51. Julio Teheran – Braves
- Ron: It’s difficult for me to get past the 4.23 SIERA and heavily reduced K/BB (3.65 in 2014, 2.34 in 2015) Teheran posted this past season. Taking a look at velocity, there isn’t much to be concerned about with Teheran. He even gained 1.3 MPH on his two-seam fastball. Basically it just looks like Teheran lost the ability to locate pitches and that kind of has to be his bread and butter if he is to have success.
52. Zack Wheeler – Mets
- Kevin: He’s a nice long-term investment if you aren’t pushing all-in for 2016. Yes, he has my favorite combo of high K/9 and high GB%. However, his walk rate was high last we saw him, and he’ll need to prove he can better his 2014 mark to make me invest. Add in the fact that he’s not as young as some of the other available phenoms, and that he’s coming back from TJS, and the short-term future is risky.
53. Hisashi Iwakuma – Mariners
- Paul: Iwakuma isn’t flashy, but he’s consistently very good. If I thought he’d actually pitch another 5 years in the majors, I would have ranked him a fair bit higher. Of course, knowing where he’ll end up pitching in 2016 would help too. Wherever he ends up though, you can count on an excellent WHIP with his outstanding control, and a lot of quality starts. Last year, I was a doubter, but in the second half Iwakuma had a 3.05 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 100 innings. I will no longer doubt him.
54. Luis Severino – Yankees
- Jim: Severino showed nice steady progression through the minors: steady walk rate, high strikeout rate, and a FIP on par with his ERA. The numbers he produced during his 11 games with the Yankees in 2015 were somewhat in line with his minor league lines – 8 quality starts and 10 of 11 games with three runs or less. It was his first time in the league so I expect him to get hit around a little in 2016, but once he adjust I think he has the makings to be a solid pitcher and could exceed his current ranking.
55. Lucas Giolito – Nationals
- Zak: Giolito will be in Washington soon and dynasty leaguers should get excited. His velocity jumped up a little bit so that he finds himself in the 95 mph range. That’s a good start. As he develops secondary pitches and command, we could see a stud soon.
56. Jaime Garcia – Cardinals
- Will: Hard to argue with Garcia’s results last season, posting a sub-three ERA over his 129+ innings. It’s not like this was completely out of nowhere as he also posted an ERA below three in 2010. Garcia tends to keep himself out of trouble with a heavy dose of grounders, but I think the bit of hesitance with him is the whole not pitching more than those 129.2 innings in any of the last four seasons. The stuff is there to be productive, but he need the innings to be there for him to move up the rankings a bit more.
56. Kenta Maeda –
f/a: Signed by Dodgers
- Zak: He might get a big payday from a big league club, but we are not looking at a future fantasy ace from what I’ve read about him. It’s had to say anything for certain till we see him in the majors, but I’m not inclined to pay a steep price to find out.
- Paul: Maeda will be bringing it to the majors in 2016, following the footsteps of Iwakuma, Darvish, and Tanaka. He looks more like Iwakuma than the others, but should be able to put up a better K rate. A lot of conjecture in this ranking, but he’s coming at a great age for pitchers (27) and if Iwakuma was 27 I’d probably rank him here too.
58. Andrew Heaney – Angels
- Will: I like Heaney’s potential upside, but right now I still see him as a high-end streamer, maybe an SP4 somewhere off in the distance.
- Ron: Heaney unveiled a new weapon in 2015, relying heavily on a sinker he didn’t show during his 2014 call-up. Unfortunately the sinker produced a .325 batting average against. I believe the best is still to come from Heaney and he will settle into a reliable back-end option for fantasy rotations.
59. Raisel Iglesias – Reds
- Kevin: I shined the spotlight on Iglesias last week outlining his potential to be a top 30 starter.
- Jim: I have mixed feelings here. The Cuban import has a lot of potential and deserves to be ranked, but his lack of experience and inability to keep the ball in the park have me concerned – his home park doesn’t do him any favors in the home run department. Worst case scenario would be he turns into an average pitcher to anchor the bottom half of your rotation.
60. Justin Verlander – Tigers
- Zak: You can see from the ranking I am optimistic, and can read more about why Here.
- Ron: Justin Verlander had a major return to relevancy in the second half of 2015. Was it smoke and mirrors or legit? Typically for Verlander it has been about the fastball velocity and location. In his most dominant form he was able to climb the ladder with 95 mph on average and pump it up to triple digits when needed. His fastball sat at 93.2 on average during the 2015 season so I am a little skeptical Verlander can be anywhere near as good as his 2.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP produced in 2015’s second half.
61. Scott Kazmir – Dodgers
- Kevin: An 8-point swing in strand rate helped keep his ERA low in 2015, but that means he may not repeat. In terms of skills, he regressed slightly in K/9 and BB/9. Three years of health is great, but he’s got a delicate balancing act going on with his ratios. I’m taking the worst of his last two years and not expecting anything better than a 3.50 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. There’s potential value based on what you have to pay, but don’t go the extra dollar.
- Jim: Kazmir was serviceable in Tampa, fell apart in Los Angeles and Cleveland, came to life in Oakland, and then started to come undone when traded to Houston. He lacks the ability to go deep into games, and his flyball tendencies could be problematic depending on where he signs. I see Kazmir as a placeholder on fantasy teams waiting for something better to come along and nothing more than a matchup guy.
62. Julio Urias – Dodgers
- Paul: Urias dominated AA at 18 years old and was promoted to AAA just after his 19th birthday. He has excellent command to go with a mid 90’s fastball and a plus curveball and change-up. He has top-of-the-rotation potential, but may get there slowly as he has got to build up his innings. Was #42 aggressive considering he may only put in 3 full seasons worth of innings over the next 5 years? We’ll see. I’m expecting dominance right out of the gate from the young left-hander.
- Will: I just have a tough time getting on board quickly with a kid who has only thrown 4.1 innings above double-A. May be good down the road, but I haven’ seen anything yet saying he is ready to make the jump.
63. Aaron Nola – Phillies
- Paul: Nola did well in his debut season with the Phillies, going 6-2 with a true 3.59 ERA. He hardly walks anyone and had a 21.4% K rate in the second half. With his ability to produce ground balls at a high rate, any uptick in that K rate puts him in very good company among starting pitchers. He won’t have a .750 winning percentage in Philadelphia, but he should produce solid overall numbers – and he’s just 22 years old.
- Ron: I need to give Aaron Nola more credit. He had a solid first go-around the league. His 3.58 K/BB is respectable and he produces ground balls (47.6%). My distaste is that he plays for the Phillies who need some time to get things together.
- Kevin Jebens discussed Nola in an article the other day which you can Read Here.
64. Derek Holland – Rangers
- Kevin: Two years lost to injury. An okay BB/9 in 2015 but a low K/9 for fantasy purposes. Some gopheritis in 2015. He’s young enough to bounce back, but even his solid 2013 wasn’t amazing. He has to prove he can be healthy, and he has to prove his strikeout rate to return a profit. Worth a flier late in the draft, or a buck salary, but don’t bother if the price goes any higher.
- Jim: Holland was on a lot of sleeper lists going into the 2014 season, and he was on his way to fulfilling that promise when he went down with an injury. He has decent strikeout abilities, and while the home park seems scary it doesn’t appear to bother Holland that much. In dynasty leagues I would look to buy low now as his value can’t get any lower.
65. Collin McHugh – Astros
- Kevin: He lost some of his strikeout potential, but it improved slightly in the second half so a return to 8.0 is possible. His walk rate stayed solid, and he improved his GB% slightly, lining him up for another valuable season in 2016. Despite no change in his HR/FB ratio, his strand rate was low which points to some bad luck and a likely ERA improvement moving forward. I’d put his floor at 2015, and he’ll likely be better moving forward with a 3.20 ERA and 1.15 WHIP possible in the near future.
- Zak: McHugh’s curve is big and nasty. He has been working on and improving additional pitches (cutter, four seamer), and he’s been a different player since going gluten-free. Honest. While 19 wins may not be repeatable, the rest of the numbers are still mixed-league worthy and there is a possibility for more.
66. Kevin Gausman – Orioles
- Will: I am still somewhat believing, a tad bit, in the hype that came with Gausman. I think it is in him to be a viable piece of a fantasy rotation in the coming years.
- Jim: He has upside, potential, and is still young despite the fact we’ve been talking about him for years. Unfortunately he hasn’t shown much more than flashes of brilliance at the major league level. Gausman is out of options so he will be with the big club in 2016 regardless. Maybe I’m making a mistake not ranking him, but it’s hard to ignore the vast amount of talent ahead of him right now.
67. James Paxton – Mariners
- Zak: I actually like Paxton, who just got bumped from my list. But he can’t help you if he’s not on the field and he hasn’t been able to stay on the field on a regular basis. If you target him in a deal, you will still have to pay for potential that may never come to fruition.
- Ron: 2015 was a stalled year for James Paxton as he dealt with a strained tendon on the middle finger of his pitching hand. With that behind him now I see no reason to knock him down from how he was viewed going into the 2015 season. I’m willing to invest here.
68. Jose Berrios – Twins
- Paul: Berrios sure put it all together in 2015, going 14-5 across two levels while striking out 175 hitters (versus 38 walks) in 166 innings pitched. He has nothing left to prove in the minors and should see a lot of time in the Twins rotation this year, giving them the #1 SP they haven’t had in quite some time.
- Will: Berrios may have a very bright future, but he is barely allowed to legally drink in America and has no experience in the bigs yet, so I am holding off.
69. John Lackey – Cubs
- Will: Slackey is 37 years old, and while he was amazing last year, I am also 37 and I can tell you, the good times end soon.
- Zak: Lackey is not a fit for your dynasty team if you are rebuilding, and I wouldn’t expect another sub-3 ERA, but he showed enough control and command over a long enough stretch to convince me he’s a good bet for solid numbers for a few more seasons.
70. Jimmy Nelson – Brewers
- Kevin: He has the potential to take the next step forward, but it’s no sure thing. Improved his ERA, WHIP, and GB%, but his BB/9 and HR/FB jumped. I could see slight improvements in the short-term, but he’s not likely to develop into an ace. Worth a few bucks if you temper your expectations.
- Zak: The Brewers never seem to get the best out of their pitching prospects, and while Nelson was solid for flashes I can’t tout him as highly as similar pitchers in other organizations.
71. Ian Kennedy – f/a
- Ron: The 3.61 SIERA and 3.35 K/BB suggest Kennedy should have been a bit better than his 4.28 ERA and 1.30 WHIP from 2015. It will be interesting to see where Kennedy ends up as the long ball was a major issue for him even though he called home to baseball’s best pitcher’s park (1.66 HR/9).
- Kevin: Two months of bloated ERA hid an otherwise very solid season. He defied the naysayers by maintaining his K/9 above 9.0, and he even slightly improved his walk rate. He gave up too many home runs, but if he can get his HR/FB back near his career rate, that ERA could quickly drop to 3.50. He’s a solid workhorse with sneaky value as a #3 SP.
- James Krueger briefly discusses Kennedy’s future Here.
71. Wei-Yin Chen –
f/a: singed with Marlins
- Jim: I value consistency which is why I like Chen. He’s good for an ERA in the 3.5 range, a 1.2 WHIP and about 150 strikeouts. If he signs with a National League team I don’t see any reason to expect anything less. There is no upside here, but the floor is high. Chen is a solid arm and only 30 years old so he has some good years ahead of him.
- Paul: Chen is 30 years old and has had just one season with an xFIP under 4.00. He has a below average strikeout rate, and has a tendency to give up the long ball. A new home park won’t hurt, but I don’t see a lot of upside here.
73. Derek Norris – Tigers
- Paul: I’ve always been a big Norris fan; I mean what’s not to like? He has four plus pitches, great control and pitches in a great ballpark. Opponents hit just .213 against him in the second half, which would have been 7th best in baseball for the season. His HH rate was 24.6% in that period; which would be 9th best in the majors. He’s my favorite sleeper for 2016 – as a dynasty keeper, he’s a top option.
- Ron: Despite an uptick in scoring across the league in 2015, pitching is still insanely deep. The fact I didn’t even rank Daniel Norris is evidence of that. He has some growing pains ahead of him, but once he figures it out we have a very usable pitcher here.
74. Lance Lynn – Cardinals
- Jim: I see some owners downgrading him; that’s understandable since he’ll miss the 2016 season. This makes him a perfect buy low player. Lynn showed steady improvements over the years, has better than average strikeout abilities and has a great team behind him in St Louis. Lynn will never be a WHIP guy, but he is someone to count on for ERA, strikeouts and wins.
- Will: Coming off a year with a 3.44 FIP, a K/9 of 8.57 at age 28? Plus he has yet to have a FIP over 3.49, that spells a fantasy SP4 for me. Stash him until he comes back or take him off the hands of an impatient owner.
75. Henry Owens – Red Sox
- Kevin: He’s young enough to develop into a solid #3 fantasy starter at his peak, but the next 1-3 years could be rough. BB/9 too high considering his K/9 isn’t great. Fly ball pitchers have a harder time unless in the NL West. Doesn’t have elite fastball velocity, though he still gets players to swing and miss, so maybe there’s hope for future K/9 growth. He’s okay in deep leagues, but there are plenty of other options with equal risk and more upside.
- Jim: He was one of the top lefty pitching prospects heading into the 2015 season. After three years of solid growth in the minors his numbers slipped in AAA in 2015, but he turned things around when promoted to the majors. The strikeouts are another year away; he did manage a double-digit K/9 through AA. Walks are still high, but they have been trending downward each year along with his home run totals. Owens also has a minor league H/9 of 6.76 which is reason for optimism. There will be some growing pains, but I believe he will adapt quicker than most prospects.
So who was ranked that did not make the top 75? Andrew Cashner & Anibal Sanchez were next in line, followed by Nathan Eovaldi, Tyler Glasnow and Alex Reyes who each appeared on 3 sets of rankings. After that we have a list of over 25 pitchers who each appeared on one or two sets of rankings, but none of them scored a ranking lower than 50 and almost all of them were over 60. There were a few prospects in there, so if you didn’t see who you were looking for, Paul Hartman and Andy Germani should be covering them come January when they begin their prospect rankings.
That wraps up our Starting Pitcher rankings. Tomorrow begins our Relief Pitcher/Closer coverage which wraps up on Sunday with our top 20 relievers.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2016 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.