Top 40 Starting Pitchers (2019): #1-20: Rankings Full Of 2018 Breakouts & More

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We all know the risks of investing in pitching in general, as Tommy John feels virtually inevitable. We’ve already lost Shohei Ohtani for the season, which obviously has an impact on the rankings (he likely would’ve been among the Top 15 options, and could’ve been among the Top 10). He wasn’t the only “breakout” performer from 2018 that finds himself in the discussion for a Top 20 spot, though, and many have emerged as pitchers you want to target.

With that being said, here are a few things to remember as you review the rankings (and if you want to see even deeper rankings, make sure to order our 2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide that includes a Top 30, by clicking here):

  • A player being ranked #3 doesn’t mean you should draft him in that spot. In most cases you shouldn’t have to, it just shows the potential value that he holds.
  • These rankings are based on our projections and expected production for 2019.

Who are the names we should trust?  Who should be ignored? Let’s dive in and take a look:

  1. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
  2. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
  3. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox
  4. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Justin Verlander – Houston Astros
  6. Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets
  7. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
  8. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
  9. Luis Severino – New York Yankees
  10. Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals
  11. Gerrit Cole – Houston Astros
  12. Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays
  13. Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians
  14. Miles Mikolas – St. Louis Cardinals
  15. James Paxton – New York Yankees
  16. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
  17. Walker Buehler – Los Angeles Dodgers
  18. German Marquez – Colorado Rockies
  19. Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals
  20. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals

Thoughts:

  • Surprised to see Noah Syndergaard ranked so highly?  Obviously some injuries have clouded the outlook, at least a little bit, but there’s no questioning that he has the upside of one of the elite in the league.  Even during his “struggles” he showed off his ability in all three categories we look for from a pitcher, with a 9.04 K/9, 2.27 BB/9 and 49.0% groundball rate.  With even more upside in his strikeout rate, thanks to a big fastball and a 13.6% SwStr% (he had a 10.21 K/9 in the first half), it’s easy to envision him delivering nearly Top 5 production.
  • Blake Snell had a spectacular season, leading to the Cy Young Award.  Then why is he ranked outside the Top 10?  There was obvious luck that led to his 1.89 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, as he benefited from a .241 BABIP and 88.0% strand rate.  That alone clouds the issue, but with the chance for more home runs allowed (0.80 HR/9, 44.7% groundball rate), control questions and a regression in his Hard% (41.0% in the second half) there’s a good chance that he disappoints in 2019.
  • It was an impressive return to the Majors for Miles Mikolas, who delivered a 2.87 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.  The question comes from his strikeout rate (6.55 K/9), though he showed signs of more upside in the second half (11.5% SwStr%, 38.9% O-Swing%).  That potential, along with his elite control, makes him a strong option once again.
  • The fact that German Marquez will pitch half his games in Coors Field is always going to hang over him, but should it?  With the ability he showed to generate swings and misses, coupled with strong control and enough groundballs there is going to be a lot to like.  There is going to be the threat of home run issues (he had a 1.10 HR/9 last season), but the other skills are going to help to overcome that issue.
  • Injuries have plagued Clayton Kershaw over the past few years and at this point it’s become obvious that he’s no longer the elite starter he once was.  It’s a topic we’ll cover in detail in the near future, but don’t value him as he have in years past.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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