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Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP 20 STARTING PITCHERS

1.  Clayton Kershaw:  Coming off a season where he struck out more than 300 batters, there is nothing else to say that hasn't already been talked about regarding how ridiculously awesome Kershaw is.  Worth a late first round pick. 
2.  Max Scherzer:  Threw not one but TWO no-hitters last season and was right there with Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrietta in terms of pure dominance.  Best strikeout pitcher in baseball as well behind Kershaw. 
3.  Madison Bumgarner:  Lots of mileage already on Bunmgarner's arm but for now he shows no signs of being adversely affected by it.  Better yet, Bumgarner is actually STILL improving which says a ton about how terrific a pitcher he already is. 
4.  Zack Greinke:  Goes from a prime pitcher's park to a launching pad in Chase Field and obviously there is no repeating the crazy ratios Greinke had a year ago.  Still despite dropping velocity, Grienke's stuff is as good as anyone in baseball. 
5.  David Price:  Not keen on Price going back to the AL East, this time with the Boston Red Sox but the guy has been a Cy Young winner in the division and was tremendous with the Toronto Blue Jays the last two months of last season of all places which lessens any concern about the environment. 
6.  Jake Arrieta:  Classic late bloomer here as Arrietta took a few seasons to get going.  Second half of 2015 as awesome a pitching performance as we have ever seen. 
7.  Gerrit Cole:  ERA will rise a bit this season as Cole got a ton of BABIP help in 2015 but everything else checks out in terms of him being a fantasy baseball ace. 
8.  Jacob DeGrom:  I might be underranking DeGrom as the guy has been insanely good his first two years in the majors.  And the fact he didn't take up pitching until just a few years ago is telling terms of how good DeGrom is.  Get fully on board this ace. 
9.  Chris Sale:  Starting to show some durability the last three years which is nice and Sale already is a top five strikeout artist.  ERA will come down from last season as he got some rotten BABIP luck that will turn.  Terrific value when compared to the price of some of the other guys in his tier. 
10. Stephen Strasburg:  Had a very tough first half of 2015 due to injuries and some poor BABIP luck but Strasburg was back to his ace self from the summer onward.  Starting to leak some velocity though which bears watching. 
11. Felix Hernandez:  All of those massive inning totals are starting to take a toll on King Felix as pretty much every number and ratio went the wrong way last season.  Tread carefully here.  Could be the next Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain/James Shields. 
12. Corey Kluber:  2014 was not to be repeated but 2015 was pretty darn good.  Another strikeout gem of a pitcher whose price tag is decent relative to the numbers. 
13. Matt Harvey:  It was like Harvey never left in terms of being a top fantasy baseball ace after returning in 2015 from Tommy John surgery.  You have to feel a bit leery of the high innings total from last season however. 
14. Jon Lester:  Clearly Lester's 2014 campaign is not to be repeated but he also was just fine in terms of SP 1 numbers after his usual April issues. 
15. Dallas Keuchel:  Tough call here as Keuchel seemed to pitch way over his head last season.  His K rate and other ratios were never approached by Keuchel even going back to his minor league days but the guy was also just reaching his prime in 2015 which could add some validity to his haul.  Dial back the ratios slightly and take away 20 K's and that should be where Keuchel finishes around this season. 
16. Jose Fernandez:  Looked like his old fireablling and ace pitcher self upon returning from Tommy John surgery last season.  Will be on an innings limit this season but Fernandez' has arguably the best pure stuff of anyone in the game not named Clayton Kershaw. 
17. Chris Archer:  Even Chris Archer's biggest fans couldn't have foreseen the monstrous numbers the Tampa Bay Rays starter put up in 2015.  Everything jumped by a wide margin for Archer, especially his K rate as he struck out well over 200 batters for the first time in his career.  While the K rate is in outlier territory, Archer was still young enough to think he simply matured. 
18. Noah Syndegaard:  Meet the righty version of Randy Johnson.  From the long hair all the way down to the blazing 100-mph fastball, Noah Syndegaard is the real deal and could easily finish as a top five starter this season.  When you AVERAGE 98 on your fastball, you have some special stuff.  200-plus K's on the way. 
19. Johnny Cueto:  Great move to the San Francisco Giants and their spacious ballpark after a very rough run with the Kansas City Royals the last two months of 2015.  Cueto's has been criminally underrated for years with some of the best WHIP's and ERA's anywhere showing how good he is and that should be especially in the cards now that he gets such a cozy ballpark. 
20. Sonny Gray:  Since his very first start in the major leagues has pitched like a fantasy baseball ace.  While his K rate is not of the 200-K variety, his ratios are stellar and he still comes in around 180 whiffs. 

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