Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Positional Rankings: Top-100 Starting Pitchers
Dynasty leagues are the best, aren’t they? It’s the closest us fanatics can get to being a real baseball general manager. While you might not look at your team every single day of the offseason, dynasty leagues are a year-round commitment and there’s never a bad time to improve your team. Never I say! Whether you’re starting a new dynasty league or entering year 20, rankings play a vital part of any draft prep, trades, etc. I’ve released my overall top-500 as recently as March (and will update that soon), but I figured I’d dive a little deeper and rank the top players at each position which will go further than my top-500 did. Leading off these fantasy baseball dynasty positional rankings are my top-100 dynasty starting pitcher rankings.
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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Starting Pitcher Rankings
Buying In On: Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
Okay, fine, I’ll admit that I’m slowly coming around to the concept of Lucas Giolito as a borderline fantasy ace. Where I ranked him should reflect that too. For someone that was incredibly high on him during his prospect days, I’m surprised it’s been so tough for me to accept his recent success. The biggest issue for Giolito to start his career was his wildly inconsistent command and control which affected the effectiveness of his entire arsenal and led to a disastrous 6.13 ERA in 2018. He was arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball that season and now he’s inside my top-20? Here’s why.
When looking at his pitch mix above, you can see a few noticeable changes from 2018 to 2019 for Giolito. First, he ditched his 2-seamer and solely threw 4-seamers in 2019. His velocity on those 4-seamers rose from 92.4 mph to 94.2 mph while improved command and control of the pitch cause a big jump in effectiveness. Giolito also decreased his curveball usage by 6% and increased his changeup usage by 10.5%. When you look at all the expected stats above, you can see why those changes were made. Giolito’s three best pitches are his 4-seamer, slider, and changeup, and those are the pitches he used 95.9% of the time in 2019.
Most have already bought back in on Giolito and it’s time for the rest of his skeptics to do the same. Can he get up into the elite ranks with the likes of Walker Buehler and Shane Bieber? I’m still not sold there. However, this is definitely a top-20 dynasty starting pitcher right now.
Not Sold On: Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. There are two main reasons why I’m not sold fully sold on Glasnow as a budding ace in fantasy.
- Lack of a 3rd Pitch – While the fastball and curveball can dominate opposing lineups, what happens when one isn’t working for Glasnow? He’s screwed, that’s what. Glasnow threw these two offerings 96.5% of the time last season, rarely mixing in his below-average changeup. I’ve been hearing he’s working on that changeup, but until I see a serviceable one, I’m not moving him up my rankings.
- Durability – Glasnow has missed plenty of time over the last few seasons and doesn’t have a frame that screams workhorse starter.
Can he develop into a fantasy ace that we can rely on? Sure. But I want to see a useable third offering and more durability before I place that tag next to Glasnow’s name.
Since the 2019 season concluded, we’ve had three big-name pitchers go under the knife. The trio of Chris Sale, Luis Severino, and Noah Syndergaard have each been considered a fantasy ace at one point or another. Sale as recently as last season. But now with them all missing the 2020 season and part of 2021, how do we value them? Sale has been the best of this trio over the last handful of seasons, regularly finishing as a top-5 or top-10 fantasy pitcher. But he’s also the oldest at 31 years old currently. And by the time he throws his next Major League pitch, he’ll be 32. Meanwhile, both Syndergaard and Severino will still be in their 20’s but haven’t dominated as much as Sale has. All of this weighs into their rankings.
As you can see from my rankings, I have then ranked Syndergaard, Sale, Severino, with all three close together. Personally, I’m the most worried about Severino as this isn’t the first major injury he’s had as he’s also had shoulder issues that concern me more than elbow injuries. He’s the youngest of the trio which helps, but also the riskiest moving forward in my eyes. Syndergaard is the one I’d target the most here as he’s still in his 20’s and has dominated before with more prolonged success than Severino.
In a startup dynasty draft, all three appear to be falling quite a bit. I’m currently in the middle of a dynasty startup mock draft and this trio was drafted as follows:
I get that they’re all injured and will miss 2020 and half of 2020, but those are all values as far as I’m concerned. Each of these three still has top-20 fantasy SP upside and I’d be actively trying to buy-low on them if possible.
The Top Prospects
These are how they’re ranked in my dynasty rankings, not my prospect rankings. My dynasty rankings take proximity to Majors into account where my prospect rankings do not. A total of 12 prospects were inside my top-50 of these rankings. They are…
1. MacKenzie Gore, SD (12): The #1 pitching prospect in baseball reached Double-A to end the 2019 season and likely isn’t far off from making his Major League debut. He has arguably the highest ceiling AND floor of any pitching prospect.
2. Jesus Luzardo, OAK (15): After dominating the upper minors, Jesus Luzardo received a cup of coffee in Oakland’s bullpen last season and didn’t disappoint. He’ll move back into the rotation in 2020 and is one of the most talented left-handed pitchers in baseball.
3. Nate Pearson, TOR (29): The big 6’6 righty finally had the kid gloves removed late in 2019 and now all bets are off. There might not be a more electric arm in the minors right now than Pearson with his four-pitch mix headlined by a triple-digit fastball and filthy slider. He should be up early in the 2020 season and possesses ace upside with massive strikeout potential.
4. Matt Manning, DET (31): With the improvement of his changeup and overall command along with his elite fastball/curveball combination, Manning has established himself as one of the elite pitching prospects in the game. He’s not far off from the Majors either after spending all of 2019 in the Double-A Eastern League.
5. Forrest Whitley, HOU (33): Yes, the 2019 season was a disaster, but remember, Forrest Whitley was held in higher regard than MacKenzie Gore just 12-15 months ago by a lot of prospect analysts, myself included. There’s ace upside with Whitley thanks to a dynamic four-pitch arsenal. If he can get back on track with his command and control, the sky is the upside.
6. Michael Kopech, CHW (35): If it weren’t for Tommy John surgery, Kopech would likely be inside the top-20. The flame-throwing righty possesses massive strikeout upside and has a chance to become one of the top pitchers in the game if everything clicks.
7. Casey Mize, DET (36): Here’s arguably the safest pitching prospect listed here. Mize doesn’t have the massive strikeout upside that the names above do, but his FB/SPL/SL combination generates plenty of weak contact and allows him to pitch deep into games. The shoulder issue from 2019 does concern me a little, but there’s ace upside here.
8. Dustin May, LAD (37): The hard-throwing, red-haired right-hander debuted with the Dodgers last season and is going to be pitching near the top of that Los Angeles rotation for many years to come. Like with Mize, May hasn’t posted gaudy strikeout totals, but his 2SFB/CT/CB combination is good enough to carve up opposing lineups.
9. A.J. Puk, OAK (42): While I still believe there’s some reliever risk here, Puk’s ultimate upside cannot be denied. A 6’7 southpaw with an upper-90’s fastball, double-plus slider, and above-average changeup doesn’t just grow on trees. If he can keep his command and control in check, watch out.
10. Spencer Howard, PHI (45): After a breakout 2019, Spencer Howard finds himself on the cusp of the Majors. With a dynamic four-pitch mix and solid command and control, Howard has high-end #2 starter upside and should contribute at some point in 2020.
11. Brendan McKay, TB (48): McKay as a hitter is still a work in progress, but his skills on the mound are going to make McKay a dude in this league for a long time. In addition to having two plus pitches and four total that flash above-average or better, McKay’s plus command and make his arsenal that much more effective. There’s a great combination of ceiling and floor here.
12. Luis Patino, SD (50): Once a lot of these names above graduate from prospect status, Luis Patino will likely be in the running for the top overall pitching prospect in the game. The electric righty has showed a bulldog mentality and plenty of poise on top of possessing four Major League average or better pitches, highlighted by a filthy FB/SL combo.
Alright, here are the rankings!
Media Credit: Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire, Lance Brozdowski, Baseball Savant,
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