Pitching can be somewhere between fickle and erratic, especially in dynasty leagues. Injury risk is higher for pitchers and can knock out full prime seasons. Mix that with seemingly random fall-offs every season and former top prospects routinely landing in the bullpen and it makes the process of forming long-term dynasty starting pitcher rankings a difficult task.
As always, a variety of factors come into play here, including implied injury risk and age. For competing teams, it’s fine to “overpay” with prospects to land a veteran arm to help you cash in your league right now. Rebuilding teams need to take advantage of this. If you can land a high-upside prospect or two for an aging pitcher, go ahead and take that shot. Those teams could also buy low on injured arms that could return value at a later time.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
- Shohei Ohtani is a cheat code. Having a player that can finish top-5 in Cy Young voting while simultaneously drilling 30+ homers just isn’t fair That’s why he’s earned his own tier. In leagues where Ohtani’s pitcher and batter versions are two separate players, he’d slot in somewhere in the top half of Tier 2 here. He led the AL with 11.9 K/9 while registering a terrific 2.33 ERA (2.40 FIP). He’s a superstar in every way and the most valuable fantasy player in just about every format.
- Corbin Burnes leads all the non-Ohtani candidates. He followed his dominant Cy Young season with another strong one. Burnes posted a 2.94 ERA (3.14 FIP) with an NL-leading 243 punchouts. He’s established himself as one of the most imposing pitchers in the game and he’s just entering his age-28 season. The 6-foot-3 righty finished sixth among all qualified pitchers with a 24.1 K-BB% and third with a 15.1% swinging strike rate. Burnes gave up just nine homers in 226.2 frames in 2020 and 2021. The 23 he served up in 2022 were a big reason for the uptick in his ERA. Even if he maintains that higher home run rate, Burnes is a perennial Cy Young candidate and fantasy stud.
- I may be early putting Shane McClanahan over Gerrit Cole already but the kid is filthy. The 25-year-old led the MLB with a 32.8 CSW% (called strikes + whiffs), finished sixth with a 24.3 K-BB%, and allowed the lowest zone-contact rate (79.5%). That all culminated in a 2.54 ERA (3.00 FIP) with a 10.5 K/9 across 166.1 innings. He increased his changeup usage in 2022 and completely embarrassed opposing hitters with it. Opponents hit just .145 with a .181 slugging against that pitch while McClanahan got a whopping 44.6% whiff rate with it. There is some injury and workload concern here, as there is with nearly every MLB pitcher, but even 170 innings from McClanahan provides ace-level value.
Shane McClanahan is incredible pic.twitter.com/tmB3MzJ0c7
— Dominik (@domhunt18) May 6, 2022
- One of the most impressive rotations in baseball belongs to the Seattle Mariners. The team has four starting pitchers ranked in the top-40, including three in Tier 3. George Kirby leads the group after a rookie campaign in which he posted a 3.30 ERA (2.99 FIP) with a 20.5 K-BB%. His deep arsenal is headlined by a mid-90s fastball that held opposing batters to a .259 wOBA last season. A safe option for win-now teams would be Luis Castillo, who posted a career-low 2.99 ERA in 2022. Speaking of impressive fastballs, opposing batters hit just .152 with a .194 slugging against Castillo’s 97mph four-seam. Finally, Logan Gilbert’s second MLB season ended with a stellar 3.20 ERA across 185.2 frames. His strikeout rate isn’t as exciting (8.4 K/9) but he’s shown the ability to handle a full workload at the top level. Depending on your current roster situation, you can’t go wrong with any of this trio.
- When it comes to prospects, I believe Andrew Painter and Grayson Rodriguez are in a tier of their own. As far as high-school arms go, Painter had a fairly high floor as a draft prospect. He then flew from Low-A to Double-A in 2022 while posting a 1.56 ERA through 103.2 frames. His terrific 32.4 K-BB% was the best among all minor leaguers with at least 55 innings pitched. There’s a chance that Painter makes the Phillies’ roster out of spring training but he should debut in 2023 either way. As for Rodriguez, an oblique injury is the only reason didn’t debut last season. He posted a 2.62 ERA while allowing just two homers through 75.2 innings. He’s been among the best pitching prospects in the league for several years and will almost certainly have a spot in Baltimore’s rotation out of the gate.
Here’s 6 minutes of AA highlights from Andrew Painter (future Phillies ace). pic.twitter.com/ggSG2foSdz
— John Foley (@2008Philz) January 13, 2023
- Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer continue to taunt Father Time. Both are obviously top redraft arms but they lose value here due to their age. We have no idea how long either one intends to continue pitching, but if you’re in a competitive window in your dynasty league, feel free to ride it out until they hang up the cleats.
- Freddy Peralta has surpassed the 100-inning mark just once in his MLB career. That happened in 2021 when he racked up 195 strikeouts with a 2.81 ERA across 144.1 frames. His whiff rate dropped in 2022 but he still prevents hard contact and barrels. If Peralta can stay on the mound for a full season, expect something closer to his 2021 All-Star campaign and a climb in the rankings.
- Reid Detmers is probably looking for some more consistency in 2023. After firing a no-hitter on May 10, he posted a 5.67 ERA over his next six starts before a one-start demotion to Triple-A where he struck out 14 batters in six innings. In his eight following starts, Detmers posted a 1.97 ERA with a 55:18 K:BB. The 23-year-old saw better results with the slider and four-seam, giving him something to build on this year.
Reid Detmers now has a no-hitter AND an immaculate inning this season! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/m1cp1Ww17f
— MLB (@MLB) July 31, 2022
- Like Masataka Yoshida on the outfield rankings, it’s tough to rank fellow NPB-import Kodai Senga. The 30-year-old righty has posted a 2.42 ERA with a 10.3 K/9 across 1340.2 professional innings in Japan. It’ll be interesting to see how hitters adjust to his arsenal, specifically his “ghost fork,” throughout the season. Seeing Senga move 10+ spots in either direction on this list by the end of the season wouldn’t be surprising.
2023 Fantasy Starting Pitcher Dynasty Rankings
|172||Simeon Woods Richardson||MIN||22.5|
Got a beef with Tyler’s Dynasty Starting Pitcher Rankings? Let him know about it in the comments below. For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!