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Updated Starting Pitcher Rankings (May) - 2018 Fantasy Baseball

We are a quarter of the way through the regular season for Major League Baseball, so our crack staff at RotoBaller has updated our rest-of-season fantasy baseball rankings. We kick things off with a look at the starting pitcher ranks.

Aces are more scarce than ever, with the injury bug taking a chunk out of elite starters like Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, and even Clayton Kershaw early in the season. If you plan to remain competitive in your league, it's crucial to survey the current landscape to see how things have changed since your draft took place.

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: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


2018 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Starting Pitcher (May)

Ranking Tier Player Position
7 1 Max Scherzer SP
11 2 Chris Sale SP
14 2 Corey Kluber SP
18 2 Clayton Kershaw SP
23 2 Noah Syndergaard SP
26 3 Stephen Strasburg SP
28 3 Luis Severino SP
34 3 Jacob deGrom SP
36 4 Justin Verlander SP
37 4 Gerrit Cole SP
38 4 Carlos Carrasco SP
43 4 Zack Greinke SP
51 5 Carlos Martinez SP
53 5 Aaron Nola SP
56 5 James Paxton SP
64 6 Madison Bumgarner SP
68 6 Yu Darvish SP
75 7 Chris Archer SP
78 7 Lance McCullers SP
80 7 Jose Quintana SP
82 7 Shohei Ohtani SP/OF
84 7 Dallas Keuchel SP
85 7 Charlie Morton SP
87 7 Jose Berrios SP
91 7 Masahiro Tanaka SP
94 7 Robbie Ray SP
97 7 Patrick Corbin SP
102 8 Kyle Hendricks SP
103 8 Trevor Bauer SP
107 8 Alex Wood SP
108 8 Luis Castillo SP
114 9 Jake Arrieta SP
126 9 Jameson Taillon SP
133 10 Zack Godley SP
134 10 Sean Manaea SP
138 10 Blake Snell SP
140 10 David Price SP
144 10 Sean Newcomb SP
146 10 Luke Weaver SP
154 10 Miles Mikolas SP
155 10 Rick Porcello SP
159 11 Jon Lester SP
167 11 Jonathan Gray SP
170 11 Kenta Maeda SP
175 11 Michael Clevinger SP
177 11 Dylan Bundy SP
178 11 Josh Hader SP
180 11 Garrett Richards SP
182 11 J.A. Happ SP
183 11 Gio Gonzalez SP
190 11 Julio Teheran SP
191 11 Trevor Cahill SP
195 12 Michael Fulmer SP
202 12 Sonny Gray SP
206 12 Rich Hill SP
213 12 Nick Pivetta SP
215 13 Tyson Ross SP
217 13 Chase Anderson SP
219 13 Walker Buehler SP
225 13 Cole Hamels SP
232 13 Andrew Heaney SP
233 13 Kevin Gausman SP
245 13 Michael Wacha SP
250 13 Jack Flaherty SP
252 14 Jake Junis SP
254 14 Bud Norris SP
259 14 Danny Duffy SP
260 14 Eduardo Rodriguez SP
264 14 Tyler Skaggs SP
274 15 Tyler Chatwood SP
276 15 Reynaldo Lopez SP
280 15 Drew Pomeranz SP
281 15 Michael Foltynewicz SP
285 15 Tanner Roark SP
286 15 Marcus Stroman SP
289 15 Joey Lucchesi SP
293 16 Jacob Faria SP
294 16 Tyler Anderson SP
295 16 Vincent Velasquez SP
297 16 Fernando Romero SP
299 16 Luiz Gohara SP
303 16 Kyle Freeland SP
305 16 Kyle Gibson SP
311 16 Johnny Cueto SP
315 16 Lance Lynn SP
317 16 Jimmy Nelson SP
318 16 Ervin Santana SP
321 17 Aaron Sanchez SP
322 17 Nathan Karns SP
324 17 Trevor Williams SP
329 17 Jordan Montgomery SP
331 17 Jeff Samardzija SP
332 17 Mike Soroka SP
333 17 CC Sabathia SP
334 17 Bartolo Colon SP
335 17 Andrew Triggs SP
338 17 Matt Boyd SP
341 17 Brandon McCarthy SP
347 17 Ian Kennedy SP
348 17 Lucas Giolito SP
350 17 Alex Cobb SP
351 17 Mike Leake SP
354 17 Daniel Mengden SP
360 17 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP
361 17 Mike Minor SP
362 17 Jake Odorizzi SP
369 18 Zach Davies SP
375 18 Marco Gonzales SP
379 18 Nicholas Kingham SP
380 18 Jeremy Hellickson SP
383 18 Steven Matz SP
385 18 Tyler Glasnow SP
387 18 Ivan Nova SP
392 18 Felix Hernandez SP
395 18 Zack Wheeler SP
399 19 Junior Guerra SP
404 19 Tyler Mahle SP
405 19 Marco Estrada SP
406 19 German Marquez SP
409 19 Francisco Liriano SP
411 19 Jhoulys Chacin SP
415 19 Daniel Straily SP
433 19 Joe Musgrove SP
443 19 Yonny Chirinos SP
467 20 Chris Stratton SP
473 20 Carson Fulmer SP
474 20 Matt Harvey SP
481 20 Chad Kuhl SP
489 20 Jarlin Garcia SP
490 20 Matt Shoemaker SP
493 20 Collin McHugh SP
494 20 Carlos Rodon SP
495 20 Danny Salazar SP
501 20 James Shields SP
503 20 Amir Garrett SP
504 20 Joe Biagini SP
506 20 Mike Fiers SP
507 20 Jordan Zimmermann SP
508 20 Brandon Woodruff SP
510 20 Chris Tillman SP
514 20 Chad Bettis SP
519 20 Jaime Garcia SP
520 20 Jerad Eickhoff SP
521 20 Wei-Yin Chen SP

Tier 1

Max Scherzer stands alone as the top starting pitcher in our rankings, with Clayton Kershaw dipping to the 19th overall spot. It's obviously too early to declare the Cy Young race over, but right now it seems ridiculous to put your money anywhere other than on a repeat from Mad Max. He owns a sub-2.00 ERA and is striking out a career-high 14.25 batters per nine innings. If you're lucky enough to own him, you'd be crazy to trade him at any point this season.

Chris Sale and Corey Kluber are again neck-and-neck in the race for best arm in the American League. Sale isn't quite dominating to the same level as last season, as his 5.65 K/BB is closer to his career mark than last year's 7.16 K/BB, but he's 5-1 and third in the majors with 96 strikeouts. Kluber is all the way down at 10th with 71 K and owns a 2.36 ERA, but he typically does his best work in the second half. A pair of Astros are outperforming that duo at the moment, but we'll discuss them down in Tier 2 for now.

Tier 2

Noah Syndergaard is producing numbers nearly identical to his last full season in 2016, so expect more of the same from the Norse god. His ability to limit walks (1.99 BB/9) and home runs (0.61 HR/9) means that you never have to worry about rolling him out on any given day. As long as he's healthy, he is a solid top-10 SP in all formats.

If you wanted to argue that Luis Severino is the best starting pitcher in the American League right now not named Corey or Chris, it would be hard to counter that. The only thing keeping him ranked below the aforementioned names is lack of a lengthy track record and a hitter-friendly home ballpark that is fifth-highest in Park Factor for runs scored. Still, Severino has only allowed more than three earned runs on one occasion this year, while allowing one or no runs on five occasions. At the ripe age of 24, he has arrived as an elite arm.

Jacob deGrom doesn't get as much attention as his teammate with the glamorous nickname, but he might be better. So far, deGrom has a 1.75 ERA supported by a 2.34 xFIP. His strikeout rate continues to climb and he actually does benefit from his home stadium. He could be the sneakiest ace among our top-10 list.

Justin Verlander is pitching like... Justin Verlander (of old). He rightfully belongs in the second tier and would be there if not for the more bearish ranks of one @Roto_Dubs. It's hard to imagine Verlander will keep pitching to this level the entire season, but it's not as if he doesn't have the pedigree or team situation to make it possible. I was admittedly down on Verlander before the year began, so it is with great humility that I have him now ranked among the top 25 overall players for 2018.

Gerrit Cole is another Astros starter that has simply dominated since the season began. He has somehow doubled his strikeout rate since 2016, up to an astronomical (see what I did there?) 40.2% K%. His velocity remains the same, but he has changed his pitch selection slightly to include more curveballs, while reducing his changeup usage by half (4.9%). The more he sees some familiar faces around AL lineups, it may get a little tougher, but Cole has shown us Cy Young form before and is flexing it again in his new digs.

Aaron Nola and James Paxton were supposed to be the injury-prone players in this range, but they rank #10 and #22 respectively in terms of fantasy value in standard 5x5 leagues for SP as of right now. While Paxton holds a significant edge in strikeouts between the two, 79-57, Nola's ERA is a full run lower. Both have proven they can be fantasy ace material as long as they stay healthy. Meanwhile, Carlos Martinez landed on the disabled list for the first time since 2015, interrupting his excellent start to the season. All three carry injury risk, but each can be considered high-end an SP2 due to tremendous upside.

Tier 3

It's no coincidence that the two most frustrating starters of all land in the same group. Madison Bumgarner has delivered no value to owners who spent a second or third-round pick on him, but his rehab is coming along well and he figures to toe the rubber sometime in June. There may not be much of a buy-low window left, but if there is an impatient owner in your league, it may be worth exploring a deal.

Yu Darvish has been the most confusing, frustrating, polarizing, nauseating, inexplicably inconsistent pitcher in all of fantasy baseball. A move to the Windy City was supposed to help him, but he is looking more like last year's postseason version of Darvish than his previous self. There's clearly a chance for a huge bounceback and a buy-low opportunity for a pitcher who's won a single game and has an ERA close to five, but if he is indeed tipping pitches or being affected by MLB's new baseball, then we might not see the Darvish of old. For my part, I'm keeping the faith (for now).

Here's where things get interesting, as we find ourselves with a group of struggling aces, surprise stars, and outliers. First, the bad news.

Robbie Ray was back to his wild self before suffering an oblique injury and landing on the DL. He has potential to be a strong source of strikeouts again throughout the second half, but his return date is still unknown. Jose Quintana and Chris Archer have lost their grip on the strike zone and, much to the chagrin of Devo fans, been a huge disappointment in the WHIP department with 1.35 for Archer and 1.47 for Quintana. Unlike Ray, their strikeout rates are below a batter per inning, so things will need to turn around in the ratios quickly. The silver lining is that a strand rate around 70% could see positive regression and a potential trade for Archer could make a world of difference.

The stars of this tier are rookie Shohei Ohtani and fifth man in the rotation, Charlie Morton. Once again, Mr. Dubiel is not buying the hype of either player and has them outside the top 100, whereas Nick and I have them both squarely around the 60 mark. Morton may be pitching well over his career averages, but playing for the defending World Champs and having absolutely no pressure as the back end of a star-studded rotation certainly helps.

Tiers 4 and lower

Patrick Corbin nearly cracked the top 100 players after his stellar first month of the season. He's gotten a bit of luck, but his decision to start showcasing the curveball has led to a 12% leap in strikeout percentage and he hasn't slowed down yet. A player like Alex Wood is ranked in the very same neighborhood, but comes with injury risk and is suddenly on a far worse team, inexplicably.

Luis Castillo seems to have turned a corner after making an adjustment in his arm angle and hasn't allowed more than two ER in a start since May began. His ratios are still ugly, so make an offer to the Castillo owner in your league before he notices the turnaround. Likewise, Luke Weaver has fallen from grace since the season started, but is picking back up where he started in early April. Weaver has allowed a total of four earned runs in his last 19 innings, with an 18:3 K:BB ratio. He's only dropped 12 spots in our rankings update, but probably should be higher on this list given the way he's pitched lately.

Which young pitcher's breakout season are you most likely to buy into: Sean Newcomb, Blake Snell, or Sean Manaea? Our consensus has Manaea the highest, but I'm personally sold on Snell now that he's gotten a hold of the strike zone. He's upped his velocity by about two ticks on every pitch type and is holding batters to a .196 average. If he played anywhere other than the AL East, imagine the possibilities... Newcomb has more strikeout prowess and has done a great job keeping the ball on the ground, but his 11.2% walk rate still needs some work. Manaea has drawn the most attention due to his no-hitter and plays in a great pitching atmosphere, but the K upside isn't there.

Tier 5

It feels like Miles Mikolas still isn't getting enough credit for being the next incarnation of Greg Maddux (OK, not quite). His season thus far is reminiscent of Rick Porcello's 2016--quietly effective at keeping runners off base and racking up wins. He won't be the MVP in fantasy leagues, but he could be a difference-maker for a player that was barely drafted. Other names outside the top 10 tiers that don't seem to be getting enough credit include: J.A. Happ, Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson, Tyson Ross, Jake Junis, and Mike Foltynewicz.


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