Today, we continue the process of previewing the 2016 season from a fantasy baseball perspective. With that in mind, here is part two of the Fantasy Starting Pitcher Rankings. Part one can be found here. This part of the rankings will cover starting pitchers ranked from 41-80.
41-Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners
42-Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Detroit Tigers
43-Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
44-John Lackey, SP, Chicago Cubs
45-Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees
46-Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox
47-Shelby Miller, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
48-Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
49-Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals
50-Ian Kennedy, SP, Kansas City Royals
51-Steven Matz, SP, New York Mets
52-Andrew Cashner, SP, San Diego Padres
53-Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves
54-Anthony Desclafani, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Walker was not as bad as his 4.56 ERA indicated (4.07 FIP) last year. Compared to 2014, he made some under-the-radar progress, as he improved both his K/9 and his BB/9. Zimmermann just signed a $110 million contract with the Tigers. While he’s not going to be an ace, he has been healthy over the last four seasons and the worst ERA he has posted during that span was 3.66.
Verlander showed some improvement in his twenty starts last season (3.38 ERA/3.49 FIP), but is still well off track from his peak years. Lackey should have plenty of win opportunities with the Cubs, but his 2.77 ERA does not quite reflect his actual performance (3.57 FIP). Tanaka had extremely good luck last year (.242 BABIP) but still only posted a 3.51 ERA. Rodon has the raw talent to be ranked much higher than 46, but needs to drastically reduce the amount of walks he gives up (4.59 BB/9 last season) to make that happen.
Miller put up career bests in ERA & FIP, indicating that his performance is headed in the right direction. Also, assuming he pitches reasonably well, he should be able to win more than six games this season. Wacha did win seventeen games last season, which helped to conceal a 3.87 FIP and a modest 7.59 K/9 rate. Last season, Gonzalez had an ERA of 3.79, which was much higher than his 3.05 FIP. However, his high walk rates (3.85 career BB/9) prevents him from being a top shelf option.
I’m not sure what the Royals see in Kennedy that made them want to give him $70 million. While he does give you strikeouts, his ERA/FIP have been above four in three of the last four seasons. Matz had some shiny surface numbers in 2015 (4-0 2.27 ERA) but also had a 3.61 FIP, indicating that he is good enough to be on your roster but isn’t necessarily an ace.
Cashner had a 4.34 ERA, but also some bad luck (.330 BABIP). However, his FIP was still relatively high (3.85), and playing for the Padres is likely to suppress his win total. Teheran had a disappointing season with a 4.04 ERA/4.40 FIP. One of the major culprits for this was a sharp increase in BB/9. Desclafani put up a 3.67 FIP. However, he had a modest K/9 rate of 7.36, and playing for the Reds is likely to keep his win total low.
55-Scott Kazmir, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
56-Jimmy Nelson, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
57-Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
58-Drew Smyly, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
59-Kevin Gausman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
60-Michael Fiers, SP, Houston Astros
61-Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
62-Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Miami Marlins
63-Clay Bucholz, SP, Boston Red Sox
64-Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees
65-Rick Porcello, SP, Boston Red Sox
Kazmir had a strong season on the surface (3.10 ERA), but was aided by good luck (.273 BABIP/3.98 FIP). Nelson is the highest ranking Brewers pitcher on this list (ouch). At first glance, he took a step forward in 2015, but he actually saw his FIP increase from his debut in 2014. Nola appeared to have a strong rookie season (6-2 3.59 ERA), but had a mediocre FIP of 4.04.
Smyly had a 10.4 K/9 in twelve starts last year. However, how much he pitches (153 IP is his career high) is a concern. Gausman has plenty of potential and has had his moments, but hasn’t yet proven he has the ability to pitch consistently well over the course of a season.
Fiers will give you strikeouts and has had a couple of extended hot streaks in his career, but consistency has been an issue with him as well. Corbin pitched well in sixteen starts last year (3.60 ERA/3.35 FIP). However, the number of innings may become an issue. Chen had a nice season on the surface (11-8 3.34 ERA), but had a 4.16 FIP and a pedestrian K/9 rate.
Bucholz has enough talent to be ranked higher, but health is a concern (twenty-nine starts is his career high for a single season). He had a 2.68 FIP and 8.5 K/9 rate last year. If he can stay healthy all year, he could be a massive bargain. Severino looked good on the surface (5-3 2.89 ERA,) but had a 4.37 FIP and a high BB/9 rate. Porcello recorded a career high in K/9 (7.8), but was still not very valuable (4.92 ERA/4.13 FIP)
66-Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, Seattle Mariners
67-Jason Hammel, SP, Chicago Cubs
68-Anibal Sanchez, SP, Detroit Tigers
69-R.A. Dickey, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
70-Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians
71-Jesse Chavez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
72-Kyle Gibson, SP, Minnesota Twins
73-Edinson Volquez, SP, Kansas City Royals
Iwakuma has the talent to be ranked much higher than this (3.54 ERA/3.74 FIP last season); however, health is a major concern. Hammel will give you plenty of strikeouts paired with a middle of the road ERA. Sanchez was a major disappointment last year due to giving up more walks and home runs. Dickey has been good at staying healthy, but his K/9 cratered last year and his FIP has been above four the last three seasons.
Bauer will give you strikeouts, but you have to ask yourself whether the high BB/9 and ERA are worth it. Chavez put up respectable K/9 (7.8) and FIP totals (3.85), but has never pitched more than 157 innings in a season. Gibson has managed to win 10+ games in each of the last two seasons, but with modest ERA and low K/9 totals. Volquez has won thirteen games the last two seasons and had ERA totals that are much better than his FIP totals, indicating he may be in for some regression.
74-Derek Holland, SP, Texas Rangers
75-Mike Leake, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
76-Alex Wood, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
77-Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox
78-Marco Estrada, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
79-Brandon Finnegan, SP, Cincinnati Reds
80-Hector Santiago, SP, Los Angeles Angels
The first question mark with Holland is his health, and the second is what kind of performance he’ll put on even if he stays healthy. Leake has managed to put up double-figure win totals in four of the last five seasons despite ERA & K/9 totals that are nothing to write home about. Wood did show some promise in his rookie season (3.25 FIP/8.91 K/9), but his performance from last year is a major cause for concern.
Rodriguez has more upside than some of the pitchers above him but would need to cut down his walk totals first. It’s nice that Estrada went 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA last season. It’s not so nice that his FIP was 4.40 and his K/9 decreased for the second consecutive season. Finnegan has shown lots of promise (see: 2014 playoffs) but there were several reasons for concern last season (4.80 FIP, 3.67 BB/9), and being on the Reds will likely lead to less win opportunities. Santiago was 9-9 with a 3.59 ERA last year. Its too bad even this modest performance was a mirage, as his FIP (4.77) and BB/9 (3.54) reflect a much uglier image.
All player statistics referenced in this article found on fangraphs.com