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Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS

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 and an oblique issues and mechanical problems at least mildly concerning.  Still until he struggles in the regular season, we won't go there. 
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:  Velocity down a full 2 mph which is concerning but otherwise DeGrom has looked great this spring. 
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. 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. 
11. 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. 
12. 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. 
13. 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. 
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.  Also Syndegaard has been completely dominant all spring with 19 K's in 17.2 IP while hitting 100 more than once. 
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. 
21. Carlos Carrasco:  Yet another young power arm who stopped walking the ballpark and all of a sudden was a star.  Kid is here to stay as a borderline fantasy baseball ace. 
22. Lance McCullers:  This power arm is the real deal but the shoulder setback was a bummer.  Still McCullers is slated to only miss a turn or two at this point which is about as good a result as one could ask with that type of injury.   
23. Yu Darvish:  Returning from Tommy John surgery but we have seen countless cases of guys coming back close to their old selves right away which means Darvish could be a swell value play. 
24. Adam Wainwright:  Been telling you to avoid Wainwright for a few years now as he continues to age and leak velocity.  The K rate is dropping sharply and Wainwright is also becoming quite injury prone.  Pass him by. 
25. Carlos Martinez:  Late season health trouble alarming but previously Martinez showed himself as another future ace with his power stuff. 
26. Cole Hamels:  Was a longtime proponent of the always dependable Hamels but now that he will be pitching full-time in the AL and in Texas of all place, we are leery. 
27. Jordan Zimmerman:  Zimmerman was pretty disappointing last season as he aimed at free agency and maybe some very high inning totals the last few years were to blame for the subpar showing.  Moving into the AL won't help matters. 
28. Danny Salazar:  Monster strikeout artist who finally figured out how to reign in the free passes a bit.  Look out MLB hitters. 
29. Francisco Liriano:  Amazing that we an no say that Francisco Liriano is a consistently good SP 2.  The numbers don't lie. 
30. Michael Wacha:  Didn't turn out to be the bust we predicted Wacha would be.  In fact Wacha was terrific the first half of the season before fatigue ruined his last two months.  Still proceed cautiously here as Wacha has a past with shoulder issues and his K rate dipped a bit last season. 
31. Marcus Stroman:  Vast upside here as Stroman insane five pitch arsenal all grade out highly.  Small in stature but a future fantasy baseball ace. 
32. Jake Odorizzi:  Could make the Chris Archer 2015 leap in 2016.  Compare the two and their numbers their first two seasons and you can see why this argument works. 
33. Hisahi Iwakuma:  Always have a soft spot for Iwakuma who continues to put up very good SP 2/3 numbers at a very affordable price.  Will go back to the well again despite age being an issue. 
34. Tyson Ross:  Outside of poor control which puts a hurt on his WHIP, Ross is one of the better power arms in the game.  If he ever works on that control, Ross could quickly elevate to ace level. 
35. Gio Gonzalez:  Some value to be had here as many will be down on Gonzalez after his ratios rose up in 2015.  Some of that had to do with awful BABIP luck and overall Gonzalez' advanced metrics showed him to be the SP 2 he was previously.  I am buying. 
36. Garrett Richards:  Overall Richards was solid but not as good as we anticipated in his 2015 return from his gruesome knee injury the season prior.  The K rate in particular didn't match his 2014 rate, with the latter now looking like a bit of an outlier. 
37. Scott Kazmir:  Like the fact Kazmir signed in a prime pitcher's park in Los Angeles with the Dodgers but remember he is a major sell over the summer when fatigue always take a bite out of his numbers.  Also left his last start with an abdominal issue which is a reminder of how fragile the guy is. 
38. James Shields:  Like with Cole Hamels, we were once big fans and boosters of James Shields as a value play fantasy baseball ace.  Unfortunately all those years of very heavy usage have taken some bite out of Shields' stuff as his WHIP rose sharply in 2015 and his home run problems will only grow.  Move on. 
39. Marco Estrada:  Shocked everyone with his best season ever in 2015 despite taking his home run tendencies to Rogers Center.  Still Estrada looks like a prime bust candidate for 2016 as he benefited from unrepeatable BABIP help a year ago and the gopher problems is about as bad a match as a pitcher can get operating in Rogers Center. 
40. Steven Matz:  Not much of a sample size here but Matz was lighting up the minors with a K rate over 9.0 prior to his debut with the New York Mets.  Showed terrific ability in his time in New York going into the postseason and upside is vast.  Be aggressive here. 
41. Jeff Samardzija:  Some potential MAJOR value here as Samarzija is back in the NL where he belongs after a disastrous one-year stint with the Chicago White Sox last season.  His velocity has dipped a bit from his Chicago Cubs near-ace levels but being able to pitch half his games in spacious San Francisco could thrust Samardzija back to SP 2 status despite the ugly spring. 
42. Shelby Miller:  Not liking the move to Chase Field despite staying in the NL but at least Miller will get a chance to win more games.  He has now been very good two of the last three seasons but the K rate is lacking a bit. 
43. Kenta Maeda:  For starters, Kenta Maeda is not Masahiro Tanaka or Yu Darvish in terms of ace-level strikeout stuff.  Maeda instead is a top control artist who is more Tom Glavine in terms of being very tough to hit. 
44. Kyle Hendricks:  This youngster is developing nicely for the Cubs as Kendricks has a decent K rate hovering near 8.00 and his secondary stuff is solid.  Has a bit more ceiling left as well. 
45. Justin Verlander:  Been bashing Verlander for three years now and rightfully so as he was a complete disaster for much of that time due to decreased velocity and growing control problems.  However it looked like Verlander began to adjust in a Dan Haren 2015 mode by relying less on his heater and more on his secondary stuff the second half of last season.  Still I really want no part of this given the very high uncertainty. 
46. Michael Pineda:  Pineda remains a riddle as a guy who looks like a monster ace one start and then gets bombed the next time out.  Another guy whose slight frame leads him to tire over the summer but Pineda is also very injury prone.  Too much of a headache to deal with as anything more than an SP 4. 
47. Yordano Ventura:  Has been right a or near the top of the majors in average fastball velocity the last two years but it has not translated into high K rates and ace numbers.  The fact of the matter is that Ventura's fastball comes in a bit too straight and his light frame leads to injuries.  Stop chasing potential that looks like it may never be realized. 
48. Masahiro Tanaka:  Told you all to avoid this mess heading into last season as Tanaka began pitching with a torn ligament in his elbow.  While Tanaka did make it through the season, his K rate dipped, home run rate rose sharply, and he still spent time on the DL with trouble with the elbow.  Remember the elbow could blow at a moment's notice. 
49. Julio Teheran:  Was truly horrific the first half of last season before rallying late  to finish with respectable numbers.  Has not taken that extra leap to SP 2 status like it seemed Teheran was on track to do. 
50. Jose Quintana:  We can argue that Quintana is one of the vest best fantasy baseball pitcher values in the entire game the last three seasons.  A lock for a mid-3.00 ERA and around 175 strikeouts for often the price of an SP 5.  Tremendous value. 
51. Luis Severino:  Very high upside here as Severino had ice in his veins as a rookie pitching at a high level last season.  Could be a future 200-K kid with tidy ratios but don't overpay as enters in his first full Major League campaign. 
52. Ian Kennedy:  Signed with the Kansas City Royals which puts Kennedy back into the AL.  Disappointed greatly with the San Diego Padres last season but Kennedy's K rate still was very good. 
53. Chris Heston:  Threw a no-hitter as a rookie in 2015 and generally was very good throughout the season.  Could firm himself up as an SP 3 which will be helped pitching in San Francisco. 
54. Joe Ross:  Yet another young kid who has a bright future in a spacious park in Washington.  He doesn't have the K rate of brother Tyson but better control. 
55. Aaron Nola:  Top pitching prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization who has top control and a vast pitching arsenal.  K rate not at ace level but Nola is a tremendous late round upside play. 
56. Jason Hammel:  Very strong first half pitcher who has truly excellent K/BB ratios season after season.  Be sure you sell at the same time you see Scott Kazmir put on the block in your league. 
57. Andrew Heaney:  Great control here as well from former top prospect Heaney and K rate good enough for him to move to SP status. 
58. Drew Smyly:  Check out the numbers from Smyly when he has been healthy the last two seasons and you will find excellent ratios and a very potent K rate.  His health has been frightening lately but give him another try. 
59. John Lackey:  Has had a nice late-career renaissance but Lackey goes to a more offensive park with the Chicago Cubs this season and his mediocre K rate makes him quite boring to own. 
60. Andrew Cashner:  Good arm here but Cashner can't stay healthy and his K rate is simply disappointing considering the power of his fastball. 
 61. Colin McHugh:  Came back to earth in 2015 after a spectacular 2014 campaign which was not a shock since the former was in outlier territory.  Grade out as SP 4 only. 
62. Raisel Iglesias:  Very intriguing and powerful arm here as Iglesias looked tremendous for a short spurt over the summer as he showed some major K stuff.  Very raw kid but take advantage of the how the word is not totally out on the kid yet. 
63. Mike Fiers:  Once again Mike Fiers does the opposite of expectations.  Tossed a no-hitter last season and still has knack of striking out guys despite a fastball only in the high-80's. 
64. Tajuan Walker:  Take away a brutal April and Walker was very solid the last five months of the 2015 season.  Walker still has the strikeout stuff that made him a big prospect in the first place and the ballpark puts him in prime position to be a big asset.  Give him another chance. 
65. Hector Santiago:  Not a fan of Santiago who doesn't have the stamina to make it through a full season due to his slight frame and long history as a reliever.  From April to July though, he can help you with a good K rate and stuff that is hard to hit but with ugly control. 
66. Carlos Rodon:  Solid sleeper here as Rodon has immense power stuff that picks up strikeouts in a hurry but who also has the classic young starter control problems.  Looked like he started to make headway in the second half of last season and Rodon has absolutely been locked in this spring. 
67. Alex Wood:  Yeah we were wrong on Wood last season but so were many others after his eye-opening 2014 raised expectations a bit too high.  Gets a fresh starts with the Dodgers this season but we are still looking for all the 2014 strikeouts and control. 
68. Mike Leake:  Leake has proven himself as one of the better SP 4's in fantasy baseball with his better then you think hit rate and nice control.  Puts himself in a nice spot after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in free agency where he gets to pitch in a spacious park. 
69. Jimmy Nelson:  Lots to like here as Nelson can strike guys out and is improving his deep pitching arsenal.  Just has to keep the baseball in the park more. 
70. Nathan Karns:  Surprised he got traded at such a young age but the late blooming Karns goes to spacious Safeco Field where he can build off his nice 2015 campaign. 
71. Jaime Garcia:  Always been a very good and dependable back end fantasy baseball rotation but Garcia's ill health caps his impact. 
72. Henry Owens:  Lefty was surprisingly poor with his control as a rookie in 2015 since that was what he was known for in the minors but decent upside still in play. 
73. Yovani Gallardo:  Has not signed yet but either way Gallardo has dropped a clear level or two over the last few years as his K rate sinks due to all of his past high inning totals. 
74. Clay Buchholz:  Always have hated on Buchholz since he has been beyond brutal at times the last few seasons and still is getting credit for one big breakout season that is becoming more of a memory. 
75. Patrick Corbin:  Like the sleeper potential here as Corbin has a K rate over 8.0 in his short MLB career and is stingy with the hits.  Keep a late round selection ready for him. 
76. C.J. Wilson:  Veteran generally reliable but age is now taking hold as his always poor walk rate rises more and now the hits are piling up also.  Get off the train. 
77. Wei-Yin Chen:  Lands in a nice spot in Miami with the Marlins where his always decent ratios and K rate will do even better in such a nice ballpark. 
78. Jake Peavy:  Can help you still as an SP 5 in pitching in a good ballpark in San Francisco but Peavy is now on his last legs. 
79. Edinson Volquez:  Generally Volquez was solid with the Royals in going to the American League last season but he is pretty much in SP 4/5 territory as the K Rate is sinking and the control is always dicey. 
80. Nathan Eovaldi:  Throws as hard as anyone in the game but fastball way too straight which doesn't result in the expected strikeouts one would anticipate. 
81. Jerad Eickhoff:  Liked what I saw from Eickhoff the second half of last season when he debuted.  Will have a rotation spot waiting for him in 2016 and arm capable of a K rate over 7.00. 
82. Daniel Norris:  Has beaten cancer and retains decent prospect status with new life in Detroit. 
83. Tyler Lyons:  Bright future here as a St. Louis Cardinals arm given the massive success of their farm system. 
84. Doug Fister:  Not signed yet and poor health have hurt his stuff the last season or so. 
85. Phil Hughes:  Was brutal in 2015 after a shockingly great 2014 campaign.  Still surrenders among the highest amount of home runs in baseball which makes any one start a risk. 
86. Matt Shoemaker:  Simply can't keep the ball in the park which undermines some good strikeout potential. 
87. Jesse Hahn:  Quietly has been a very good back end starter in fantasy baseball with solid enough ratios and K rate.  Ballpark also a bonus. 
88. Jesse Chavez:  Avoid all Toronto pitchers if possible. 
89. Jon Gray:  If not for Colorado, Jon Gray would be a much more attractive young arm. 
90. Tanner Roark:  Has been very solid as a back end rotation guy in a nice ballpark but Roark's poor K rate makes him best suited to non-inning capped formats. 
91. Kevin Gausman:  Has ability given past status as a top draft pick and high mileage fastball but Gausman's control continues to undermine him. 
92. R.A. Dickey:  Avoid all knucklers. 
93. Cody Anderson:  Stream candidate but nothing more. 
94. Anibal Sanchez:  Health taking a major bite out of Sanchez' previously solid stuff.  Becoming just another guy. 
95. Brett Anderson:  Back with the Dodgers and always worth a look due to decent ratios.  K rate sunk to shoddy territory last season though. 
96. Matt Cain:  Yet another early career heavy innings usage victim.  Cain's is shot both in health and stuff. 
97. Bartolo Colon:  Back for another year with the New York Mets and Colon continues to post a decent NL-only ERA.  Only holding a spot for Zach Wheeler though and terrible K rate make him one to use just in NL-only formats again. 
98. Trevor Bauer:  Perhaps the biggest enigma in the game in terms of having big time power stuff but some of the worst location of any starter.  Simply not worth the headaches. 
99. Jered Weaver:  Weaver is now a human batting practice machine as his fastball has sunk to 84 and his K.9 rate is under 6.00 which is simply horrendous.  Salute the earlier numbers in his career and ignore. 
100. Zack Wheeler:  Add this power arm to your bench for a July return and nice second half boost. 

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