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2020 Offseason Starting Pitcher Rankings (Part 3) - Fantasy Baseball Mixed Leagues


We continue with our analysis of the early 2020 fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings by looking at the middle tiers. To read part one, click right here, or right here for part two.

After a record-setting year for offense and a sense among the industry that 2020 likely won't be dramatically different, being able to navigate the ever-murkier waters of starting pitching will continue to be of prime importance. Looking at last year's earnings at the position, stark tiers quickly reveal themselves, with two players earning over $40, followed by five players who earned over $20, and 13 who earned over $10. That's only 20 pitchers total who earned double-digit dollars in 12-team leagues, followed by a big mess of players who didn't. Now that's what I call murky.

Now that we're through all the names you know, let's travel further down the list and take a look at some players in the lower tier and try and suss out where some value (and pitfalls) can be found.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

Starting Pitcher Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (January)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season.

Ranking Tier Player Pos Nick
Mariano
Nicklaus
Gaut
Riley
Mrack
1 1 Gerrit Cole SP 8 7 11
2 1 Justin Verlander SP 12 10 15
3 1 Jacob deGrom SP 15 13 10
4 2 Max Scherzer SP 14 18 19
5 2 Walker Buehler SP 25 21 24
6 2 Jack Flaherty SP 28 24 31
7 2 Shane Bieber SP 27 31 36
8 2 Mike Clevinger SP 39 25 33
9 2 Blake Snell SP 40 26 41
10 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 29 36 46
11 2 Chris Sale SP 34 49 37
12 2 Clayton Kershaw SP 43 41 49
13 3 Charlie Morton SP 58 45 65
14 3 Patrick Corbin SP 62 64 57
15 3 Luis Severino SP 50 67 69
16 3 Zack Greinke SP 53 83 52
17 3 Aaron Nola SP 56 48 87
18 3 Luis Castillo SP 47 59 91
19 3 Yu Darvish SP 72 61 64
20 3 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 76 77 54
21 3 Tyler Glasnow SP 84 74 66
22 3 Lucas Giolito SP 59 99 72
23 3 James Paxton SP 91 70 70
24 4 Shohei Ohtani DH/SP 74 68 100
25 4 Chris Paddack SP 95 95 73
26 4 Corey Kluber SP 64 126 77
27 4 Noah Syndergaard SP 78 110 94
28 4 Jose Berrios SP 83 118 99
29 4 Brandon Woodruff SP 116 102 103
30 4 Mike Soroka SP 119 133 79
31 4 Carlos Carrasco SP 131 106 112
32 4 Dinelson Lamet SP 154 91 118
33 5 Trevor Bauer SP 132 144 114
34 5 Zac Gallen SP 122 146 123
35 5 Sonny Gray SP 139 159 96
36 5 Madison Bumgarner SP 137 165 119
37 5 Frankie Montas SP/RP 158 124 145
38 5 David Price SP 134 172 132
39 5 Max Fried SP 155 128 159
40 5 Lance Lynn SP 128 136 186
41 5 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 126 162 188
42 5 Masahiro Tanaka SP 152 175 163
43 5 Jesus Luzardo SP 165 153 173
44 5 Robbie Ray SP 167 194 138
45 5 Zack Wheeler SP 168 201 134
46 6 Mike Minor SP 157 206 157
47 6 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 188 196 150
48 6 Kyle Hendricks SP 161 198 179
49 6 Matthew Boyd SP 171 178 194
50 6 Caleb Smith SP 176 184 183
51 6 Domingo German SP 187 190 167
52 6 Sean Manaea SP 166 182 198
53 6 Marcus Stroman SP 169 227 169
54 6 Luke Weaver SP 179 223 174
55 6 Julio Urias SP/RP 184 187 210
56 6 Andrew Heaney SP 189 155 240
57 6 German Marquez SP 191 217 189
58 6 Mike Foltynewicz SP 210 243 175
59 7 Dustin May SP 221 211 212
60 7 Lance McCullers Jr. SP 213 208 251
61 7 Kenta Maeda SP/RP 235 234 206
62 7 Cole Hamels SP 229 277 170
63 7 Ryan Yarbrough SP 231 203 258
64 7 Jose Urquidy SP 211 246 264
65 7 Miles Mikolas SP 263 260 199
66 7 Jake Odorizzi SP 223 267 235
67 7 Brendan McKay SP 247 238 243
68 7 Dallas Keuchel SP 245 282 217
69 8 Seth Lugo SP/RP 254 241 296
70 8 Dylan Cease SP 240 #N/A 304
71 8 Dakota Hudson SP 297 #N/A 250
72 8 Griffin Canning SP 246 262 318
73 8 Michael Kopech SP 268 250 313
74 8 Joey Lucchesi SP 294 292 255
75 8 Mike Fiers SP 269 271 311
76 8 John Means SP 360 294 204
77 8 Jon Gray SP 282 #N/A 294
78 8 Joe Musgrove SP 327 #N/A 252
79 8 A.J. Puk SP 334 #N/A 249
80 8 Yonny Chirinos SP 367 284 227
81 9 Zach Plesac SP 293 297 298
82 9 Garrett Richards SP 298 299 #N/A
83 9 Jose Quintana SP 228 296 372
84 9 Steven Matz SP 258 264 376
85 9 Mitch Keller SP 283 291 324
86 9 Ross Stripling SP/RP 295 276 335
87 9 Chris Archer SP 276 279 353
88 9 Rich Hill SP 296 269 347
89 9 Anibal Sanchez SP 277 289 348
90 9 Diego Castillo RP/SP 308 #N/A #N/A
91 9 Reynaldo Lopez SP 312 #N/A 309
92 9 Nate Pearson SP 373 256 #N/A
93 10 Chad Green SP/RP 322 288 352
94 10 Homer Bailey SP 326 #N/A #N/A
95 10 Jon Lester SP 375 #N/A 281
96 10 Brent Honeywell Jr. SP #N/A #N/A 331
97 10 Adrian Houser SP 356 #N/A 308
98 10 Nathan Eovaldi SP/RP 447 #N/A 224
99 10 Pablo Lopez SP 355 #N/A 320
100 10 Sandy Alcantara SP 380 #N/A 305
101 10 Casey Mize SP 350 #N/A 340
102 10 MacKenzie Gore SP 392 #N/A 299
103 10 Jordan Lyles SP 390 #N/A 303
104 10 Jeff Samardzija SP 412 #N/A 286
105 10 Ian Anderson SP 353 #N/A #N/A
106 10 Anthony DeSclafani SP 389 #N/A 321
107 10 Wade Miley SP 381 #N/A 329
108 10 Johnny Cueto SP 357 #N/A #N/A
109 10 Forrest Whitley SP 358 #N/A #N/A
110 10 Tyler Mahle SP 362 #N/A #N/A
111 10 Merrill Kelly SP 370 #N/A 358
112 11 Cal Quantrill SP 371 #N/A #N/A
113 11 Alex Young SP 453 #N/A 289
114 11 Josh Lindblom SP 385 #N/A 364
115 11 Julio Teheran SP 384 #N/A 366
116 11 J.A. Happ SP 377 #N/A 375
117 11 Jordan Yamamoto SP 376 #N/A #N/A
118 11 Jakob Junis SP 383 #N/A #N/A
119 11 Matt Strahm RP/SP 428 #N/A 342
120 11 Aaron Civale SP 491 285 #N/A
121 11 Sixto Sanchez SP 391 #N/A #N/A
122 11 Michael Pineda SP 413 #N/A 370
123 11 Marco Gonzales SP 393 #N/A #N/A
124 11 Trevor Richards SP/RP 433 #N/A 360
125 11 Kyle Gibson SP 457 #N/A 337
126 11 Rick Porcello SP 399 #N/A #N/A
127 12 Alex Wood SP 401 #N/A #N/A
128 12 Freddy Peralta SP/RP 402 #N/A #N/A
129 12 Matt Manning SP 407 #N/A #N/A
130 12 Zach Eflin SP 490 #N/A 330
131 12 Deivi Garcia SP 410 #N/A #N/A
132 12 Drew Pomeranz SP/RP 415 #N/A #N/A
133 12 Randy Dobnak SP/RP 421 #N/A #N/A
134 12 Alex Reyes SP/RP 513 #N/A 336
135 12 Logan Webb SP 429 #N/A #N/A
136 12 Anthony Kay SP 430 #N/A #N/A
137 12 Tyler Beede SP 439 #N/A #N/A
138 12 Kolby Allard SP 441 #N/A #N/A
139 12 Brad Keller SP 444 #N/A #N/A
140 12 Brad Peacock RP/SP 445 #N/A #N/A
141 12 Adam Wainwright SP 452 #N/A #N/A
142 12 Chase Anderson SP 455 #N/A #N/A
143 12 Joe Ross SP 456 #N/A #N/A
144 12 Dylan Bundy SP 458 #N/A #N/A
145 13 Jose Urena SP 460 #N/A #N/A
146 13 Mike Montgomery SP/RP 463 #N/A #N/A
147 13 Jake Arrieta SP 464 #N/A #N/A
148 13 Drew Smyly SP 467 #N/A #N/A
149 13 Spencer Turnbull SP 471 #N/A #N/A
150 13 Collin McHugh SP/RP 473 #N/A #N/A
151 13 Andrew Cashner RP/SP 477 #N/A #N/A
152 13 Trevor Williams SP 478 #N/A #N/A
153 13 Chris Bassitt SP 481 #N/A #N/A
154 13 Vince Velasquez SP 483 #N/A #N/A
155 13 Michael Fulmer SP 484 #N/A #N/A
156 13 Jose Suarez SP 485 #N/A #N/A
157 13 Yusei Kikuchi SP 489 #N/A #N/A
158 13 Asher Wojciechowski SP/RP 495 #N/A #N/A
159 13 Martin Perez SP 499 #N/A #N/A
160 13 Eric Lauer SP 500 #N/A #N/A
161 13 Kevin Gausman SP 502 #N/A #N/A
162 13 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 503 #N/A #N/A
163 13 Tanner Roark SP 506 #N/A #N/A
164 13 Mike Leake SP 507 #N/A #N/A
165 13 Tony Gonsolin SP 508 #N/A #N/A
166 13 Taijuan Walker SP 510 #N/A #N/A
167 13 Elieser Hernandez SP/RP 515 #N/A #N/A
168 13 Gio Gonzalez SP 516 #N/A #N/A
169 13 Ivan Nova SP 517 #N/A #N/A
170 13 Zach Davies SP 519 #N/A #N/A

 

Tier Seven

I felt a lot more comfortable ranking Lance McCullers Jr. at #208 before (former) Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow intimated at the Winter Meeting that McCullers would likely be capped around 120 innings. The skills I can believe in but McCullers will have to be awful good to earn his current 192 ADP, currently priced as the #57 starter. Steamer projects him for a 25.6% K-rate, 1.29 WHIP, with a 3.78 ERA and those numbers might be playable at the 156 innings they're also projecting. However, only likely to get the aforementioned 120 innings, I just don't think I'll be finding my way to McCullers in too many drafts.

Perhaps it's never a good idea to trust any Dodgers starter besides Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler when it comes to staying in starting rotation all year but I somehow like Kenta Maeda's chances to do so in 2020. For one, he's already penciled in as the third starter according to RosterResource, with perennially injured Alex Wood and perennially the next-big-thing, Julio Urias, behind him. Maeda only had a 4.04 ERA over 152.2 innings in 2019 but that came with a more than serviceable 27.1 K-rate and a 1.01 WHIP. However, Maeda's biggest talent may be his ability to limit hard contact, as his 28.8% hard-hit rate was in the top-5% of baseball, according to Baseball Savant.

Are we all definitely sure that Cole Hamels is still good? The Atlanta Braves think so, giving Hamels $18 million to pitch in 2020 for them, but it looks like I don't, having given Hamels the lowest ranking out of we, the RotoBaller Three. Hamels had a 3.81 ERA in 2019, a year after posting a 3.78 ERA in 2017. Okay, that's not horrible, I guess? However, he posted a 4.55 SIERA along with the ERA, with a 1.39 WHIP that was the highest of his career, and it all came with Hamel's same-old 23% K-rate. Combining those lackluster numbers with a 40.5% Hard-hit rate, 7.6% Barrel-rate, and an 89.2 average exit-velocity (all career-highs), I'm not finding many reasons for wanting to roster Hamels, even at his current 258 ADP in NFBC leagues.

 

Tier Eight

One of my favorite pitchers in 2020 is obviously...Seth Lugo? Oh, you don't know about Seth Lugo? Well, maybe you should, because Lugo just pitched  101 innings for the second-straight year and finished with a 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and a 33.1% K-rate. What about those peripherals, you may ask? Lugo backed that 2.70 ERA with a 2.70 FIP, 3.24 xFIP, and a 2.78 SIERA, while his four-seamer went from a 10.9% SwStr% to a 13.5% SwStr% and his two-seamer went from 6.3% to 8.9%.

The fastballs kept the same shape and speed from previous years but it may have been the changes to his release points along with subtle changes to his curveball that really helped his other pitches take off. Lugo spun his hook with greater authority by adding 110 RPM, an extra inch of horizontal break, and almost three more inches of drop on the vertical plane, according to Baseball Savant.

The curveball was an even nastier put-away pitch for Lugo - going from a 25.7% K-rate on the pitch to a 32.9% K-rate - but the biggest effect it may have had was on his sinker. The vertical and horizontal release points on both pitches have changed since 2018 - and from the beginning of 2019 -  with the sinker's vertical location dropping, while raising up his curveball slightly.

The subtle changes led to two pitches that began tunneling in greater synchronicity and may have been the reason that his sinker went from a .288 batting average against and a 9.5% K-rate in 2018; to a .169 batting average and 31% K-rate in 2019, while also raising it's groundball rate 14-points, to 48.8%. For me, any saves that Lugo may get if Edwin Diaz blows up again, are pure gravy because I'm here for the 100 innings of 30% K-rates and a sub-1.oo WHIP.

It's easy to see that I'm not a big believer in Dylan Cease, as I'm the only one of us to rank him outside of our top-300. He ended the season strong, allowing just one run in each of his last three starts while striking out 17 in 14.1 innings, but had only two other starts in 2019 where he didn't give up at least three runs. The rookie's slider was certainly a bit of filth and had a 34.3 whiff-rate but the fastball was dirty. Not dirty, as in filthy; but dirty as in trashy, finishing with a .356 batting average against it, a .637 SLG, and a .454 wOBA. It may sit in the mid-'90s but until Cease can control it better and stop letting batters smash it so much, then the plus-slider isn't going to do him much good.

We're updating our overall ranking constantly here and Oakland's A.J. Puk is one player who has moved up dramatically for me since the end of the season. I currently have him sitting at #248 overall, as I've become more confident in his chances of starting, even though his innings will likely be managed, whether by spending time in the bullpen or being shut down prematurely. Roster Resource currently has him starting in the bullpen but ahead of him on the depth chart is a mess of pitchers with shaky performances and/or a long history of injuries, in Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt. Even if he doesn't start that much, the A's will make sure and get Puk the innings he needs for his development, one way or another. Much like Lugo before him, I think I'm going to get plenty of innings with a near 30% K-rate, with a 259 ADP in NFBC leagues that is more than palatable.

 

Tier Nine

Let's keep the theme going, shall we? I know that Ross Stripling isn't currently in the Dodger's rotation and he might not spend any time at all starting for Los Angeles in 2020, but I believe in Stripling the pitcher and believe the Dodgers do too. In other words, I think he's going to get his innings, regardless of role. The 25%+ K-rate and 3.50 ERA are nice but what I really like is the price, with Stripling currently carrying a 306 ADP in NFBC. That's a pretty low cost for a high-innings reliever who has above-average stats and a chance at starting for one of baseball's best teams.

I know I'm not alone in being unable to quit the constantly injured, Garrett Richards, who is apparently not currently injured and ended his 2019 on the mound for the San Diego Padres, with eight innings that weren't that impressive. However, the velocity was mostly back - averaging 95.2 mph - and Richards still had his nasty slider; a pitch that has a 19.3% SwStr% and a 46.3% K-rate in 2018. Richards will inevitably have a season-ending injury but with a 282 ADP, I'm willing to ride him until he does.

If Toronto had a spot open in their rotation, Nate Pearson would be a lot higher for me, after the right-hander spent 2019 dominating the minor leagues. Pearson is a 6-foot-6 flamethrower who sits in the high-90s, frequently reaches triple-digits, and can hit 104 mph, pairing his heater with a hard-biting, devastating slider that is thrown around 89-92 mph. He also features an average curveball that can be thrown for strikes and a changeup that's still a work in progress. However, after the offseason signings of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Shun Yamaguchi, there doesn't seem to be much room for Pearson to squeeze in. Roster Resource currently projects a rotation of Ryu, Chase Anderson, Tanner Roark, Matt Shoemaker, and Ryan Borucki; with Yamaguchi and Trent Thornton also possibilities. That isn't a group that has a long track record of health and/or success, however, so if Pearson continues to mow through the minors, expect the 23-year-old to make his debut sometime in 2020.

Tier 10 and Below

 

 

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