Updated 2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers (#1-20): Greinke/Ohtani Fall & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With Zack Greinke banged up and the highly hyped Shohei Ohtani struggling, there’s some changes to be made to our starting pitching rankings.  With both now falling outside our Top 20 who steps in to take their spots?  Are there any other changes/concerns have developed this spring?  Let’s start updating our rankings and see where we are at:

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 Astros
18. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs
19. Zack Godley – Arizona Diamondbacks
20. Justin Verlander – Houston Astros

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Thoughts:

  • Even without Greinke the Arizona Diamondbacks have two pitchers inside our Top 20. The addition of a humidor is going to help limit the risk of home runs, which will go a long way in allowing these pitchers to establish themselves.  Of course no one is going to argue the upside of both Ray and Godley regardless.  Godley is likely the more surprising name, though don’t overlook the skills he showed last season (9.58 K/9, 3.08 BB/9, 55.3% groundball rate over 155.0 innings).  There is risk (he benefited from a .236 BABIP), but you won’t have to pay this price to obtain him and the upside of a Top 15 pitcher is real.
  • Another surprising name is like Nola, who is a borderline Top 10 starter (though you may not want to believe it). We did an in-depth profile of him a few weeks ago, which you can read by clicking here.
  • Luis Severino or Noah Syndergaard? It’s an interesting debate, and we discussed why Syndergaard is our preferred choice here.
  • The question with James Paxton is always going to be his health, not his talent. Last season he posted a 10.32 K/9 and 2.45 BB/9 in the Majors, though it was over 136.0 innings (he threw a total of 140.0, including in the minors).  The skills are similar to what he did in 121.0 innings in ’16, and if he ever got 180+ innings the numbers would be impressive.  Have the proper depth, given his history, but don’t shy away.
  • Don’t make the mistake of overvaluing Verlander, which will be easy to do after his impressive run with the Astros last season. Keep in mind that he’s moving to a less attractive home ballpark (he did have a 4.14 ERA on the road), and while the velocity was up last year he is 35-years old and it’s possible that he regresses again.  That doesn’t mean ignore him, just know the risks.

** ORDER ROTOPROFESSOR’S 2017 DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
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:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
--
Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

3 comments

  1. Sawyer says:

    Where do you see Taijuan Walker falling? I haven’t seen any articles describing the humidor impact to him. When I Google him, all I get is news about him giving away tacos!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      The humidor will help, but I have just as many concerns in regards to his strikeout rate and a decline in his SwStr%. I’m not buying

  2. Chucky says:

    I think your on to something with Nola and Godley. When the post season awards get handed out in 2018, expect to see both Nola and Godley “right there” as finalists for NL Cy Young.

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