26. Masahiro Tanaka – Yankees
- Jim: Tanaka’s 2015 season was very similar to 2014, with the exception of a few more balls leaving the park (resulting in an ERA spike) along with a loss of a strikeout an inning. Moving forward I think we can expect an ERA closer to 3.0 most years with at least an 8.0 K/9. The one red flag is that he opted for rehab over surgery. While 2015 went fine, there is the chance of complications – this is an issue I’ll put to rest when he makes it through the 2016 season.
27. Marcus Stroman – Blue Jays
- Will: I have long (like 2 years now) been a fan of the Stroman Candle and tried to compensate for my fantasy crush on him by ranking him a bit conservatively. Stroman finished 2014 strong and myself and others were ready for him to take the world by storm in 2015, but sadly a Spring Training injury put the kybosh on that. Stroman’s 27 innings in 2015 were very strong, although the 1.67 ERA was a bit of a mirage. An ERA in the mid-threes seems feasible in ’16, but at just 24, Stroman should really start to ramp up the fantasy goodness over the next few years to become a borderline SP1 at some point in the near future.
28. Carlos Carrasco – Indians
- Paul: Carrasco was everyone’s pick to just explode in 2015 and quite frankly, he did. He ranked 4th overall in K%, K%-BB%, and xFIP. The fact that he went 14-12 with a 3.63 ERA just means that it’s time to go steal him from his current owner. His second half ERA of 2.99 was just .59 above his xFIP, whereas his 1st half ERA of 4.07 was 1.23 over his xFIP. That’s what happens when a 50+ GB% pitcher gets a new slick-fielding shortstop. Buy! Buy! Buy!
29. Carlos Rodon – White Sox
- Zak: He was murder to your ratios for months, but he showed why the future is bright after he knocked your fantasy team out of contention. He didn’t allow more than 2 runs in his last eight starts, showed better (though not great) control and continued to strike out a batter an inning. With Don Cooper to guide him, expect continued improvement.
30. Garrett Richards – Angels
- Ron: A nasty injury ended Richards’ 2014 season. Impressively, he made it back in time for a full 2015 season. Given the level of success Richards had with his fastball in 2014, it was surprising to see that it went from his most used pitch to his third most used pitch this past season. The fastball did lose a few ticks from an average velocity of 96.4 mph in 2014 to 95.7 mph in 2015, and maybe that required a different approach. I’m betting Richards distances himself completely from the 2014 season ending knee injury and rebounds nicely in 2016, getting things back on track moving forward.
31. Carlos Martinez – Cardinals
- Kevin: The Cardinals always find ways to convert their pitching prospects into solid fantasy names. Martinez had a “high” BB/9 of 3.2, but it’s perfectly reasonable when paired with a K/9 over 9.0. He has a high first pitch strike percent, so I’d expect the walks to drop moving forward. He adds a ground ball tilt to his game to keep his WHIP in check. The only thing to worry about is his shoulder strain at the end of last year, but the Cards will take care of him and he should be rested enough for a shot at 200 IP in 2016.
32. Tyson Ross – Padres
- Jim: Ross has been the model of consistency since he arrived in San Diego. From 2013 to 2015, his ERA has averaged in the low 3’s, the strikeout rate has steadily improved, the GB% continues to rise (61.5% in 2015) and his BAA has stayed constant. He also showed in 2015 that he is capable of pitching well on the road, although his home ERA suffered. The one red flag here is a growing walk rate, from 3.17 to 3.31 to 3.86 in 2015. His velocity has also been declining, but it’s not to a point that owners need to worry. He can get away with the high walks short-term, but if the velocity continues to drop, some of those K’s will turn into hits which will balloon the WHIP. I Like Ross, but I also would consider moving him in the next 2 to 3 years.
33. Alex Cobb – Rays
- Paul: Cobb won’t return until the middle of 2016, but at just 28 years old he has plenty of dominant years ahead. Cobb is a ground ball specialist, and he supplements that with excellent control and a solid strikeout rate. There’s plenty of risk following Tommy John surgery, but this is the perfect time to get him at a discount.
34. Taijuan Walker – Mariners
- Kevin: He’s still a work in progress. Walker made BB/9 gains in the second half, and his K/9 was still pretty solid by year’s end. He had a rough start to the season, and his ERA never improved from the first half to the second. That being said, there’s still solid potential in his game. He’s still very young, so there could be some more bumps along the way, but his long-term value hasn’t dropped after 2015.
35. Steve Matz – Mets
- Zak: Matz showed a lot of promise during his stint in the big leagues. While he is a worthy dynasty target, don’t spend as your would for Harvey or Syndergaard. I’m not saying he’s Ray Jackson, but he hasn’t proven that he’s Chris Webber either.
36. Yordano Ventura – Royals
- Ron: So much of Ventura’s success seems to be tied to maturity. He is hard to not hate if you watch his antics on the mound. I’ll give him a decent shot at cleaning up that part of his game and taking the next step forward.. Something that does tend to lead to fantasy goodness is a two-seamer that averages 96.2 mph for a guy who will be just 25 years old in June.
- James Krueger wrote and article featuring Ventura which you can Read Here.
37. Jake Odorizzi – Rays
- Will: Odoreater was one of my sleeper-ish picks going into last season and he delivered a solid performance. Odorizzi has lost some of his strikeouts, but a K/9 around eight is certainly manageable, plus he keeps lowering his FIP, possibly in some part due to allowing less hard contact. It is easy to forget that Odorizzi will only be 26 on opening day which is about when he should really hit his stride. I’d like a few more strikeouts or ground balls, but right now I am already on board with Odirizzi as high-end SP4 over the next few years.
- Kevin Jebens discussed Odorizzi in an article the other day which you can Read Here.
38. Adam Wainwright – Cardinals
- Paul: Wainwright incredibly has posted an ERA under 3.00 for 5 of the last 6 seasons. He has pinpoint control, but has started to see his strikeout rate decline. The fact that he’s no longer a 200-strikeout pitcher and that he’s now 34 coming off ankle surgery limits his ceiling. However, very few pitchers have been as consistently great for as long as Waino has been. I’m all-in for 2016, but I can’t say with confidence that I’m in for much longer.
39. Jose Quintana – White Sox
- Ron: Quintana does not seem to get the respect he deserves. Perhaps that’s what happens when you’re a lefty stuck behind a guy named Chris Sale. Do not sleep on Quintana though. He’s doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything well. For the fourth year in a row, Quintana saw his K/BB increase. In 2015 his K/BB checked in at an impressive 4.02. Many of the names above him on this list can’t even sniff that number.
40. Shelby Miller – Braves
- Will: At the moment I am not buying into that 3.02 ERA he posted in 2015, but I can certainly see him posting an ERA between 3.30 and 3.45 in 2016 and lower numbers as he matures. Miller induces a good amount of ground balls and combines it with a decent K-rate. What I like most from his 2015 campaign was the fact that a little over a fifth of batted balls against him were classified as soft contact. A lot of soft grounders and a decent enough K rate sounds like some fantasy goodness to me.
41. Patrick Corbin – Diamondbacks
- Zak: Corbin didn’t miss a beat upon his return from injury. He even threw a little bit harder and was a little more effective. At 26, we should be seeing a nice peak over the next couple of years.
42. Michael Pineda – Yankees
- Kevin: You didn’t expect him to sustain 2014’s ERA and WHIP, did you? He improved his K/9 in 2015, but at the cost of a BB/9 spike. His HR/FB% nearly doubled from 2014, but it was just 9%, near league average. However, his FB% climbed a bit to 45%, so even a league average HR/FB% is going to result in quite a few homers, which partly explains his bad strand rate. At least he was mostly healthy, and that’s what you should focus on. Expect something similar to 2015 with perhaps an improved ERA. That will have value, and maybe you won’t have to pay much for him compared to when he was coming of a sub-2.00 ERA stint from 2014.
42. Francisco Liriano – Pirates
- Jim: I’ve always been skeptical of Liriano, but I’ve slowly come around the past few years. Walks have been and always will be an issue, but a K/9 above 9.0 since 2012 helps offset that – than and a GB% over 50 and a FB% that hovers around 26%. He just turned 32 so you’ve got 2-3 more years of solid production before a potential drop off. I’d be happy with Liriano as my #4 pitcher in a dynasty league.
44. Lance McCullers – Astros
- Paul: McCullers put up a 25% K rate as a 21-year-old last year in the majors, finishing the season with a 3.22 ERA. His improved command played a huge part in his success and is the only real question mark moving forward. He has a dynamite fastball/ curveball combination, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t one of the biggest climbers on this list next year.
- Kevin Jebens wrote an article last week featuring McCullers which you can Read Here.
45. Gio Gonzalez – Nationals
- Will: While his ERA has gone up each of the last few years, his FIP and xFIP the past two seasons have made those ERA’s seem a tad higher than they should be. Gio kept the ball on the ground last year better than he ever has in the bigs and still strikeouts close to a batter an inning. The walks are what kind of keep him a bit lower on our lists, but I think you can still get a 3.40-3.50 ERA with a high amount of Ks for several more years to come. The days of Gio as an ace may be done, but he could sneak in as a low-end fantasy SP3.
46. Alex Wood – Dodgers
- Zak: Wood showed such promise in 2014 and was a popular breakout pick for 2015 but he took a step back in a big way. Fangraphs pointed out that Wood added a slow, ineffective two-seamer, so I hope by focusing on what works we can get something of a rebound next year. If not, Wood my be out of the top 75 for good.
47. Drew Smyly – Rays
- Jim: I ranked Smyly very similar to last year because he still has the same potential, but an injury prevented him from showing he can take that next step. There were some positive signs when he did start pitching in 2015 though. The one major concern I have is his FB% which has been over 40 for the past two years, and that has led to Smyly surrendering 25 home runs in 172 innings. His home park will only bail him out of this problem so many times so. Even with the high home run rate, Smyly is a solid pitcher who should be good for a strikeout an inning along with an ERA somewhere in the mid 3’s.
48. James Shields – Padres
- Kevin: He posted a career-high K/9, and perhaps that’s due to being in the NL and facing pitchers, because nothing else was strong in his game in 2015. He also posted his highest BB/9 and HR/FB%, resulting in his worst ERA and WHIP since 2010. There’s a good chance this was just a blip on the radar, like 2010 was, but he’s also getting older. Shields is not the reliable 200 IP pitcher he has been for the previous five years. Don’t pay top dollar, but I wouldn’t say you should avoid him altogether.
49. Jeff Samardzija – San Francisco Giants
- Ron: Samardzija must be a magician in his spare time because he made his effective two-seam fastball disappear this past season. Batters hit just .243 against the two-seamer in 2014 when Samardzija threw it 803 times. In 2015 though, hitters knocked the two-seamer around to the tune of a .302 average. That might explain why he only threw the pitch 294 times in 2015. Get the two-seamer back and we might have a bargain on our hands with Samardzija. My advice with him is to check in on him around mid-May and see where he sits with the two-seamer then trade (for or away) depending on what you see.
50. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Dodgers
- Jim: Ryu has slipped down the rankings, but that has less to do with his injury and more so with the influx of new talent. Despite the injury setback, Ryu should still be the same player from 2013/2014. You’ll get an ERA in the low to mid 3’s, a WHIP around 1.2 and somewhere around 150 strikeouts over 200 innings. Most fantasy owners look for younger guys with upside, but many overlook the importance of consistency; that’s what you’re getting with Ryu. There’s little upside, but very little downside here.