2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers (#1-20): Youngsters Rising Up The Rankings

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

You can argue that starting pitching is as deep as it has ever been, with impressive pitchers filling the rankings.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some questions, especially when it comes to health (and we all know the fragility of pitching, with Tommy John surgery always hanging in the back of our mind), but it’s hard to ignore the upside.  Who are the top pitchers we’d be targeting?  Let’s take a look:

1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
3. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
4. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox
5. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
6. Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets
7. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
8. Luis Severino – New York Yankees
9. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
10. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
11. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies
12. Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals
13. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks
14. Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays
15. Yu Darvish – Chicago Cubs
16. James Paxton – Seattle Mariners
17. Dallas Keuchel – Houston Texans
18. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks
19. Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels
20. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs


  • The biggest surprise on this list may be the presence of Aaron Nola, who comes in just outside the Top 10 ahead of big names like Carlos Martinez and Chris Archer. Keep in mind that Nola is coming off a year where he posted a 3.54 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, producing impressive results in all three metrics we look for with the underlying numbers suggesting further improvement.  There’s a lot to like, and while you won’t have to draft him this high he should easily get there.
  • Yu Darvish saw his stock improve with the move to Chicago, which is a good thing after many were down on him due to a disastrous post season. For our thoughts as to why, click here.
  • When healthy there is no question that James Paxton is among the elite starters in the game, which he showed last season with a 2.98 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. The problem is he hasn’t proven capable of making 30+ starts in a season, having thrown 121.0 innings in ’16 and 136.0 in ’17.  Will this be the year he finally stays on the mound?  If it is he could easily be a Top 10 performer.
  • While they aren’t back-to-back on the rankings, it’s an interesting debate between Noah Syndergaard and Luis Severino (when you compare Syndergaard’s 2016 to Severino’s 2017 the numbers are extremely similar). Clearly we prefer Syndergaard, but we’ll discuss why next week.
  • Zack Greinke is coming off a renaissance season, with a 3.20 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, but does anyone believe he can maintain those numbers? You shouldn’t, as even last season he showed signs of struggles as both his strikeout rate (10.13 K/9 to 8.79) and walk rate (2.86 BB/9 to 3.66) regressed in the second half.  That was closer to what he’s done over the course of his career, so make sure to pay for that and not the impressive first half.

Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Standard League
OBP League
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 02/07/18
1-20: 03/12/18

Starting Pitchers1-20: 02/20/18

21-40: 02/22/18
Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

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