2015 Starting Pitcher Dynasty/Keeper Rankings (Top 75)

Each week, the Assembly will put together their positional rankings for keeper/dynasty leagues. Players are ranked with the next five years of 5 x 5 category production in mind, so when you see Jose Fernandez ranked ahead of Johnny Cueto, that does not necessarily mean that we believe Fernandez will be the superior short-term option.

If you thought that OF and 1B were deep, then get a load of this list. We are only reporting the top 75 starting pitchers here, but there are well over 100 starters who can and should be owned in most dynasty formats. There are plenty of dynamic talents at near the top of the list and some high upside youngsters mixed with solid, useful veterans throughout. Some talented pitchers who missed the cut include Danny Duffy, Andrew Heaney, Daniel Norris, Mike Leake, C.J. Wilson, Chris Tillman, Henderson Alvarez, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Moore, Drew Pomeranz, Patrick Corbin, Kris Medlen, Jason Hammel, Yusmeiro Petit and many, many more. I told you starting pitching is deep.

Our 6 experts, with over 100 years combined fantasy baseball experience, each ranked the outfield position, and here are the results:

Rank Player Paul Kevin Ron Will Jim Tommy
1 Clayton Kershaw 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Felix Hernandez 2 2 3 2 2 2
3 Chris Sale 3 6 4 5 3 3
4 Madison Bumgarner 5 7 2 3 6 4
5 Stephen Strasburg 4 4 7 4 7 6
6 David Price 7 3 9 12 8 7
7 Max Scherzer 6 10 6 6 10 9
8 Jose Fernandez 9 23 5 11 4 5
9 Yu Darvish 12 15 8 7 5 13
10 Corey Kluber 11 5 17 10 21 8
11 Johnny Cueto 10 8 16 16 13 11
12 Matt Harvey 14 24 11 9 12 10
13 Jordan Zimmermann 16 13 15 15 15 12
14 Adam Wainwright 8 9 27 13 20 14
15 Cole Hamels 17 11 12 19 14 19
16 Zack Greinke 13 17 14 14 17 18
17 Masahiro Tanaka 20 16 10 29 9 15
18 Julio Teheran 23 19 13 8 16 23
19 Gerrit Cole 21 26 22 18 11 16
20 Jon Lester 15 18 23 17 22 21
21 Jeff Samardzija 19 20 18 21 32 20
22 Alex Cobb 22 14 25 25 30 17
23 Sonny Gray 28 22 20 22 19 33
24 Yordano Ventura 18 31 19 30 18 34
25 Tyson Ross 29 12 45 26 23 24

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Jim: Some things just don’t need an explanation.

Kevin: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Until his arm flies off his body, he’s solid gold. With today’s SP-dominant market, you can’t play scared of big injuries to your ace. Grab an elite arm early, and if you make it Kershaw, you’ll be set for years to come in dynasty leagues.

2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Ron: Hard to believe Hernandez is going to be 29 in April. Hernandez is a horse who has exceeded 230 IP in five of the past six seasons. In the last two years he’s seen his K/9 peak at 9.5/9.

Tommy: I am done doubting Felix. With a 56% ground ball rate, a 5.39 K/BB rate and the ability to pitch deep into games, he would be the top SP if Kershaw were human.

3. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Kevin: He’s an awkward, skinny man, but he gets the job done with 200 K and one of the best ERAs (3rd in MLB) and WHIPs (4th) you could ask for.

Paul: Second best swinging strike rate in baseball last year, Sale has passed Strasburg for me as far as elite upside and production.

4. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

Kevin: It wouldn’t surprise me if he found another gear and increased his K/9 to compete with the best, but for now it’s around 9.0, and that’s still great when you throw in his good ERA and WHIP.

Ron: Back to back seasons with an ERA below 3.00 and a K/9 that has risen three years in a row to just over a K per inning go nicely with his innings total that reached a career high of 217.1 IP in 2014.

5. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Jim: Would be a top 5 in most worlds, but there are some quality pitchers at the top to compete with. With the exception of Kershaw, the rest of the top 10 are almost interchangeable.

Kevin: He hasn’t yet reached the super-elite level and ousted Kershaw. Yet. He has a little bad luck in BABIP, and a touch of gopheritis. However, his BB/9 is at an elite level, as it his K/9, so if he gets just a little lucky in the future, he could be the #1 SP in any given year.

6. David Price, Detroit Tigers

Kevin: Last year I said Darvish would the my pick to break 300 K. In 2014 Price took a run at it, with 271 K. His ERA was high partly due to a career-high BABIP. If that comes back down a little, and he is more lucky in his wins and losses, he will continue to be a top-5 SP.

Will: Knocked down the list a bit because he is approaching 30 and, well, you know, the giant ERA that hovers in the 3.2s.

7. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers (Free Agent)

Jim: He won’t be 35 until 2019 so there is no fear of regression. That said, he will be solid the next few years but could lose some points in ERA and a few strikeouts after 2016.

Ron: With a K/9 of 10+ three years running, it’s hard not to like Scherzer. I get the vibe that people think he had a down year in 2014. I’ll take a few more 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 252 K down years if others want to pass on Scherzer. Barring something shocking, his landing spot in free agency may have little impact on this ranking. What we don’t want to see is a significant drop in his average fastball velocity which went down a half mph in 2014 by comparison to his 2013 Cy Young year.

8. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins

Kevin: He has amazing stuff, but I want to see him come back from TJS before I go all-in and take him as my #1 SP for a dynasty draft. If you already have him, great. If you are trading for him, don’t pay the highest price.

Tommy: There is always some risk with Tommy John comebacks, but seriously now. Before the injury, Fernandez was striking out 34.2% of the batters he faced with a ground ball rate approaching 50% and a BB/9 just over 2. Those are the type of silly numbers that can only be reached by elite closers and Kershaw.

9. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

Tommy: Darvish is nearly unhittable when he is on, and the K rate is amazing. The issue is that when he is not on he gives up lots of hard contact, so his ERA and WHIP may not be quite what his owners expect given the price tag. Also, the injury risk here is very real since many of Yu’s offerings are highly stressful to his arm.

Will: Darvish has posted K/9 over 11 the past two season. He will probably continue to do that while posting an ERA right around three. Walks are a bit higher than I’d like, but they’re not much of a detractor.

10. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Jim: I’m not completely sold here as his 2014 numbers are way lower than anticipated. I can see an ERA at or slightly above 3.0 with close to 200 strikeouts, but expecting a repeat of his career year is just chasing dreams.

Kevin: My ranking him in the top-5 may seem like a reach, but I liked this kid going into 2014. The risk is obvious: less of a track record, and he’s already older than Kershaw and Bumgarner. But he had huge strikeout potential waiting to break out and finished second in Ks, just two behind Price. His ERA may be at or above 3.00 next year, but the power arm is legit. Invest now before his name becomes as valuable as his actual production.

11. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

Kevin: He was amazing in 2014, but his health has only been good for two of the last four years, and he was a little lucky in BABIP and strand rate. That being said, he posted a career high K/9, so if he can come close to repeating that, he may have simply found a new level. There’s a bit more risk here than other top-10 SP, but he clearly has the ability to pitch like a top-3 guy.

Will: Cueto has consistently had an ERA quite lower than his SIERA and FIP, so at some point I think we can expect that ERA to actually balloon towards three. Yeah, I can deal with that.

12. Matt Harvey, New York Mets

Kevin: I grouped Harvey and Fernandez together. Both young guys with stellar ceilings, but both are coming back from surgery. Just remember that TJS recovery isn’t a guarantee, even if it’s more common.

Ron: Harvey should make it back slightly ahead of Jose Fernandez. As long as the velocity returns Harvey will be on his way to full domination once again. As the innings increase, 250 K seasons could be in his future.

13. Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

Paul: With a SwStr rate over 10% in 2014, Zimmermann took it up a level in 2014. Consistent performer; if he can keep the K rate up, he’s a fantasy ace.

Tommy: A high line drive rate is concerning, but with a spike in Zimmermann’s K rate to 22.8%, everything else paints the picture of a legitimate fantasy ace. Zimmermann pitches deep into games and is a legitimate threat to reach 20 wins along with impressive ratios for the contending Nationals.

14. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

Kevin: I’m normally not one to discount a top player because of age, but with an offseason surgery and the number of innings he’s pitched, plus the fact that he’s on the wrong side of thirty, be aware that you shouldn’t pay as much for Waino as you would other top-10 SP options, even though he may pitch better than most of them.

Ron: The cutter has become Wainwright’s bread and butter pitch. Two things worry me about that. One, he lost 1.5 MPH on his cutter from 2013 to 2014 and he wasn’t throwing it hard to begin with. Second, the cutter is synonymous with a knife; as in a surgical knife. See what I did there? For a guy who’s already gone under the knife once and who finished the 2014 season with arm issues, I don’t like what the future has in store for Waino. He might fizzle out like Roy Halladay sooner than later.

15. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (likely to be traded)

Kevin: You didn’t forget about him, did you? He had a bad first half in 2013, and I feel like many gave up on him as an ace at that point. He’s still young enough to be the anchor to your pitching staff in dynasty leagues.

Will: Hamels is just darned decently consistently and that should continue for the foreseeable future.

16. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

Ron: His 2013 K/9 of 7.50 got a healthy bump all the way up to 9.21 in 2014. The most noticeable change could be seen in Greinke’s pitch arsenal where he mostly ditched the cutter and gave a healthy bump to the usage of his slider. Hopefully we get more of the same in the coming years.

Tommy: I have always been somewhat of a Greinke hater, but it is hard to argue with the numbers. His K rate rebounded back over 25% this year and he kept the BBs down. Any pitcher with a K/BB rate approaching 5 in Dodger stadium is going to be someone you want on your fantasy team.

17. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

Jim: Opted not to have Tommy John surgery so his arm is in question short-term, but long-term he’s an ace capable of 200 K’s annually playing for a team that can get him wins.

Will: I’m sure Yankees fans are salivating at the thought of a full season of Tanaka. Hitters may start to figure him out a bit, but I don’t think you have to worry about him fading much.

18. Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves

Tommy: Teheran is a solid all the way around. His fly ball tendencies will lead to the occasional HR, but a low BB rate and low BABIP will produce a strong WHIP. His K rate limits his upside, but you can do a lot worse with an SP2, and there is always a chance he gets better.

Will: I think Teheran may regress a little in 2015…ERA could hit three. Seriously, the kid’s only 23, I don’t even know that we’ve seen his best pitching yet.

19. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Jim: Cole has all the makings of an ace. There are safer pitchers you can take, but not many with his pedigree and potential. I took a leap of faith ranking him at 11.

Paul: Really quite an impressive start for this top prospect with 21 W and 238 K and a 3.09 FIP in 41 starts to begin his career.

20. Jon Lester, Oakland Athletics (Free Agent)

Ron: Pre-2014, Lester looked to be spiraling downhill and fast. So was his 2014 built on contract year motivation or did he really figure something out that he can continue to apply going forward? His K/9 of 9.01 hadn’t been that high since 2010. His BB/9 of 1.97 hadn’t been that low since A-Ball. It isn’t at all shocking in a contract year to see that Lester mostly ditched his changeup in favor of throwing more cutters. The cutter is largely believed to be a pitch that leads to a greater frequency of arm injuries than a changeup. His changeup velocity wasn’t varied enough from his fastball velocity to be impactful, so something had to for lack of a better word; change! If ever there was a time to see if his arm could hold up to greater usage of a more strenuous pitch, 2014 was the time for Lester. My guess is we won’t ever see a season like 2014 again from Jon Lester, not even close.

Will: Lester had probably his best season in 2014, but I would expect more numbers like his previous seasons…decent enough Ks and an ERA in the mid-threes.

21. Jeff Samardzija, Oakland Athletics

Jim: Part of me looks at his numbers, team, home park and division and anticipates good things. The other part of me looks at Samardzija and see’s Francisco Liriano and is waiting for that other shoe to drop. I will personally ignore him everywhere, but don’t let me stop you from making him the number three guy on your team.

Paul: 200 + strikeouts for the second straight year, Don’t let the W/L records concern you. Ace potential is there.

22. Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Jim: I have to admit I didn’t buy into Cobb coming into 2014 and I’m still hesitant on buying him, but I can’t deny what he has done so far. His minor league numbers suggest he can keep up the pace he set in 2014, and that makes him a very good number 3 for any team.

Kevin: If he doesn’t have a freak injury, he should put up his first full season in  2015, and you won’t be disappointed. His strikeouts fell just a little from his breakout 2013 season, but he improved his walk rate, and the K/9 was still above 8.0. Add in a big ground ball tilt, and I’m a happy camper.

23. Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics

Jim: Walks are still an issue, but he keeps the ball in the yard and has a favorable home and division. I can see the ERA settling in the 3.2 range with 170 strikeouts annually.

Paul: Ground ball specialist followed up his 2013 debut with a big year in 2014, accumulating 219 innings while posting a 3.08 ERA and 183 K.

24. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals

Paul: Everyone watched Ventura dominate in the World Series; this kid has an electric arm and his K rate is just going to climb as he matures.

Tommy: I like Ventura’s upside, but the numbers do not support fantasy acedom just yet. October heroes tend to be over-drafted the following season, and this is a prime example. Ventura is good, but he needs to learn to command his pitches more consistently before he is able to maximize his talents.

25. Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres

Kevin: He’s got a three-year improving trend in GB%, K/9, and swinging strike percent. His slider is absolutely filthy. The issue is whether his arm can hold up while using the slider because he missed some time at the end of 2014, but it was also his first season of 30 GS, so I’d gamble on him repeating.

Ron: The stat that jumps out at me most is that Ross really generates a lot of ground balls. It’s hard to find too many non-elite pitchers with anything close to an 8.97 K/9 and a 2.58 GB/FB rate. He walks a few too many hitters still but with a GB% like his he often finds a way out of any jam he might get into with the free passes.

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The Fantasy Assembly Team

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A combined effort of the greatest fantasy sports minds money can buy. Maybe that is an exaggeration..... but it sounds good.

28 thoughts on “2015 Starting Pitcher Dynasty/Keeper Rankings (Top 75)”

    1. Half of the group put Jose in the 4-5 range which is assuming full health, so that should answer the question about him. As for Harvey, most of the rankings have him in the 10-11 range so bottom half top10 pitcher, and given the talent in the top 10 that is not a knock on Harvey. There is a risk with both though as several have started, but it’s the low risk/high reward kind that makes them worth it.

    2. I agree with Paul, even though I’m bullish on them right now. They clearly have top-10 potential, long-term. But in this way they’re kinda like prospects: POTENTIAL value. See Cory Luebke and Beachy for guys who didn’t come back perfect from TJS, and in the shortest time frame. If you have them, best to hold on instead of sell low. If you want them, don’t pay a top-5 SP price just because they MAY get there by 2016.

    3. If Fernandez were healthy, he would be # 2 for me. He is filthy and so young.

      Harvey is rally good also, but he does not have the same ceiling, IMO, I would put him either 8 or 9.

  1. How did I overlook Carrasco?!? Oops. I really like him too. He’d be in the 35-40 range for me. Arrieta was a big oversight as well. I must have a mental block on pitchers with two-Rs jammed together in their last name. Arrieta would have come in around the low 40s for me if I wasn’t such a “morron”.

  2. Great stuff guys!
    Couple questions though:
    You like S. Miller or Archie LT? Pretty close ranks and it looks like the change in scenery for Miller could help…ATL made Harang fantasy relevant lol
    also, you sold that Ventura is a starter and not a closer-type? Small body and reminds me of Lincecum and we know how he’s doing now. Great article again. More questions may follow :)love early ranks!

    1. I am not a big Miller fan. All of his peripherals are heading in the wrong direction. While ATL has helped a few pitchers bounce back, I would not count on it. If you can get him cheap, then he could be a good value, I am just not sure that he will ever be all that great.

    2. I am not a Shelby Miller fan at all. There’s really not much to like about him on the surface or in the underlying stats. Check him out in my Starting Pitcher Bounce Back Candidates hitting the e-waves tomorrow. He’s a candidate for a bounce back because he was horrible in 2014 but I don’t see it getting any better for him in 2015. Plus, Atlanta doesn’t have that guy named Yadier Molina to help him out.

    1. I had Corbin ranked at 56. I think the fact that he will miss the start of the season has him off most people’s radar screens. My honest opinion is that Corbin is more of an SP 3-4 when 100%, so my ranking is more a product of weighing the next 4.5 years over the next 5 months, but I I would not have him any higher than 40 if he was fully healthy.

  3. Any thoughts on Kyle Gibson? Just average? Also, if you had to take a guess, do you see anyone having a Verlander type drop off? I’m scared of Greinke doing that one of these years….Thanks!

  4. Greinke is up and down, but it is hard to predict a Verlander type drop for anybody. I would say that Wainwright is the elite pitcher definitely in a decline phase, but Darvish for me is the guy most likely to turn into Verlander/Lincecum.

    Darvish already has command issues at times and if he loses a couple ticks on the radar gun, he could be difficult to own. I don’t see that happening in the next couple years, but. I would be looking to trade him if I owned him in a dynasty league.

  5. I would have expected Matt Moore to at least crack the top 75 over some of these guys. Where would you have him sitting realistically?

    1. I think we all overlooked Moore with him being out for the year with TJ surgery so thank you for catching that. I would put him in the mid 40 range myself with a chance to move into the 30’s, but I don’t see him going much higher than that.

    2. I may have missed on Moore, but I wouldn’t rank him as high as Jim. Let’s look at his 2013 season. He posted a good ERA and a mediocre WHIP. He had a bit of luck on his BABIP and strand rate, his BB/9 went up from 2012, and his K/9 went down. I don’t generally roster pitchers with a K/BB under 2.5, and his was 1.9. There’s some potential here, but until he learns to cut down on the walks, I see a repeat of 2012 as more likely than 2013, and in today’s strong pitching market, that doesn’t warrant being in the top-60 SP. Add in the fact that he IS recovering from TJS, and there’s a lot of risk involved.

    3. I did not forget about Moore. He was actually my bubble boy (#76).

      I know he has upside, but I absolutely detest pitchers like him. He walks far too many and does not even have an elite strikeout rate. Until he gets the BBs under control, I will let him ruin somebody else’s WHIP.

  6. If your projecting for dynasty value based on 5 years it seems guys like Giolito, Bradley and Urias should have some value. What’s the reason for their absence?

  7. Thanks for reading Softie!
    Those are some great names and I agree with you as far as their future value goes. For Giolito and Urias you’re looking at 2016 before they debut. Even then it may just be limited time, meaning 2017 before they accrue a full major league season’s worth of innings pitched. While both arms could become true aces, you’re still looking at ranking their first 3 years vs 5 years of more established arms. Obviously for fantasy teams that are not built to win now, they hold more current value than some of the arms on the list, but we had to set a standard for how we would rank, and that was 5 year production.
    Bradley will have more time than the other two, but while I believe I ranked him, I had him lower than Daniel Norris for example who I expect to have a starting role at some point in 2015.

  8. How much do you guys like Jesse Hahn? He is coming off a 3.07 ERA and 3.40 FIP rookie season. With all the new bats the Padres have added that has to up his win numbers. Im asking because I am currently in the 21 round of my dynasty draft and though he would be an interesting pick

    1. He is a decent gamble as long as you keep expectations in check. First off, he is in Oakland now since he was part of the Norris trade. This is not a huge deal, but instead of benefitting from additional run support in SD, he will be assisted by a Padreesque lineup in Oakland.

      As for his skills, he should continue to post good strike out numbers, but his command is in question (BB/9 near 4) and he only has two legit pitches. He has the upside to be an SP 3 or 4 in the fantasy world because of the Ks, but there is also a very real possibility that the AL figures him out by the second half and he becomes un-useable.

      All that said, after round 20 you want upside, and Hahn has some so it could be a solid pick depending on who else is there.

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