One of the last three dynasty rankings articles in the regular season, this article will be focusing on starting pitchers from the National League. One thing you all will probably notice is that there is more depth here than in the American League. There are also many more of these arms that have already reached the big leagues than in the American League. As usual though, if they would qualify as rookies in 2017, they can be on this list.
A quick note on how these articles are formatted. They are going to be sorted by who I think is the best option for dynasty owners based on a combination of estimated time of arrival and potential upside. I will include their stats from their current level, their age, their ETA and lastly a talent grade. The talent grade will be an all-encompassing grade designed to inform dynasty owners of how big of a fantasy impact a player will realistically have. It will take into account how long it takes to reach the big leagues and will be on a scale of 1-10.
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National League Starting Pitcher Dynasty Rankings
1. Lucas Giolito (WAS, AAA)
Stats: 29.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 10.74 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, 0.92 HR/9
Was there ever any doubt as to who would be the top name on this list? The top pitching prospect in all of baseball by near unanimous decision, Giolito has everything that scouts look for in a future MLB ace. He has an electric fastball that can reach the upper-90s and the best curveball from any pitcher in the minors. And while scouts aren’t totally sold on his changeup, most agree that it is an effective enough third pitch to allow him to reach his upside.
Giolito’s command can be a bit shaky at times, but with his stuff he can afford to make a few mistakes. Fantasy owners have to be extremely excited at the prospect of owning Giolito as most believe he is going to be a true ace by every sense of the word. If he is not already owned and stashed in your dynasty league, it is time to correct that mistake.
Talent grade: 10
2. Tyler Glasnow (PIT, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 105.0 IP, 1.89 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 10.71 K/9, 4.97 BB/9, 0.34 HR/9
Though not as highly touted as the aforementioned Giolito, Glasnow still comes with a very bright future. He stands extremely tall on the mound and gets great downhill action on his upper-90s fastball. The 6’8” right-hander adds in a sharp breaking ball that stands out as his top secondary pitch. Pirates’ management showed reluctance in promoting him earlier this season because they had questions about his control and his changeup, but scouts believe he will be able to improve the changeup.
Control, on the other hand, is another issue entirely as some believe he could take a long time to develop even slightly above-average command. But with the league’s best pitching coach and a great manager, Glasnow could be quicker to iron out his issues than most initially projected. With immense strikeout upside and a near-guaranteed rotation spot moving forward, Glasnow deserves to be owned already in all keeper leagues.
Talent grade: 9.5
3. Alex Reyes (STL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 65.1 IP, 4.96 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 12.81 K/9, 4.41 BB/9, 0.83 HR/9
The second consecutive guy on the list to have serious ace upside with serious control issues, Reyes comes with almost the exact same profile as Glasnow. The main difference being Glasnow is five inches taller. Like Glasnow, Reyes features an electric fastball that has been recorded in triple-digits and an upper-70s curveball. He also throws a changeup that sits in the upper-80s, but he still needs to improve on that pitch for it to be a true weapon.
My biggest concern with Reyes is that given his smaller size and notable command issues, he may eventually be shifted to the bullpen. His stuff is as good as it gets, but he doesn’t have the size of Glasnow and has never posted a season with a walk rate below four batters per nine innings (Glasnow has at least done it once at Double-A). But odds are the Cardinals will straighten him out and get him to fit into a rotation spot. This makes him worth a look in all dynasty leagues, especially when considering that he is already starting at the big league level.
Talent grade: 9.5
4. Jose De Leon (LAD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 86.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 11.57 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9
Though far from the most exciting prospect on this list, De Leon has always gone out there and done everything in his power to prove that he has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation arm for Los Angeles. Among the pitchers in the top five of this list, there is little doubt that De Leon has the best command. And his repertoire is not half bad either. He throws a low-mid-90s fastball and one of the more advanced right-handed changeups in the minors. His slider is a work in progress, but it is at least an effective enough pitch to keep hitters off balance.
There are few pitchers I like in the minors more than De Leon and it is because he is such a low risk / high reward pitcher. At the worst, it appears he will be a number three starter and at best he could put up fringe ace type numbers. He has shown strikeout potential and an ability to keep the walks down. I would say that is a pretty nice recipe for success. And with him knocking on the door to the big leagues, he should be a very nice stash in both 2016 redraft leagues as well as all dynasty leagues.
Talent grade: 9
5. Josh Hader (MIL, AAA)
Stats: 66.0 IP, 5.18 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 11.32 K/9, 4.36 BB/9, 0.55 HR/9
Yes, I get it. Hader has not been very good at Triple-A and he does not have the same upside as the guy following him on this list. But let’s not sell Hader too short as he has done some tremendous things in the minors. Since the start of his professional career, he has one season (minimum of 70 innings) where he struck out fewer than nine batters per nine innings. That all stems from his impressive repertoire of a mid-90s fastball and plus slider from the left side. His changeup is a below average pitch right now and is unlikely to become much more than that, but scouts are confident he can survive with the fastball and slider primarily.
He has flashed shaky control at times and some believe he cannot stay in the rotation and will wind up in the bullpen, but he has done quite well as a starter this season and will probably open in the starting five next season in Milwaukee. At this point, fantasy owners have to be extremely excited about an opportunity to get a guy with his high strikeout potential starting every five days in 2017.
Talent grade: 9
6. Anderson Espinoza (SD, A)
Stats: 32.1 IP, 4.73 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 7.79 K/9, 2.23 BB/9, 0.28 HR/9
When Boston gave up Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox fans everywhere were throwing fits and Padres fans were throwing parties. Espinoza is one of the younger players on this list, but he comes with some insane upside. At age 17, he was already touching triple-digits with his fastball leaving many to believe it will be an upper-90s pitch for many years to come, particularly as he starts to fill out his 6’0”, 160 pound frame. He adds in a lethal curveball which many scouts will be among the game’s best when he is fully developed and a changeup that has the potential to be at least an average pitch for him. When you remember that he has excellent control over all of these pitchers, you start to realize why Red Sox fans were so bummed out.
Espinoza has a long way to go and fantasy owners should not get overly caught up in the Pedro Martinez comparisons for him as those are extremely high comps that are a bit premature. But if dynasty owners can display some patience, the payoff could be tremendous with Espinoza potentially becoming one of the game’s elite in a couple seasons.
Talent grade: 8.5
7. Amir Garrett (CIN, AAA)
Stats: 62.1 IP, 3.32 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 6.93 K/9, 4.33 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9
Garrett has not been too sharp at Triple-A this season, but that should not scare away potential dynasty owners too much as he flashed true ace potential at Double-A. The former two sport athlete has recently devoted all his time to baseball and it has shown in how much progress he has made since being taken in the 22nd round back in 2011. His mid-90s fastball has proven to be his primary offering with an inconsistent slider and changeup backing him up. And though scouts have almost universally used the term ‘inconsistent’ in reference to his slider, they still believe it is a good enough pitch to get batters out at the big league level. And with clearly improved command over the past couple seasons, Garrett is now starting to lower the risk associated with owning him and may soon be ready to start at the big league level. Look for him to compete for a spot in Cincinnati’s rotation next season with a very high chance of making it. And with his upside of a future number two starter, Garrett warrants owning in most dynasty leagues.
Talent grade: 8.5
8. Jake Thompson (PHI, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 129.2 IP, 2.0 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 6.04 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9
Nothing has been more surprising to me than to see Thompson struggle in the big leagues. He has encountered issues with walking batters (nearly five per nine innings) despite command being really the hallmark of his game throughout his Minor League career. But in spite of his issues, Thompson still looks like a very safe bet to reach his upside. Thompson has a heavy sinking fastball and two above-average breaking pitches (curveball and slider) with his slider looking like a dominant big league pitch. His changeup is decent, but he still could improve on it a bit more. The two aspects to Thompson’s game that are what have the Phillies excited are his stellar command which is among the best in the minors and his track-record as an innings-eating bulldog. Dynasty owners should not be expecting him to turn into the next Lucas Giolito or anything, but they can count on 200 innings of solid 3.40 ERA ball every season and that is something most every dynasty owner will certainly take.
Talent grade: 8.5
9. Luis Ortiz (MIL, AA)
Stats: 21.1 IP, 0.42 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 5.48 K/9, 3.80 BB/9, 0.42 HR/9
The second Brewers’ pitching prospect on this list and the third acquired from a western team (Hader from Houston and Bickford from San Francisco), Ortiz is sort of a puzzling prospect because he has never really posted the strikeout numbers one would expect from a guy with his stuff. He has a mid-90s fastball, wipeout low-80s slider and an above-average changeup that have had scouts clamoring about his future. To top it all off, he has sharp control of all three pitches despite a funky delivery. Given his track record of excellent stuff and sharp command, he seems like a virtual lock to become a future number three starter. But if he can start missing bats the way most expect him to, he could become a future number two starter.
Talent grade: 8
10. Sean Newcomb (ATL, AA)
Stats: 133.0 IP, 4.06 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 9.74 K/9, 4.47 BB/9, 0.27 HR/9
So here we have Newcomb, a high risk / high reward guy who has received comparisons to Jon Lester. Need I say more? Imposing on the mound at 6’5”, 255 pounds, Newcomb has long been viewed as a potential ace in the big leagues, especially when you factor in the stuff he possesses. He has a mid-90s fastball that can reach 100 with an excellent left-handed curveball. And though scouts aren’t entirely sold on his changeup, it is at least semi-effective at keeping right-handed hitters off balance. What has scouts a little bit nervous is his shaky command which has seen him average a walk every two innings. If he can cut down on the free passes, Newcomb could be an absolutely elite starting pitcher for dynasty owners and Atlanta. If he does not, he could still be a well above-average strikeout pitcher, but he will be wildly inconsistent from start to start. As is, dynasty owners in most leagues where Minor Leaguers are kept should be willing to stash him based solely on his insane upside.
Talent grade: 8
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