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Updated Pitcher Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Mixed Leagues (July)

As if preseason rankings and projections weren't fickle enough already... Now, we are presented with a delayed, shortened season that has already seen several players opt out while others are uncertain to return after testing positive for COVID-19. For that reason, you won't see David Price or Felix Hernandez in these rankings and others are subject to change as news breaks daily.

Despite the challenges of playing ball in 2020, MLB is giving it a go. That means the fantasy baseball season will finally get underway as well. As always, RotoBaller is here to provide you with the most up-to-date player news and rankings. With our recently updated mixed-league rankings based on a 60-game season comes a position-by-position breakdown of the top risers, fallers, and outliers. First up is the crucial starting pitcher position.

Do aces still hold the same appeal as they did pre-pandemic when we assumed something closer to a full season? ATC projections guru Ariel Cohen thinks so and I certainly agree. Although starting pitcher is technically the deepest position in fantasy baseball, it still comes off as top-heavy in terms of value. A total of 55 SP are projected to bring a positive return of value. While some lower-tier pitchers could emerge as pleasant surprises, there is just as good a chance that hurlers drafted within the top-100 overall players will disappoint.

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Starting Pitcher Ranks - 5x5 Mixed (July)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season.

Rank Tier Player Pos Nick M Nick G Pierre David Riley
1 1 Gerrit Cole SP 4 5 5 6 10
2 1 Jacob deGrom SP 11 7 6 9 9
3 1 Max Scherzer SP 16 10 14 17 18
4 2 Justin Verlander SP 18 16 16 19 19
5 2 Walker Buehler SP 22 20 11 18 23
6 2 Mike Clevinger SP 20 32 22 30 29
7 2 Jack Flaherty SP 31 25 19 31 34
8 2 Shane Bieber SP 23 27 30 26 30
9 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 29 46 18 39 39
10 2 Clayton Kershaw SP 40 40 25 47 33
11 2 Charlie Morton SP 45 44 56 46 48
12 2 Yu Darvish SP 57 51 41 59 59
13 3 Luis Castillo SP 54 66 34 61 40
14 3 Blake Snell SP 58 43 74 42 47
15 3 Patrick Corbin SP 56 75 45 56 49
16 3 Lucas Giolito SP 61 73 48 52 65
17 3 Chris Paddack SP 83 57 37 63 58
18 3 Zack Greinke SP 67 101 46 72 64
19 3 Tyler Glasnow SP 72 72 76 71 57
20 3 Shohei Ohtani DH/SP 115 #N/A 100 54 96
21 3 Lance Lynn SP 77 99 104 89 109
22 3 Aaron Nola SP 103 87 92 99 74
23 3 Brandon Woodruff SP 117 91 85 90 91
24 4 Frankie Montas SP 93 83 122 98 119
25 4 Trevor Bauer SP 111 104 65 119 83
26 4 Jose Berrios SP 105 121 57 118 93
27 4 Carlos Carrasco SP 81 102 121 114 106
28 4 James Paxton SP 92 111 124 97 112
29 4 Corey Kluber SP 89 137 117 92 99
30 4 Sonny Gray SP 107 123 87 126 111
31 4 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 121 117 125 109 121
32 4 Julio Urias SP 134 138 115 111 120
33 5 Jesus Luzardo SP 127 165 116 108 101
34 5 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 167 133 130 101 130
35 5 Mike Soroka SP 145 140 138 112 124
36 5 Zack Wheeler SP 114 142 156 124 140
37 5 Madison Bumgarner SP 141 179 95 122 127
38 5 Kenta Maeda SP 130 148 105 164 161
39 5 Matthew Boyd SP 143 110 141 154 139
40 5 Max Fried SP 164 135 82 168 142
41 5 Kyle Hendricks SP 147 146 143 120 153
42 5 Dinelson Lamet SP 142 130 135 151 125
43 5 Lance McCullers Jr. SP 123 141 147 171 157
44 5 Zac Gallen SP 133 147 180 125 132
45 5 German Marquez SP 188 208 88 158 149
46 6 Mike Minor SP 190 183 119 167 156
47 6 Robbie Ray SP 172 185 134 183 138
48 6 Andrew Heaney SP 173 159 191 153 174
49 6 Luke Weaver SP 160 202 163 173 172
50 6 A.J. Puk SP 176 176 158 223 197
51 6 Carlos Martinez SP 162 210 199 165 162
52 6 Jake Odorizzi SP 219 178 195 145 190
53 6 Mike Foltynewicz SP 193 230 165 170 181
54 6 Joe Musgrove SP 175 166 173 277 182
55 6 Sean Manaea SP 179 168 273 199 177
56 6 Jose Urquidy SP 205 172 256 188 178
57 6 Mitch Keller SP 214 248 169 191 199
58 6 Rich Hill SP 180 177 255 225 255
59 7 Marcus Stroman SP 234 212 205 187 195
60 7 Alex Wood SP 197 227 179 251 217
61 7 Ross Stripling SP/RP 203 198 263 224 265
62 7 Caleb Smith SP 227 237 207 227 210
63 7 Dylan Bundy SP 228 171 295 226 221
64 7 Yonny Chirinos SP/RP 287 204 250 196 264
65 7 Jordan Montgomery SP 215 254 206 300 342
66 7 Masahiro Tanaka SP 241 193 157 402 198
67 7 Garrett Richards SP 244 278 234 272 244
68 7 Ryan Yarbrough SP 307 232 277 228 285
69 8 Brendan McKay 1B/SP 359 #N/A 217 210 330
70 8 Jon Gray SP 277 289 211 280 209
71 8 Dallas Keuchel SP 301 264 236 294 282
72 8 Josh Lindblom SP 248 277 #N/A 301 268
73 8 Nate Pearson SP 249 273 268 313 321
74 8 Nathan Eovaldi SP/RP 329 265 276 239 239
75 8 Dylan Cease SP 202 292 369 250 211
76 8 Reynaldo Lopez SP 296 346 212 265 284
77 8 Drew Pomeranz SP/RP 239 252 208 424 276
78 8 Freddy Peralta SP/RP 352 274 224 273 466
79 8 Aaron Civale SP 334 325 269 201 291
80 8 Cole Hamels SP 253 290 279 317 270
81 9 Griffin Canning SP 339 353 238 220 337
82 9 Hunter Harvey SP 314 297 229 321 358
83 9 Diego Castillo RP/SP 328 287 #N/A 282 275
84 9 Spencer Turnbull SP 275 316 274 342 382
85 9 Miles Mikolas SP 401 249 324 245 326
86 9 Sandy Alcantara SP 279 421 200 335 302
87 9 Ryan Helsley SP 292 340 349 259 #N/A
88 9 Steven Matz SP 395 307 226 325 307
89 9 Anthony DeSclafani SP 330 315 237 380 299
90 9 Adrian Houser SP 252 268 381 377 290
91 9 John Means SP 263 303 357 369 294
92 9 Kyle Gibson SP/RP 303 348 272 383 398
93 10 Joey Lucchesi SP 404 293 203 408 224
94 10 Kevin Gausman SP/RP 286 308 412 306 417
95 10 J.A. Happ SP 414 311 311 329 426
96 10 Chad Green SP/RP 316 294 345 412 335
97 10 Anibal Sanchez SP 300 319 327 435 309
98 10 Dustin May SP 413 332 301 353 312
99 10 Pablo Lopez SP 427 328 308 343 352
100 10 Jose Quintana SP 419 411 227 #N/A 328
101 10 Marco Gonzales SP 434 335 290 354 365
102 10 Homer Bailey SP 313 352 398 352 450
103 10 Corbin Burnes SP/RP 362 338 337 384 327
104 10 Austin Voth SP 304 327 407 387 378
105 10 Rick Porcello SP 383 306 316 423 411
106 10 Spencer Howard SP 291 323 531 287 277
107 10 Zach Plesac SP 331 361 #N/A 398 288
108 10 MacKenzie Gore SP 403 365 #N/A 337 404
109 10 Chris Bassitt SP 317 321 415 425 390
110 10 Johnny Cueto SP 398 424 228 436 403
111 10 Nick Burdi SP 363 405 354 #N/A #N/A
112 11 Justus Sheffield SP 388 432 329 349 427
113 11 Mike Fiers SP 420 330 397 358 368
114 11 Dakota Hudson SP 344 382 383 397 343
115 11 Patrick Sandoval SP 356 370 384 414 429
116 11 Bryan Abreu SP 357 408 #N/A #N/A #N/A
117 11 Julio Teheran SP 439 415 300 385 386
118 11 Tyler Mahle SP 351 403 362 428 416
119 11 Kwang-Hyun Kim SP 342 347 448 427 393
120 11 Jordan Yamamoto SP 433 471 259 403 #N/A
121 11 Yusei Kikuchi SP 565 310 302 #N/A 465
122 11 Wade Miley SP 373 417 409 399 372
123 11 Brad Keller SP 478 472 260 #N/A 472
124 11 Jakob Junis SP 435 375 411 #N/A 438
125 11 Jonathan Loaisiga SP 430 398 399 401 #N/A
126 11 Drew Smyly SP 353 410 458 413 498
127 12 Matt Shoemaker SP 511 368 360 409 360
128 12 Jon Lester SP 416 458 370 406 349
129 12 Jeff Samardzija SP 425 478 347 438 341
130 12 Kyle Wright SP 418 476 374 437 401
131 12 Tony Gonsolin SP 521 402 400 382 459
132 12 Merrill Kelly SP 415 480 410 #N/A 437
133 12 Gio Gonzalez SP 463 466 385 #N/A 408
134 12 Domingo German SP #N/A 438 #N/A #N/A #N/A
135 12 Danny Duffy SP 489 457 405 #N/A 492
136 12 Zach Davies SP 483 522 350 #N/A #N/A
137 12 Trent Thornton SP 558 467 333 #N/A #N/A
138 12 Sean Newcomb SP/RP 503 439 420 #N/A #N/A
139 12 Collin McHugh SP/RP 586 384 392 #N/A #N/A
140 12 Nick Pivetta SP/RP 508 442 414 #N/A 501
141 12 Kyle Freeland SP 444 543 416 419 #N/A
142 12 Chad Kuhl SP 424 487 #N/A #N/A #N/A
143 12 Jordan Lyles SP 429 461 481 #N/A 405
144 12 Michael Pineda SP 592 #N/A 394 389 451
145 13 Daniel Ponce De Leon SP 590 482 305 #N/A #N/A
146 13 Asher Wojciechowski SP/RP 432 488 #N/A #N/A #N/A
147 13 Elieser Hernandez SP/RP 513 495 493 341 #N/A
148 13 Martin Perez SP 468 463 451 #N/A 500
149 13 Eric Lauer SP 534 441 418 #N/A #N/A
150 13 Forrest Whitley SP 481 511 403 #N/A 419
151 13 Tanner Roark SP 524 506 373 #N/A #N/A
152 13 Adam Wainwright SP 536 469 402 #N/A #N/A
153 13 Michael Fulmer SP 499 451 463 #N/A #N/A
154 13 Michael Wacha SP/RP 498 460 456 #N/A #N/A
155 13 Logan Webb SP 487 459 #N/A #N/A #N/A
156 13 Brad Peacock RP/SP 471 443 515 #N/A #N/A
157 13 Randy Dobnak SP/RP 472 481 #N/A #N/A 458
158 13 Corbin Martin SP #N/A #N/A 477 #N/A #N/A
159 13 Chase Anderson SP/RP 560 586 417 371 494
160 13 Brent Suter SP 682 401 376 #N/A #N/A
161 13 Jake Arrieta SP 543 509 413 #N/A #N/A
162 13 Zach Eflin SP 594 #N/A 393 #N/A 448
163 13 Trevor Richards SP/RP 520 468 #N/A #N/A 471
164 13 Jose Urena SP/RP 616 #N/A 386 #N/A #N/A
165 13 Alex Young SP 464 541 #N/A #N/A 464
166 13 Trevor Williams SP 577 537 396 #N/A #N/A
167 13 Matt Strahm RP/SP 569 440 #N/A #N/A 446
168 13 Adam Plutko SP 636 #N/A 375 #N/A #N/A
169 13 Tyler Clippard SP/RP 495 520 #N/A #N/A #N/A
170 13 Vince Velasquez SP/RP 589 #N/A 428 #N/A 489
171 13 Carlos Rodon SP 501 534 #N/A #N/A #N/A
172 13 Jhoulys Chacin SP 461 575 #N/A #N/A #N/A
173 13 Antonio Senzatela SP 457 581 #N/A #N/A #N/A
174 13 Mike Montgomery SP/RP 584 512 468 #N/A #N/A
175 13 Darwinzon Hernandez SP 562 576 427 #N/A #N/A
176 13 Kendall Graveman SP 606 #N/A 446 #N/A #N/A
177 13 Enyel De Los Santos SP #N/A #N/A 529 #N/A #N/A
178 13 Casey Mize SP 585 551 467 #N/A 455
179 13 Taijuan Walker SP 676 #N/A 395 #N/A #N/A
180 13 Austin Pruitt SP/RP 509 578 #N/A #N/A #N/A
181 13 Daniel Norris SP 619 #N/A 474 #N/A #N/A
182 13 Derek Holland SP/RP 551 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
183 13 Alec Mills SP 531 572 #N/A #N/A #N/A
184 13 Shaun Anderson SP 537 582 #N/A #N/A #N/A
185 13 Ivan Nova SP 658 #N/A 464 #N/A #N/A
186 13 Matt Manning SP 587 539 #N/A #N/A 488
187 13 Anthony Kay SP 564 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
188 13 Cal Quantrill SP/RP 624 507 #N/A #N/A #N/A
189 13 Kolby Allard SP 566 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
190 13 Justin Dunn SP 550 588 #N/A #N/A 493
191 13 Tarik Skubal SP #N/A 570 #N/A #N/A #N/A
192 13 Tyler Chatwood SP/RP 573 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
193 13 Ranger Suarez SP 576 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
194 13 Deivi Garcia SP 579 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
195 13 Brusdar Graterol SP 657 502 #N/A #N/A #N/A
196 13 Jon Duplantier SP 627 #N/A 541 #N/A #N/A
197 13 Sixto Sanchez SP 622 552 #N/A #N/A #N/A
198 13 Luis Patino SP 629 555 #N/A #N/A #N/A
199 13 Clarke Schmidt SP 595 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
200 13 Brett Anderson SP 596 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
201 13 Alex Cobb SP 608 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
202 13 Felix Pena RP/SP 612 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
203 13 Jose Suarez SP 630 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
204 13 Ian Anderson SP 631 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
205 13 Sam Gaviglio SP/RP 637 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
206 13 Framber Valdez SP 696 583 #N/A #N/A #N/A
207 13 Jalen Beeks SP/RP 698 600 #N/A #N/A #N/A
208 13 Jeff Hoffman SP 651 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
209 13 Logan Allen SP/RP 652 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
210 13 Cam Bedrosian SP/RP 654 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
211 13 Touki Toussaint SP/RP 666 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
212 13 Tanner Rainey SP 669 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
213 13 Jordan Zimmermann SP 671 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
214 13 Bryse Wilson SP 678 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
215 13 Tyler Anderson SP 685 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
216 13 Daniel Mengden SP 687 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
217 13 Michael King SP 689 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
218 13 Dereck Rodriguez SP 690 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
219 13 Devin Smeltzer SP 692 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A
220 13 Matt Hall SP 697 #N/A #N/A #N/A #N/A

 

Tier One

A few weeks ago, I was the sole ranker who had Cole, deGrom, and Buehler all as first-rounders in 12-team leagues. Now, it appears we are all valuing aces more during a short season. Most notably, Gerrit Cole is a top-five pick for all but one of our rankers. For my part, he isn't just my top SP - I've got him over Mike Trout in my final draft rankings now that there is legitimate concern that the best hitter in the game may miss a week or more for paternity leave and is even considering sitting out the 2020 season. I don't expect Cole to go seven innings every time out, but the strikeout category will be yours to own if you select him. He looks game-ready based on early Summer Camp results, striking out nine in 5 2/3 scoreless innings during an intrasquad game, for what that's worth.

Just when you thought there was no more of a sure thing than Jacob deGrom... The reigning two-time Cy Young award winner left his most recent outing after one inning with back tightness. As of this writing, the severity is unknown, but it can't go ignored if his season debut is delayed.

 

Tier Two

Walker Buehler has been the third SP off the board throughout most of the preseason, but he's recently been passed over in favor of veterans Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The long delay gave Verlander enough time to recover from his groin injury and the 60-game schedule inspires confidence that both pitchers over the age of 35 will make it through unscathed. ATC projections have Buehler trailing both vets in strikeouts while posting similar ratios.

I had no issue projecting Buehler to keep pace with the K leaders and taking another step to lowering his walk rate, keeping a tidy WHIP that could stay under 1.00. That was until today when I saw this:


If Buehler is going to have a hard time reaching his projected 69 IP, then 80 K and five wins might be out of reach. Every plate appearance and batter faced will make a difference in 2020, so Buehler must be knocked down a couple of spots.

As a previous Yu Darvish loyalist, it's easy to have trust issues. His superb second-half numbers from 2019 (2.76 ERA, .119 BAA, 118 K, seven BB in 81 2/3 IP) propel him to SP12 in our draft rankings, but if he gets off to a slow start like last season (5.01 ERA, 73 K, 41 BB in his first 61 IP) then this will be a massive draft bust. The stuff has always been there; it's just a matter of where his head is at.

 

Tier Three

When comparing the top of the third tier, Luis Castillo and Blake Snell are neck-and-neck in our rankings but I've got a 40-spot gap between the two! The Snell justification is easy. He's saying all the right things now, but when a player spends more time focusing on money than game preparation, it's a red flag for me. Then there are the elbow issues he had last year and the fact that the Rays are notorious for bullpen hijinx, so I'm taking a more cautious approach with him.

Castillo's ranking may be aggressive, but I'm looking to lock in high-strikeout options early on and he fits the bill. Plus, if Castillo was able to notch 15 wins with last year's version of the Reds, he can do better this year (prorated to 5-6 wins, of course). He's entering the prime of his career at age 27 on a rising team that gets a favorable Centralized schedule. What's not to like, especially with all the red in his Statcast profile?

The 10% walk rate is something not to like, I'll admit, but I view 2019 as more of an outlier in that regard than a growing trend. His Zone% was over 50% the previous two seasons before falling to 41.6% last year. His Whiff rate jumped to 36% and he didn't see his WHIP rise despite walking more batters. Add in the fact that Castillo has been throwing bullpen sessions in Cincy for a while and claimed that he is ready to go 6-7 innings right now, I'm all in.

My esteemed WPC+ co-host Nick Gaut must be tired of all the Zack Greinke stories on his feed. That and the fact he outperformed his SIERA by a full run last year. For they reason, he has Greinke outside the top 100 overall, while I have him inside the top 50. In a way, he is the opposite of the aforementioned Castillo - an older pitcher with waning velocity and an underwhelming strikeout rate.

Still, I view Greinke being nearly as valuable because he has a high floor and can stabilize your ratios all season. Aside from Greinke, only four qualified starters posted a WHIP below 1.00. Two of them went home with a Cy Young award and all four (Verlander, Cole, Flaherty, deGrom) have an ADP inside the top 25. Why should Greinke fall so far in a year where playing it safe with top-tier starters should be the rule? I'll take the bet that he stays closer to 3.00 on his ERA along with an immaculate walk rate that keeps him as a top-20 SP with no real reason to worry.

 

Tier Four

Trevor Bauer is another starter in flux right now. He is away from the team while he waits for a test result. If we assume the best-case scenario, he is a reliable starter who has tossed at least 150 innings for six straight seasons culminating with a career-high 213 IP last year. That doesn't mean so much in a shortened season, but he's a safe bet to run deep in games and, as shown above, is projected by ATC to have the fourth-highest strikeout total in the majors.

He's also helped by the schedule itself. The realignment to regional matchups will favor NL Central pitchers most. In Cincinnati's case, this includes six matchups with the Tigers, four with the Royals, and three with the potent but strikeout-prone White Sox. Don't forget that the Pirates are in their division and provide another 10 favorable matchups. Bauer won't lead the league in ERA, but he is a good bet to anchor a fantasy staff as a second arm.

Speaking of AL-NL Central matchups, Jose Berrios is another solid rotation option that doesn't always get the proper due. He was one of 15 pitchers to reach the 200-inning mark last year and still has the backing of one of the best offenses in the league, promising a safe floor for counting stats. He also gets intra-divisional foes like Detroit, KC, and Chicago on the slate along with the Brewers, Reds, and Cubs, who all finished in the bottom-12 in K-rate against right-handed pitching in 2019.

I've never been a huge Paxton guy, but I get why his draft stock is rising. The delay helped him more than any starting pitcher in allowing him to get fully healthy and shake off concerns of an innings limit. The Yanks are all-in for a pennant run (as usual) and will be without Luis Severino and now Aroldis Chapman, so Paxton won't get the luxury of skipping starts. That's better for those who invested in him late in February/March drafts. The increased emphasis on divisional opponents helps him as well. As Riley Mrack pointed out in his excellent SP Risers article, "Paxton went a perfect 6-0 over his final six starts versus the AL East, while owning a 1.73 ERA and 26.6% K-rate in this span... The Red Sox were the only team in the division to have across the board success versus lefties last season, but the loss of Mookie Betts will undoubtedly impact their offense in 2020." Paxton isn't the ADP value he used to be and I'm not spending a top-100 pick like others of my ilk, but if he's still available after pick 120 then I am comfortable pulling the trigger.

 

Tier Five

Mike Soroka has gotten enough air time on our overvalued pitchers podcast and overachiever articles, so it's best to simply hear and read what has already been said about him by Nick G and myself. He doesn't possess the K upside to offset likely regression in his ratios, he doesn't have the friendliest home park for pitchers, and now has a DH to contend with for intra-division battles. Pass.

Recurring theme alert: MadBum is a veteran arm who should be among the NL leaders in innings pitched and therefore could finish among the top 20 in strikeouts and wins while providing a solid ERA with little risk. It seems as if he's been around forever but Bumgarner is just 30 years old and how has the motivation of starting with a new team.

The move to Chase Field won't hurt as much as speculated. It ranked 16th in runs and 20th in home runs for Park Factors last year. As it turns out, he should still get two turns to pitch in his old home as the D-backs will play at San Francisco seven times. Petco and Dodger Stadium are still on the slate, as is Oakland Coliseum and Angel Stadium. Let's just hope his turn in the rotation is missed during the three-game series at Coors from August 10-12.

Schedule aside, Bumgarner gets a bump from me this season because of the reliability factor and the fact he checks the box in one of the most telling stats: K-BB%. Even with a rise in Barrels and ERA, he finished with a 19% K-BB%, which ranked 21st among qualified starters. He's not losing velocity either, as his four-seamer clocked an average of 91.4 MPH - the highest since 2015. I'm not talking myself into thinking we'll get vintage MadBum, but I'm not shying away from him either.

 

Tier Six

I'm by far the most bullish on Mike Minor, ranking him 119th while the next closest is Riley at 156. We're so used to thinking of Minor as injured that we must have collectively forgotten how outstanding he was in 2019 before tailing off in the second half. If he can get off to a strong start again,

All preseason I wondered aloud why Jesus Luzardo was trending toward a top-100 ADP while former top prospect A.J. Puk sat around pick 245. The gap has closed slightly, as Puk is now going around 213 overall in NFBC leagues. The decision has been essentially made for us now that Luzardo has been diagnosed with COVID and remains quarantined. Puk is all but guaranteed a rotation spot now and is a high-ceiling arm to target in the later rounds. His RP eligibility is an added bonus.

Another risk-reward pick is Pittsburgh's top prospect, Mitch Keller. The Bucs haven't done the best job developing young talent lately, with Keller's 7.13 ERA last year a prime example, but supposedly the team has finally decided to embrace a 21st-century approach to the game. New pitching coach Oscar Marin and manager Derek Shelton will do their best to develop Keller's natural ability. Still, it's hard to say if Keller will be ready to perform near ace level or if he needs more seasoning to be dependable in fantasy circles. I'm willing to gamble on the talent.

 

Tier Seven and Lower

Garrett Richards is a bargain starter available past pick 200 who could pay off handsomely. Paul Sporer recently picked him as a dark horse candidate to lead the league in strikeouts. He could start the year as the #2 arm in San Diego's rotation and now appears to have no innings restriction in place due to the shortened season.


I don't doubt his ability, but the fact that he's only pitched 142 innings over the past four seasons combined leaves me hesitant to spend a draft pick on him during this "sprint" of a season (had to work it in somewhere). As a late-round flier, the reward might be worth the risk but I'm more likely to abandon risky pitchers of any sort in 2020.

We probably won't see the 2017 version of Alex Wood now that he's back in L.A. but the 2018 version wouldn't be too bad. An ERA in the mid-threes and WHIP around 1.20 with a handful of wins would make him a solid back-end fantasy starter. Others are higher on Ross Stripling, but he's got a looser grip on a rotation spot and doesn't offer anything more than Wood in terms of roto categories.

Don't save a spot for me on the Dylan Bundy rebound hype train. In fact, there isn't a rebound to happen. In four MLB seasons, he's never held an ERA under 4.00 or a WHIP under 1.20. Sure, moving out of Baltimore has to help, but it can only do so much. It's not as if there's a high-end K-rate to hang your hat onto or a magical new pitch he's unleashed. I'll take my chances elsewhere.

Jordan Montgomery appears to have a rotation spot locked up after posting a 16-1 K-BB rate in spring training. A developing sinker could be the key to success so monitor his first couple of starts closely to see if he's worth hanging onto.

My sweet Griffin Canning... we should get to see him for close to 10 starts, assuming the Halos roll with a six-man rotation mixing in Ohtani. His elbow inflammation doesn't seem to be an issue, so he could be a bargain last-round pick. Canning posted fairly strong peripherals last year and would have come out looking better if not for a pair of rough July starts that raised his ERA by a full run.



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