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Updated Starting Pitcher Rankings

Which pitchers are trending up and down so far this season.

MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The starting pitcher position has been very volatile this season as the “aces” have really struggled to start the season, but the upside is the quality arms that have emerged from the later rounds of the draft. I have gotten a lot of questions recently regarding how I value these pitchers going forward, so I decided to update my preseason starting pitcher rankings. Enjoy!

Who’s Up

Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay Rays

I have been lucky enough to watch half of Morton’s starts this season, and every time I walk away thinking that he might be the most underrated player currently playing in the majors. His command is exceptional, and his arsenal is somehow even better. He has also started to throw a slider this season that has an astonishing contact rate of 38.5% so far this season. With the addition of his slider, he now has six different pitches he can select from, which could be the reason for his career-best 71.2% contact rate this season. I genuinely believe that Morton could finish as a top ten pitcher this season, and could be the ace of your staff.

Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays

Glasnow has always been looked at as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, but his lack of control has always kept him from reaching his potential. This season, however, he has not only improved his control, but it looks like he could actually have above-average control. If this trend continues, Glasnow could be a potential Cy Young candidate.

Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins

A lot of people were afraid to draft Smith coming into the season due to extreme fly ball rates and inconsistency. So far this season, he has looked like a polished ace. His high fly ball rate helps him keep a low BABIP as his home park is one of the best pitcher parks in the league, and his improved command has led to a career-best 6.4% walk rate. He has always shown the ability to miss bats, and that trend has continued on into 2019. If his peripherals stay at their current levels, then he should finish as a top 20 starting pitcher.

Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

I sadly wasn’t on the Boyd train to start the season, and this decision has led to me missing out on one of the best bat-missers in the league. His 66.8% contact rate is third among all qualified pitchers, and trails only Luis Castillo and Blake Snell. His newfound success, like many other pitchers, is mainly due almost entirely to less sinker-ball usage. With Michael Fulmer out for the season, Boyd has stepped up to become the ace of the rotation.

Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

After struggling mightily in 2018, Stroman has come back looking like the “ace” many thought he could be. He has always had a nasty slider but has mainly been a sinker-ball pitcher up until this point. This season, however, he has upped his slider usage by 15.46%, and his sinker-ball usage is down 9.53%. This has caused his ground ball rate to drop but is a necessary casualty for him to become a top 30 pitcher again.

Martin Perez, Minnesota Twins

Perez is the only guy on this list you can still buy low on, but I would go ahead and do it now as six inning, one run game Friday has likely already caught some people’s attention. With his average fastball velocity being up 2.05 mph from last season and a newfound cutter, he is set for a breakout in 2019. We have already seen his contact rate drop 7.3% from what it was the season prior, and his peripherals suggest that his walk rate will likely fall below the league average. His peripherals remind me a lot of Pablo Lopez this season and is someone I am buying low on in all my leagues this weekend.

Who’s Down

Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs

Darvish has been unable to locate his pitches this season, and it seems like he has been throwing the ball everywhere except the strike zone. This lack of control has caused him to post the worst walk rate among pitchers with his amount of innings. He is still missing bats at a near-elite rate, but if his control doesn’t come back, then he may have trouble becoming a top 40 starting pitcher.

Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals

Mikolas has always been a pitch-to-contact pitcher, but this season he has looked way too hittable. He owns the worst contact rate of any qualified starting pitcher so far this season, and his fly ball rate is up 8.3% from what it was last season. With his early-season struggles and lack of upside, I would seriously consider dropping the 30-year-old right-hander for an upside arm off waivers.

Michael Pineda, Minnesota Twins

I was really big on Pineda coming into the season after his encouraging Spring. So far this season, however, he has been nothing short of a disappointment. His average fastball velocity is down 1.49 mph from what it was in 2017, and his contact rate is above the league average for the first time in his career. I am officially cutting ties with him in most leagues this weekend but will keep a close eye on his velocity to see if it improves throughout the season.

Updated SP Rankings

# First Last Team IP GB/FB Hard% K% BB% CNT% ERA xFIP
# First Last Team IP GB/FB Hard% K% BB% CNT% ERA xFIP
1 Max Scherzer WAS 39.1 1.45 40.8% 34.0% 3.1% 67.2% 4.12 2.40
2 Jacob deGrom NYM 26.0 0.67 45.8% 37.7% 8.8% 70.4% 4.85 2.94
3 Justin Verlander HOU 38.0 0.86 33.3% 30.5% 6.0% 74.4% 2.61 3.49
4 Trevor Bauer CLE 40.2 1.06 39.8% 28.3% 12.0% 74.4% 1.99 3.94
5 Gerrit Cole HOU 36.1 1.18 42.2% 36.2% 8.1% 67.3% 4.71 2.59
6 Blake Snell TBR 28.1 1.18 23.7% 37.5% 5.8% 59.1% 2.54 2.47
7 Noah Syndergaard NYM 29.0 1.48 29.6% 27.6% 5.7% 74.3% 5.90 3.36
8 Chris Sale BOS 23.0 1.15 41.1% 22.6% 6.6% 76.2% 7.43 4.43
9 Aaron Nola PHI 31.2 1.54 45.7% 22.7% 9.2% 79.9% 5.68 4.19
10 Stephen Strasburg WAS 30.2 1.83 33.8% 31.2% 7.2% 69.1% 4.11 2.87
11 Clayton Kershaw LAD 13.0 2.11 22.6% 27.1% 8.3% 75.0% 2.77 3.35
12 Luis Castillo CIN 36.2 1.95 31.0% 29.9% 9.7% 66.4% 1.23 3.30
13 Charlie Morton TBR 26.2 1.43 32.8% 30.9% 10.9% 71.2% 3.38 3.74
14 German Marquez COL 39.0 1.83 37.0% 23.6% 6.4% 72.3% 2.54 3.55
15 Corey Kluber CLE 31.0 0.90 37.9% 23.8% 10.2% 73.4% 5.81 4.89
16 Jameson Taillon PIT 31.0 1.92 41.8% 19.1% 4.6% 75.3% 4.06 3.80
17 Carlos Carrasco CLE 21.0 0.62 49.1% 35.1% 5.3% 71.5% 6.00 3.18
18 Patrick Corbin WAS 32.2 0.94 44.4% 30.7% 4.7% 71.6% 2.48 3.46
19 Chris Paddack SDP 27.0 0.89 25.0% 30.3% 8.1% 77.6% 1.67 3.79
20 Jose Berrios MIN 33.1 0.89 35.6% 25.4% 6.2% 74.4% 2.97 4.14
21 James Paxton NYY 34.2 0.79 45.6% 36.2% 7.1% 71.2% 3.38 2.93
22 Caleb Smith MIA 29.0 0.74 21.5% 33.9% 6.4% 69.8% 2.17 3.05
23 Tyler Glasnow TBR 29.1 1.58 28.9% 26.1% 5.4% 75.3% 1.53 3.30
24 Walker Buehler LAD 24.0 0.96 36.6% 18.4% 8.2% 78.2% 5.25 4.95
25 Jack Flaherty STL 24.0 1.00 41.8% 30.5% 4.8% 69.9% 5.25 3.09
26 Matthew Boyd DET 31.1 0.90 28.9% 31.0% 7.1% 66.8% 3.16 3.40
27 Joe Musgrove PIT 28.1 1.27 36.5% 24.3% 5.6% 73.3% 1.59 3.76
28 David Price BOS 24.0 0.77 37.3% 31.9% 5.3% 73.9% 3.75 3.30
29 Marcus Stroman TOR 37.2 1.93 35.6% 23.8% 9.3% 73.8% 1.43 3.73
30 Zack Greinke ARI 36.1 1.15 34.4% 27.5% 4.9% 80.3% 3.72 3.27
31 Shane Bieber CLE 23.1 0.79 46.9% 25.5% 7.1% 70.2% 3.47 4.41
32 Zack Wheeler NYM 29.2 1.71 40.0% 26.0% 11.0% 78.0% 4.85 3.84
33 Mike Soroka ATL 10.2 8.00 24.1% 26.5% 10.2% 75.0% 1.69 3.00
34 Sonny Gray CIN 24.2 2.06 37.7% 31.3% 6.1% 72.1% 3.65 2.68
35 Collin McHugh HOU 32.0 0.90 23.5% 28.2% 7.6% 72.1% 4.78 3.76
36 Pablo Lopez MIA 26.1 1.61 34.7% 25.9% 4.5% 74.8% 4.44 3.48
37 Eduardo Rodriguez BOS 26.0 1.18 25.6% 23.9% 8.6% 67.8% 5.88 4.27
38 Ross Stripling LAD 34.0 1.85 37.6% 23.5% 7.4% 76.5% 2.65 3.65
39 Kevin Gausman ATL 25.0 0.92 32.3% 28.6% 8.2% 72.7% 3.96 3.66
40 Domingo German NYY 25.2 0.96 36.5% 28.3% 8.1% 70.1% 1.75 3.72
41 Kenta Maeda LAD 27.2 1.10 21.0% 21.0% 10.9% 70.5% 5.20 4.77
42 Mike Clevinger CLE 12.0 1.40 43.8% 52.4% 9.5% 52.5% 0.00 1.23
43 Masahiro Tanaka NYY 35.0 1.52 40.6% 21.1% 7.8% 79.2% 3.60 4.13
44 Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD 27.1 1.79 34.7% 30.8% 1.9% 72.5% 2.96 2.24
45 Madison Bumgarner SFG 37.2 1.08 46.8% 22.9% 3.3% 78.6% 4.30 3.53
46 Mike Foltynewicz ATL 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
47 Chris Archer PIT 27.0 0.67 33.8% 25.7% 10.6% 73.8% 4.33 4.73
48 Robbie Ray ARI 32.1 0.97 40.0% 27.2% 12.5% 71.1% 4.18 4.31
49 Vince Velasquez PHI 22.2 0.92 28.3% 24.4% 7.8% 78.5% 1.99 4.24
50 Max Fried ATL 31.1 2.09 34.4% 20.5% 5.5% 79.1% 2.30 3.61
51 Yu Darvish CHC 22.2 1.42 38.3% 23.8% 17.1% 71.8% 5.96 5.14
52 Joey Lucchesi SPD 27.0 2.11 31.2% 25.2% 7.8% 73.2% 4.33 3.23
53 Martin Perez MIN 26.1 1.30 26.8% 19.5% 10.2% 77.0% 4.44 4.79
54 Carlos Rodon CHW 31.0 1.09 39.3% 28.6% 10.7% 72.8% 4.94 4.04
55 Jakob Junis KCR 32.1 1.92 40.4% 22.4% 7.0% 76.9% 5.57 3.77
56 Sandy Alcantara MIA 28.0 1.48 27.8% 17.1% 9.8% 75.1% 4.50 3.36
57 Jose Quintana CHC 28.0 1.89 47.9% 30.3% 7.6% 72.1% 3.21 2.79
58 Trevor Richards MIA 29.0 0.68 36.4% 22.8% 13.0% 69.9% 3.72 5.53
59 Luke Weaver ARI 27.0 1.73 41.3% 27.4% 5.3% 78.0% 3.33 3.14
60 Brandon Woodruff MIL 26.1 1.00 40.0% 27.1% 7.6% 77.1% 5.81 3.81
61 Frankie Montas OAK 29.0 2.40 33.7% 21.9% 6.7% 78.5% 3.10 3.66
62 Jimmy Nelson MIL 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
63 Zach Eflin PHI 26.0 1.00 40.5% 20.5% 4.5% 79.0% 4.15 4.33
64 Alex Reyes STL 3.0 0.60 50.0% 5.9% 35.3% 84.0% 15.00 11.61
65 Luis Severino NYY 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
66 Yusei Kikuchi SEA 33.2 1.46 33.3% 17.7% 5.7% 82.7% 4.54 4.31
67 Julio Urias LAD 21.2 0.69 29.6% 28.9% 8.9% 67.9% 3.32 4.38
68 Jesus Luzardo OAK 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
69 Rich Hill LAD 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
70 Brad Peacock HOU 21.0 1.17 39.3% 20.2% 7.1% 79.7% 4.29 4.52
71 Jon Gray COL 32.1 2.09 48.8% 23.6% 10.2% 74.4% 2.78 3.94
72 Jon Lester CHC 19.0 1.40 45.3% 24.4% 7.7% 78.7% 2.37 3.56
73 Anthony DeSclafani CIN 25.1 0.83 30.9% 25.7% 10.1% 76.6% 4.26 4.69
74 Yonny Chirinos TBR 25.1 0.82 35.8% 23.4% 5.3% 78.8% 3.55 4.07
75 Cole Hamels CHC 31.1 2.09 47.1% 24.0% 7.2% 77.5% 3.16 3.45
76 Kyle Freeland COL 27.2 1.61 33.8% 25.2% 8.4% 77.1% 4.23 3.82
77 Griffin Canning LAA 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
78 Tyler Skaggs LAA 20.0 0.91 31.6% 23.5% 6.2% 81.5% 3.15 4.15
79 Jake Arrieta PHI 34.0 1.50 37.5% 18.4% 9.6% 84.7% 2.65 4.75
80 Lucas Giolito CHW 18.2 1.54 39.1% 28.8% 12.5% 71.9% 5.30 3.74
81 Marco Gonzales SEA 45.0 1.13 33.1% 18.4% 4.9% 84.4% 2.80 4.40
82 Steven Matz NYM 22.1 1.09 43.5% 26.0% 8.3% 79.2% 4.03 4.04
83 Dylan Cease CHW 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
84 Trent Thornton TOR 23.1 0.88 47.8% 26.0% 7.0% 76.7% 5.79 3.74
85 Dereck Rodriguez SFG 28.0 1.25 33.7% 19.8% 4.5% 80.6% 3.54 4.08
86 Jerad Eickhoff PHI 17.0 1.06 30.0% 30.8% 7.7% 69.0% 2.12 3.43
87 Trevor Williams PIT 31.1 1.29 32.6% 16.8% 4.8% 81.1% 2.59 4.51
88 Kyle Gibson MIN 20.2 1.84 51.5% 19.6% 8.7% 71.6% 6.10 4.28
89 Miles Mikolas STL 34.0 1.26 30.4% 13.1% 5.5% 85.8% 5.29 5.31
90 Jonathan Loaisiga NYY 10.0 0.75 38.5% 23.8% 14.3% 63.9% 2.70 5.19
91 Spencer Turnbull DET 26.0 1.38 31.9% 23.2% 9.8% 77.3% 2.77 4.48
92 Merrill Kelly ARI 29.2 1.39 36.0% 21.1% 9.4% 80.5% 3.94 4.30
93 Wade Miley HOU 27.2 1.43 37.1% 15.9% 4.4% 79.5% 3.58 4.52
94 Forrest Whitley HOU 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
95 Michael Pineda MIN 24.0 0.84 39.2% 20.2% 5.1% 79.1% 5.63 4.53
96 Chase Anderson MIL 19.2 0.70 30.8% 26.5% 10.8% 77.4% 3.20 4.47
97 Andrew Heaney LAA 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
98 Brent Honeywell TBR 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
99 Nick Margevicius SDP 25.0 1.20 33.3% 22.8% 6.9% 79.0% 3.60 4.25
100 Mike Minor TEX 33.2 0.93 38.0% 20.0% 8.5% 74.6% 3.21 4.95
101 Kyle Hendricks CHC 25.1 1.34 36.0% 20.2% 6.7% 82.9% 5.33 4.11
102 Jeff Samardzija SFG 27.0 0.68 38.2% 22.0% 8.3% 78.9% 3.00 4.73
103 Rick Porcello BOS 23.0 1.26 42.5% 17.1% 12.8% 79.4% 7.43 5.69
104 Corbin Burnes MIL 17.2 1.21 50.0% 26.7% 8.9% 71.0% 10.70 3.80
105 Derek Holland SFG 27.0 0.69 49.2% 30.6% 11.7% 70.4% 4.33 4.19
106 Zac Gallen MIA 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
107 Alex Wood CIN 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
108 J.A. Happ NYY 25.2 0.94 38.8% 20.0% 7.3% 78.1% 5.96 4.85
109 Erik Swanson SEA 13.2 0.63 33.3% 21.4% 3.6% 76.2% 4.61 4.44
110 Carlos Martinez STL 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
111 Jordan Lyles PIT 22.0 0.76 37.9% 25.0% 6.0% 81.7% 2.05 4.39
112 Jon Duplantier ARI 4.0 2.00 30.0% 20.0% 13.3% 85.2% 0.00 4.54
113 Matt Strahm SDP 26.2 0.80 33.8% 19.4% 4.6% 80.5% 3.04 4.82
114 Dylan Bundy BAL 23.1 0.54 30.9% 24.5% 9.4% 72.6% 6.56 5.28
115 Aaron Sanchez TOR 26.0 1.70 45.6% 20.9% 14.6% 80.5% 2.77 5.00
116 Justus Sheffield SEA 3.0 1.33 42.9% 21.4% 28.6% 74.1% 6.00 7.01
117 Julio Teheran ATL 31.2 0.94 42.0% 25.4% 12.0% 70.9% 5.40 4.58
118 Mitch Keller PIT 0.0 0.00 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.00
119 Jorge Lopez KCR 30.0 1.21 33.7% 22.7% 7.0% 76.6% 4.50 4.27
120 John Means BAL 20.2 1.00 32.7% 26.7% 7.0% 68.2% 1.74 4.16
121 Tyler Mahle CIN 23.0 1.83 53.8% 25.8% 4.3% 78.5% 3.52 3.03
122 Jhoulys Chacin MIL 28.1 0.92 41.5% 20.5% 12.3% 80.6% 6.35 5.35
123 Dakota Hudson STL 18.1 2.47 49.2% 19.4% 12.9% 73.0% 5.89 4.67
124 Eric Lauer SDP 27.0 1.06 37.6% 20.0% 6.1% 82.7% 4.67 4.44
125 Homer Bailey KCR 24.0 1.09 49.2% 26.7% 10.9% 77.4% 5.63 3.98