The starting pitcher landscape is always evolving. Pitchers are always gaining or losing velocity and/or spin, altering their arsenal or pitch usage, or just losing their stuff altogether. A pitcher can go from a top-25 arm to barely making my top-75 in a hurry. Yes, I’m looking at you Patrick Corbin. We might only be a few weeks into the 2021 season but we’re already starting to see some of these trends come into play or continue from 2020. I’ve done my best to factor all this into my personal ranks with these brand new top-150 dynasty starting pitcher rankings.
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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Starting Pitcher Rankings
|30||Lance McCullers Jr.||SP||HOU||27||AL|
|53||Hyun Jin Ryu||SP||TOR||34||AL|
Are we going to have a newcomer join the top tier of Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom, and Gerrit Cole? If you’ve watched Corbin Burnes since the start of 2020, he’s been making a strong case to join the aforementioned trio. Since the start of 2020, Burnes has made 12 starts and three relief appearances totaling 78 innings. In those 78 innings, he’s posted a ridiculous 1.73 ERA (Tied-1st with Bieber), 0.83 WHIP (2nd – Bauer), 39.1% strikeout rate (3rd – Bieber/deGrom), and 31.1% K-BB rate (3rd – Bieber/deGrom). He’s up to 5th in my rankings and will be up with that trio if he continues dominating like he currently is (or even close to it). If we were ranking arsenals or upside, Burnes would be up there already. He just needs the longevity.
Look at this Corbin Burnes 97mph Cutter. 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ei0A5teJGX
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 14, 2021
Another big mover near the top of the rankings has been Tyler Glasnow. While I’ve been highly critical of Glasnow over the last few years, I’ve mentioned two main aspects that would cause him to shoot up my rankings if improved/corrected.
- Lack of a legit 3rd offering (New Slider!)
- Durability (One season over 100 IP in career, never had more than 13 starts in a season)
Tyler Glasnow, Disgusting Back Foot 88mph Slider. 🤮
RIP the league. 🪦⚰️
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 17, 2021
That new slider is key. Glasnow has thrown the pitch 29.1% of the time so far through four starts with a .176 BAA, .235 SLG, .208 wOBA, 39.1% whiff rate. This doesn’t smell like the “Glasnow 3rd pitches” of the past that he basically abandons as the season progresses. Having a 3rd weapon is massive for Glasnow’s value but point #2 is still a major TBD. If Glasnow shows that he can hold up over a full season, he’ll jump into my top-10 without question.
Right below him at #12 is Luis Castillo who hasn’t looked nearly as good this year. Through three starts (15.1 IP), Castillo has posted a 7.04 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 17.9% strikeout rate. Obviously, Castillo isn’t this bad and it could just be a bad three starts, but something I noticed was a decrease in velocity and subsequent decrease in whiff rate on all four of his offerings. Not just a minor drop either.
4-Seam Fastball: 97.4/95.7
4-Seam Fastball: 37.2/25.7
Castillo has thrown his 4-seamer and sinker less this season while his slider and changeup usage has risen. Again, it’s just been three starts and I’m not dropping him too far down my rankings (dropped two spots), but this is definitely something worth monitoring as the season progresses.
Another name you’ll notice a bit lower than you probably expected is Jack Flaherty. Listen, Flaherty is very good, but is he fantasy ace good? That’s what I’m questioning. It feels like we’re still ranking him off of what he showed us in the 2nd half of the 2019 season when he posted a pristine 0.91 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 6.3% walk rate, and 33.9% strikeout rate over 99.1 innings. In his other 325 career innings, Flaherty has a 4.15 ERA. Yes, he’s very young and I’m probably being a bit harsh here. However, I’m valuing Flaherty as an SP2 moving forward, rather than a fantasy ace that I build my pitching staff around.
The main reason why Sandy Alcantara wasn’t higher on my rankings previously was his ability (or inability) to miss bats at a high clip. A higher whiff and strikeout rate was literally all he needed to make a substantial jump for me and that has happened so far in 2021. Alcantara has improved his whiff rate from 24% to 32.2% this season along with his strikeout rate from 22.7% to 28.0%.
Two main factors that stand out immediately are his improved changeup and four-seam fastball. Mainly his changeup which he’s more than doubled the usage of this season. But beyond that, four of his five pitches have seen a solid jump in whiff rate. This is very encouraging, and if it sticks, means that Alcántara is likely a top-25 dynasty arm moving forward.
Three Trending Down
Chris Paddack, SDP: Just last week, I saw a quote on Twitter that said “I think Chris Paddack needs a 2nd pitch.” I thought about it for a second and realized how true that statement was. We’ve been harping on Paddack for his mediocre and seldom-used curveball (which he’s forgotten about in 2021), but his fastball has become a below-average offering for him as well. On top of that, Paddack’s command and control seem to have regressed from what we saw in the minors and during his rookie season. There are a lot of red flags here to trust him as one of your top three pitchers.
Patrick Corbin, WAS: A few days back, I posted a tweet called “The Tale of Two Corbins”. On one side, you have Patrick Corbin who has allowed 15 ER in 6.1 innings this season. On the other side, you have Corbin Burnes who has allowed the same amount of earned runs since the start of the 2020 season (78 IP). Corbin’s velocity remains down around 90mph and both his four-seamer and sinker are average pitches at best now, and probably both below-average if we’re being honest. It doesn’t matter how good Corbin’s slider is if hitters don’t have to respect the rest of his arsenal. He’s falling down my rankings faster than an Emmanuel Clase fastball.
Mike Soroka, ATL: If I was an Atlanta Braves fan, I would be ecstatic to have Mike Soroka on my team along with Ian Anderson, Max Friend, etc. However, for me, Soroka falls into the “better in real life than in fantasy category”. Soroka is great at stabilizing your ratios, as evident by his career 2.86 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, but the strikeout rate is lackluster. Through his first 36 starts, Soroka has a very unimpressive 19.6% strikeout rate. He’s always been about avoiding hard contact and inducing groundballs which he’s done at a 50.9% clip. As far as I’m concerned, Soroka is a younger Kyle Hendricks with a lesser strikeout rate. That’s useful, but not elite.
Media Credit: Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire, Baseball Savant, Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja)
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