2015 Starting Pitcher Rankings – Top 100

In past years you would have to act quickly if you wanted an elite pitcher.  Welcome to the new world order, where pitchers rule supreme in what seems like an endless supply.  Miss out on a top 10 guy; no problem, the players from 11 to 20 are only a step below.  If you wait a little longer and miss out on the top 20, the next 10 will put up solid stable numbers.  Even if you go outside the top 30 you’ll find guys like Yordano Ventura, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Mat Latos; players that will put up good numbers with the potential to perform like a top 30 pitcher.  Once you’ve established your elite core group there is an endless supply of depth for the mid to later rounds to fill out your pitching staff along with a number of hot prospects still in the minors that could make their presence known at some point this season.

If it hasn’t sunk in yet I’ll spell it out for you, pitching is D E E P this year.  This can lead to all sorts of scenarios and draft strategies.  There will be articles telling you to load up on elite arms early and create a juggernaut and they would be correct.  You may hear some tell you to stock up on hitters early and wait on pitching; guess what, they would be correct as well.  There is no right or wrong draft strategy and any one of them can work if you stick to the plan, but that is a different topic for another day.  Today is all about pitching.

Below are our top 100 Starting Pitchers for the 2015 season.  If you feel we overlooked someone or would like to debate a players ranking, feel free to do so in the comment section below.

Rank Player Ron Will Tommy Jim Kevin
1 Clayton Kershaw 1 1 1 1 1
2 Felix Hernandez 2 2 2 2 2
3 Chris Sale 3 3 3 3 3
4 Madison Bumgarner 7 4 4 4 6
5 Max Scherzer 4 5 5 5 7
6 Stephen Strasburg 5 7 6 6 4
7 David Price 8 6 7 7 5
8 Corey Kluber 6 8 8 10 9
9 Johnny Cueto 9 12 9 13 12
10 Zack Greinke 10 11 13 11 11
10 Yu Darvish 12 9 10 8 17
12 Cole Hamels 11 15 14 9 10
13 Jordan Zimmermann 14 14 11 14 8
14 Adam Wainwright 16 10 12 12 22
15 Jon Lester 13 13 15 16 16
16 Alex Cobb 19 16 16 15 14
17 Jeff Samardzija 15 19 19 24 19
18 Hisashi Iwakuma 26 21 23 18 13
19 Matt Harvey 22 17 18 17 33
20 Gerrit Cole 17 31 21 19 20
21 Masahiro Tanaka 31 23 17 21 18
22 Alex Wood 23 30 25 20 15
23 Tyson Ross 21 25 24 26 21
24 Julio Teheran 18 22 27 23 38
25 Jake Arrieta 24 28 22 35 24
26 Sonny Gray 20 18 31 28 39
27 James Shields 28 20 44 25 23
28 Gio Gonzalez 30 27 39 27 26
29 Hyun-Jin Ryu 33 24 34 30 29
30 Cliff Lee 44 26 30 26 30
30 Jacob deGrom 27 32 26 31 40
32 Marcus Stroman 37 35 33 32 31
33 Carlos Carrasco 25 43 20 46 36
34 Andrew Cashner 32 40 42 36 32
35 Anibal Sanchez 47 33 41 38 35
36 Drew Smyly 39 53 37 41 28
37 Mat Latos 29 38 52 29 55
38 Yordano Ventura 34 52 36 33 49
38 Zack Wheeler 38 42 55 44 25
40 Lance Lynn 45 29 45 42 44
41 Doug Fister 51 34 50 34 37
42 Michael Wacha 35 41 32 40 59
43 Garrett Richards 36 37 28 37 71
44 Phil Hughes 41 47 35 75 27
45 Chris Archer 48 36 60 39 43
46 Ian Kennedy 40 44 51 47 45
46 Homer Bailey 56 39 48 43 41
48 Jose Fernandez 53 59 40 49 34
49 Michael Pineda 43 60 29 48 60
50 Jose Quintana 52 50 63 51 42

With the exception of the final few players and the occasional rogue ranking, all the players in the top 50 were ranked in the top 50.  We were in total agreement on the top 3 which I’m sure might irk some Bumgarner, Price and Scherzer fans; they were the next 3 which you can place in your own order of preference.  Looking down the list the list of talent is exceptional, if not unprecedented.  While there is a drop-off in talent from one tier to the next; overall the players in the top 50 are all solid and worthy choices to build a team on.  Still, there are some players in this group (or possibly from the next 50 on page 2) that some of us favor more than others, and a few that we may avoid for a variety of reasons.  Who are they?  Read on and find out (or just scroll down and click on page 2 if you’re only here for rankings).

Players that you would reach for in the draft

Tommy:  Many default rank lists appear to rank SPs rather aggressively. For that reason, any of the top 8 SPs are worth reaching for in the top 3 tounds, but your team may be better served by waiting. Carlos Carrasco is an obvious target to reach for. Phil Hughes and Michael Pineda are two more undervalued pitchers worthy of a mid round reach.

Kevin: Clayton Kershaw is the number one SP for sure, but I’m so high on him that I’d take him after the first five or so bats are off the board. 

Will:  I have been high on Marcus Stroman from the get-go and now Stroman Candle goes out and adds a Roy Hallday-esque sinker to his repertoire? Forget about it! Going around the 12-13th round, I’ll go as high as the 9th-10th round.  Next is Hisashi Iwakuma; with a SIERA below three, a K/BB rate over seven, a ground ball rate around 50% and a pitcher-friendly home park, Iwakuma will be about as consistently consistent as it gets. Finally Masahiro Tanaka who is a bit riskier coming off injury, but when healthy he was putting up numbers as good as anyone not named Kershaw. I might not reach too much, but I think there is enough pitching later to cover me if Tanaka goes on the shelf again.

Ron:  I am reaching for at least one pitcher in the top 9 or 10 starting pitchers in my rankings. The deeper the league the more I am enticed to want to grab two of the top 9 or 10 from my rankings. The reason for this is that the middle tiers seem to be where the greatest depth is but there is still a big difference between the true aces in the game and the rest of the crop. I am still in support of going with a hitter in the first round, but give me Chris Sale, Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg in the second round and I will be perfectly happy. Following that up with Corey Kluber or David Price in the third round would form the kind of 1-2 punch I covet. Marcus Stroman will be on my roster if he is still there in my next pick immediately after the top 150 are off the board. Other upper middle tier arms I will likely make a point to roster are Gerrit Cole, Alex Cobb, and Tyson Ross.

Jim:  Given the depth of the position there really are no pitchers I would reach for.  There are a few players I like more than others that I would target though.  I believe Gerrit Cole could end up being a top 20 pitcher.  Yordano Ventura will easily outperform his current ADP and is someone I might take a round or two earlier.  For some reason people are down on Mat Latos this year, but I love the consistency he has shown over the years and 2015 could be his best year yet given his new home address.

Players you will avoid drafting

Tommy:  Sonny Gray is overrated. Avoid unless he falls. James Shields and Julio Teheran are two more pitchers whose ADP does not align with their skill level. All three of these guys are relatively safe, but their numbers are likely to regress and I think it is highly unlikely that they live up to their current draft position. The last name to avoid is Justin Verlander. When you draft him, you are paying for his name and his past accomplishments. He is likely to leave your team ERA and WHIP in ruins.

Kevin:  I realize the high upside of guys like Matt Harvey, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jose Fernandez. However, given that two are recovering from major surgery, and two opted for rehab but could still end up needing surgery anyway, they are all big risks for 2015 redraft leagues.

Will:  I don’t know how he keeps doing it? Kyle Lohse has outperformed his SIERA and xFIP numbers by at about half a run to a run in each of the past four seasons and has never posted a SIERA below four. You most likely won’t have a SIERA category in your league, but at some point that ERA will be around four.  R.A. Dickey seems like a nice enough fella, but the American League just doesn’t quite agree with him and I don’t see that changing this season.  Clay Buchholz is another one I’ll avoid. Do not expect 2010, and certainly not 2013, numbers from Clay. Let’s see, he doesn’t really strike guys out, and posted a 5.34 ERA in 2014. I may use SIERA a bit much, but only once has Clay had one below four and that was in 2007…when it was 3.91. Nothing really points to him turning things around any time soon. 

Ron: The Sonny Gray hype is not for me. He is a solid source of quality starts but rarely gives you anything that resembles an ace. In re-draft formats I am also staying away from Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright, and Masahiro Tanaka. I imagine one and possibly even two of these high-ceiling, injury concerns will work out okay but I do not like those odds.

Jim:  Phil Hughes was a train wreck up until last season.  I’ve read the Chris Carpenter references and how he was a mess before becoming Chris Carpenter, but I’m not going to jump on the Hughes bandwagon until he proves he can do it again.  Same thing goes for Carlos Carrasco to a lesser extent.  I see what he did last season but I also know what he did prior to 2014.  In a keeper league I might be tempted to hold him, but in a redraft league I can find safer options.  I’ll round out my one hit wonder theme with Scott Kazmir.  The last time he produced an ERA below 4.0 was in 2008; 2014 was a good year and nothing more.

Page 2

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17 thoughts on “2015 Starting Pitcher Rankings – Top 100”

  1. So in my writing before, I have asked questions regarding my 5×5 roto, 10 team, 10 keeper league. This year I kept C Buster Posey, 1B Jose Abreu, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Arenado, MI Rendon, OF Springer, OF Adam Jones and P’s Kimbrel, Darvish, and Bumgarner. I have the last pick in each round and we do an extended draft. So far through the first 6 rounds my picks were Tanaka (pick 110 keepers considered), Danny Santana SS (120), Mookie Betts OF (130), Cody Allen(140), Mark Trumbo CI (150), and Sonny Gray (160). I have 6 reserve spots, one starting pitcher, 1 OF and one utility spot left to fill. How would you grade my picks so far? And who should I target with my next pick, OF or P, with guys like Stroman, A.J Pollock, B Moss, McHugh, Soo-Choo, Alex Rios, Mike Minor, Cashner, Werth, Khris Davis, S Pearce, Fiers, Latos, And Y Ventura all left and 3 picks before I pick again?

  2. Tim,

    That is a nice group you have there!

    I do not love the Danny Santana pick, but the rest all seem like good values. Just be sure to exercise patience with Betts if he is not playing everyday to start the season. I think he will be a keeper for you in time.

    Stroman and Pollock are the best two players on the board, so I would take one of them if they are still there when your pick comes up.

    If you are weak anywhere, it is in your SP depth. Darvish and Tanaka both have significant injury risk, and if one of those guys goes down, you could be scrambling a little. I would be looking to draft a couple SPs in the next 4 rounds if I were you.

    Stroman would be my next pick for sure if he is still there.

    Thanks for writing and good luck!

    1. So my picks after writing were Stroman, S. Souza (I think I definitely jumped on him), , McHugh, Steve Pearce, Leonys Martin, Marcus Semien, and Kang. I’d like one of these pitchers with my last two picks and how would you rank them? Paxton, Jimmy Nelson, Gausman, Sabbathia, Rodon, Cingrani, Medlen, H Bailey, Hutchison, Porcello or E Santana.

      I also flipped Souza and Adam jones for Bryce Harper and Kole Calhoun. I’m guessing you probably won’t like this trade Tommy, but let me know.

      1. Sorry Tim. I am just now seeing this. With regards to your trade, it is not a move I would have made unless I were building for the future, but that is because I am down on Harper and high on Souza. I think most would say you got a good deal there. Calhoun is obviously an upgrade over Souza and Harper could outproduce Jones this season. If Harper ever reaches his ceiling, than you win the trade going away!

        With the pitchers, I would take Bailey, Gausman, Hutchison, Paxton and then Santana for this year. Rodon has the highest ceiling long term if you are thinking that way.

        I don’t think Porcello, Cingrani and Nelson are worth drafting in most roto formats. Porcello does not K enough and Nelson and Cingrani walk too many.

        Good luck!

  3. @Kevin… you think you’re high on Kershaw, I’d take him first overall! (in all leagues)

    Good stuff gentlemen. I’m gonna be contemplating which arm to take at 15/16 in my upcoming money league…. maybe even two.

    1. I remember the times when Johan Santana or Pedro Martinez were being debated as a possible first pick. When someone dominates a position that much, no matter where they play, you certainly have to consider them!

      In most leagues, I could see you getting Felix and whoever you rank third for SP. I bet Kershaw will go in first half of first round, but most people will probably wait after that. Of course, that depends on your format.

  4. 12 team head to head points keeper league
    Keeping Hamels in the 7th and Brantley in the 12th

    Would it be crazy to look at Scherzer with the 5th overall pick in a h2h points league? Trout and Encarnacion are other league keepers. Strasburg, Sale, Kluber all keepers too. My first reaction is to jump on Goldschmitt or Cabrera and wait for the greinkes and zimmermans of the draft, but ace pitchers seem to be the top scorers in my league with 10 points for a win, 3 points for IP and 1 point for Ks.
    I can see Scherzer overtaking Felix for the 2nd best pitcher in baseball with the Nats, so wouldn’t it make sense to lock him up with Hamels and then look for my core bats in rd 2,3,4, maybe like Braun, Harper, pujols, Agon,kemp and such…..I’d miss that huge bat, but that’s quite a 1-2 punch in the too scoring categories….or am I looking too much into it since pitching is pretty deep too…
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks! Great read as always!
    John

    1. If Miggy or Goldschmidt are available, it’d be wise to grab one of them.
      It’s great to have aces, but you can’t replace what these 2 will bring to your lineup.
      The arms will be there late. There are lots of them.
      Good luck

    2. Not crazy at all John. IMO, the answer depends on how many bats you start. If you start 10 hitters or less, then it is a mistake to draft hitting first because replacement level value on the wire is astronomical.

      If you start 13 or more bats, then you should probably go with the hitter. Anything in between is a coin flip for a points league.

      Good luck!

  5. Hey gentlemen! Could use your input on some deeeeeep pitching. 15 teams, 24 rounds are over. We add one player a day, for three players. I’m going with three arms. Any input would be great. Montero vs Gee? Happ? Haren? DeSclafani? Joe Kelly? Lincecum? Karns? Despaigne? Brett Anderson?

    My starting five is Harvey, Tanaka, Cole, Bauer and Cain. Rodon on the bench.

    Points league, so could use some 2-start choices, but not against stashing another future gain.

    Thanks, you guys are tops on my list!

  6. I have to be honest Chad, I am not excited by any of those options. Then again, when are you in round 24 of a 15 team league that is what generally happens.

    I would guess that there are still a couple hidden gems out there, like perhaps Daniel Norris or Kyle Gibson, but of those pitchers I would have to go with Gee and Kelly as the least likely to do harm.

    Also, Bauer is worth keeping for sure, but be careful using him. Walk issues and a bad infield defense limit his upside, and he has been very up and down this spring. I just don’t trust him.

    Good luck!

  7. Yeah. I’m not excited either, hence my plea for help. Lol. Norris is gone. Is Gibson starting? Also, what are your thoughts on the A’s rotation when Parker and Griffin come back?

  8. Gibson will be the #4 starter for the Twins this year.

    As for the A’s rotation once Parker & Griffin are healthy I see Jesse Hahn being one of the players to lose his job; either by demotion to AAA or a move to the bullpen.
    He threw just 52 innings in 2012, 69 innings in 2013 and 115 last season. Hahn was stellar for the first few months but flamed out in August. Come the end of June he should be at around 100 and I don’t see the A’s pushing him much past 140; 150 at the most.
    I’m confident an injury will take care of the other spot that Parker/Griffin need to fill – it usually does.

  9. I disagree with Jim on the A’s. Hahn will likely see his innings limited at some point, but he is easily their third best, and possibly second best SP.

    Due to a limited arsenal from Pomeranz, he may be best suited for bullpen work long term. He has been effective there before and I think he is likely to struggle in the rotation again this year before going back to the pen, possibly for good.

    Graveman is a sleeper to keep an eye on for sure, but his upside is extremely limited. He is a control artist who lacks the stuff to really put anybody away. That will likely leave him in streamer territory.

    Those two are most likely to lose their spots, but I would not count on Griffin and Parker outperforming any of the healthy arms in Oakland’s opening day rotation.

    1. I’m disagreeing or disparaging Hahn’s stuff, I’m just saying that right around when Griffin and Parker are due back Hahn will be close to his innings limit. Given his potential and upside, I don’t see the A’s pushing him past a certain innings limit.

      Parker or Griffin may not outperform any of the healthy arms in the rotation, but what they have done in the past, if they prove they are healthy they will get the opportunity to try. That means a talented arm will have to be demoted.

  10. I can’t argue with the limit, I just think it will be closer to 170 or 180 innings.

    If so, who on that staff aside from Gray would you bet on reaching that number? I am taking the under on all of them individually. One might get there, but barring an injury to one of the top 3, I don’t think Graveman or Pomeranz will get that chance.

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