The first 2 months of the 2013 fantasy baseball season are in the books, and we've gotten a good look at which players are off to hot starts and which guys are struggling in the early going. RotoBaller will be updating our positional rankings over the next week. Today, we're revisiting the starting pitcher rankings we initially published in April and updated in May. Starting pitching continues its post-steroid era renaissance, as the position seems deeper than ever. More and more pitchers are striking out a batter per inning, and a cadre of young arms seem poised for superstardom. All the ranks below are compared to the FantasyPros ECR (Expert Consensus Rank), which will show you where RotoBaller differs with the expert community and by how much. Check out our tier-by-tier analysis below the rankings, and let us know where you agree or disagree with us!
(Previous month's rankings are in parentheses)
TIER 1: Kershaw and Verlander are interchangeable: they're both horses capable of throwing a shutout every time they take the mound. There was some concern about Hernandez’s diminishing velocity, but he’s putting up some of the best numbers of his career- and that's certainly saying something.
TIER 2: Wainwright’s sick 37:1 K:BB ratio is something to behold, and his April dominance proves he’s fully back from Tommy John surgery. The rest of this tier is made up of up-and-coming arms-- all are pitching at an elite level, they just have yet to put together a complete season of dominance.
TIER 3: Lee and Sabathia have been as advertised, while Price and Hamels started slow but are rounding into form. Strasburg’s strikeout rate is down and he’s struggled with command, but he’s pitched pretty well overall and has been a victim of poor run support. Buchholz and Zimmermann look set for breakout campaigns, and Iwakuma, Sanchez, Latos , and Lester have been terrific. Cain has an ugly ERA but strong peripherals and will be fine.
TIER 4: Burnett is piling up strikeouts at an incredible rate; expect regression in that category at some point but enjoy the ride until then. Samardzija is proving once and for all that giving up football was a wise decision, and Peavy is holding it down on Chicago’s South Side with a sterling start to the season. Scherzer’s ability to blow away hitters is as good as it gets, while Greinke and Weaver tumble due to serious early-season injuries.
TIER 5: Kuroda is a warhorse who’s an asset in any fantasy rotation; Bailey has truly come into his own after years of hype. Some thought the Dodgers overpaid for Ryu, but he’s proven a bargain for both LA and fantasy owners alike. Dickey is still solid but nowhere near his magical form of last season, and Halladay continues to fight inconsistency as he deals with diminished velocity. Dempster has transitioned to the AL East with tremendous results, while Pettitte for the most part continues to defy age. Lynn is building off his strong 2012, and Cobb and Miller are top-end young arms.
TIER 6: Garcia, Fister and Masterson have all been strong; Estrada is looking like a quality mid-rotation starter who could fan 190 batters. There’s reason to be cautiously optimistic with Lincecum, as he’s put together two straight strong starts and is still missing bats. Wilson is off to a mediocre start, and Morrow is back to being the frustrating, high pitch-count tease that has tormented fantasy owners for years.
TIER 7: Santana has been one of the better options in fantasy this season, but there’s still fear about what happens when the ball starts flying out of the yard- and it will. Detwiler has been good but has a limited arsenal and can be hittable when his ball isn't sinking. Beckett is a mediocre option these days, more bark than bite.
TIER 8: The front of this tier – Cashner, Hammel, Kendrick, De La Rosa – presents a slew of decent options. McCarthy is a good major-league pitcher and should find his footing in the desert soon enough. Fernandez has the stuff of a tier-2 pitcher, but pitch count restrictions and a terrible supporting cast severely depress his value. Straily is still one of the best stashes in fantasy.
TIER 9: Liriano remains a deep sleeper, and Hughes should at least be good for wins. Doubront has great stuff but command issues can limit his effectiveness. McAllister is a quality pitcher who may yet rise, and Colon continues to pump in strikes while racking up quality starts.
TIER 10: Keep an eye on Lackey, he could offer real value in the deepest of leagues. Maurer is another to watch, as he’s put together a few quality appearances after a horrid start to his major league career. Teheran has been a major disappointment while Lewis and Beachy are worthy injury stashes.
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