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2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Starting Pitchers

I've already revealed the 2020 Keeper Value Rankings for the hitters: First BaseSecond Base, Third Base, Shortstop, Catcher, and Outfield.  Now let's go to the rubber. Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values." In the marketing world, Value can be defined as the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants. The Keeper Values are derived from my Keeper Valuation Formula which accounts for age, player cost (ADP), remaining player pool, past performance, future projections, missed playing time, and even position scarcity.

The product is a quantitative depiction of a player's ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners' needs based on the cost they paid for the player in the previous season (2019 ADP) and will subsequently pay for in the current season's draft (2020). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player keeping him at their associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.

Whereas the main purpose of the Keeper Value Formula is for customization based on specific leagues and keeper costs, I create these yearly rankings with standard 12 team league data, 2019 ADP, and 23rd Round cost for UDFA just as a baseline to help managers get an idea of their options. Let's see which backstops are worth holding this year.

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JB's Keeper Value System

TIER SCORE DESCRIPTION
1 >100 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT at all costs.
2 75-99 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 50-74 You are gaining good value with these players. A majority of good keepers options tend to fall into this category.
4 25-49 Minimal value. The value exists, but not as much as your opponents are likely receiving with their selections. Consider if your options are limited.
5 0-24 Break-even point. Keeping these players will likely hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding enough value.
6 <0 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB to check out your specific league's values.

 

2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Starting Pitchers

POS Rank Keeper Tier Player ADP (Round) Score
1 2 Shane Bieber CLE 13 98.95
2 2 Gerrit Cole NYY 3 90.82
3 2 Lucas Giolito CWS 23 90.29
4 2 Chris Paddack SDP 20 86.52
5 2 Luis Castillo CIN 11 77.80
6 2 Jack Flaherty STL 5 75.83
7 3 Brandon Woodruff MIL 23 72.58
8 3 Mike Soroka ATL 23 72.53
9 3 Shohei Ohtani LAA 15 70.86
10 3 Tyler Glasnow TBR 14 66.89
11 3 Walker Buehler LAD 4 66.81
12 3 Frankie Montas OAK 23 64.64
13 3 Lance Lynn TEX 23 64.19
14 3 Sonny Gray CIN 23 62.68
15 3 Jesus Luzardo OAK 22 61.67
16 3 Yu Darvish CHC 12 60.95
17 3 Charlie Morton TBR 10 60.30
18 3 Dinelson Lamet SDP 23 59.77
19 3 Stephen Strasburg WAS 5 57.88
20 3 Zac Gallen ARI 23 57.87
21 3 Julio Urias LAD 23 56.95
22 3 Max Fried ATL 23 54.56
23 3 Justin Verlander HOU 2 53.38
24 4 Matthew Boyd DET 23 44.63
25 4 Hyun-Jin Ryu TOR 15 42.38
26 4 Mike Minor TEX 23 41.54
27 4 Lance McCullers HOU 23 40.21
28 4 Clayton Kershaw LAD 5 37.21
29 4 Luke Weaver ARI 23 36.73
30 4 Sean Manaea OAK 23 35.55
31 4 AJ Puk OAK 23 30.41
32 4 Eduardo Rodriguez BOS 13 29.59
33 4 Marcus Stroman NYM 23 28.29
34 4 Jake Odorizzi MIN 23 27.48
35 5 Jacob deGrom NYM 1 24.45
36 5 Caleb Smith MIA 23 23.25
37 5 Ryan Yarbrough TBR 23 20.39
38 5 Mike Clevinger CLE 5 19.16
39 5 Brendan McKay TBR 23 19.11
40 5 Mitch Keller PIT 23 17.84
41 5 Jose Urquidy HOU 23 16.48
42 5 Kenta Maeda MIN 15 14.07
43 5 Sandy Alcantara MIA 23 12.97
44 5 Patrick Corbin WAS 4 9.85
45 5 Carlos Martinez STL 16 7.82
46 5 Aaron Civale CLE 23 7.42
47 5 Dustin May LAD 23 7.41
48 5 Andrew Heaney LAA 16 1.76

 

Tier Two

No starting pitchers made it across that triple-digit elite-keeper tier one threshold in 2020, but to be fair it is pretty uncommon at the position that houses nearly 40% of fantasy players. There is no such thing as position scarcity at starting pitcher, but six studs still put up impressive tier two scores and Shane Bieber was only two points shy of 100. Biebs only has a little over a year and a half of big-league experience under his belt but he already has that workhorse vibe to him. He threw 214.1 innings last season which only trailed Justin Verlander, and 194 between the minors and majors in 2018. He was one of only nine arms to throw for over 200 innings with a double-digit K/9, and his 259 strikeouts were third-best in baseball. The peripherals, especially the amount of hard contact surrendered doesn't exactly reflect a top-10 SP, but not a single projection system has him pegged for less than 196 IP or 213 K. In this day and age that floor is hard to come by and the formula recognizes the value.

Gerrit Cole is a unanimous first-round pick after back to back dominant seasons with the Astros and now he joins yet another team loaded with run support. Keeping him anywhere outside the first round is a no-brainer. Lucas Giolito and Chris Paddack are two extremely exciting names heading into 2020 as both broke out last season. Chris Paddack won the job out of spring training but was handled with care as it was his first season over 100 IP. He finished with a 3.33 ERA and 153 K, and despite the innings limit was still a top-25 SP thanks mostly in part to his sparkling 0.98 WHIP. With the gloves presumably off in 2020, the sky is really the limit for the Sheriff.

Giolito took a bit longer than Paddack to blossom but he finally cashed in on that 2012 first-round draft-pick promise. After a putrid season in 2018 in which he owned a 6.49 K/9 and the MLB-worst 6.13 ERA over 173.1 IP, the 25-year-old ditched the sinker and upped the usage on his fastball which paid huge dividends in 2019. Now on the heels of a 228 K season with a lethal south-side offense, Giolito joins Cole and Bieber for the only starters with a keeper score over 90.

The last two arms in the heralded second-tier are National League youngsters that everyone should be high on for 2020. After a very impressive rookie campaign in 2017, I was all-in on Luis Castillo for 2018, which proved to be one year too early. But the good news for keeper league owners this season is that somewhat disappointing 2018 should have deflated his keeper cost in most leagues. Last season saw Castillo take a giant step forward and he finished top-15 among qualified starters in wins (15), K/9 (10.96), and xFIP (3.48). He relied heavily on his devastating change-up which easily led the league with a 27.7 wCH (Pitch Info), boasted a 26.6 SwStr%, and held opposing hitters to a .129 BAA. RotoBaller rankers expect more of the same in 2020 as they have him pegged as a borderline top-10 SP at #43 overall.

If you look 19 spots higher on our rankings, you'll find Jack Flaherty, who joins Cole as the only SP with a tier two keeper score despite a single-digit ADP. It's pretty hard to argue considering over his last 99.1 IP of 2019 he allowed a microscopic 0.91 ERA, 11.23 K/9, and held hitters to just a .189 wOBA. He was arguably the best pitcher in baseball after the All-Star break and carries a ton of well-deserved hype into 2020 drafts.

 

Tier Three

Remember in the explanation table up top, I said the majority of good keepers fall into the third tier. That definitely holds true among pitchers for 2020 as 16 arms slide in between the 50-74 point range. Our first tier-tres pitcher has been getting a lot of buzz this draft season despite not topping 121 IP in the last three seasons. Before an oblique injury slammed the brakes, Brandon Woodruff was having a very solid season in the Milwaukee rotation. He increased his K/9 to 10.58 thanks to an increase in velocity and usage of his change-up, while still posting the exact 3.36 xFIP that he saw in 2018. Among pitchers with at least 100 IP he surrendered the 16th highest soft hit percentage, and among those top-16 he also owned the lowest pulled hit percentage, so obviously he's very difficult to square up. This ability combined with a double-digit K/9 creates a very intriguing floor and if Woodruff can finally reach a full season's workload we could be surprised by the ceiling as well. Something to watch for in 2020 is his adjustments after the first trip through the batting order. Last season he saw his ERA increase from 1.85 to 5.05 the second time through the lineup.

Another late-round keeper that was well on his way to a 2019 breakout was Frankie Montas, but unlike Woodruff, it was not injury that brought it to a halt. After posting a 9-2 record with a 2.63 ERA in 96 IP, Montas received an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. It was truly heart-breaking for the lucky owners who either took a flyer on him late in their drafts or were the first ones to scoop him up off the waiver wire, because the breakout looked legit. He added a splitter to his arsenal that appeared to completely change his game, boasting a 21.3 SwStr% while holding opposing hitters to just a .160 BAA, and most importantly inducing a 62.6 GB%. I am very high on the Oakland Athletics as a team this year and I think Montas will be a large part of their success. While going light on SP in the early rounds per usual, Montas is always my target for SP1 or SP2. RotoBaller rankings have him at 116th overall, but if he can bounce right back to the level he was at prior to the suspension he would be a steal even at that price.

If I consider myself excited about Montas this season, I don't even know how to describe my feelings for Julio Urias as he is penciled in for a starting spot in the Dodgers rotation for the 2020 season. In 79.2 IP last year, Urias boasted a 2.49 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with a 9.6 K/9, albeit primarily out of the pen as a reliever. I don't need to convince anyone on the stuff, because we've all known for years now that this guy is a stud but was blocked by a crowded and talented Dodgers rotation. My favorite thing about the stats though is the ability to avoid the long ball. He owns a 0.68 HR/9 across 184 big league innings, and just a 30.9 Hard%. Since 2016 among pitchers with at least 180 IP, his 22.1 Soft% ranks 15th best and is sandwiched between Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. Obviously Urias won't reach 200 IP in 2020, but realistically I could see a similar workload to what Chris Paddack saw in 2019 when he pitched 140.2 innings.

 

Tier Four

The fourth tier still has some good names, but just remember your opponents may be stacking up their keeper selections with first and second-tier studs. So you don't want very many of these fourth-tier names unless your options are limited. The first guy on the docket is another of my favorite Zero-SP targets in the middle rounds. Usually, when you bypass the fantasy aces in the early rounds, strikeouts are the hardest stat to make up ground on. This is why Matthew Boyd is always a target of mine. He is currently drafted as the SP44, despite owning the sixth-highest K/9 among starters last season. Yes, there was the ugly 4.56 ERA, but he also boasted the 11th best SIERA. Boyd has looked fantastic this spring and even has been working on a filthy new curveball that should help lower that 1.89 HR/9 which paired with his heavy-strikeout profile could produce a massive breakout season for the left-hander.

If you missed out on Julio Urias and you want another per-IP stud that is being undervalued due to a likely innings cap, look no further than Lance McCullers. He is coming off a year-long recovery from TJS and has never pitched more than 130 IP in the majors, but we all know how filthy he is when healthy. Since 2015 among pitchers with at least 450 IP, LMC is one of only 10 to have a double-digit K/9 (10.10) and an xFIP under 3.40 (3.31). He's only thrown 4.2 innings this spring, but he's already whiffed six batters while only walking one. Again, he won't touch 200 IP but at his price, you can't beat the production.

In last year's bold predictions article, I predicted Eduardo Rodriguez would break out in 2019 and be a Top-15 SP. While he fell short of that threshold, he did have a great season and finished as the SP24. He put all the absurd injury-prone concerns to bed as he was one of 15 pitchers to reach 200 IP, and finished behind only Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole with 19 wins. It appears at this point, the walks will always be a bit of an issue with E-Rod which will likely be a WHIP liability for your fantasy team. Plan an extra RP ratio anchor into your plans and you'll be fine because E-Rod is once again primed for a step forward in 2020 after a torrid 2nd half last year. Across his last 100 IP in 2019 he owned a 2.95 ERA, .239 BAA, and a 25.4 K%. That fire has already spilled over into 2020 this spring, as he has struck out 20(!) batters in just 11 IP while only allowing two earned runs.

 

Tier Five

Now we've reached the point of really just not enough value gained to warrant a keeper selection based on production and where you can get the players in your draft after keeper selections. Unless you are just really high on a player, have an open keeper selection and don't want to risk losing him in the draft, you want to avoid this tier. But projections aren't always right and of course, there are still some potential values available on the list. Take Mike Clevinger for example. He ranked much higher on the list with his fifth-round cost prior to his meniscus injury. But now you look at the season being delayed due to the Coronavirus and now Clevinger being out until late May doesn't really seem that bad. You are talking about a second-round stud with first-round potential that may start at the same time as everyone else now. Obviously those are some "what-ifs" and its just one example, but it's just a way of illustrating that keeper values can increase/decrease very fluidly. Be smart, be creative, and whatever you do please don't just keep players based off of 2020 rankings!!!

More Dynasty Baseball Strategy




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Fantasy Football Injury Reports For NFL WRs: Week 4 Updates for Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, Keenan Allen, Chris Godwin

While we've become accustomed to the running back position dealing with injuries, so far this season, it's been the receivers who have been hit hard. In Week 3, fantasy managers had to deal with star second-year receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown leaving the contest multiple times to deal with a sprained ankle and his status for... Read More


Fantasy Football Injury Roundup For NFL RBs: Week 4 Updates for Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift, Joe Mixon, David Montgomery

Below you will find our fantasy football injuries roundup for running backs as of September 28th, coming out of the third week of NFL action. There have been new developments surrounding the injury statuses of various NFL running backs, including Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift, Joe Mixon, and David Montgomery. The fantasy football season may be... Read More


justin fields fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

You can officially start panicking. We're already through three weeks of the year, and by next Monday at this time, you'll be looking at the schedule to realize that a quarter of the season is already behind us. It sucks, but it means there are still three more quarters ahead of us! Yay! To gain... Read More


D.J. Moore - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 4

Week 3 of the NFL season is over and we're onto Week 4. It was a pretty wild week of NFL action this week, with some big surprises, including the Jaguars knocking off the Chargers in a blowout, and the Dolphins doing a butt punt but still winning. In this weekly column, we'll be looking... Read More


Garrett Wilson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups - icon rotoballer

Fantasy Football Trade Targets - Buy/Sell For Week 4

A wild Week 3 is behind us and fantasy rosters are starting to take shape. Nothing is certain yet, but it is becoming apparent if your team is a powerhouse or if you need to make some trades to get there. Before we get into Week 4’s trade targets, let’s recap the suggestions from last... Read More


Joey Bosa - IDP Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Defense Streamers

IDP Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 4

Another week is in the bag, and several more noteworthy injuries hit us. While we are keeping an eye on Joey Bosa’s injury and the fallout of Myles Garrett's car crash, it is simply too early to know the impact of either. What we can say is the injuries to Trent Williams and Rashawn Slater... Read More


Rashaad Penny - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The Cut List – Who to Drop for Week 4?

We've all heard the, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" statement, but no fantasy football roster is ever perfect. Fantasy managers should constantly be tinkering with the bottom of their roster. Don't be afraid of making moves and part of that is figuring out who is cuttable. All of these start/sit and who to... Read More


Amon-Ra St. Brown - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Early Week 4 Half-PPR Rankings for Fantasy Football: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, Khalil Herbert, Keenan Allen, Gabriel Davis

It's already Week 4, and there's a lot of injuries to work through, but as always we're here to help you set some winning lineups. Below you'll find our Week 4 fantasy football half-PPR rankings for fantasy football, as of September 27th. Our goal as always is to help you set those winning lineups, so... Read More


Week 4 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2022 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Before we dive into the rankings, I want to talk quickly about overreacting and process. We're still early enough in the fantasy football season that I want to caution people against overreacting to the final total fantasy points scored and advocate for sticking to our process, even if the results aren't 100% what we want... Read More


IDP Waiver Wire Feature Image

IDP Leagues Waiver Wire Pickups for Fantasy Football: Week 4 -- Jevon Holland, Eddie Jackson, and more

We’re three weeks into the season, and the Broncos are tied with Kansas City as the best team in the AFC West. The Jaguars are the best team in the South, the Browns, without Deshaun, are tied for the lead in the North, and the Dolphins defeated the Bills to take the undisputed lead in... Read More


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