Thoughts on Archer for 2017 and beyond?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      There’s no reason to think that he isn’t going to bounce back strong, though I’d like to see where he winds up (it wouldn’t be shocking to see him traded away)

  4. CJ says:

    In a standard points keeper league, would you trade away Chris Sale and Maikel Franco for Nolan Arenado?
    Thanks.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Absolutely. Franco isn’t the biggest loss at this point and we all know how fickle pitching can be. Arenado is among the best in the league, so getting him is a home run

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