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)
- 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
*** Pre-Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $5.50 By Clicking Here!! ***
Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: