2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about starting pitchers for a while now (seven days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5×5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.

Here’s how this one is going to work. There’s just so much here that I’m going to give a little longer of an introduction and then present the list without comment. I invite you all to ask whatever clarifying questions you have in the comments.

The dynasty landscape for pitchers is in a strange place right now, as we have our prototypical aces (and it’s a shorter list than usual), but the next wave of pitchers behind them has more warts than we’re used to seeing. Whether it’s due to the injury risk in should-be-aces like Carlos Carrasco or Stephen Strasburg, or the recent performance swings in Chris Archer and David Price. And with the rise in strikeouts across the league and decrease in innings thrown by starters, the aces as a whole tick up in value, which further frustrates with the should-be guys.

There’s really not a noticeable next wave coming either. We’ve got Noah Syndergaard. We had Jose Fernandez, until his tragic accident. Even some of the breakout guys from 2016 like Kyle Hendricks, Aaron Sanchez and Michael Fulmer don’t carry SP1 potential. Alex Reyes could have been a breakout candidate, but blew out his elbow a few weeks back. The best hope we have of increasing the upper tier is through comebacks by players who were once considered at that level. Gerrit Cole and Matt Harvey both still carry that upside, even though the latter will need to show he’s back to full strength first following surgery to for thoracic outlet syndrome. Zack Greinke went off the rails in 2016.

We won’t notice it quite yet, but the last two drafts have been strong for arms. The reason why most of them still rank pretty low on this list (and overall) is that trying to figure out which pre full-season ball arms are going to make it and produce in the majors is a losing proposition from the start. That said, the quantity right now suggest they’ll be quality, even if the names might surprise us.

Without any further ado, the top 175 starting pitchers in dynasty formats:

1) Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

2) Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

3) Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

4) Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

5) Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

6) Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

7) Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

8) Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

9) Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants

10) Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

11) Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs

12) David Price, Boston Red Sox

13) Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

14) Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers

15) Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians

16) Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

17) Carlos Martinez, St Louis Cardinals

18) Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

19) Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

20) Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox

21) Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs

22) Matt Harvey, New York Mets

23) Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers

24) Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks

25) Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

26) Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox

27) Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays

28) Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves

29) Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers

30) Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates

31) Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians

32) Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

33) Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

34) Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics

35) Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

36) Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

37) Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

38) Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox

39) Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals

40) Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles

41) Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

42) Lance McCullers, Houston Astros

43) Vincent Velasquez, Philadelphia Phillies

44) Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

45) Steven Matz, New York Mets

46) James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

47) Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics

48) Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies

49) Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers

50) Alex Reyes, St Louis Cardinals

51) Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays

52) Taijuan Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks

53) Robert Gsellman, New York Mets

54) Joe Ross, Washington Nationals

55) Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates

56) Yadier Alvarez, Los Angeles Dodgers

57) Jason Groome, Boston Red Sox

58) Matt Moore, San Francisco Giants

59) Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays

60) Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels

61) Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels

62) Anderson Espinoza, San Diego Padres

63) Francis Martes, Houston Astros

64) Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins

65) Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox

66) Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks

67) Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers

68) Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds

69) Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates

70) Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants

71) John Lackey, Chicago Cubs

72) Cody Reed, Cincinnati Reds

73) Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles

74) Drew Smyly, Seattle Mariners

75) Michael Pineda, New York Yankees

76) Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox

77) Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays

78) Jerad Eickhoff, Philadelphia Phillies

79) Michael Wacha, St Louis Cardinals

80) Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox

81) Reynaldo Lopez, Chicago White Sox

82) Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals

83) Francisco Liriano, Toronto Blue Jays

84) Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds

85) Cal Quantrill, San Diego Padres

86) Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

87) A.J. Puk, Oakland Athletics

88) Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay Rays

89) Franklyn Kilome, Philadelphia Phillies

90) Zach Davies, Milwaukee Brewers

91) Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit Tigers

92) Adam Wainwright, St Louis Cardinals

93) Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves

94) Yohander Mendez, Texas Rangers

95) Sandy Alcantara, St Louis Cardinals

96) Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels

97) Collin McHugh, Houston Astros

98) Lance Lynn, St Louis Cardinals

99) Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays

100) Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels

101) J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays

102) Ivan Nova, Pittsburgh Pirates

103) Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers

104) Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

105) Tyson Ross, Texas Rangers

106) Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals

107) Sean Newcomb, Los Angeles Angels

108) Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Indians

109) Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks

110) Brandon Finnegan, Cincinnati Reds

111) Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks

112) Luis Severino, New York Yankees

113) Grant Holmes, Oakland Athletics

114) Justin Dunn, New York Mets

115) Shelby Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks

116) Mike Montgomery, Chicago Cubs

117) Thomas Szapucki, New York Mets

118) Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers

119) Jeff Hoffman, Colorado Rockies

120) Adrian Morejon, San Diego Padres

121) Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros

122) Luke Weaver, St Louis Cardinals

123) Erick Fedde, Washington Nationals

124) Jeremy Hellickson, Philadelphia Phillies

125) Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox

126) Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers

127) Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

128) Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals

129) Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds

130) Jaime Garcia, Atlanta Braves

131) Kolby Allard, Atlanta Braves

132) Joe Musgrove, Houston Astros

133) Wei-Yin Chen, Miami Marlins

134) Clay Buchholz, Philadelphia Phillies

135) Justus Sheffield, New York Yankees

136) Adam Conley, Miami Marlins

136) James Kaprelian, New York Yankees

137) Alec Hansen, Chicago White Sox

138) Mike Leake, St Louis Cardinals

139) Jason Hammel, Kansas City Royals

140) Luis Ortiz, Milwaukee Brewers

141) Junior Guerra, Milwaukee Brewers

142) Riley Pint, Colorado Rockies

143) Fernando Romero, Minnesota Twins

144) Andrew Cashner, Texas Rangers

145) Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins

146) Norge Ruiz, Oakland Athletics

147) Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins

148) Martin Perez, Texas Rangers

149) Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles Dodgers

150) Tyler Anderson, Colorado Rockies

151) Mike Fiers, Houston Astros

152) Dan Straily, Miami Marlins

153) Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles

154) Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers

155) Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers

156) Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

157) Matt Wisler, Atlanta Braves

158) Jharel Cotton, Oakland Athletics

159) Tyler Beede, San Francisco Giants

160) Carson Fulmer, Chicago White Sox

161) David Paulino, Houston Astros

162) Nate Karns, Kansas City Royals

163) Jake Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies

164) Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves

165) Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians

166) Dylan Cease, Chicago Cubs

167) Tyler Jay, Minnesota Twins

168) James Shields, Chicago White Sox

169) Brady Aiken, Cleveland Indians

170) Brock Stewart, Los Angeles Dodgers

171) Max Fried, Atlanta Braves

172) R. A. Dickey, Atlanta Braves

173) Trevor Clifton, Chicago Cubs

174) Sean-Reid Foley, Toronto Blue Jays

175) Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

Thank you for reading

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Curious about why Dunn ranked (very slightly) higher here than Szapucki, given the later ranked so much higher on some other BP lists.
I think Szapucki may have a little higher upside as a starting pitcher, but Dunn has the advantage in fantasy of potentially being a more dominant reliever if things don't go either of their way. Think Dunn is also very slightly safer overall, which pushes him ahead.
Interesting, thanks!
Best-ranked 5th starter:

53) Robert Gsellman, New York Mets
Seems you're not real concerned with Jake Arrieta's outlook despite a few red flags last season - lower velo on and higher usage of his fastball, BB/9 from 1.9 to 3.5, increased xFIP and decreased K/9 (4.11 and 7.5 in the second half).

Just normal wear and tear associated with an uptick in innings over the last two seasons or something more? He's just not featuring the slider that made him such a beast in 2015.
Sure, there's a little concern, but as I mentioned in the intro, the list of safe arms out there is extremely small. Given the defense and team behind Arrieta and the recently-shown skillset, I just like him a little more than the other riskier SP1s.
I still find myself dismayed by the loss of Jose Fernandez. I read lists like this and just briefly forget why he isn't right there near the top. I figured if he wasn't #2, he had to be top five. It wasn't until I got out of the top ten that I remembered. It was a terrible loss for baseball.
No question he would have been #2 on this list, and had a real argument to challenge Kershaw at the top. It still makes me sad almost every single day.
Yordano is sad, too, and I'm sure he'd probably have been top 60 or so, but Jose Fernandez was transcendent. The plethora of pitching articles this week just has me thinking about him more frequently, and how amazing he truly was. I'm going to have to watch a youtube compilation of his curveballs now.
Feel like Cotton could be the biggest outperformer of his number here. That changeup is sexy.
Is Homer Bailey going to pitch this year?
This sounds like a perfect question for shruggy guy.
Newcomb is on the Braves now, but it's possible that his command has drifted him back to the western coast.

Thanks for this really fun list.
Looks like you have two #146 on the list, so thanks for the extra name!
Samardzija at #70: age or defined ceiling?
Both, really.
Chris Paddack should be ranked I think. He's going to shoot up the rankings soon enough.