Fantasy Baseball 2013: Top 50 NL-Only Starting Pitcher Rankings

Jared Wickerham

Ray Guilfoyle ranks his Top 50 NL-Only Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2013, and thinks the position is very deep this season. There are several starting pitchers coming off injury who could help fantasy owners at midseason.

We published our 2013 Consensus Starting Pitcher Rankings back in early January, and here is a link to those rankings. My NL-Only Starting Pitcher rankings may look a little different than those rankings, as I have moved Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright up to the #8 position, while moving Phillies hurler Roy Halladay down to around the #15 slot in my NL rankings. I ranked Halladay as my #20 starting pitcher overall in the Consensus rankings, but have some concerns about his shoulder, so I am dropping him here to reflect those concerns.

While ranking my 2013 NL-Only starting pitchers, I couldn't believe how many of the pitchers in the 20-40 range that I would draft without hesitation this season. The starting pitcher position might be the deepest in recent memory, especially since there are several starters returning from injury this season that could easily be ranked in the Top 30 by the end of the season. Braves starter Brandon Beachy and Diamondbacks starter Daniel Hudson are both returning from surgery and should help fantasy owners by midseason.

When discussing the top fantasy starting pitchers, there is no question Washington's ace Stephen Strasburg is in the conversation. The Nationals handled him with kid gloves last season, as he was limited to 28 starts and just 159.1 innings of work on the mound. The team has already stated he won't have an innings limit this season, but one has to wonder if they will allow him to work deep into games with the stacked bullpen they now possess. The Nationals added closer Rafael Soriano this offseason, and he will join a bullpen that includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. With three dominant relievers in their pen, manager Davey Johnson may not allow Strasburg to work more than 6 innings even if he is cruising. Strasburg lasted more than six innings in just five of his starts last season, the last being July 25th vs the Mets. For comparison purposes, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw worked 7 or more innings in 22 of his 33 starts last season, on his way to 227.2 innings pitched.

Let's take a look at my 2013 NL-Only Starting Pitcher Rankings:

Rank

Player

Age

Tm

1

Clayton Kershaw

24

LAD

2

Stephen Strasburg

23

WSN

3

Cole Hamels

28

PHI

4

Matt Cain

27

SFG

5

Cliff Lee

33

PHI

6

Zack Greinke

28

LAD

7

Madison Bumgarner

22

SFG

8

Adam Wainwright

30

STL

9

Gio Gonzalez

26

WSN

10

Mat Latos

24

CIN

11

Kris Medlen

26

ATL

12

Johnny Cueto

26

CIN

13

Jordan Zimmermann

26

WSN

14

Yovani Gallardo

26

MIL

15

Roy Halladay

35

PHI

16

Jeff Samardzija

27

CHC

17

Tim Hudson

36

ATL

18

Tim Lincecum

28

SFG

19

Jonathon Niese

25

NYM

20

A.J. Burnett

35

PIT

21

Homer Bailey

26

CIN

22

Lance Lynn

25

STL

23

Ian Kennedy

27

ARI

24

Matt Harvey

23

NYM

25

Wade Miley

25

ARI

26

Mike Minor

24

ATL

27

Wandy Rodriguez

33

PIT

28

Ryan Vogelsong

34

SFG

29

Josh Beckett

32

LAD

30

Matt Garza

28

CHC

31

Dan Haren

31

WSN

32

Kyle Lohse

33

STL

33

Edwin Jackson

28

CHC

34

Trevor Cahill

24

ARI

35

Marco Estrada

28

MIL

36

Dillon Gee

27

NYM

37

Shaun Marcum

30

NYM

38

Bronson Arroyo

35

CIN

39

Jaime Garcia

25

STL

40

Barry Zito

34

SFG

41

Chris Capuano

33

LAD

42

Brandon McCarthy

28

ARI

43

Edinson Volquez

28

SDP

44

Daniel Hudson

25

ARI

45

Brandon Beachy

25

ATL

46

Andrew Cashner

25

SDP

47

Chad Billingsley

27

LAD

48

Tyler Skaggs

20

ARI

49

Nathan Eovaldi

22

MIA

50

Ricky Nolasco

29

MIA

Adam Wainwright, STL

Like I mentioned above, I move Wainwright up in my rankings here, as despite a higher than normal ERA last season, Wainwright was the same pitcher he was before his Tommy John surgery, striking out 8+ batters per nine, walking just a bit over 2 batters per nine, and keeping the ball on the ground at a 50% clip. I see him returning to the ace he was before his TJS in 2013.

A.J. Burnett, PIT

Burnett came over to the National League after struggling for several years pitching in New York. He made fantasy owners regret drafting him back on May 2, 2012, where he faced 22 St. Louis Cardinals in just 2.2 innings of work. Facing 22 batters while getting just 8 outs is an accomplishment in and of itself, but not one you want to remember. Burnett allowed 12 of those batters score in probably his worst outing of his career. But from that point on, he was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, giving up 2 runs or less in 18 of his last 28 starts, ending the year with 3.51 ERA while striking out 8 batters per nine, and inducing an elite level ground ball rate (57%). I see more of the same from him in 2013.

Homer Bailey, CIN

All you need to know about Homer Bailey is in Paul Sporer's guest post here. Read it and draft Bailey this season, as he could be on the verge of reaching his potential in Cincinnati.

Marco Estrada, MIL

Estrada had the third highest K/BB ratio - 4.93 - among starters with 130+ innings pitched last season. He is slated to be in the Milwaukee rotation in 2013, and I am anxious to see if his dominance will carry over from last season.

The starters I ranked 43-46 are coming off surgery or decided to rest and rehab existing injuries this offseason. They each come with risk as Brandon Beachy and Daniel Hudson are both coming off TJS, and Andrew Cashner and Chad Billingsley are coming off injury shortened seasons and come with some risk heading into 2013 drafts. Should they prove to be healthy, they will easily shoot up this list come midseason.

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