The last couple of seasons have made this position the most polarizing aspect of fantasy baseball. There is a legitimate argument for pitchers in the 60-80 range to be ranked in the top 40-60. That is a huge gap between what someone considers a solid pitcher and what someone believes is undraftable. Keep that in mind when you’re conducting your draft prep. I highly recommend ranking your own players and seeing who you believe are those breakout pitchers. Get your guys at starting pitcher.

 Stock Up:

Luis Severino

luis_severino
Corey Sipkin

This is the reason I am such a big fan of taking a chance on post-hype sleepers. There wasn’t much to poke holes in as far as Severino’s ‘17 because he was an absolute stud. The only concern could be that he pitched 45 more innings to get to 193 last season and pitched deep into the playoffs. However, there aren’t many pitchers that are even capable of pitching close to 200 innings any more and the values of Samardzija-like workhorses are increasing because of it. His XFIP and SIERA were ridiculous and there really isn’t anything that points to last season being a fluke. He has 3 excellent pitches and his profile screams ace.

 

Luke Weaver

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It was only 60 innings in 2017, but man was it special. His FIP of 3.17 shows that his 3.88 ERA doesn’t even reflect how good he was. He had a near 10% swinging strike rate and near 50% ground ball rate. He has two plus pitches in his fastball and change, but he throws the curveball 25% of the time to give the hitter more looks. In a world where 150 innings may be the benchmark for most starters, Weaver may give you some of the best numbers per inning.

 

Stock Down:

Johnny Cueto

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Joe Sargent, Getty Images

Outside of injuries in 2013, Cueto had been out pitching his peripherals and putting up great numbers since 2010. He was never really a huge strikeout guy, but there wasn’t a much more consistent pitcher in ERA than Cueto. His innings dropped because of blister problems that plagued pitchers all over baseball. Virtually every stat dropped from his previous seasons and he didn’t outpitch his FIP for only the first time his major league career. So he’s not tremendously old at 32 and he’s not experiencing any debilitating  injury concerns. His velocity is not down. So what happened? The only thing I can find is that he stopped throwing his cutter and threw his slider much more than he has in the past. Did he stop throwing it because of the blisters? I don’t know, but his pitch usage is something to watch in spring training.

 

Cole Hamels

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MAX FAULKNER/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM/TNS

Hamels actually had a similar track record to Cueto coming into last season. Hamels saw a slight loss in velocity and a much lower swinging strike rate from the year before. His numbers were just flat out bad last year. He’s not striking guys out and he’s not the dominant pitcher he was a couple of years ago. He did miss two months because of an oblique strain. With health, he could still be a workhorse innings-wise with a modern day respectable mid 4s ERA. He will be usable, but don’t fall in love with the name brand here.

 

2018 Early Starting Pitcher Rankings

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Chris Sale
  4. Noah Syndergaard
  5. Corey Kluber
  6. Stephen Strasburg
  7. Jacob DeGrom
  8. Chris Archer
  9. Luis Severino
  10. Carlos Carrasco
  11. Jose Quintana
  12. Yu Darvish
  13. Madison Bumgarner
  14. Justin Verlander
  15. Robbie Ray
  16. Carlos Martinez
  17. Zack Greinke
  18. Jon Lester
  19. James Paxton
  20. Aaron Nola
  21. David Price
  22. Alex Wood
  23. Luke Weaver
  24. Jeff Samardzija
  25. Gerrit Cole
  26. Dallas Keuchel
  27. Marcus Stroman
  28. Jameson Taillon
  29. Masahiro Tanaka
  30. Rich Hill
  31. Garrett Richards
  32. Charlie Morton
  33. Luis Castillo
  34. Zack Godley
  35. Danny Salazar
  36. Blake Snell
  37. Johnny Cueto
  38. Shohei Ohtani
  39. Jon Gray
  40. Michael Fulmer
  41. Jacob Faria
  42. Danny Duffy
  43. Jake Arrieta
  44. Gio Gonzalez
  45. Trevor Bauer
  46. Jose Berrios
  47. Kenta Maeda
  48. Kyle Hendricks
  49. Dylan Bundy
  50. Dinnelson Lamet
  51. Lance McCullers
  52. Sonny Gray
  53. Luiz Gohara
  54. Michael Wacha
  55. Chase Anderson
  56. Miles Mikolas
  57. JA Happ
  58. Tyler Chatwood
  59. Brent Honeywell
  60. Jose De Leon
  61. Tyler Skaggs
  62. Drew Pomeranz
  63. Jordan Montgomery
  64. Matt Shoemaker
  65. Sean Manaea
  66. Tanner Roark
  67. Walker Buehler
  68. Taijuan Walker
  69. Rick Porcello
  70. Kevin Gausman
  71. Carlos Rodon
  72. Felix Hernandez
  73. Jimmy Nelson
  74. Aaron Sanchez
  75. Jerad Eickhoff
  76. Joe Musgrove
  77. Cole Hamels
  78. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  79. Patrick Corbin
  80. Alex Cobb

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Patrick McDermott

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