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Top 101 Starting Pitchers: Rest-Of-Season Rankings for Fantasy Baseball (Week 9)

Zack Wheeler - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB News, DFS Picks, Betting

Late May is here as we get ready for those hot summer months with the next edition of my weekly Top 101 Starting Pitcher Baller Ranks breakdown. This is about where I feel comfortable taking some harder stances on preconceived notions, so let's jump into another edition of my weekly Starting Pitcher Baller Ranks!

Please mind the tiers more than the individual ranking. I usually focus on some lower names who are surging but I wanted to hit more of the big names this time around. Can't stay in the same groove each time!

These ranks are geared toward traditional 5x5 leagues and I try to present key injured pitchers where I have them for the rest of the season. We're about 33% of the way done with the 2023 fantasy baseball season so let's get right to it.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Starting Pitcher Rankings Analysis

-Corbin Burnes rebuilt confidence after two clunkers kicked off his 2023 campaign, posting a 2.13 ERA with four wins and nearly a strikeout per inning over seven starts. He’d only surrendered four barrels in that span, only to serve up four barrels in Monday’s start against Houston. Everyone gets an off-night pass, but Burnes is failing to miss bats, issuing more walks, and yielding louder batted balls.

The right-hander hasn’t given up hard contact like this since 2019, before the 2020 breakout. His pitch velocities are down a tick, with the cutter at 94 mph instead of 95. Said cutter had a stellar -21 Run Value per Statcast in both 2021 and 2022. Through nearly one-third of ‘23, it is only at -1.

His most-used pitch has gone from a strong backbone to an average offering, with its strikeout rate falling from 24.6% to 10.9% and overall PutAway rate dropping 10 percentage points. His curveball, changeup, and slider are all doing fine, with little movement from their rates in ‘22. But secondaries can only compensate for so much, as illustrated by Burnes’ swinging-strike rate falling from 15.1% in ‘22 to 11.8%.

Burnes’ sinker, which he only throws 8.8% of the time, has also been brutalized in a small sample. He threw it at a 6.7% clip last year, producing a .250 batting average against (.187 xBA, 37% hard-hit rate). Batters are currently hitting .389 (.325 xBA) with a .722 slugging percentage and a 60% hard-hit rate! Statcast has its rate of being thrown in the strike zone at a career-high 46%, way up from last year’s 28%. Start burying that thing, Corbin!

-Zack Wheeler has folks jittery after sustaining his third loss in four starts on Monday. The season-low three strikeouts are icing on the panic cupcake. It was his worst form of the season, but his velocity looked okay and he leaned on his slider nearly 30% of the time, a high watermark for the year. This may indicate a lack of trust in his usual repertoire.

Regardless, Monday’s 7.12 FIP is by far his worst sabermetric showing of 2023. Remember when he gave up four earned runs on May 16 and May 5? His actual FIP values from those outings were 1.12 and 1.97, respectively. His overall 2.90 FIP is nearly identical to last year’s tally, except he’s got a 4.11 ERA instead of the 2.82 ERA from 2022.

Now, FIP is only one metric and I will point out his SIERA is up from 3.19 to 3.61 and the xFIP rose from 3.06 to 3.64. Statcast has his xBA up to .246 (.226 in ‘22) but his xSLG and overall hard-hit rates haven’t risen. His 2.9% Barrel/Plate Appearance rate is pristine. Out of all pitchers with at least 100 batted-ball events, Wheeler is one of six with a mark below 3%. Breathe if you have him, and maybe float a trade offer if you don’t.

-Cristian Javier only had 19 strikeouts with a 3.68 ERA over his first 22 innings, which isn’t what we’d hoped for on draft day. However, his next six starts have been wonderful, with a 2.70 ERA/0.85 WHIP and 45 punchouts in 36 ⅔ IP. That’s the form we want to see!

-Joe Ryan has been better than you think. The 26-year-old has ramped up the whiffs, going from a 25% strikeout rate to 30.4%, while halving his walk rate. Many pitchers find that result by relentlessly, and sometimes recklessly, attacking the zone. That can show with a bunch of barreled balls next to the whiffs and plus command. I'm probably too low here.

But Ryan is the only pitcher with at least 20 innings pitched in the last 30 days to allow under two barrels. The overall picture is impressive, and he may not even be the best pitcher on the team right now! Sonny Gray’s MLB-leading 1.64 ERA is surely helping many of you too!

-Joe Musgrove sports an ugly 6.75 ERA/1.58 WHIP and the horrid 5.83 FIP behind it isn’t encouraging. The current 14.3% K-BB rate would be a career-worst, as would the 43.4% fly-ball rate that’s never been above 36.2% in any of his seven previous seasons.

That’s led to six home runs in five starts, none of which have gone a full six innings. It’s understandable to shake off some rust after a toe fracture suffered in late February, but he’s also been unlucky. Out of nearly 300 pitchers with 50 balls in play, Musgrove has the 12th-biggest gap in his xwOBA and wOBA at 0.055.

That sentence is a math-mushed mouthful, but the point is that the expected result of his quality of contact allowed, mixed with strikeouts and walks, shouldn’t be this bad.

-Jesus Luzardo is tied with Kyle Muller for the most barrels surrendered (15) in the last 30 days entering Tuesday. The southpaw had only given up four of them in his first four starts combined, but the early hard-hit balls found some lift of late. His 12% Barrels per Batted-Ball Event is tied for the 13th-worst out of that 123-pitcher group (min. 100 BBEs).

It’s notable his .340 BABIP is well above his career mark of .298 even though his 47% fly-ball rate is nearly 10 percentage points above his career level. More flies should equal fewer hits, even if the homers trickle in, which don’t inflate BABIP anyhow. But the aforementioned barrels are simply doing too much damage. Rein it in, Luzardo.

-Michael Wacha is a top-five arm over the last month per Yahoo’s traditional 5x5 scoring. The 1.20 ERA/0.77 WHIP has led to three wins in that window as I continue to wonder how he lasted on the free-agent market for so long. There’s almost always good luck involved in such a run (.184 BABIP, just one home run against) but a measly eight walks over 30 frames will help!

His season-high 11 strikeouts across seven innings of one-hit ball on May 15 against KC is the highlight. But he also had that 10-strikeout day with just two hits scattered over six against the Braves on April 8. The highs have been notable but outside of those two efforts, he’s failed to top five strikeouts in any of his other seven outings.

But he gets away with lesser whiffs and more contact thanks to the fifth-lowest hard-hit rate in the league (min. 100 BBE) at 30.8%. I’d rather bank on a track record of strikeouts versus that of a guy mitigating hard contact but don’t go thinking Wacha’s run is all smoke and mirrors.


Top 101 Starting Pitchers for Fantasy Baseball - Week 9

Tier Name Rank $Value
1 Spencer Strider 1 $43.0
1 Shohei Ohtani 2 $42.0
1 Gerrit Cole 3 $41.0
1 Shane McClanahan 4 $41.0
2 Zac Gallen 5 $41.0
2 Corbin Burnes 6 $39.0
2 Luis Castillo 7 $38.0
2 Zack Wheeler 8 $37.0
2 Kevin Gausman 9 $36.5
2 Clayton Kershaw 10 $36.0
2 Justin Verlander 11 $34.0
2 Cristian Javier 12 $34.0
2 Framber Valdez 13 $31.5
2 Yu Darvish 15 $31.0
2 Joe Ryan 16 $31.0
2 Aaron Nola 17 $29.5
2 Sandy Alcantara 14 $28.5
3 Jacob deGrom 18 $28.5
3 Julio Urias 19 $27.0
3 Max Scherzer 20 $26.0
3 Sonny Gray 21 $25.0
3 Chris Sale 22 $24.0
3 Nathan Eovaldi 23 $23.5
4 Logan Webb 24 $23.0
4 George Kirby 25 $22.0
4 Joe Musgrove 26 $20.5
4 Shane Bieber 27 $20.0
4 Pablo Lopez 28 $20.0
4 Nestor Cortes Jr. 29 $20.0
4 Logan Gilbert 31 $19.0
4 Chris Bassitt 32 $19.0
4 Luis Severino 33 $18.0
4 Tyler Glasnow 34 $17.0
4 Hunter Brown 35 $17.0
5 Dylan Cease 30 $17.0
5 Freddy Peralta 36 $17.0
5 Jordan Montgomery 37 $16.5
5 Andrew Heaney 38 $16.0
5 Bryce Miller 39 $15.5
5 Mitch Keller 40 $15.0
5 Hunter Greene 41 $15.0
5 Eduardo Rodriguez 42 $14.5
5 Triston McKenzie 43 $14.5
6 Jesus Luzardo 44 $14.0
6 Charlie Morton 45 $13.5
6 Justin Steele 46 $13.5
6 Jon Gray 47 $13.5
6 Zach Eflin 48 $13.0
6 Tanner Bibee 49 $12.0
6 Brandon Woodruff 50 $11.0
6 Carlos Rodon 51 $10.5
6 Alex Cobb 52 $10.5
6 Lucas Giolito 53 $10.0
6 Marcus Stroman 54 $10.0
6 Lance Lynn 55 $10.0
6 Eury Perez 56 $10.0
6 Reid Detmers 57 $9.5
6 Logan Allen 58 $9.0
6 Kodai Senga 59 $8.5
7 Blake Snell 60 $8.0
7 Bailey Ober 61 $8.0
7 Bryce Elder 62 $8.0
7 Tony Gonsolin 63 $8.0
7 Merrill Kelly 64 $7.0
8 Patrick Sandoval 65 $6.0
8 Grayson Rodriguez 66 $6.0
8 Jose Berrios 67 $6.0
8 Tyler Wells 68 $5.5
8 Louie Varland 69 $5.0
8 Matt Strahm 70 $5.0
8 Bobby Miller 71 $4.5
8 Drew Smyly 72 $4.5
8 Josiah Gray 73 $4.5
8 Jack Flaherty 74 $4.5
8 Graham Ashcraft 75 $4.0
8 Edward Cabrera 76 $4.0
9 J.P. France 77 $4.0
9 Anthony DeSclafani 78 $4.0
9 Jameson Taillon 79 $3.5
9 Michael Wacha 80 $3.5
9 MacKenzie Gore 81 $3.0
9 Domingo German 82 $3.0
9 James Paxton 83 $2.5
9 Gavin Stone 84 $2.5
9 Nick Lodolo 85 $2.0
9 Taj Bradley 86 $2.0
9 Michael Kopech 87 $2.0
9 Johan Oviedo 88 $2.0
9 Braxton Garrett 89 $2.0
9 Kyle Bradish 90 $1.5
10 Alek Manoah 91 $1.5
10 Tanner Houck 92 $1.5
10 Brandon Pfaadt 93 $1.5
10 Max Fried 94 $1.0
10 Martin Perez 95 $1.0
10 Dane Dunning 96 $1.0
10 JP Sears 97 $1.0
10 Brady Singer 98 $1.0
10 Brayan Bello 99 $1.0
10 Luis Ortiz 100 $1.0
10 Taijuan Walker 101 $1.0

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