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Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 6: Dylan Ceases To Disappoint

The only thing that could taint the sweet nurturing glory of Mother’s Day is another Jacob deGrom injury. Naturally, because we can’t have nice things, that’s just what happened. The number one player in my Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings is still there (for now). That is because, at the time of this writing, we don’t know how bad his “side” injury is. Also, as a reminder, I don’t rank injured starters whose return is not imminent. Hopefully, his name will still be on the list next week. Now, some notes!

  • Dustin May fell off the list last week, and this week we can confirm that he will undergo Tommy John surgery. It’s sad news for one of the most exciting young pitchers in the league, and we can do nothing but wish the hulking ginger all the best in his recovery.
  • Daniel Lynch debuted for the Royals! The crowd roars! He doesn’t make the list. The crowd is aghast. A lefty who pumps 95 MPH heat with a sexy-time slider is obviously a tantalizing prospect. However, he, uhh, may not quite be ready. After all, he hadn’t previously pitched above A-ball in the minors, and his body of work across two starts leaves something to be desired. He was battered like a cod in his second start, specifically, yielding eight runs while recording just two outs. He now has five walks and three K’s across 5.1 innings…with 11 earned runs. I still love his profile long-term, but he needs some polish before I trust him in 2021. The crowd, bewildered, quietly shuffles toward the exits.
  • In a pure revenge move after I dropped him off the list last week, Dallas Keuchel tossed seven scoreless innings against the Reds. However, he walked three and struck out just one, putting his K:BB ratio at 14:17 on the season. All of his ERA indicators are 4.50 or higher. Stop it Dallas, I don’t believe in you anymore! You and the Loch Ness Monster can start a club.
  • Noah Syndergaard has his fedora and whip all packed and is set to head out on a rehab assignment. If all goes well, he is expected to join the Mets at some point in June. It’s a bit early to stash him in shallower formats, but in deeper leagues, I’d see if he’s available to help you out over the second half.
  • If you started Charlie Morton for his 0.2 IP, six-run, zero earned run outing, keep sucking on that lucky rabbit’s foot. It’s working.
  • Wade Miley gets a courtesy nod in the 100 spot this week after tossing a most improbable no-hitter. I mentioned just a week ago how his incredibly low BABIP won’t sustain. It now sits at .162. There is very little upside with his 8.8% SwStr% and 25% CSW. Ride it while it lasts, but the ride may be a short one.

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The Starting Pitcher Barometer

The Risers

Dylan Cease, CHW (+20) – Cease’s control is still erratic at best, with only one start in six with fewer than three walks. However, his strikeout upside is very sexy-time, and he has allowed just four total hits over his last two starts (with 20 K’s). He’s been very fortunate as a fly-ball heavy pitcher with a 7.1% HR/FB%, so I’d expect his 0.59 HR/9 to regress closer to his 1.85 marks from the past two seasons. I’ll be surprised if he climbs too much higher inside the top 50 the rest of the way.

John Means, BAL (+8) – You might have heard, but John Means tossed a no-hitter last week! He only actually rose eight spots in my starting pitcher rankings this week since I had him respectably ranked beforehand, but he’s got true ace numbers right now. His command has been impeccable, leading to a 9.78 K/9, 1.96 BB/9, and 1.37 ERA (3.00 FIP). His 15.7% SwStr% ranks 7th among starters thus far, higher than the likes of Gerrit Cole.

Means Z contact graph

Means Zone Graph

Means has posted the highest Zone% of his career at 42.6%, and he’s missing more bats within the zone (71.2% Z-Contact%) as well. That bodes very well for his future. On the other hand, he stunningly has a 100% strand rate and .158 BABIP. Those numbers will obviously be skewed with an early-season no-no, but just realize he’s not quite an uber-ace.


The Fallers

Kyle Hendricks, CHC (-20) – It’s always a bit of a high-wire act with Hendricks, whose fastball sits 86-87. 2021 has proven to be a gale-force wind blowing Hendricks off of said high-wire, sending him nose-diving towards the total doom that is a 6.07 ERA (7.32 FIP). In a year where homers have dissipated, Hendricks’ 2.86 HR/9 is more than double any previous season he’s posted.

Hendricks Statcast Sliders

Hendricks isn’t one to wow Statcast charts with his stuff. That said, he is near the bottom of the league in XBA (.309), xSLG (.577), and wOBA (.418). His .396 xwOBA doesn’t declare his results to be too fluky-bad, either. He’s had major mid-season turnarounds before, but until we see some evidence of that, he’s hard to start.

Patrick Corbin, WSH (-22) – Corbin drops even farther than Hendricks this week, outside of the top 70. Whereas Hendricks at least still has his command, Corbin has seen his K-BB% evaporate nearly to nothing.

Corbin starting pitcher rankings

The upside at this point is probably his 2020 numbers: 8.22 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 4.17 FIP, 1.57 WHIP. That’s still feasible the rest of the way, but he’s more of a streamer at this point than the potential #2 on your fantasy staff.

The Newcomers

Cole Irvin, OAK (SP76) – Irvin is a 27-year-old lefty with little prospect prestige. He averages just under 91 MPH with the fastball, but that hasn’t hampered his early-season success. He now has a 3.29 ERA over 41 IP with an 8.12 K/9 and pristine 1.32 BB/9. His upside is limited by his inability to miss bats (9.7% SwStr%). That said, he’s worth a stream, particularly in favorable home matchups where his fly-ball tendencies can lead to more easy flyouts.

Nate Pearson, TOR (SP84) – As opposed to Irvin, Pearson is a prospect of great acclaim. He was the Jays first-round pick in 2017, coming equipped with a triple-digit fastball and a slider he throws in the low-90’s. There were command concerns when he was drafted, but his worst walk rate in the minors at any point was a 3.02 BB/9 at Double-A in 2019.

He may have been a bit rusty coming off the groin strain that delayed the start to his season, however, as he walked five in his season debut. He lasted only 2.1 innings, gave up three runs on four hits, and didn’t strike out a single batter. His 13 sliders didn’t earn a single whiff, throwing just 28 of 64 total pitches for strikes. His velocity was also down a bit from last year at 95.7 MPH, with the much-heralded slider coming in at a pretty normal 85.4 MPH. He’s worth owning in all but the shallowest of leagues for his upside, but I’d want to see a more promising start before I’d plug him into my lineup.

Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings

RnkNamePrev. Rnk
1Jacob deGrom1
2Gerrit Cole2
3Shane Bieber3
4Aaron Nola4
5Trevor Bauer5
6Clayton Kershaw6
7Yu Darvish7
8Lucas Giolito8
9Walker Buehler9
10Tyler Glasnow10
11Corbin Burnes11
12Brandon Woodruff12
13Max Scherzer13
14Zack Wheeler15
15Jack Flaherty16
16Sandy Alcantara17
17Lance Lynn14
18Zac Gallen18
19Hyun Jin RyuNA
20Blake Snell19
21Joe Musgrove20
22Charlie Morton21
23Julio Urias22
24Jose Berrios24
25Sonny Gray27
26Carlos Rodon39
27Luis Castillo23
28Lance McCullers25
29Pablo Lopez26
30Zack Greinke28
31Trevor Rogers29
32John Means40
33Max Fried30
34Aaron Civale31
35Dylan Bundy32
36Tyler Mahle33
37Eduardo Rodriguez34
38Freddy Peralta35
39Kenta Maeda36
40Zach Plesac45
41Ian Anderson37
42Kevin Gausman38
43Huascar Ynoa59
44Nathan Eovaldi41
45Marcus Stroman42
46Chris Paddack43
47Zach Eflin44
48JT Brubaker52
49Michael Pineda47
50Dylan Cease70
51Cristian Javier49
52Alex Wood50
53Brady Singer54
54Chris Bassitt64
55Danny Duffy56
56Matthew Boyd55
57Anthony DeSclafani57
58Sean Manaea67
59Frankie Montas46
60Jameson Taillon60
61Andrew Heaney62
62German Marquez58
63Shohei Ohtani53
64Corey Kluber66
65Taijuan Walker75
66Dinelson LametNA
67Robbie Ray71
68Kyle Hendricks48
69Jordan Montgomery63
70Mike Minor65
71Jose Urquidy61
72Madison Bumgarner81
73Patrick Corbin51
74Ryan Weathers68
75Shane McClanahan69
76Cole IrvinNA
77Kyle Gibson82
78Yusei Kikuchi73
79Domingo German74
80Alex Cobb76
81Logan Webb77
82Chris Flexen78
83Jon Gray96
84Nate PearsonNA
85Steven Matz79
86Luis Garcia80
87Garrett Richards91
88Carlos Martinez72
89Ryan Yarbrough83
90JA Happ84
91Adam Wainwright85
92Triston McKenzie86
93Spencer Turnbull87
94Kwang Hyun Kim88
95Dane Dunning89
96Adbert Alzolay92
97Rich HillNA
98Jake Arrieta95
99Adrian Houser97
100Wade MileyNA

Fell Off The List:

Jakob Junis (Role), Matt Shoemaker (Performance), Luke Weaver (Performance), David Peterson (Performance), Jeff Hoffman (Performance), Justus Sheffield (Performance).

Like Nathan’s take on Starting Pitcher Rankings? For more help, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.

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