Top 20 Starting Pitchers For 2011: Cliff Lee Fallout

The surprising decision of Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies ultimately had a major impact on our early starting pitcher rankings.  He always was going to be considered one of the better options in the league for 2011, but now he appears to be a borderline Top 5 option.  Let’s see where he ultimately falls, as well as all the rest in our updated rankings:
  1. Roy Halladay – Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
  3. Tim Lincecum – San Francisco Giants
  4. Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox
  5. CC Sabathia – New York Yankees
  6. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
  8. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
  9. Ubaldo Jimenez – Colorado Rockies
  10. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
  11. Jered Weaver – Los Angeles Angels
  12. Francisco Liriano – Minnesota Twins
  13. Josh Johnson – Florida Marlins
  14. Chris Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
  15. Yovani Gallardo – Milwaukee Brewers
  16. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
  17. Zack Greinke – Kansas City Royals
  18. Clay Buchholz – Boston Red Sox
  19. Mat Latos – San Diego Padres
  20. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays


  • Cliff Lee posted strong numbers while a member of the Phillies, with a 3.39 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 8.36 K/9 over 79.2 innings. Over a full season, that would be his best strikeout rate of his career and while he may not match that mark, seeing him approach the 7.8 – 8.0 range now appears realistic. Over 220 innings, that’s at least 190 strikeouts. When coupled with his stellar control and good potential for wins, he becomes one of the best options in the league. Jumping back to the NL, he is a certain SP1 now.
  • Injury concerns based on the number of innings he threw in 2010 is why Mat Latos fell a few spots in the rankings, but I am not going to drop him out of the Top 20 because of it. All we have heard since Tim Lincecum emerged was that he was going to miss time due to injury and it still hasn’t really happened yet. There’s always a risk when drafting pitchers, and you don’t want to bypass someone simply because of it. As we progress through the offseason things may change slightly, but he’s certainly going to remain a SP2.
  • We all know that Gallardo is a pretty big risk, thus far being unable to put it together for an entire season. Still, he has as much talent as anyone in the league and has the potential to have a breakout campaign. He’s a risk, but one I would love to take.
  • Is Dan Haren a Top 20 pitcher while in the AL? He’s certainly right on the cusp, but given his past second half struggles and spending a full year in the AL, I have him just on the outside looking in.

What are your thoughts on these rankings?  Whose too high?  Whose too low?

Make sure to check out our early 2011 rankings:


  1. looks good rp….I just differ with you on Josh Johnson as I have him higher and Bucholz I have much lower due to the lack of K’s and pitching in the AL East.

  2. carlito says:

    no Tommy Hanson????

  3. Alex says:

    Where’s Matty Cain????

  4. ClayHenry says:

    Buchholz, despite a low K rate, also had an outstanding GB rate and great infield defense behind him. I like the pick of him in the Top 20 although the likely loss of Beltre could hurt.

    Chris Carpenter is my only concern with the list given his late season struggles, age, and past injury concerns.

    I can see Morrow and Billingsley sneaking into the top 20 this season.

  5. Brock Sampson says:

    Hanson and Cain are where they belong….outside of the top 20.

    And no amount of question marks are going to help them.

  6. MJ says:

    There is NO WAY I would ever draft Liriano ahead of Cain or Hanson. Period.

  7. Rotoprofessor says:

    Matt Cain and Tommy Hanson literally just missed out and easily could return to the list the next time around. The difference between about 10-12 pitchers is so small, that any little thing can shift their rankings.

  8. sp says:

    Where is Oswalt?

  9. Rotoprofessor says:

    With only 20 spots, it is impossible to get everyone in. Oswalt is definitely in the next five pitchers and I could certainly see some people including him here. From about 15-25, the difference between the pitchers is extremely small.

  10. T-BZA says:

    This list is solid and I can see arguments for movement up and down throughout, but overall captures the studs.

    Now my question is do we Brett Anderson in this next year?

  11. Rotoprofessor says:

    Anderson certainly has the potential, but I would want to see an improvement in strikeouts. Last season he was at just 6.01 K/9, though his minor league track record is for significantly more than that.

    I’ll talk about him in a lot more detail in the coming weeks, but I would think that if he can even come close to his 2010 performance, he will certainly be in the discussion if he can post a healthy season (especially if his K/9 increases into the 7.0 or more range).

  12. Matt says:

    Overall not a bad listing. However Lee is overrated. People seem to like to ignore his second half meltdown and it continuing on in the playoffs. I’d put Kershaw ahead of him, the kid was solid all year long and continued to get better as the year progressed.

    I also like Hanson over Lee. Hanson would’ve been top 10-15 overall had he got the run support.

    And finally someone who doesn’t overrate Price based solely on 2010. No way in hell will he win the same number of games in 2011 with such a depleted line-up because he won’t get that major run support. Also check the huge difference between his home ERA and his road ERA in 2010.

  13. The Uber Dude says:

    Halladay only #1? I’d think you’d manage to find a higher slot than that for the good doctor… 🙂

  14. Phillies says:

    wth are you guys talking about???? How is Lee overrated??? and someone mention david price not being able to win the same number of games because of no run support????? the rays have great offence.

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