Shuffle Up: Precocious kids on the mound

Every Shuffle Up is important, but the men on the mound are the most important players we rank. They're fickle, they get hurt easily, they thrill us, they let us down. If you're going to nail one position this year, let it be this one - the starting pitcher worksheet.

Normal rules apply. The list below is how I'd attack a new league from scratch. What's already happened in 2011 is an audition, but all that matters is expected value from this point forward. Don't worry too much about the specific prices; the focus is on how the players relate to one another. Pitchers at the same price point are considered even.

Assume a 5x5 scoring system, as always. And while I welcome your respectful disagreement - we have a game, after all, because we disagree on this stuff - make sure you bring a reason for your disagreement in the comments. Further the conversation, gamer. One-sentence rants are just a waste of time; you're better than that.

Enough with the warm-up tosses, let's get to the task at hand.

$33 Roy Halladay
$32 Tim Lincecum
$32 Josh Johnson
$31 Jered Weaver
$31 Felix Hernandez
$30 Cliff Lee
$29 Dan Haren
$29 Cole Hamels
$28 Justin Verlander
$28 Jon Lester
$27 CC Sabathia
$26 Clayton Kershaw
$26 Zack Greinke
$25 Tommy Hanson
$25 Shaun Marcum

You're welcome to take the ace of your choosing; I go with Halladay because I'm sold on his durability, and I love how he works deep in just about every start. But if you want to go to bat for any of the Top 6, I'm not going to really argue with you. … Marcum has put on a clinic as to how you can win without sparkling velocity. Getting out of the AL East never hurt any pitcher, of course, but this guy understands his craft, working in and out, up and down, setting batters up. Whatever you paid in March, it looks like a bargain (remember some injury concerns collapsed the price).

$24 Trevor Cahill
$23 Matt Cain
$22 David Price
$21 Josh Beckett
$21 Brett Anderson
$21 Jaime Garcia
$20 James Shields
$20 Gio Gonzalez
$20 Matt Garza
$20 Max Scherzer
$20 Ricky Nolasco
$19 Brandon Beachy
$19 Ubaldo Jimenez
$19 Yovani Gallardo

The pro-side of the Cahill argument has been well-documented; ground-balls galore, big park, strikeout spike, pedigree cash. … Garcia is another arm that doesn't make the radar gun pop, but he's got four strong pitches and everything darts and moves. He's legit. … I was encouraged by Jimenez's turn at San Francisco (the splitter was dipping, the velocity looked good), but he quickly flushed that goodwill with a messy turn against the Mets on Thursday. … You never know how many innings the kids will pitch; teams will give you a rough idea, but things can switch in the heat of a pennant race. I like Beachy an eyelash more than Pineda (for 2011 only) because of the NL environment, the support of Atlanta's winning outfit, and the likelihood that the Braves will be playing meaningful games in September. For keeper groups, Pineda would get the nod; his ceiling is higher.

$18 Chris Carpenter
$18 Michael Pineda
$18 Jorge De La Rosa
$18 Roy Oswalt
$17 Ian Kennedy
$17 Bud Norris
$17 Chad Billingsley
$17 Tim Hudson
$17 Brandon Morrow
$16 Jhoulys Chacin
$16 Mat Latos
$15 Homer Bailey
$15 Jair Jurrjens
$15 Jonathan Sanchez
$15 Ricky Romero
$15 C.J. Wilson
$15 Hiroki Kuroda
$15 Wandy Rodriguez
$15 Gavin Floyd

The initial concern with Pineda centered around left-handed hitters, but he's been adequate in that area (.250 BAA, 1.25 WHIP, 2 HR). Of course, right-handed batters want no part of him (.195, 28 strikeouts in 24.1 innings). Pineda's also held up nicely in his four road starts (3.38, 1.17), which includes trips to Texas, Kansas City (don't laugh, they're scoring), Detroit and Baltimore. I don't see how any Pineda owner can't be overjoyed right now (not to mention Mariners fans). … Here's my concern with Oswalt — 2009's mediocre season is too fresh in my mind (4.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.85 K/9). Those aren't bad numbers, but they're not Top 20 stats, either. He's got over 2,000 innings under his belt, 10 seasons of use (not that I'm expecting a breakdown, just general wear and tear). He's dealing with a sore back. The ball flies pretty damn well in Philly during the summer. I know a lot of people on the board think he's too low; where would you slot him? Who is he comparable to in your mind? … Norris's strikeout rate puts a bounce in your step, but can get away with throwing his slider 38 percent of the time?

$14 Ted Lilly
$14 Ryan Dempster
$14 Johnny Cueto
$14 Tim Stauffer
$14 Anibal Sanchez
$14 Daniel Hudson
$13 Jeremy Hellickson
$13 Scott Baker
$13 Justin Masterson
$12 Zach Britton
$12 Madison Bumgarner
$11 Kyle Lohse
$11 Derek Lowe
$11 Alexi Ogando
$11 Ervin Santana
$11 Travis Wood
$11 Clay Buchholz
$11 John Danks
$10 Carlos Zambrano
$10 Edinson Volquez
$10 Bronson Arroyo
$10 Randy Wolf
$10 Brandon McCarthy
$10 Joel Pineiro

The Masterson problem is out there for everyone to see, a jagged platoon split. He still doesn't have a consistent way to get left-handed batters out. … Brad Evans hit all the key points with the Ogando argument; I direct you to Thursday's Lames, fresh off the press. … I dare you to find anything positive on the Buchholz file. A 5.35 K/9 rate against a 4.42 BB/9 rate? Good luck with that. His pixie dust HR/FB rate from last year hasn't carried over, he's getting less ground balls, he's down 1.7 mph on his fastball. I'd like to know what the pro argument is. Buchholz can't point to batted-ball luck; his BABIP stands at .302. … Britton's ERA isn't supported by his secondary numbers, but this could be the sinkerball bias at play (Cahill and Hudson are nodding). Britton gets tailing action on his fastball and plenty of late movement; hitting this guy is like hitting a brick.

$9 Wade Davis
$9 Rick Porcello
$9 Tom Gorzelanny
$8 Josh Tomlin
$8 Brett Myers
$8 Aaron Harang
$8 Jordan Zimmermann
$8 Edwin Jackson
$8 Bartolo Colon
$8 Freddy Garcia
$8 Brian Matusz
$7 A.J. Burnett
$7 Colby Lewis
$7 Fausto Carmona
$6 Jake Arrieta

I can't buy into the Gorzelanny thing yet, not all the way. Maybe it's because I went to my first game at Wrigley Field last year and watched the Cardinals absolutely fricassee this guy from up close. Gorzo's lowered the walks so far and he's not allowing a lot of line drives, though the latter stat isn't necessarily predictive of future success. His strand rate is almost 80 percent. He's just ordinary when it comes to swinging strikes and his peripheral-suggested ERAs are over 4. Buyer beware. … Harang is still feeding the gopher, even in Petco, and he's probably a six-inning pitcher at this point of his career. You can consider him at the back of your rotation, but he's unlikely to be a horse ever again. … You get teased by the Myers strikeouts, but maybe he can't throw fastballs by people when he gets behind in the count (10 homers). … Lewis might be the hardest guy to rank in this entire exercise. You want to get behind that 10-strikeout gem at Seattle (even considering the opponent), but he didn't fan anyone during his win over Oakland (effective bottom line, but you need to miss bats in this game).

$5 Kevin Correia
$5 Jake Peavy
$5 Jason Marquis
$5 Jason Hammel
$4 Kyle McClellan
$4 Phil Humber
$4 Jon Garland
$4 Chris Narveson
$4 Jesse Litsch
$3 Jonathon Niese
$3 Francisco Liriano
$3 Ivan Nova
$3 Erik Bedard
$3 Jeremy Guthrie
$3 Javier Vazquez
$2 Kevin Slowey
$2 Matt Harrison
$2 Mitch Talbot
$2 Derek Holland
$2 Livan Hernandez
$2 Brian Duensing
$2 Vance Worley

If I knew Worley had a Philly rotation spot, I'd put him up to $5-6 immediately. … I'm not even remotely close to trusting Bedard again. … I'll be stunned if Liriano sticks the entire year in Minnesota's rotation. Either there's something wrong with him or they'll invent something. … The world needs ditchdiggers, too, and Garland is that sort of guy, a perfect final arm for your deep-league rotation. He's picked his last two cities very smartly, obviously. … If I ran the White Sox, I'd consider Peavy for a bullpen slot — limit the innings, let him go all out for 15-30 pitches at a time. But they've invested too much money and resources to go that route, I suspect.

$1 Carlos Carrasco
$1 Joe Blanton
$1 Brad Penny
$1 Clayton Richard
$1 Chris Capuano
$1 Charlie Morton
$1 Tyson Ross
$1 Paul Maholm
$1 Phil Hughes
$1 Mike Leake
$1 James McDonald
$1 Ryan Vogelsong
$1 Mark Buehrle
$1 Kyle Drabek
$1 R.A. Dickey
$1 Dustin Moseley
$1 Jason Vargas
$1 Phil Coke
$1 Bruce Chen
$1 Jake Westbrook
$0 Nick Blackburn
$0 J.A. Happ
$0 Mike Pelfrey
$0 Chris Tillman
$0 Jeff Karstens
$0 Luke Hochevar
$0 Chris Volstad
$0 Carl Pavano
$-1 John Lackey

Feel free to kick Mr. Lackey in the comments.
Image courtesy Associated Press

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