2015 Early Rankings: Starting Pitchers (Top 75+)

Starting Pitchers are the most volatile group in fantasy because of the injury factor.  In 2014, we lost Patrick Corbin, Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlen and Luke Hochever to Tommy John surgery before the season even started.  A.J. Griffin, Ivan Nova, Josh Johnson, Matt Moore and Jameson Taillon were all down for the season by the end of April.  The following month Jose Fernandez reminded us that not even the biggest names can avoid the Tommy John reaper when he comes for you.  Overall, 24 pitchers underwent TJ surgery in 2014.  When you factor in the dead arms, shoulder and elbow strains, blister and hand lacerations, hamstring pulls, etc.., it’s enough to drive a fantasy manager to drink.

You will notice when you go through these rankings that a number of those names mentioned above were not ranked.  That is not because we don’t like those pitchers, it’s just the simple fact that most of these players may not be ready to start the season.  That may change as we get closer to the spring training, but for now they are only guys to keep on your radar and maybe take a late round flyer on.  Enough of the small talk, you came here for rankings.

Joining me for these early rankings (along with where you can find them) are all the regulars, plus a special appearance from Ray Guilfoyle of fake teams who is filling for Seth Klein (@SethDaSportsMan) who is recuperating:

Doug Anderson (@rotodaddy) from Fantasy Sports Network
Timothy King (@TKing978) from The Sports Script and host of Fantasy Forecaster on Blog Talk Radio.
Chris Meyers (@FantsyChillpony) from David Gonos and contributor for Fake Teams.
Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams) from Fake Teams.

Each week we will be bringing you our top (and bottom) players at each position for those baseball junkies who crave fantasy baseball all year round.  Before we get to the rankings, lets take a look at this years free agent class.  Brett Anderson, Scott Baker, Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Kevin Correia, Gavin Floyd, Jason Hammel, Aaron Harang, Josh Johnson, Kyle Kendrick, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Lester, Colby Lewis, Francisco Liriano, Paul Maholm, Justin Masterson, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Brandon McCarthy, Franklin Morales, Brandon Morrow, Felipe Paulino, Jake Peavy, Wandy Rodriguez, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Kevin Slowey, Carlos Villanueva, Ryan Vogelsong, Edinson Volquez, Randy Wolf and Chris Young. 

There are several big names in this class, headlined by Scherzer, Lester and Shields who will fetch top dollar.  Serviceable veterans like Peavy, Kuroda, Lewis, Masterson, Burnett, Hammel, Liriano Santana and Johnson should also have little trouble finding work both in real life and fantasy.  The rest of the names will more than likely sign someplace; for the most part they are late round flyers and roster fill, but a few can gain relevance with a favorable signing.  Yea, I know, enough of the talk, you want rankings.

The rankings below represent the top 75 (plus) starting pitchers for the 2015 season.  If you don’t see the player you were looking for or think someone was omitted, feel free to inquire in the comment section below.

Rank Player Chris Ray Jim Tim Doug
1 Clayton Kershaw 1 1 1 1 1
2 Felix Hernandez 3 2 2 2 2
3 Chris Sale 5 3 3 4 6
4 Max Scherzer 8 5 5 5 3
5 Madison Bumgarner 4 9 4 3 9
6 Stephen Strasburg 7 11 8 7 8
7 Yu Darvish 6 8 7 8 13
7 David Price 12 13 6 6 5
9 Johnny Cueto 16 7 10 9 7
9 Adam Wainwright 2 6 14 13 14
11 Cole Hamels 13 12 9 10 11
12 Zack Greinke 10 10 12 14 10
13 Corey Kluber 39 4 11 12 4
14 Jordan Zimmermann 18 15 13 16 15
15 Jon Lester 32 14 16 11 12
16 Alex Cobb 22 16 18 15 16
17 Julio Teheran 14 25 17 17 21
18 Matt Harvey 9 20 20 24 30
19 Sonny Gray 15 30 22 20 20
20 Jeff Samardzija 21 24 26 21 19
21 James Shields 29 27 21 19 17
22 Garrett Richards 20 17 32 26 32
23 Tyson Ross 42 29 27 22 22
24 Masahiro Tanaka 41 22 15 34 31
25 Hisashi Iwakuma 40 23 28 27 26

Of the top 12 pitchers, Wainwright has the biggest question mark on his back.  I’m sure there are concerns about his arm and health here, he could move up or down as we get closer to spring.  For the most part, all of the other players in the top 25 (minus a rogue ranking) belong where they are with the exception of Masahiro Tanaka.  Like Wainwright, Tanaka has an injury cloud hanging over his head since he decided on rest and rehab over surgery.  Tanaka is easily a top 20 pitcher and the classic risk/reward player, he could be a bargain on draft day or go down two weeks into the season.  Just like Wainwright, check his health status prior to draft time and use your best judgment.  If you can come out of the early rounds with one of the top 12 and add another from the next tier, you’ve got the makings for a solid staff.

Rank Player Chris Ray Jim Tim Doug
26 Doug Fister 19 36 30 23 37
27 Gerrit Cole 36 26 19 43 25
28 Jacob deGrom 31 28 31 28 36
28 Gio Gonzalez 26 46 23 18 41
30 Mat Latos 24 21 25 35 52
31 Anibal Sanchez 38 33 34 36 27
32 Hyun-Jin Ryu 34 19 29 29 58
33 Cliff Lee 11 48 24 25 64
34 Michael Wacha 23 40 37 31 46
35 Chris Archer 37 45 43 38 29
36 Yordano Ventura 33 35 35 52 40
37 Alex Wood 55 51 33 37 24
38 Jered Weaver 59 18 45 41 45
39 Andrew Cashner 30 39 39 39 65
39 Homer Bailey 25 50 41 30 66
39 Jake Arrieta 53 42 46 53 18
42 Marcus Stroman 54 34 40 55 34
43 Lance Lynn 43 N/R 36 33 23
44 Zack Wheeler 64 31 44 48 42
45 Carlos Carrasco 51 41 48 50 48
46 Justin Verlander 35 N/R 42 60 43
47 Ian Kennedy 70 54 47 47 51
48 Scott Kazmir 47 56 N/R 54 28
49 Drew Smyly 69 70 38 40 55
50 Mike Minor 27 62 58 42 N/R

Here is where the discrepancies start.  Four players ranked in this group were not ranked inside the top 75.  I’ll take ownership of my non ranking for Kazmir as I don’t think he come close to what he did last season, you can question the others on twitter.  Three names stick out here, and we’ll start with Cliff Lee.  He was a staple in the top 20 for years, but his injury combined with his age has frightened fantasy owners and experts alike.  I’ll repeat what I said about Wainwright and Tanaka; reassess things as we get closer to spring, he could find his way back into the top 25 by then.  Drew Smyly is next with ranking from 38 to 70.  While we all agree he is a top 75, we have a difference of opinion on just how good he can be.  The same thing goes for Mike Minor who ranked between 27 and 62 and was left off completely on one list.  Minor is officially a box of chocolate, you don’t know what you’re gonna get.  Verlander can be put in the same box as Minor, and both have the potential to be a real bargain (or bust) on draft day. 

Overall this is a solid group filled with veterans and upside players who should add stability to the middle of your roster.  Not everyone here is a guarantee to live up to their rankings, but the upside of these players compared to the ones in the next tier makes them worth a gamble.

 

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Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.

5 thoughts on “2015 Early Rankings: Starting Pitchers (Top 75+)”

  1. Bumgardner I took the last two years at 40 looks like a second round pick this year in my 14 team league.
    Who would I be looking at 40 this year for a starting pitcher.

    1. Strasburg, Darvish, Cueto, Kluber and Price are all players going off the board near that range in standard leagues.

      That is usually where I look to grab my first SP also, unless I get a great value (like Felix at 26 in a recent mock)

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