2017 Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers: #1-20: Bounce Back Candidates & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know how risky it is to investment in any pitcher, as anyone is seemingly one pitch away from Tommy John surgery (just look at Alex Reyes as an example).  Of course you can say that any player can get hurt, and that’s fair, the risk just seems to be a little bit greater when it comes to starting pitchers.  With that thought in mind, let’s kick off our 2017 rankings and take a look at who is worth investing in and who may be worth steering clear of:

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. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
11. David Price – Boston Red Sox
12. Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays
13. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs
14. Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees
15. Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals
16. Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs
17. Johnny Cueto – San Francisco Giants
18. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
19. Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros
20. Matt Harvey – New York Mets



  • Keep in mind that there is a little bit of risk with Scherzer and his availability for the start of the season as he battles back from a stress fracture in his finger.  There’s plenty of time for him to get healthy, though it’s not a guarantee.  He wouldn’t fall far, but dropping below Chris Sale or Corey Kluber (depending on how much time he’d miss) is realistic.
  • What Yu Darvish showed us in terms of strikeouts (11.84 K/9) and control (2.78 BB/9) over 100.1 IP in 2016, after missing all of 2015, is extremely important.  Walks were always the biggest issue hanging over him, so his ability to come back this strong shows us just how good he can be.  Would it really be surprising to see him emerge as a Top 5 option?
  • No one is going to argue against the season Kyle Hendricks posted in 2016 (2.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) or his ability to have a solid 2017 campaign.  The chances of him replicating last season’s success, though, are slim to none.  He benefited from a .250 BABIP and 81.5% strand rate, both of which should regress.  With his elite control (2.04 career BB/9) and ability to generate enough strikeouts (8.05 K/9 in ’16) and groundballs (49.4% for his career) he should still be seen as a Top 20 option.  Just don’t make the mistake of paying for his 2016 results.
  • Last season was an absolute disaster for Chris Archer, posting a 4.02 ERA.  Of course he had strong peripherals (10.42 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 47.8% groundball rate) and that represents more potential, as he should improve on his home run rate (1.34 HR/9) and his performance on the road (5.44 ERA, compared to a 3.87 career mark).
  • Dallas Keuchel was another underperformer in 2016, posting a 4.55 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  He still showed enough strikeouts (7.71 K/9), control (2.57 BB/9) and groundballs (56.7%), and he should improve on his 1.07 HR/9, .304 BABIP and 68.4% strand rate.  There were some injuries involved and he could easily see his groundball rate jump back up (58.9% for his career).  He’s another prime example of a pitcher not to avoid.

*** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! ***

Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Standard League
OBP League
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
Relief Pitcher01/02/17--


  1. Tim says:

    Verlander isn’t in your top 20? He’s in most people’s top 10.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I know most people are going to be surprised to find Verlander outside of the Top 20, but I’m on record as not buying the “rebound” from last season though he didn’ miss the Top 20 by much. I’ll cover him in a full article this week, just like I did with Starling Marte, but here’s a little bit from the draft guide:

      “He did regain nearly a mph on his fastball (92.8 to 93.5 mph), but is that really enough? Home runs were an issue (1.19 HR/9) and he also benefitted from a .255 BABIP and 79.9% strand rate. Considering his split (4.07 ERA in the first half, 1.96 in the second) and likely regression, Verlander has overdraft written all over him. Don’t view him as a Top 10 starter, as you will be destined to be disappointed.”

  2. Hometown Heroes says:

    I could see Verlander tumbling a bit but not past a few of those guys on your list. Harvey is coming back from major surgery and even if he pitches well, he probably won’t give you the innings. Verlander should easily be better than Keuchel and Kendricks this year.

  3. foolintherain says:

    I’m very concerned about Arrieta and just moved him in a keeper league. A good chunk of last season was so erratic and unreliable that I lost a lot of confidence in him. Do you have any concerns about him this season?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I think it’s fair to have some concerns, given what happened last season. Regardless he should still be one of the best options and he should be able to bounce back

  4. Joel says:

    Would you keep bumgarner in the third round? I typically don’t like to keep pitchers that high up but I need two and he’s my best options.

  5. Carlito says:

    Fulmer or Rich Hill?

  6. Rotoprofessor says:

    If he’s healthy I prefer Hill, but the chances of that happening are slim

  7. Richard says:

    Harvey top 20? Innings limit in 2017 or do you expect 185+?

  8. Carlito says:

    Profess….. Mazara. Would you hold him or drop for Jimenez or Meadows?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I think I like Jimenez the most long-term, but he may still be a year or two away. So I’d hold Mazara

  9. Hendu2458 says:

    I’m in a very deep 16 team keeper league. Minus Kershaw, I have no real studs. I’ve been offered Carrasco, D Salazar, and Yoan Moncada for him. Carrasco and Salazar, if healthy, are very good pitchers. Their health, though, is very much in question. What do you think?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I don’t think I’d do it, though it’s a fair offer. I’m probably more concerned about Moncada then most, though. If you believed in him I’d be more likely to pull the trigger

      • Hendu2458 says:

        Thanks for your reply. I also got one involving Trevor Story and Kyle Hendricks, two guys, obviously, with a very short resume but high upside. I’d try to get at least an additional draft pick tossed into that one. If I were to move Kershaw, which deal do you prefer?

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