We are handling pitchers a little differently than the other positions. We are ranking 60 starting pitchers in total, but we can’t do that all at one time. That’s actually not true. We could do it, but the article would be way too long and cumbersome to gain any real insight. With the other positions, we took the top 24 players and either selected the top 18 or top 20 players based on total points and the traditional categories.
With the first group of starting pitchers (1-20) we did that. This time we took the next 24 pitchers and ranked them. So, the rankings you see are the pitchers’ rankings within the next group of 24 pitchers. We continue to rank them in total points and the traditional categories. However, the ranking you see will not be a pure ranking. After all, in some categories, the pitcher might rank better than one of the top 20 pitchers, but overall ranks below them.
As a reminder, projections are based on the past three seasons. Statistical totals are based on a projection of either 150 or 180 innings pitched. That projection is based on past health history and the likelihood of the pitcher making a full complement of starts in 2019. Rankings there are based on the composite rankings in each of the four categories.
Total Points= (2) Inn + 3 (Wins) + SO – ER – Hits – BB
J.A. Happ—New York Yankees
Total Points: 857 (2nd)
PPS: 9.74 (6th)
Projection: 16 Wins/3.44 ERA/173 SO/1.20 WHIP (2nd)
The fantasy game is still heavily dependent on wins. Heck, even the Cy Young voters have gone away from that. Happ’s 16 win projection may seem optimistic, but that has been him the past three seasons. Being that he is the opening day fourth starter for a loaded Yankees team, there is no reason to believe he won’t do it.
Rick Porcello—Boston Red Sox
Total Points: 936 (1st)
PPS: 9.45 (8th)
Projection: 15 Wins/4.00 ERA/163 SO/1.19 WHIP (8th)
Porcello is not likely to be a first or second fantasy starter. He gets where he is through sheer durability. He takes the ball every fifth day and gives you a quality start most times out. With the Red Sox’ offense, that also gives him a win more often than not. If he’s your third fantasy starter you are in pretty good shape.
Carlos Martinez—St. Louis Cardinals
Total Points: 795 (7th)
PPS: 9.81 (5th)
Projection: 13 Wins/3.36 ERA/180 SO/1.28 WHIP (6th)
The question with Martinez is whether he will turn in a healthy campaign. The above numbers reflect that evaluation. If you are more pessimistic you can adjust accordingly. The Cards have a slightly better lineup and a slightly better bullpen on paper. That might translate into another win or two.
David Price—Boston Red Sox
Points: 791 (8th)
PPS: 10.41 (2nd)
Projection: 12 Wins/3.75 ERA/150 SO/1.18 WHIP (9th)
Then, you get the other end. Price is projected over 150 innings mainly because he was hurt part of the last two seasons. He came up big in the post-season. That usually has a way of making people more optimistic. We might call it the Madison Bumgarner effect. Post-season success is nice, but it usually doesn’t translate to future results.
Jake Arrieta—Philadelphia Phillies
Points: 842 (5th)
PPS: 9.15 (11th)
Projection: 14 Wins/3.51 ERA/164 SO/1.19 WHIP (4th)
There is always a tension between past performance and future projections. This is always more acute with players on their way down. Pitchers seem to have a shorter and shorter shelf life these days. Arrieta was a brilliant pitcher five years ago, but five years is an eternity for starting pitchers.
Charlie Morton—Tampa Bay Rays
Points: 610 (15th)
PPS: 10.34 (3rd)
Projection: 14 Wins/3.44 ERA/176 SO/1.20 WHIP (2nd)
I seriously toyed with the idea of having a 120 inning valuation for some pitchers. Morton and Yu Darvish might have been the only two to get such a valuation. I bit the bullet and gave them 150 innings. With Darvish, the impulse is easy to understand. Morton just feels like a guy whose arm is about to fall off. Pound for pound he might be as effective as anyone. Consider him a right-handed Rich Hill.
Jose Quintana—Chicago Cubs
Points: 857 (2nd)
PPS: 8.93 (13th)
Projection: 12 Wins/3.77 ERA/172 SO/1.23 WHIP (10th)
I had a political science professor who wanted to legally change Jimmy Carter’s name to Poor Jimmy Carter. The idea was that he was a good guy that just seemed to have horrible luck. Quintana seems like that kind of pitcher. He forever has seemed like a better pitcher than the results he gets. Eventually you just give up and go with the results.
Alex Wood—Cincinnati Reds
Points: 608 (16th)
PPS: 9.21 (10th)
Projection: 13 Wins/3.29 ERA/175 SO/1.15 WHIP (11th)
A trade like the one that sent Wood to the Reds has so many facets. It’s hard to declare a winner based on just one facet. One of them though is how the trade impacts the players themselves. Clearly, the three going to the Reds are the winners. The Dodgers could probably have comfortably had a 30 man roster without breaking a sweat. There just wasn’t enough for everyone to get a full shot. He should get 30 starts or more in Cincinnati.
Walker Buehler—Los Angeles Dodgers
Points: 283 (23rd)
PPS: 12.30 (1st)
Projection: 9 Wins/2.96 ERA/167 SO/1.03 WHIP (5th)
Buehler is a top 20 pitcher in terms of quality. However, the Dodgers are likely to limit his innings and with the depth they have, they are in position to do that better than any other team. So, what you see is based on 150 innings. In another season or two he could vault into the top ten.
Robbie Ray—Arizona Dbacks
Points: 797 (6th)
PPS: 9.49 (7th)
Projection: 9 Wins/3.93 ERA/196 SO/1.33 WHIP (18th)
Ray is a great risk/reward pick. Everyone that wins a fantasy championship does two things well. First, they make the best guesses as to who will break out on draft day. Secondly, they do a better job playing the waiver wire than anyone else. Ray will either be mediocre and injury prone or great. There really is no in between.
Cole Hamels—Chicago Cubs
Points: 772 (9th)
PPS: 8.77 (14th)
Projection: 12 Wins/3.72 ERA/165 SO/1.26 WHIP (11th)
Hamels was a completely different pitcher when he came to Chicago. It’s hard to imagine him pitching that well for a full season, but you never know. Hamels is a pretty safe pick when looking for a fantasy fourth starter. He isn’t likely to break out, but when comparing him to a pitcher like Ray he’d have a lower ceiling, but a higher floor.
Yu Darvish—Chicago Cubs
Points: 552 (20th)
PPS: 9.86 (4th)
Projection: 9 Wins/3.97 ERA/185 SO/1.22 WHIP (12th)
120 innings might make more sense for someone like Darvish. It’s hard to remember, but he was a top flight pitcher as recently as 2017. Like Ray, he might drop a little on draft day. It might be a good pick if he falls to the bottom of the top 60. Imagine how good your team could be with a healthy Darvish as a fifth starter.
Chris Archer—Pittsburgh Pirates
Points: 850 (4th)
PPS: 9.04 (12th)
Projection: 8 Wins/4.12 ERA/207 SO/1.29 WHIP (21st)
Like Jose Quintana, Archer has always felt like a guy that should be better than what he is. He has always been low on wins because of poor run support and bad bullpens. He may not have that much of a better time in Pittsburgh. Still, guys that routinely pitch every five days and get 200+ strikeouts don’t exactly grow on trees.
Miles Mikolas—St. Louis Cardinals
Points: 396 (22nd)
PPS: 9.43 (9th)
Projection: 14 Wins/3.61 ERA/128 SO/1.18 WHIP (7th)
One brilliant season is hard to bet on. Hitters and pitchers get a book on each other and force the other to adjust. You have to expect Mikolas to struggle a little more his second time through the league, but if he can grab the ball every fifth day he still might be a good fourth fantasy starter.
Patrick Corbin—Washington Nationals
Points: 769 (10th)
PPS: 8.64 (15th)
Projection: 10 Wins/4.03 ERA/183 SO/1.32 WHIP (20th)
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. You cannot allow the contract a player gets to cloud your judgment on who he is as a player. He is the same player he was before he got the big pay day. He doesn’t magically become something he’s not. The Nationals overpaid Corbin, but he is still the same third starter he has always been.
Dallas Keuchel—Free Agent
Points: 698 (12th)
PPS: 8.41 (17th)
Projection: 12 Wins/3.77 ERA/147 SO/1.25 WHIP (17th)
See Corbin. These guys were ranked one and two amongst free agent starters this offseason. Keuchel is looking for five years and isn’t likely to get it. Fortunately, his 2015 Cy Young season drops off of the three-year average. These numbers represent the pitcher he really is. I’d love him in my rotation, but not at the money and years he wants.
James Taillon—Pittsburgh Pirates
Points: 614 (14th)
PPS: 8.19 (20th)
Projection: 11 Wins/3.64 ERA/164 SO/1.26 WHIP (13th)
It’s not every day that you come back from cancer, but Taillon did it last season. At this point in the rankings, if you find a guy that will throw 180 or more innings with a sub 4.00 ERA, that guy should go to the top of the list.
Julio Teheran—Atlanta Braves
Points: 765 (11th)
PPS: 8.23 (19th)
Projection: 9 Wins/3.88 ERA/157 SO/1.20 WHIP (18th)
See Taillon, minus the cancer. Teheran is more hittable than most of the guys above him, so he is more susceptible to batted ball luck than most starters. So, he will be either really good or really bad. That can be year to year or start to start.
German Marquez—Colorado Rockies
Points: 560 (19th)
PPS: 8.62 (16th)
Projection: 12 Wins/4.12 ERA/187 SO/1.30 WHIP (15th)
The Rockies are an interesting team. They have one more season with Nolan Arenado, so they are rolling the dice and building a team around him to make a run. They’ve already added Daniel Murphy. Now, they are looking at Brian Dozier. Both could hit 30 or more home runs in the thin air. More runs means more run support for pitchers like Marquez.
Mike Foltyniewicz—Atlanta Braves
Points: 687 (13th)
PPS: 8.38 (18th)
Projection: 8 Wins/3.89 ERA/164 SO/1.27 WHIP (22nd)
The prize of the Evan Gattis trade finally paid dividends last season. It’s hard betting on one season, but his arrow is pointed up. Like Marquez, the team is getting better which hopefully means more wins for him. Give him a 12 wins instead of eight and he will vault himself into the top 30.