clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fantasy Baseball: 2015 consensus Starting Pitcher rankings, Part 1

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Here is our consensus fantasy starting pitcher rankings for 2015. We used a points system for each of the 100 starting pitchers ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.

The writers who participated in this series are:

Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams)

Jason Hunt (@jasonsbaseball)

Rob Parker (@park_ro)

Brian Creagh (@BrianCreagh)

Daniel Kelley (@danieltkelley)

Nick Doran (@blazingfastball11)

Alex Kantecki (@rotodealer)

Timothy Finnegan (@timfinn521)

We feel that providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently includes some biases. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.

Each of the position rankings will be split into two parts, rankings and player profiles for starting pitchers ranked 1-50 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for starting pitchers ranked 51-100 in part 2 to be published on Wednesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.

Digging deeper shows that the pitching landscape has changed tremendously in the last 5 seasons:

1. Run scoring is way down. In 2009, 22,419 runs were scored, 5,042 HR were hit, and pitchers had an average ERA of 4.32. In 2014, total runs scored fell to 19,761, a drop of 2,658 runs. Total home runs dropped by 856, to 4,186, and average ERA fell to 3.74. In 2009, 11 starting pitchers had an ERA under 3, while in 2014, 22 starting pitchers had an ERA under 3.

2. Strikeouts are way up. In 2009, pitchers struck out 33,591 hitters, good for an 18% K%. In 2014, pitchers struck out 37,441 batters, a rise up to 20.4%.

3. Walks are down. Walks fell from 16,620 in 2009 to 14,020 in 2014, a drop in BB% of 8.9% to 7.6%.

4. Starting pitchers are throwing harder. In 2014, average fastball velocity by starting pitchers was 91.6 mph, over a half mph increase from 2009. In 2014, 9 starting pitchers averaged 95mph or faster on their fastball, up from just 3 starting pitchers in 2009.

Fantasy owners need to adjust accordingly. A 3.50 ERA looks really good at first glance, but it isn't much better than average in the current run scoring environment.

It's unclear how much longer run scoring will remain this low. There has been speculation about increasing the run scoring environment by making changes such as banning shifts, lowering the mound, or reducing the strike zone. Those changes do not appear to be imminent, but I would expect something to change within the next few seasons to increase run scoring.

How to value hitting vs. pitching?

Sometimes, you hear the argument that hitters impact the game more than pitchers because they play in significantly more games. Starting pitchers play only once every 5 days, while hitters play every day. You hear this a lot in MVP voting for why a starting pitcher should not win an MVP over a hitter. You hear this in fantasy baseball, too.

I strongly disagree with this argument. The best hitters will end up with around 700 PA in a full season. Mike Trout had 705 PA in 2014. Starting pitchers, though, participate in more plate appearances over the course of a full season than hitters do. Opposing hitters had 912 PA against Felix Hernandez in 2014, 186 more PA than the highest registered PA recorded by a hitter in 2014. Clayton Kershaw missed all of April and still registered more PAs against opponents (749) than any hitter racked up all season. One can actually make the argument that pitchers have a greater impact on the game than hitters.

The best starting pitchers, I think, are more consistent on a weekly basis, too, which is a plus in H2H leagues. I haven't researched this to be fact, but it's something I've loosely noticed over time. It's not uncommon for good hitters to go into prolonged slumps of extremely poor production. I'm not sure that you see this as often with good pitchers. A more level, consistent team is better come playoff time, because a really bad week can get you knocked out early and offset a tremendous regular season.

2015 starting pitcher rankings, 1-50

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Jason Rob Brian Daniel Alex Nick Timothy
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD 800 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Felix Hernandez SEA 788 2 4 2 3 2 3 2 2
3 Max Scherzer WAS 776 5 5 3 4 3 2 5 5
4 Corey Kluber CLE 772 4 2 5 2 10 7 3 3
5 Chris Sale CHW 761 3 10 7 7 4 6 4 6
6 Stephen Strasburg WSN 755 10 8 4 6 7 5 6 7
7 David Price DET 754 11 3 9 5 5 4 9 8
8 Zack Greinke LAD 730 7 13 10 10 6 12 11 9
9 Cole Hamels PHI 728 8 7 13 12 8 10 10 12
10 Madison Bumgarner SFG 727 13 6 8 14 9 13 7 11
11 Jon Lester CHC 717 9 11 11 11 11 14 14 10
12 Jordan Zimmermann WSN 703 12 12 14 9 18 11 16 13
13 Johnny Cueto CIN 693 6 14 12 39 12 9 8 15
14 Gerrit Cole PIT 658 14 15 24 21 15 20 24 17
15 Jake Arrieta CHC 650 23 25 26 13 23 16 13 19
16 Hyun-jin Ryu LAD 631 18 24 18 16 28 25 26 22
17 Adam Wainwright STL 628 19 17 43 17 21 15 28 20
18 Jeff Samardzija CHW 627 21 23 25 22 26 22 17 25
18 Jacob deGrom NYM 627 31 20 16 26 30 27 15 16
20 Alex Cobb TBR 624 16 29 17 30 16 24 34 18
21 Matt Harvey NYM 620 15 16 6 20 8 18 4
22 Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 602 29 19 29 29 17 34 21 28
23 James Shields SDP 588 17 22 27 48 25 19 39 23
23 Marcus Stroman TOR 588 39 18 20 28 31 35 35 14
25 Julio Teheran ATL 581 25 26 42 36 13 18 40 27
26 Phil Hughes MIN 571 38 36 28 20 34 30 22 29
27 Sonny Gray OAK 569 28 27 38 41 14 17 41 33
28 Carlos Carrasco CLE 559 34 39 31 25 59 28 12 21
29 Garrett Richards LAA 558 20 35 15 23 51 32 43 31
30 Anibal Sanchez DET 547 36 31 39 19 22 36 52 26
31 Alex Wood ATL 542 37 38 33 37 41 23 25 32
32 Gio Gonzalez WSN 535 49 21 37 24 55 26 27 34
33 Masahiro Tanaka NYY 506 24 28 21 15 53 29 82 50
34 Tyson Ross SDP 497 32 53 57 38 60 21 20 30
35 Collin McHugh HOU 488 44 43 40 18 64 40 19 52
36 Zack Wheeler NYM 483 30 42 60 33 29 49 38 44
37 Ian Kennedy SDP 482 59 40 22 31 76 31 31 36
38 Doug Fister WSN 473 33 30 55 58 27 38 57 37
39 Jose Quintana CHW 468 53 52 35 27 50 55 44 24
39 Cliff Lee PHI 468 50 33 53 32 36 56 29 51
41 Lance Lynn STL 442 26 34 30 47 72 46 66 45
42 Yordano Ventura KCR 441 41 51 59 40 35 43 63 35
43 Matt Shoemaker LAA 431 48 65 50 42 57 39 23 53
44 Andrew Cashner SDP 430 42 41 61 49 37 45 62 41
44 Drew Smyly TBR 430 40 47 49 61 19 61 58 43
46 Dallas Keuchel HOU 426 45 54 23 43 52 66 53 46
47 Brandon McCarthy LAD 425 58 48 58 45 33 67 32 42
48 Chris Archer TBR 422 47 32 56 35 61 41 67 47
49 Michael Wacha STL 395 46 68 32 71 56 37 55 48
50 Justin Verlander DET 394 94 49 46 52 32 42 61 38

#1. Clayton Kershaw

Photo credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Kershaw's 2014 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 1.81 was 4th best in baseball dating back to 1950 and a half run better than the next closest FIP in 2014, AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Kershaw made 27 starts in 2014 and 24 of them were scored as quality starts. He averaged 8.9 strikeouts per start and his K% of 31.9% was the best in the game for SP. He pitches for one of the best teams in the NL, which bodes well for his win total. Kershaw is the undisputed king of fantasy pitching and should go within the top 3 picks.

#2. Felix Hernandez

Photo credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Hernandez narrowly missed winning his second Cy Young award last year. He put together the lowest ERA of his career at 2.14, which was best in the American League, and his elite FIP of 2.56 was second only to Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in the AL. With the additions of Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith and Rickie Weeks, plus the development of Dustin Ackley, the Mariners should provide King Felix with more run support in 2015, increasing the odds of his win total going up.

#3. Max Scherzer

Photo credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Scherzer moving to the pitcher friendly division of the NL East will help his fantasy statistics significantly. ZiPS projects an incredible 2.64 ERA with 235 strikeouts. He's a fly ball pitcher, so Nationals Park will help contain fly balls and keep his HR/FB% low.

#4. Corey Kluber

Photo credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Kluber exploded in 2014, winning the AL Cy Young and cutting his FIP down to 2.35, best in the American League and second best to only Clayton Kershaw. He misses a lot of bats, gets tons of strikeouts, keeps the ball out of the air, and limits hard contact. There's nothing to dislike about him. I have Kluber ranked as my third best pitcher in 2015, slightly behind Felix Hernandez, but Kluber finishing in the top 2 wouldn't surprise me at all.

#5. Chris Sale

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sale broke his foot in a freak accident in the spring and may not be ready for opening day, but don't downgrade him too much. Sale will still be one of the best pitchers in baseball. His 30.4% K% was second best in 2014 and the White Sox have upgraded their supporting cast by signing David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche.

#6. Stephen Strasburg

Photo credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Strasburg hasn't been quite the same pitcher since his Tommy John surgery, but he's still one of the best pitchers in the sport. His strikeout total of 242 was tied for first in the NL, and his 2.94 FIP was fourth best. ZiPS projects a 2.93 ERA in 2015.

#7. David Price

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Price's 271 strikeouts led baseball in 2014. He is experimenting with a new curveball grip this spring in an attempt to get more whiffs. ZiPS projects a surprisingly high ERA of 3.67, which would only be slightly better than league average. I disagree with ZiPS on this one, I see Price being one of the most valuable starters in baseball again next year.

#8. Zack Greinke

Photo credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Greinke is one of the best pitchers in baseball, on one of the best teams in baseball, and is in essentially a contract year (Greinke can choose to opt out of his contract if he has a big season and test FA). I expect Greinke to #shove in 2015, opt out of his contract and sign a larger, longer term deal with more guaranteed money.

#9. Cole Hamels

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hamels is a strong candidate to be traded at some point during the season. His name has been most heavily tied to the Red Sox and Yankees, two AL teams. Hamels pitches his home games in a bandbox in Philadelphia, so the move to Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park shouldn't hurt him too badly, but he may see a drop in strikeouts as the DH replaces opposing pitchers. His win total would benefit greatly, though, because the Phillies are projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2015.

#10. Madison Bumgarner

Photo credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

2014's postseason hero is projected by ZiPS to have an even better season in 2015 with an ERA at 2.83. Bumgarner's career FIP is over a run higher against RHB at 3.42, so keep this in mind when he faces right handed heavy lineups, like the new Padres.

#11. Jon Lester

Photo credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Lester's FIP of 2.80 in the American League bodes well for his transition to the NL. It's hard to predict exactly how Wrigley will play based on wind patterns, but Lester's strikeout total and run prevention should both go up from a normal career year. ZiPS projects an ERA of 3.10 with 187 strikeouts in 208 innings.

#12. Jordan Zimmermann

Photo credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Zimmermann had the best season of his career in 2014 by both ERA and FIP, fueled by a strong rise in strikeouts and swinging strikes. He will be a free agent after 2015, and based on the trade rumors this winter, I have a hunch the Nationals will use him heavily this year and them let him walk. I expect a career high in IP, strikeouts, and wins. With Scherzer and Strasburg ahead of him in the rotation, Zimmermann will likely be facing opposing team's third best starter in most outings which bodes well for his win total.

#13. Johnny Cueto

Photo credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cueto significantly outperformed his FIP in 2014, something that has been a theme throughout his career. Cueto's 29 quality starts led baseball, and his 242 strikeouts were tied for best in the NL. He's pitching in a contract year and looks primed for another big season in 2015.

#14. Gerrit Cole

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cole has always been a monster talent, but puzzlingly struggled to miss bats on the same level as his pure stuff in 2013.  He fixed those issues in 2014, running a strikeout rate of 24%. If Cole can continue to progress in 2015, he may find himself at the top of fantasy starting pitcher charts at the end of the season.

#15. Jake Arrieta

Photo credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Arrieta exploded as one of the best starters in baseball last season, and it was not flukey at all. Arrieta's 2.26 FIP was second best in baseball to only Clayton Kershaw (min. 150 IP) and he limited hard contact to 11.8% of the time, 14th best in baseball. Arrieta may not be able to sustain those numbers as his sample size gets larger and hitters learn him better, but he's still an excellent candidate to continue to prevent runs at a high level.

#16. Hyun-jin Ryu

Photo credit: Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Ryu should slide into the third spot in the rotation and take on other teams' third best starter, which increases the chances of Ryu having a solid win total. His 2.62 FIP in 2014 was elite, and he misses enough bats to run an above average K%. Ryu will flirt with top 100 value in 2015.

#17. Adam Wainwright

Photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Wainwright may miss opening day with an abdominal strain. Wainwright injured his midsection loading a weight onto the rack during a training session. The injury doesn't appear to be serious, and Wainwright is expected to pitch during the first week of the regular season.

t#18. Jeff Samardzija

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Samardzija limits fly balls to about 30%, which will help him in the hitter friendly environment at "the Cell" where fly balls travel extremely well. ZiPS projects a scary ERA of 3.90 in 2015, and "Shark" is just one season removed from an ERA over 4. Draft with caution.

t#18. Jacob deGrom

Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

deGrom won the Rookie of the Year in 2014 and I do not expect him to see much 2015 regression. His stuff is filthy, his command is good enough, and his peripherals were terrific (FIP of 2.67). He pitches in a very pitcher friendly environment in the NL East, too, which helps him get away with mistakes. I have him valued inside the top 100.

#20. Alex Cobb

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cobb doesn't throw hard, but he misses a lot of bats with excellent pitch movement and sequencing. He also gets tons of grounders and generates lots of weak contact, which are great characteristics to have. I have concern that he will be overvalued in fantasy drafts, though. Cobb has never thrown more than 167 IP in his career, he isn't a big strikeout guy and he's currently going before Matt Harvey in Yahoo leagues.

#21. Matt Harvey

Photo credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

I attended Harvey's first spring training start since TJ surgery last Friday and he looked exactly the same. His first pitch of the game was a 96 mph fastball and he topped out at 99. He also threw a nasty 3-2 curve to strike a batter out. Harvey will use his slider less in 2015 to keep the torque off his elbow, but his filthy curve makes up for it. Harvey's 2.00 FIP in 2013 was the best in the game for that season and he looks primed to pitch around 190-200 IP in 2015. I have him ranked as my #4 starting pitcher, and he would probably be #2 if it wasn't for the slight innings restriction. I think he's currently undervalued in drafts.

#22. Hisashi Iwakuma

Photo credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Iwakuma lowered his walk rate to an amazing 3% in 2014, the second best in baseball. He gets a lot of ground balls and misses enough bats to have an above average strikeout rate. Iwakuma has consistently allowed more home runs per fly ball than average throughout his career, so xFIP may overrate him. He's a top 100 player and may see an uptick in wins with a better Mariners lineup supporting him.

t#23. James Shields

Photo credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Shields moving out of the AL and into the NL West should significantly improve his fantasy statistics. Shields' team will play over 100 games in pitcher parks in 2015, and the Padres new lineup will give him solid run support. ZiPS projects an ERA of 2.99. I think Shields is a little underrated based on ADP.

t#23. Marcus Stroman

Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I think I was one of the first ones to beat the Stroman drum for this season. He's amazing, and I expect him to dominate. Go back and read my January 9 article on him, located here.

#25. Julio Teheran

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Teheran built on his breakout 2013 season by improving his ERA and FIP last year . He has consistently outperformed his FIP in his career, which could be due to Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward's elite defense behind him. With Heyward gone, I wonder if Teheran's ERA will creep closer to his FIP. That could mean some regression in 2015 for fantasy statistics.

#26. Phil Hughes

Photo credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Hughes, a former top prospect for the Yankees, exploded with a change of scenery last year. Hughes' walk rate fell to under 2%, the best walk rate in baseball in 2014, and his 2.65 FIP was among the best in the AL.  His % of pitches in the strike zone increased from 50% as a Yankee to 56% as a Twin, so I wonder if the move to Target Field and away from the short porch in Yankee Stadium allowed Hughes to attack the strike zone and let his true talent flourish. Despite the massive increase in fWAR, which uses FIP, Hughes' actual run prevention was almost a run higher at 3.52, hinting towards poor defense behind him. If Hughes can match his run prevention with his FIP, he'll become a top fantasy pitcher.

#27. Sonny Gray

Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Gray's elite ability to limit hard contact helped him to significantly outperform his FIP in 2014. Gray held hard contact against opposing batters to just 11.1% of the time, 5th best in baseball. Limiting hard contact plays anywhere, so Gray's excellent ERA is not just a function of pitching half of his games in the Oakland Coliseum.

#28. Carlos Carrasco

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Brantley said on MLB Network that Carrasco has the nastiest stuff on the Indians, and that includes the reigning Cy Young award winner, Corey Kluber. His swinging strike% of 13% was 4th best in baseball (min. 130 IP) and his ERA, FIP and xFIP are all similar at 2.55, 2.44 and 2.66. I love Carrasco and think he can emerge as a top 10 pitcher when the season is over. I ranked him 21st because the sample size is too small to go nuts, but he has the tools to drool over and become a top fantasy pitcher.

#29. Garrett Richards

Photo credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Richards had a breakout season in 2014, posting a 2.61 ERA and 2.60 FIP, but ruptured his patella tendon in his left knee in August. He isn't expected to return until mid-late April. A few things concern me about drafting Richards, aside from his knee: 1. Richards' low first pitch strike percentage, because the odds get stacked against a pitcher in 1-0 counts as opposed to 0-1 counts. 2. Richards' very low HR/FB% of 3.9% isn't sustainable. ZiPS projects about a half run increase in ERA, up to 3.02.

#30. Anibal Sanchez

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Sanchez' swinging strike% dropped significantly in 2014 from 2013, down to where it usually was in his career prior. Here's what ZiPS projects for Sanchez in 2015: 152 IP, 3.43 ERA, 138 K, 1.20 WHIP, 11 wins.

#31. Alex Wood

Photo credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Wood is a solid #2 starter. He isn't an anchor to your rotation, but will provide good numbers. Wood's ZiPS projection: 166 IP, 3.21 ERA, 154 K, 1.20 WHIP, 11 W.

#32. Gio Gonzalez

Photo credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzalez is amazingly the #4 or #5 starter in the loaded Nationals rotation. This will help his matchups significantly, as Gonzalez will likely be paired against the bottom of opposing team's depth charts, increasing the odds that Gonzalez prevents runs at a better rate than the opposition does. I expect 18+ wins.

#33. Masahiro Tanaka

Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

I loved pre injury Tanaka, but I am sadly avoiding him like the plague in 2015. His UCL is still partially torn. Tanaka built up the muscles around the ligament to attempt to support it better, but the ligament is still injured. I will be rooting hard for him to succeed, but I expect that elbow to blow at some point.

#34. Tyson Ross

Ross' combination of elite bat missing skill, elite ground ball% and extreme pitcher friendly park environment make him a high upside fantasy pitcher. The addition of Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Matt Kemp and Derek Norris will help his run support significantly. I wouldn't be surprised to see 18 wins with a 3 ERA for Ross in 2015.

#35. Collin McHugh

Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

McHugh was given up on by two organizations, the Mets and the Rockies, before landing in Houston in 2014 and becoming one of the best pitchers in the AL. McHugh started throwing harder with the Astros and it led to a significant increase in swinging strikes. The sample size isn't huge, but McHugh's peripherals are good and he's with a top organization (despite the Astros MLB record in recent years, I'm a huge fan of Jeff Luhnow). I wouldn't shy away from drafting McHugh in 2015.

#36. Zack Wheeler

Photo credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Wheeler is getting a lot of hype in the fantasy community this year, but I think it's somewhat premature. Wheeler's command issues are significant, and he needs to throw more first pitch strikes for me to be comfortable drafting him in the top 150.  I have Wheeler as the Mets #3 pitcher, behind Harvey and deGrom. I wrote a very detailed article about Wheeler on January 22, go read it here.

#37. Ian Kennedy

Photo credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I expect the entire Padres rotation to see a significant uptick in wins, Kennedy included. Kennedy's 3.21 FIP was very good and his strikeout rate rose significantly last season. He became only the fourth pitcher in Padres history to strike out over 200 batters in a season. I like Kennedy as a draft pick in the 170-180 range.

#38. Doug Fister

Photo credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Fister significantly outperformed his FIP in 2014. Some of this is because Fister is excellent at limiting hard contact, but outperforming FIP by 1.5 runs is extreme. ZiPS projects Fister's ERA to rise to 3.27 in 2015, which sounds about right. Fister is a poor source of strikeouts, but will likely be a good source of wins, ERA and quality starts.

t#39. Jose Quintana

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I'm a fan of Quintana and think he's one of the more underrated starters in fantasy. He does a good job of limiting hard contact and he fell victim to a below average strand rate in 2014, which should rise this year. He just turned 26, and the White Sox have built a better lineup for run support and signed David Robertson to help lock down leads. I see Quintana with 15 wins and similar ERA to last years, which was 3.32.

t#39. Cliff Lee

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We ranked Lee before the news of his elbow problems came out. Lee has been shut down due to elbow discomfort, but the MRI showed only inflammation and no structure damage. Lee missed time last year with a strained tendon in his elbow, and this injury is in the same area, which has the Phillies concerned. I would avoid Lee in 2015 unless you can snag him very late in the draft.

#41. Lance Lynn

Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Lynn prevented runs at a very high level in 2014, posting a 2.74 ERA, which was over a full run better than his 2012 and 2013 seasons. Lynn is excellent against RHB but struggles against LHB, so keep this in mind when starting him against left handed heavy lineups. ZiPS projects a 3.27 ERA in 2015, which closely aligns with his 2014 FIP.

#42. Yordano Ventura

Photo credit: Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Ventura's electric fastball and nasty curveball give him a very high ceiling. I watched a lot of him last year and one pitch I wish he'd throw more is his cutter. The pitch is 94-95 mph and moves like hell. It's a tough pitch to square up, and Ventura could get a lot of weak outs and foul balls with it to set up high 90s gas and filthy breaking pitches to finish hitters off in deep counts. Ventura has an enormous ceiling, and I'm comfortable drafting him in the top 150.

#43. Matt Shoemaker

Photo credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Shoemaker's stats as a starter last year were fantastic: 2.88 FIP, 3.24 xFIP, 1.07 WHIP, 22.8% K%, 4.4% BB%. He's currently being drafted around pick 200, and I think Shoemaker can easily provide surplus value at that slot.

t#44. Andrew Cashner

Photo credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I think Cashner is overvalued based on ADP. He has big time stuff, but it hasn't translated into strikeouts. He also doesn't limit hard contact at an elite level. I don't think his ERA will be below 3 this year, and ZiPS agrees with a 3.27 projection. Cashner's ADP in Yahoo leagues is 139, and that's too early for me.

t#44. Drew Smyly

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I like Drew Smyly a lot. I watched a lot of his starts with the Rays last year and hitters take some ugly swings against him. Smyly throws the ball at a tough angle and generates lots of pop ups. He has an above average swinging strike% and K%. Smyly came down with shoulder tendonitis that has limited him this spring, but he doesn't seem concerned. He's going around pick 200 in Yahoo leagues, and I like the value there.

#46. Dallas Keuchel

Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote in depth about Keuchel last Novemeber, read it here. Short version: I love his stuff, and I think he's really, really good. I drafted him around pick 250 in the LEEG draft last week, and I was thrilled. If you can get him at value near this, scoop him quickly.

#47. Brandon McCarthy

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

McCarthy changed the way he pitched with the help of Brian McCann and the Yankees organization last year and saw a dramatic difference in results. I wrote about it here. I love McCarthy as a sleeper pick in 2015. He's pitching in a low run scoring environment in the NL West and has a good offense backing him up for run support.

#48. Chris Archer

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Archer is projected by ZiPS to have a 3.49 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 170 IP in 2015. His ADP is 149 in Yahoo right now, which is a little high for my tastes. I would be more comfortable taking Archer in the 175 range.

#49 Michael Wacha

Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Wacha has a lot of talent, but I'm concerned about his shoulder. His ADP is 162 in Yahoo, and that's too risky for me. I don't know what I'm getting with him. I would avoid Wacha unless the value on draft day mediates his injury risk.

#50. Justin Verlander

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

I'm a believer in Verlander bouncing back. He pitched last season with an abdominal problem that caused him to change his mechanics. His lower body muscles were also weak from the surgery he had in the offseason which impacted his delivery. I wrote more about it, here. I don't expect vintage Verlander ever again, but a return to his 2013 form is reasonable.