2017 Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers: #21-40: Breakout Youngsters (Paxton, Gray) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Earlier this week we kicked off our Starting Pitcher Rankings, taking a look at the Top 20 (click here to view).  Now we see how deep the position truly is, as we take a look at the next 20 names on our list.  This group is full of some high upside youngsters who could truly emerge, like James Paxton, Jon Gray and Carlos Rodon.  Where exactly do they fit in?  Let’s take a look:

21. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks
22. James Paxton – Seattle Mariners
23. Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies
24. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
25. Kenta Maeda – Los Angeles Dodgers
26. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies
27. Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays
28. Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves
29. Matt Shoemaker – Los Angeles Angels
30. Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles
31. Michael Pineda – New York Yankees
32. Carlos Rodon – Chicago White Sox
33. Danny Salazar – Cleveland Indians
34. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates
35. Cole Hamels – Texas Rangers
36. Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals
37. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks
38. Jeff Samardzija – San Francisco Giants
39. Anthony Desclafani – Cincinnati Reds
40. Collin McHugh – Houston Astros


  • Many people are dubbing Verlander “back” and expecting him to be a Top 15 or 20 option once again.  It’s easy to get excited, especially with his fastball gaining in velocity (92.8 mph to 93.5), but there was a distinct split in the numbers (4.07 ERA in the first half, 1.96 in the second) and he benefited from a .255 BABIP and 79.9% strand rate.  A regression is coming, so don’t overpay for the strong second half.  To read our in-depth look at Verlander, click here.
  • While Carlos Rodon posted a 4.04 ERA in ’16, he appeared to solve his control issues (2.95 BB/9).  That’s an important development, especially with the significant upside he brings in the strikeout rate.  Would it really be a surprise to see him fully breakout in 2017?
  • Was Gerrit Cole’s struggles in 2016 due to injury or does it go deeper than that?  He has consistently carried an elevated line drive rate, even when things were going well, so we don’t want to dub him a lock to bounce back.  At the same time you don’t want to ignore the upside.
  • There are a number of young, intriguing starters filling this part of the rankings including James Paxton, Jon Gray, Matt Shoemaker, Danny Duffy and Robbie Ray.  While they all come with their own sets of questions, would it be surprising to see any of them take a significant step forward and end the season among the Top 20 starters in the game?
  • Michael Pineda clearly has the upside, but he’s one of the more frustrating starters in the league as he struggles with home runs (1.38 HR/9) and poor luck (.339 BABIP, 70.7% strand rate).  One of these seasons he’s going to put it all together, though his home ballpark doesn’t do him any favors, but he’s still an intriguing gamble to take.

*** 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. Carlito says:

    Cmon no Fulmer or Rich Hill in the top 40??? I give you credit for going out on a limb with some of these guys but thats crazy.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Hill I can’t bank on throwing enough innings. Fulmer is a regression risk and he just missed out on the Top 40. As I did with Verlander, I’ll cover him in detail shortly as I’m sure there are going to be a lot of questions about his exclusion

  2. Alex says:

    It’s tragic that Gerrit Cole is below Aaron Nola after all that Cole has helped do for Pittsburgh. I understand it, given the injuries and such, but Cole is still only 26 so I’d rather chance his abilities than Nola’s smaller sample size. I also can’t believe how far Hamels has fallen … too bad he ever ended up in Texas.

    Who is #41 – 45? One of them has to be better than McHugh, who hasn’t shown up for a few years now.

  3. Sean D. says:

    I think you’re underestimating Cole. He was relying too much on his fastball and will begin using his phenomenal secondary pitches even more. Which will help him on the injury front and his K numbers

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    I actually really like Cole (just bought him for $11 in a 13-team auction). It’s a sign that pitching is deep, not a slight on Cole.

    As for McHugh, I’m a believer. We’ll go into detail on him in the near future as well

  5. Sawyer says:

    Salazar is unbelievable low. It’s a crime.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I actually really like Salazar and he’s in a tier that starts at #26. That said, there is risk involved on a number of fronts with Salazar (home runs, strikeout regression) Again, it shows how deep the position is.

      We’ll talk about him in the near future as well!

  6. Alex says:

    Agreed on “deep”. No matter where you slot these guys, you can get a pretty good staff together if you miss out on an ace and get some SP2 and SP3’s scooped up later in the draft.

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