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Midseason Position Rankings: Starting Pitcher

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The position is super deep, but that doesn't mean you can go without a stalwart. You always want a sure thing heading it up.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

In my preseason piece on starting pitcher draft strategy, I told everyone that waiting on starting pitcher is all well and good, just so long as you grab a roster anchor first.

Take one of the top handful of starters first, then sure, hang out. Chris Archer was our 48th-ranked starter in the preseason; Carlos Martinez was 72nd. You could have, if you drafted just right, hung out and drafted a monster pitching staff. But doing it that way would have required you to know without doubt that Wily Peralta (1-5, 4.00) was an inferior choice to Martinez (10-3, 2.52) despite the fact that the two were equal in our consensus rankings.

Meanwhile, if you took my advice and grabbed an anchor, a top-13-or-so starter, there was one clear place to mess up: Stephen Strasburg, who has been bad when healthy and not regularly healthy this season. After him, though, what was problematic in that top tier? Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber, who have been two of the game's most unlucky pitchers despite their dominance? Jon Lester and Cole Hamels, who have been below their career standards but still within the range of respectability?

Even in a season where my initial advice wasn't perfect — because yeah, I called for Strasburg to win the Cy Young — I stand by the thinking. Looking at the midseason rankings, would you really feel great about having your starting rotation led by Tommy John question marks Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey, or small-sample-size wonders Carlos Martinez and Lance McCullers? You might be fine. But even starting at midseason, you want an anchor.

On to the rest of the midseason rankings:

Starting Pitcher Rankings, rest of season

Rank Player Team Thoughts
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD Nope, no changes at the top. I still believe.
2 Max Scherzer WAS
3 Chris Sale CHW Those strikeouts will keep his value high, even if he has some occasional four-plus-run starts.
4 Felix Hernandez SEA Hard to believe he still isn't even 30 years old.
5 Corey Kluber CLE He's actually improved on his crazy-great K:BB ratio of last year.
6 Gerrit Cole PIT
7 Dallas Keuchel
HOU That BABIP (.254, never below .277 any other season) keeps me from ranking him top-top, but he's been great.
8 David Price DET
9 Zack Greinke LAD That scoreless streak will end. And he'll still be a top-10 starter when that happens.
10 Sonny Gray OAK
11 Cole Hamels PHI I'm curious to see how potential new ballparks might affect the value of Hamels and ...
12 Johnny Cueto CIN ... Cueto going forward, but still, elite talents are elite talents.
13 Jake Arrieta CHC His ERA is down 0.01 from last year. His WHIP is down 0.01. He's having the exact same dang year.
14 Chris Archer TAM
15 Jon Lester CHC Since the end of April, he has a 2.72 ERA. #AlwaysIgnoreApril
16 Jacob deGrom NYM I could watch his All-Star half-inning on a loop forever, and I don't care that it was Vogt-Kipnis-Iglesias against him.
17 Madison Bumgarner SFG By some standards, he's actually having his worst season as a full-timer. Which is kind of incredible.
18 Jose Fernandez MIA He's looked great so far, but you always have to watch the post-surgery guys. Second year back is usually the real one.
19 Jake Odorizzi TAM He's outperformed his FIP and xFIP so far, though the talent is certainly there.
20 Matt Harvey NYM It'd be nice to see a little more consistency, but this is how the surgery recoveries work.
21 Carlos Martinez SLC
22 Jason Hammel CHC Not bad for the throw-in to the Samardzija-Russell trade.
23 Carlos Carraco CLE He hasn't had a scoreless outing since his first game of the season.
24 Lance McCullers HOU He hasn't ended a day with his ERA above 2.53 all season. Crazy for a veteran, insane for a rookie.
25 Danny Salazar CLE
26 Garrett Richards LAA Since his June 6 blowup, he's gone 49.2 innings with a 2.17 ERA.
27 A.J. Burnett PIT
28 Michael Wacha SLC
29 Eduardo Rodriguez BOS In 10 starts, he's allowed two or fewer runs seven times. But in the other three, he's allowed 22 earned runs in 10 innings.
30 Jordan Zimmermann WAS
31 Scott Kazmir OAK
32 Julio Teheran ATL This is a ranking based on his potential, as he still hasn't shown his performance from 2014.
33 Francisco Liriano PIT
34 Noah Syndergaard NYM
35 Jeff Samardzija CHW This general tier is underwhelming. I feel like I need to insert an arbitrary gap between the late 20s and early 30s to indicate a steep dropoff.
36 Shelby Miller ATL
37 Michael Pineda NYY
38 Alex Wood ATL
39 John Lackey SLC A 36-year-old putting up a 2.90 ERA on a league-minimum salary? That's unheard of.
40 Andrew Heaney LAA Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers might be ruining by prediction of Heaney-for-ROY, but he's looked great since his arrival.
41 Tyson Ross SDP
42 Stephen Strasburg WAS Would you be shocked if he came back from the DL and pitched Greinke-like down the stretch? I wouldn't.
43 Wei-Yin Chen BAL
44 Rick Porcello BOS This can't be the real Porcello. It just can't be. I'm going down with the ship.
45 Masahiro Tanaka NYY
46 Hector Santiago LAA Eventually that ugly FIP and xFIP gap and unsustainable BABIP will catch up with him, right?
47 Anibal Sanchez DET Since bottoming out with back-to-back seven-run outings in late May, he's 6-2 with a 3.08 ERA.
48 Trevor Bauer CLE
49 Mark Buehrle TOR He's pitched at least six innings in 12 straight starts, and has lowered his ERA by two runs in that time.
50 Robbie Ray ARI
51 Gio Gonzalez WAS Came into Monday night with two runs in his last 20 innings.
52 James Shields SDP
53 Jered Weaver LAA This is a ranking that counts on him figuring out his problems at least a little upon his DL return.
54 Lance Lynn SLC
55 Ervin Santana MIN
56 Cody Anderson CLE
57 Hisashi Iwakuma SEA Seems to have ironed some of his issues out of late; two runs in 13.2 innings in his last two starts, sitting on a 5:1 K:BB on the season.
58 Matt Andriese TAM
59 Brett Anderson LAD If he can maintain his crazy groundball rate and stay healthy, he'll keep value.
60 Matt Wisler ATL
61 Mike Fiers MIL
62 Williams Perez ATL Gotta be our current leader in "unlikely first/last name pairing," yeah?
63 Mat Latos MIA
64 Mike Bolsinger LAD
65 David Phelps MIA
66 Drew Hutchison TOR His home (9 starts, 7-1, 2.21 ERA) vs. road (10 starts, 2-1, 8.81 ERA) splits make no sense at all.
67 Chris Heston SFG
68 Jesse Chavez OAK
69 Jose Quintana CHW #AlwaysIgnoreApril -- 3.21 ERA since the start of May.
70 Edinson Volquez KAN
71 Mike Leake CIN
72 Carlos Rodon CHW He's pitching about like I expected McCullers to -- the occasional bad outings just remind you he's a rookie.
73 Phil Hughes MIN
74 Andrew Cashner SDP Sometimes you just have to say the results don't make sense, and "Andrew Cashner, 3-10, 4.10" is one of those times. Something will click.
75 Dan Haren MIA