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We are just days away from the regular season, so the crack staff at RotoBaller has updated their rankings one last time. We continue our review of the March update with a look at the starting pitcher ranks.

Aces are drawing early attention, while numerous values still remain toward the end of fantasy drafts. Whether you choose to strike early or wait to build depth, there are plenty of names to go through among starters.

Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything and it's all free!

Editor's Note: Stay on top of our MLB off-season news and fantasy analysis all year round. Read our daily fantasy columns about MLB prospects, dynasty outlooks, player outlooks and much more. It's always fantasy baseball season here. Let's Go!

 

2018 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Starting Pitcher (March)

Ranking Tier Player Name Pos Auction $
1 1 Clayton Kershaw SP 43
2 1 Max Scherzer SP 35
3 1 Chris Sale SP 34
4 1 Corey Kluber SP 34
5 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 30
6 2 Noah Syndergaard SP 29
7 2 Jacob deGrom SP 28
8 2 Luis Severino SP 27
9 2 Zack Greinke SP 26
10 2 Carlos Martinez SP 25
11 2 Yu Darvish SP 22
12 2 Justin Verlander SP 21
13 2 Carlos Carrasco SP 20
14 2 Robbie Ray SP 20
15 2 Chris Archer SP 19
16 3 Aaron Nola SP 18
17 3 James Paxton SP 18
18 3 Dallas Keuchel SP 17
19 3 Jake Arrieta SP 17
20 3 Jose Quintana SP 17
21 3 Masahiro Tanaka SP 16
22 3 Lance McCullers SP 16
23 3 Rich Hill SP 15
24 3 Gerrit Cole SP 15
25 3 Alex Wood SP 15
26 4 Shohei Ohtani SP/OF 15
27 4 David Price SP 14
28 4 Zack Godley SP 13
29 4 Jon Lester SP 13
30 4 Luis Castillo SP 13
31 4 Jose Berrios SP 12
32 4 Sonny Gray SP 12
33 4 Kyle Hendricks SP 11
34 4 Michael Fulmer SP 11
35 4 Luke Weaver SP 11
36 4 Johnny Cueto SP 10
37 5 Danny Duffy SP 10
38 5 Marcus Stroman SP 9
39 5 Jonathan Gray SP 9
40 5 Garrett Richards SP 7
41 5 Gio Gonzalez SP 7
42 5 Jameson Taillon SP 7
43 6 Madison Bumgarner SP 7
44 6 Jordan Montgomery SP 6
45 6 Charlie Morton SP 6
46 6 Jimmy Nelson SP 5
47 6 Drew Pomeranz SP 5
48 6 Trevor Bauer SP 5
49 6 Michael Clevinger SP 5
50 6 Dylan Bundy SP 5
51 6 Taijuan Walker SP 5
52 6 Kenta Maeda SP 4
53 6 Cole Hamels SP 4
54 6 Aaron Sanchez SP 4
55 6 Danny Salazar SP 4
56 6 Lance Lynn SP 4
57 7 Patrick Corbin SP 4
58 7 Tyler Chatwood SP 3
59 7 Kevin Gausman SP 3
60 7 Chase Anderson SP 3
61 7 Sean Manaea SP 2
62 7 Jake Odorizzi SP 2
63 7 Michael Wacha SP 2
64 7 Blake Snell SP 2
65 7 Jeff Samardzija SP 2
66 7 Julio Teheran SP 2
67 7 Rick Porcello SP 2
68 7 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 2
69 8 Ervin Santana SP 2
70 8 J.A. Happ SP 1
71 8 Alexander Reyes SP/RP 1
72 8 Jacob Faria SP 1
73 8 Felix Hernandez SP 1
74 8 Anthony DeSclafani SP 1
75 9 Tanner Roark SP 1
76 9 Alex Cobb SP 1
77 9 Zach Davies SP 1
78 9 Lucas Giolito SP 1
79 9 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 1
80 9 Steven Matz SP 1
81 9 Luiz Gohara SP 1
82 9 Vincent Velasquez SP 1
83 10 German Marquez SP 1
84 10 Miles Mikolas SP 1
85 10 Marco Estrada SP 1
86 10 Dinelson Lamet SP 1
87 10 Collin McHugh SP 1
88 10 Chris Devenski SP/RP 1
89 10 Reynaldo Lopez SP 1
90 10 Josh Hader SP 1
91 10 Ivan Nova SP 1
92 10 Joe Musgrove SP 1
93 10 Daniel Straily SP 1
94 10 Chris Stratton SP 1
95 10 Chad Kuhl SP 1
96 11 Carlos Rodon SP 1
97 11 Matt Shoemaker SP 1
98 11 Junior Guerra SP 1
99 11 Michael Foltynewicz SP 1
100 11 Jerad Eickhoff SP 1
101 11 Brandon Woodruff SP 1
102 11 Tyler Glasnow SP 1
103 11 CC Sabathia SP 1
104 11 John Lackey SP 1
105 11 Matt Harvey SP 1
106 11 Tyler Anderson SP 1
107 11 Jhoulys Chacin SP/RP 1
108 12 Adam Wainwright SP 1
109 12 Kyle Freeland SP 1
110 12 Ariel Miranda SP 1
111 12 Adam Conley SP 1
112 12 Mike Montgomery SP/RP 1
113 12 Ian Kennedy SP 1
114 12 Jake Junis SP/RP 1
115 12 Kendall Graveman SP 1
116 12 Matt Boyd SP 1
117 12 Robert Stephenson SP 1
118 12 Wei-Yin Chen SP 1
119 12 Jordan Zimmermann SP 1
120 12 Daniel Norris SP 1
121 12 Nate Karns SP 1
122 12 Sean Newcomb SP 1
123 13 Amir Garrett SP 1
124 13 Mike Fiers SP 1
125 13 Kyle Gibson SP 1
126 13 Matt Andriese SP 1
127 13 Zack Wheeler SP 1
128 13 Carson Fulmer SP 1
129 13 Doug Fister SP 1
130 13 Jaime Garcia SP 1
131 13 Shelby Miller SP 1
132 14 Tyson Ross SP 1
133 14 Andrew Triggs SP 1
134 14 Julio Urias SP 1
135 14 Miguel Gonzalez SP 1
136 14 Jason Hammel SP 1
137 14 Walker Buehler SP 1
138 14 Matt Moore SP 1
139 14 Josh Tomlin SP 1
140 14 Michael Kopech SP 1
141 14 Robert Gsellman SP 1
142 14 Trevor Cahill SP 1
143 14 Wade Miley SP 1
144 14 Homer Bailey SP 1
145 14 Tyler Skaggs SP 1
146 14 Mike Leake SP 1
147 14 Brandon Finnegan SP 1
148 14 Jason Vargas SP 1
149 14 A.J. Puk SP 1
150 14 Daniel Mengden SP 1

 

UPDATE: Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija rankings were updated on 3/24 based on injury estimates.

Tier 1

You already know about Clayton Kershaw's greatness and the dominance he brings when healthy. You may also be vaguely aware that Max Scherzer has won the NL Cy Young award in consecutive years, while Corey Kluber and Chris Sale finished 1-2 respectively in AL voting last season. If you don't want to pay up for one of these studs in the form of a first-round draft pick, you may miss out on all four. NFBC ADP data has them all being selected within the first 13 picks.

There is a premium on aces these days, as starters are pulled earlier, bullpens get stretched longer, and six-man rotations are becoming a trend. While there isn't necessarily a massive statistical drop-off from these elite names to the next tier of SP, there is a level of security and risk aversion that is making fantasy owners flock to the top crop of arms, so plan accordingly.

Tier 2

This group contains top-level starters that are talented enough to join the top tier, but each have minor warts in the form of injury concerns or lack of track record. First and foremost, Mets Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom come to mind. While Thor has officially won the battle for hair supremacy, they are each dominant at times and can offer a strikeout rate over 10 K/9. Syndergaard missed most of last season, yet should be ready for Opening Day, while deGrom is battling a stiff back and may not be.

Zack Greinke has already been ruled out from his Opening Day start and has alarmed some fantasy owners with his drop in velocity this spring. We heard similar concerns last preseason and things turned out just fine after he went 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 215 K. If his price drops significantly on draft day, he's still worth the risk.

Yu Darvish would seem to have all the ingredients for a run at ol' Cy's award after he found his way to Chicago. He's on a contending team in a pitcher-friendly environment. As long as he's not tipping pitches, he should post strong ratios again and turn out to be the best value among this group. Justin Verlander, taken around the same range as Darvish, carries a much higher risk for decline due to age and possible lack of motivation after finally securing a World Series ring.

Tier 3

Robbie Ray barely slips into the third tier, but could be considered as high as some of his counterparts near the end of tier two. He's always mentioned as a regression candidate, but the humidor can only help his cause. His walk rate isn't ideal, but a 1.15 WHIP is not going to hurt you whatsoever in roto leagues. His 3.49 xFIP was good for 14th among qualified starters last season. Don't fear the reaper.

Aaron Nola and James Paxton will each have to do something important if they are to deliver on their current 5th/6th round ADP--stay healthy. Nola managed 27 starts, but was uneven for stretches and hit the DL for a month mid-season. Paxton landed on the DL three times since being called up in 2016, so he becomes a high risk-reward pick.

New teammates Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel are both going in the 70s on average, which may be a bit optimistic for one and pessimistic for the other. Unless you're in a league that counts strikeouts more heavily, such as a 4x4 Ottoneu, Keuchel can provide superior ratios and win 15 or more games. Cole was dominant in 2015, but his ERA has risen each year since, despite playing in a favorable park that finished 20th in runs and 23rd in home runs for ballpark factor in 2017. It remains to be seen whether moving to the AL West will help or hurt Cole, but a new team might not be a boon to his fantasy numbers.

Tier 4

If you're looking for a Dodgers lefty with injury concerns, you're at the right place. Rich Hill was sharp throughout the season when he wasn't having blister issues. With all the time he's missed, it's easy to forget that he's 38 years old! Alex Wood has never reached the 200-inning mark, but he's also never posted an ERA above 4.00. If you roll with either, just make sure you have sufficient depth if when they hit the DL.

Young, upcoming pitchers like Jose Berrios and Luis Castillo could be flashes in the pan, but it's not likely. Each came into the league as a vaunted prospect and didn't take long to produce. Berrios has the slightly longer track record and more favorable environment, but Castillo's ceiling is higher in the K department. At this point, it might behoove you to seek a potential league-winner rather who could outperform expectations rather than a regression candidate, so don't be afraid to make either of these youngsters your SP3.

Tier 5

As the lowest of our expert rankers on Sonny Gray, I likely won't have any shares this year, but that doesn't mean he can't be a good value. He proved that the move to Yankee Stadium wouldn't hurt too much and the potential for wins jumps exponentially. If he keeps his ground ball rate near 53% as he's done the last three seasons, he can provide solid ratios with a good-enough K rate.

Talk about deviation--one of our rankers has Michael Fulmer as a top-100 overall player (88) while another barely has him inside the top 200 (192). I'm squarely in the middle, as I believe he is a quality pitcher and appears to be ready to go for 2018, but the lack of Ks and Wins can't put him any higher than tier five.

Jon Gray keeps getting overlooked and it's all about the Coors effect. Never mind that his ERA was almost a full run LOWER at home last season. I've been preaching about him for two years now and won't stop picking him up every chance I can.

On the flip side, I'm not buying a comeback from Johnny Cueto until I see it. He's had some big swings in value from season-to-season, but he's not young enough that I can confidently say I trust him. He's developing a HR problem and saw his hard hit rate jump to 35% last year. Lean towards youth instead.

Tier 6

Garrett Richard has gotten a lot of people excited in fantasy baseball circles. Our own Rick Lucks went so far as to predict an AL Cy Young award this year in his Bold Predictions article. His numbers from the last two years can be mostly ignored, unless you're a fan of reading into small sample sizes in injury-riddled seasons. Sure, he posted a tidy 2.28 ERA in his six starts, but that came with a .233 BABIP and 4.8% HR/FB that are both unsustainable. If the price is right, I'll buy, but I find it hard to reach for a guy that is a longshot to reach 200 innings even without a recurrence of injury.

Gio Gonzalez gets no love, despite playing for one of the best teams in the National League and posting a sub-3.00 ERA with 15 wins. A high strand rate and slight dip in velocity are both checks against him though. I don't advise taking him over players like Jameson Taillon or Trevor Bauer, but he's a relatively safe pick in the middle portion of drafts.

Tier 7

I'll just come out and admit that I love Dinelson Lamet in this range. As a rookie, he induced an 11.8% SwStr% and struck out 28.7% of batters faced. Walks will always be a concern, but he toned those down considerably in his last few starts and as a fly ball pitcher, he has a forgiving ballpark.

The light may have come on for Chase Anderson, as he flat-out dominated in the second half last season. At an ADP of 169, it's definitely worth finding out if he's for real.

If you're looking for starters to slot in at RP because you've decided to punt saves, Michael Clevinger and Alex Reyes are good bets. Clevinger's 10.13 K/9 placed him 17th among all pitchers with 100 innings or more last year. He's got a rotation spot locked down, so he should provide nice volume for fantasy owners. Reyes may start the year in the bullpen, but could be moved to the rotation in the second half if he proves all the way back from Tommy John surgery.

Tiers 8 and lower

At this stage, you should be chasing upside or trying to help out in a specific category. Ratio help could come in the form of Lucas Giolito, Marco Estrada, or Miles Mikolas. Young flamethrowers who can help in the strikeout department (at risk of those ratios) include Vincent Velasquez, Tyler Glasnow, and Sean Newcomb. If you have extra DL spots and want to stash someone for the second half, consider taking Jimmy Nelson, Ervin Santana, or Julio Urias at a discount. Finally, if you just want a safe, reliable innings-eater that can maintain the status quo and buffer some of your risky starters taken earlier on, there's always JA Happ, Tyler Chatwood, Alex Cobb, and CC Sabathia.

 

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