We’ve made our way thru the position players and now it is time for the starting pitcher portion of the position primers. This week Lucas and Bubba are going over their Top 30 starters and some strategy talk. Next week, they will go over their next 30 starters and some more strategy and sleepers. We hope the primers are helping and if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask. Also, don’t forget to check out previous primers and the often updated Fantasy Rankings.

Primers- C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF

Rankings- Overall Positional Rankings

Lucas (@BieryPlox33)Bubba (@bdentrek)
1- Gerrit Cole1- Jacob deGrom
2- Jacob deGrom2- Gerrit Cole
3- Justin Verlander3- Justin Verlander
4- Max Scherzer4- Max Scherzer
5- Walker Buehler5- Chris Sale
6- Mike Clevinger6- Blake Snell
7- Chris Sale7- Walker Buehler
8- Shane Bieber8- Mike Clevinger
9- Jack Flaherty9- Stephen Strasburg
10- Luis Castillo10- Shane Bieber
11- Blake Snell11- Clayton Kershaw
12- Charlie Morton12- Patrick Corbin
13- Stephen Strasburg13- Noah Syndergaard
14- Clayton Kershaw14- Yu Darvish
15- Patrick Corbin15- Jack Flaherty
16- Yu Darvish16- Luis Castillo
17- Lucas Giolito17- Zack Greinke
18- Aaron Nola18- Aaron Nola
19- Zack Greinke19- Charlie Morton
20- Tyler Glasnow20- Lucas Giolito
21- Mike Soroka21- Tyler Glasnow
22- James Paxton22- James Paxton
23- Luis Severino23- Carlos Carrasco
24- Chris Paddack24- Chris Paddack
25- Brandon Woodruff25- Jose Berrios
26- Carlos Carrasco26- Brandon Woodruff
27- Noah Syndergaard27- Frankie Montas
28- Jose Berrios28- Trevor Bauer
29- Sonny Gray29- Luis Severino
30- Kyle Hendricks30- Sonny Gray

Overall Thoughts on the Starting Pitcher Position

Lucas- Figuring out how you want to attack starting pitching in your drafts is absolutely imperative for success in your leagues, you really need to develop a plan pre-draft, as far as your individual targets, when you are comfortable drafting who where, etc. Cole in the top 5 may work for some, but I can’t endorse that idea given how rare and valuable the power-speed superstars are. You will be able to find good pitching in all stages of the draft and on the waiver wire, but you can’t find power-speed studs any where besides at the top of the draft. With this said, there are some values to find for pitching, but your pre-draft plan and how you want to construct your team is paramount to success. 

Bubba- The position comes in waves when I go through a draft. There are the elite up top. Then the middle 10 or so picks and then more groupings there on out. When I am drafting I am not planning on drafting a pitcher early unless a Cole or deGrom falls to me in the back end of the first round. I know many feel the need to get an elite pitcher early, and I get it, but I like taking my chances on some later targets. There’s some sneaky value with the likes of Kershaw, Darvish and Paxton, to name a few. If you can become more knowledgeable about the pitchers going after the Top 10 or so, then you will be able to fade the take pitching early crowd as well. 

How do you handle Pitchers in Draft- Attack Early or Wait?

Lucas- I’ll gladly take an SP in round 1 if deGrom falls to pick 10 (maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t), however this won’t happen as often as I’d like. Personally I’m not drafting a starter in round 1 unless it is a value at pick 13/14/15 (Mad Max/Verly/Buehler at the end of round 1 is appealing). However these superstar pitchers are being pushed up and the impact bats are becoming regularly available towards the end of the draft (Story/Turner/Etc) creating a value proposition for taking the elite bats. We could very well see Mike Clevinger regularly pushed up into round 1 come March. If you don’t feel comfortable taking the best available pitcher with your pick, don’t be afraid to take a great hitter instead. You can build some excellent teams with your SP1 as Kershaw/Corbin/Etc, as you will have a great offensive base given your foundation of impact bats. Personally, the last SP1 I would feel comfortable starting my team with is Aaron Nola, and I even have some questions regarding how valuable he is, coming off a blah 2019 ratio-wise (3.87 ERA, 1.27 WHIP). You have to find that last SP1 ace you feel comfortable with and make sure you find your SP1 before he goes. Even with the talks of not wanting to wait too long on my SP1, there is a strategy of doing 2 of the following in consecutive rounds (Paxton/Soroka/Carrasco/Thor/Etc). That strategy seems appealing as you could have 2 aces if things break right and you got a head start on the whole league with a well built offense. 

Bubba- As I stated above, I am usually a wait and see pitcher. When I wait I’ll go hitter heavy for 4 or 5 rounds and then make a point to get 2 or 3 really solid arms quickly. Usually these arms will start around the Yu Darvish tier. I would love a Darvish/Ray, Darvish/Thor, Darvish/Greinke type start or some combo of pitchers in that range. I will also be more aggressive on pitchers I like as the draft goes on to make sure I get what I perceive as value, later round arms. These pitchers consist of Carlos Carrasco, James Paxton and some post Top 30 targets that will be discussed next week.

Top Targets in 1-30

Lucas- Unless I can get a guy to fall a little past ADP (I absolutely love the Chris Sale discount right now, yes he carries risk, but if he’s throwing 94 in the spring his price will skyrocket) in the first 3 rounds, I’m aiming to get Clayton Kershaw or Patrick Corbin to start my team. Kershaw is a great target (read more on Kershaw here: https://fantasysportsdegens.com/2020-fantasy-baseball-pitching-targets/), and you can usually get him in the 4th round while stacking up your offense before investing in him as your ace. If I miss out on those two, I’m happy rostering Darvish/Giolito in their spot. We all know what Darvish did in the 2H and what he is capable of. James Paxton is a guy that is going too low, given his supreme K stuff. I’ll be very happy to roster the oft-injured arm at ADP 92, and hope for health. Even if you only get 150 IP, you will get ridiculous K’s and he has the upside to really break out in year 2 as a Yankee.

Bubba- I’ve become more and more a fan of the value that is Chris Sale and will start taking that gamble. The likes of Clevinger, Kershaw and Darvish are some middle targets of mine. Lastly, in the Top 30 I’ll be looking at some stability in Zack Greinke and then take some risks on potential value of James Paxton and Carlos Carrasco. 

Top Busts in 1-30

Lucas- I won’t call Mad Max a bust, but there are some serious warning signs for the otherwise superstar pitcher. We all remember Max getting scratched in the World Series for injury issues, but injuries plagued him even before the playoffs. Due to neck and back issues, Max only made 2 starts in July and 2 starts in August, yet he still put up 243 K’s in 172 IP, he’s clearly still a stud, but I’m slightly concerned with his health issues. I can’t pay the full freight for Jack Flaherty given his unsustainable 2H. Flaherty started out poorly out of the gate, with a 4.90 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP to start the year (90 IP), but he put up an otherworldly 106.1 IP of a .93 ERA/.70 WHIP. Those 2H numbers are highly unsustainable over the long term, he’s more of a low to mid 3’s ERA guy to me. He is a really good pitcher, but I can’t afford the 2nd round price tag when he’s far from a guarantee to finish as a top ten pitcher.

Bubba- Chris Paddack is my top bust. I know many love Paddack. He’s a great pitcher, I won’t argue that. But, we saw him hit a little more often from teams that have seen him before. Being a 2-pitch pitcher we also saw some games where that hurt him. Yes, he’s working on a new pitch and that could help a ton. Lastly, where he is getting drafted you want some mega returns and the amount of innings he will likely throw likely won’t be enough to reach his draft day price.