Fantasy Baseball 2024 Top 150 starting pitchers (final pre-season update)

We are entering the final fantasy baseball draft weekend of the 2024 season, so I'm back with one more update of my starting pitcher rankings, which have ballooned from 100 to 150 in this edition. As I mentioned before, I generally hate publishing starting pitcher rankings because they never feel done to me, which you can see from my constant tinkering. As somebody who spends a lot of time watching/thinking about pitching, I always feel like there are tweaks I want to make or pitchers that I constantly change my opinion of.

However, I also want to make sure that I share my thoughts on the starting pitch market since I spend so much time analyzing it. Given that I will discuss over one hundred pitchers, you'll find short blurbs with my thoughts "off the dome" for these guys. Well, at least, I'll try to do that because I can naturally be long-winded, but I'll also link to other articles I've written where I dive into a given pitcher more completely.




Tier One


Spencer Strider


Spencer Strider is great; there isn't really a debate about that. We just have to pick nits when we're deciding between the top two arms. For me, I have concerns that Strider really just has two pitches and he gives up a lot of hard contact. With only two pitches, hitters are able to sit on one pitch. That certainly doesn't help them all the time since Strider gets so many whiffs, but when hitters do make contact off Strider, it tends to be much harder contact than they make off an arm like Cole. Hence why Strider posted a 3.86 ERA. I know he'll get me more strikeouts than Cole, but I'd rather take the safer ratios because I think I can chase strikeout upside with other arms later. FINAL UPDATE: Yes, I know about Strider's new curveball, and I wrote about it in depth here. With Gerrit Cole not healthy, Strider is the clear number one and could be a top-five fantasy pick.

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There was a time not long ago when Corbin Burnes was in the conversation as the top pitcher in fantasy drafts. However, he lost the feel for his cutter, and his results suffered. He started 2023 slow as well, but changed his slider mid-year, taking four miles an hour off the pitch and adding significant horizontal movement. The result was far less hard contact and more swings and misses. He also made it his second most-used pitch in the final month of the season. Given how Burnes' results overall improved with the pitch mix change, I think we can attribute some stickiness to it, and I expect it to carry over into 2024. The trade to Baltimore has also given him a ballpark upgrade and a team context upgrade, so he leapfrogs Wheeler for me after that.

Zack Wheeler has been about as consistent as any starting pitcher in baseball over the last eight years, only posting one below-average season in 2017 when he battled injury. While he didn't quite maintain the same level of strikeout gains from 2021, he has held onto a 27% strikeout rate, which makes him a solid source of strikeouts when you consider the number of innings he has thrown over the last few years. Wheeler added a sweeper last season and went to it more as the year went on, giving him another swing-and-miss option to complement his previous more gyro-like slider. Wheeler has great team context, solid ratios, and good enough strikeouts to give you clear four-category upside if you want a starter early in drafts.

While recent years have taught us that there's not any true security with any starting pitcher, Luis Castillo feels like one of the best bets going. He's thrown at least 150 innings in five straight full seasons and threw 70 innings in the COVID-shortened 2020 year. Since coming to Seattle, he's seen his strikeout totals rise as he's gone more fastball-slider-focused and less fastball-change-focused. The new ballpark environment has also helped keep his WHIP low, separating him from the below tier for me. I think Castillo gives you great value in four categories, and I'm happy to take him at his current ADP as my fantasy ace.

Tier Three


Pablo Lopez



George Kirby



Kevin Gausman



Logan Webb


This tier is full of pitchers who have clear talent and I'd be happy to have them in all formats, but there's just one issue that's holding them from the tier above for me.

I think Pablo Lopez is being unfairly punished for injuries he suffered during two seasons in Miami. Pitching is naturally risky from an injury standpoint, but Lopez has thrown at least 180 innings in two straight years. Nobody is saying he "cured" whatever injury issues plagued him earlier, but considering the elevated injury risk with all starters, I don't believe we should continue to drag down a player's value for years, even after they've continuously played well. We also have Pablo becoming a new pitcher in Minnesota. After going to Driveline in the offseason, he threw 1.5 mph harder in 2023 while also scrapping his cutter and adding a sweeper that missed tons of bats. Pablo always had a great change-up, but now he has another plus pitch that he can use to take some pressure off the change. With the curve also improving, I think Pablo is developing into a talented pitcher with a deep arsenal.

George Kirby is an elite command pitcher who has posted elite ratios and high innings totals since breaking through into the big leagues. His issue is the current lack of a true out pitch. He introduced a splitter in the middle of the season and had great success with it, posting a 17.4% swinging strike rate in the second half and his slider also doubled its swing-and-miss in the second half of the year. If those gains can be maintained, then, paired with a solid four-seam and sinker, Kirby should emerge as a true fantasy ace.

There's nothing wrong with Kevin Gausman, but I just have a little bit of hesitation due to his arsenal. Gausman's four-seam fastball is not great and gives up a ton of hard contact, which puts a lot of pressure on his splitter, which is his best pitch. However, Gausman rarely throws the splitter for strikes because he gets so many chases. What that means is that Gausman is a two-pitch pitcher, but one pitch is fairly average, and the other pitch is great but relies on chases. That's a dangerous tightrope to walk and is a big part of the season that Gausman tends to sport high BABIPs and WHIPs. I don't believe those improve going forward, and so I have him below where many have him. FINAL UPDATE: Gausman is dealing with some shoulder fatigue, but he threw a simulated game on Wednesday the 20th and will throw 60 pitches in a game on Monday. If he responds well to that, he may not even need to start the season on the IL.

Here you see the direct results of the instability with starting pitching in this year's landscape. Logan Webb lacks major strikeout upside, but he is among the most stable ratio pitchers that you'll find. He has an elite change-up and slider that misses way more bats after he tweaked its shape three years ago and one of the friendlier home parks for pitchers. Additionally, while his strikeout rate may not be ideal, he still racks up a solid number of strikeouts due to his innings volume. Last year, Webb had the 18th-most strikeouts among starting pitchers. Now, he may not throw 200 innings again, but he's as good a bet as any to rack up high innings volumes with solid ratios and enough strikeouts to not hurt you. If you want stability, this is it.

This next tier is made up of pitchers with legitimate ace upside but some concerns about durability or development which make them a little riskier than the names above.

The argument against Tyler Glasnow is strictly connected to health, and it's one I understand. He's 30 years old and last year he threw a career-high 120 innings. However, according to him, it was the same injury in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Glasnow mentioned that the UCL injury first popped up in 2019 but the MRI came back clean, but then he had the same injury in 2020 and 2021 and the MRI kept coming back clean. When finally decided to have surgery, they found that the UCL was intact, which is why the MRI showed no major issues, but it was off his bone which led to constant re-injury. Now, this isn't to say that Glasnow will all of the sudden throw 160 innings, but it does give context to him being injury-prone. Also, as I've said a few times now, there are more risks and question marks at the top of the starting pitcher pool than ever before. I know when Glasnow is on the mound, he's going to be elite, so there just comes a time in drafts when I'd rather take 130 innings of elite production and hope for health than take 170 innings that could be far worse.

Everybody wants to buy in on Tarik Skubal and I can see why, to a certain extent. He posted a 2.80 ERA (2.77 SIERA), 32.9% strikeout rate, 28.4% K-BB%, and 14.9% SwStr% in 80.1 innings last year. However, Skubal made just 15 starts last season and his final eight opponents were: @CLE, CHC, NYY, @CWS, CWS, @LAA, @OAK, and KCR. That means over half of his total starts on the season were against some of the worst offenses in baseball. In those eight starts, he registered a 1.88 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 37% strikeout rate, and 4% walk rate. Did Skubal make a huge leap or is he simply a slightly improved pitcher who took advantage of an easy schedule? MARCH UPDATE: I had previously expressed some concern about Skubal's velocity. In my previous rankings, I mentioned that his four-seam jumped up 1.7 mph in 2023, which is great news because it has poor IVB or Vertical Approach Angle (VAA), so he needs the velocity. While Skubal was able to hold the velocity for much of the year, it did dip 0.5 mph over the final month which led me to question whether, over a full season, he might not be able to stay above 95 mph. Well, now he's sitting 97.5 mph in spring, and I just don't see any way that falls back under 94 mph. So...giddy up.

I have real concerns about the amount of hard contact Gallen gives up. He relies a lot on command for his success, keeping the majority of his pitches low in the zone to increase tunneling and deception. However, he does that because his arsenal is not overly dynamic on its own. That means, when he misses his spots or sequences poorly, he tends to give up lots of hard contact. All three of his main pitches have an Ideal Contact Rate of 40% or higher, including a whopping 47.7% rate on his curveball. Considering ICR adds up barrels, solid contact, and hard groundballs and divides them by batted ball events, it means that almost half of the contact that Gallen gives up is hard. That's a tough tightrope to walk to keep ratios low, but he has been able to do it so far and given how many innings he feels likely to throw, he's still a safer bet than most options in this range. MARCH UPDATE: Of course, the counter-argument there is that he threw so many innings last year and has a history of arm issues, so that's why I moved Webb above him. I just feel Webb is a bit safer. If that exists.

Max Fried is arguably just as stable as Webb, if not more so. However, that's just when he's on the mound. He has a hard time pushing over 160 innings due to some previous injury concerns and the Braves' cautious approach to pushing him too deep into games. However, Fried has a career 3.03 ERA and a collection of five pitches, each of which he has elite command of. I've read enough that makes me think we shouldn't be worried about his forearm strain since he has had time to properly rehab and was able to come back and pitch at 100% health before getting a blister. As a result, I don't believe he's any greater of an injury risk than many of the other arms here, but he's still hard to project for more than 160+ innings.

Bobby Miller is my favorite of the second-year pitchers who could make big leaps in 2024. For starters, he has a 99 mph fastball with good Induced Vertical Break (IVB) which had just average swinging strike rates but I think could perform even better if he gets it up in the zone more. He also has a curve, slider, and change which all miss bats and give him an arsenal to attack both righties and lefties. An improved approach with the four-seam will add more swing-and-miss which will improve his overall performance against righties and get his strikeout rates up to where his raw stuff indicates they should be. He started to do that as the season went on, and his SwStr% jumped 2%, so I'm optimistic it's something that carries over into 2024.

Cole Ragans came out of nowhere, except that he didn't. He was a first-round pick back in 2016 but between injuries (a botched Tommy John surgery which required a second procedure) and the COVID cancellation of the minor league season, he didn't throw a pitch in a game between 2017 and 2021. Texas was reportedly bullish on his future, but they needed bullpen help when they sent him to Kansas City for Aroldis Chapman. The biggest part of Ragans' breakout last year was his increased velocity, but he also possesses a true five-pitch mix that he's comfortable using in all counts. He can throw most of his pitches for strikes consistently (when he's not nibbling) and has more than a few ways to get swings and misses. I have some concerns about team context and a minor health concern, but I believe in what we saw last year. MARCH UPDATE: Ragans is not only adding a two-seamer to the mix, but he was out there pumping 101 mph with elite iVB in spring. Now, I'm not suggesting he's going to carry over that kind of velocity gain into the season, but it's further proof that the gains from last year aren't a fluke, and if he's able to maintain the iVB gains from this year, you're going to see his second half results carry over into 2024.

Grayson Rodriguez is another young pitcher who made clear changes as the year went on, and we saw those directly in his results, registering a 2.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 24% strikeout rate across 76.2 IP after he was recalled from the minors in July. We can also tie those results to tangible changes, like a shift in vertical approach on his four-seam and throwing both his change-up and slider harder, which suggests he was "letting it rip" a bit more and aiming less. He also scrapped his cutter, using the harder slider to miss more bats than it did in the first half. The four-seam remains slightly above average, so he'll need his breaking balls to step forward, and that's why I slightly prefer Perez because of the elite raw stuff; however, given the step forward we've seen in those breaking balls, I believe that the second half version of Rodriguez is no fluke. FINAL UPDATE: Rodriguez's fastball has been a little more hittable than I'd have liked to have seen this spring. I'm not going to overreact, but considering that was an issue for him before he was demoted last year I'm at least taking note of it.

What can I say about Yoshinobu Yamamoto? Every article you read about him and every analyst that breaks down his stuff mentions how elite his raw stuff is. On paper, he profiles as one of the best starters in MLB, and he has elite command to support his plus raw stuff. However, he will also be in a new league and in a new country, so there are major questions about how he adapts. I just don't think anybody in the tier below him has his upside, so when push comes to shove, I'm likely going to draft him over all of those guys in almost every draft. FINAL UPDATE: I had to move Yamamoto out of the top ten because I think it's likely that the Dodgers manage his innings to keep him fresh over the long MLB season. We're also likely to see some adjustment to the new baseball and new country/league that could lead to some inconsistency early on in the season. I still believe in the talent, but I'd rather he be my SP2.

These pitchers all feel safer than the names above and will likely give you more innings, but they also lack the upside of the fourth tier.

One of the biggest criticisms levied against Freddy Peralta is his lack of innings, but I think that's a bit misleading since Peralta was not a full-time starting pitcher until 2021. He’s had three seasons as a full-time starter and has thrown 144.1, 78, and 165.2 innings, which averages out to 129.1 innings per season as the Brewers usually pull him after six innings. That's not a lot of innings, and his cross-body delivery can lead to injury, but that's exactly why he's down in this tier. If we thought Peralta was a good bet to hit 160-170 innings again, he'd be getting drafted earlier. My point is that he's a better bet for 140-150 innings than many people think. Peralta was electric in his final 17 starts of 2023, posting a 36% strikeout rate and rarely giving up hard contact. The concern for me is that not much changed between his rough first stretch and the hot final stretch to point to a clear shift in results. Peralta struggles a bit more against righties because he becomes a two-pitch pitcher against them, but I think there is room for growth if he can elevate the fastball to righties the way he does to lefties or if he leans on the curve more to the glove-side. In a sense, I believe in Peralta's skillset while also believing that he has more durability than people give him credit for and there's upside for more.

I'm not sure why people are so down on Zach Eflin. For years we said "If only he would throw his curveball more" or "If only he went to a team that could get the most out of his talent," and then he does that and has a great year and people say, "What if he can't do it again?" Which one is it? Is he the talented people who just needed a better environment or was he never that guy to begin with? Last year, Eflin upped the usage of his curveball significantly, added a sweeper, and changed his cutter to add more horizontal break. It resulted in a much higher swinging strike rate, which led to more strikeouts, and the arsenal was also one he could command better which led to a decrease in walks and better WHIP. To me, there's no reason to believe Eflin can't duplicate what he did last year (perhaps with fewer wins), and while he doesn't have the upside of some of the future aces coming in the next tier, I think he is less volatile as well.

Now, Aaron Nola doesn't have the same concerns regarding his durability, but he does have concerns regarding his diminishing strikeout rates. However, Nola is only 30 years old and has shown no meaningful velocity decline, so I'm not yet to say he's beginning to decline. I do have some concerns about how hard his four-seam gets hit, but Nola seems to share those concerns, which is why he began to use the sinker more and get it inside on righties. Another concern is that Nola's curve has lost horizontal movement in each of the last three years and has also seen its SwStr% fall. I was hoping he would go to a new organization that might prioritize fixing that, but that was not to be. Still, Nola has proven to be a reliable starter who will post strong innings totals on a good team, and I don't believe there is anything in his 2023 season that suggests it will repeat. He's likely just an SP2 for fantasy but probably one of the better ones, and if the Phillies do fix the movement issues on his curve, we could see a much better 2024.

I don't know what to make of Framber Valdez, but I don't have tons of confidence in him as a fantasy ace. His surface-level stats were good, but he has just a slightly above-average swinging strike rate and below-average CSW and ICR. He's a primary sinkerball pitcher whose sinker got hit hard in 2023. Additionally, he changed his cutter in 2023 to be three mph harder and it resulted in more swinging strikes, but it also got hit harder. He also rarely throws it to righties, which means his best strikeout pitch is rarely used against the majority of hitters he faces. That puts an awful lot of pressure on his curve, but I'm just not confident in the rest of the arsenal. I don't think Framber will ever be bad, but I'm also not sure how elite he'll really be, so I'd prefer him as my SP2.

Remember when Joe Musgrove was pushing to be a top-15 starting pitcher heading into 2023 drafts but then he dropped a weight on his foot in spring training and then also injured his arm during the year? The righty is 31 years old but doesn't profile as any different of a pitcher than he showed in 2021 and 2022. He has a slider that continues to miss bats, a cutter that induces weak ground balls, a curve that he can throw to righties and lefties, and an improving change-up that he seemed ready to rely on more in 2023. We've seen Musgrove be an above-average starter in every season since 2019, and I see no reason why that should be any different now. He's a rock-solid SP2 for me. MARCH UPDATE: No, I don't care that he's struggled to start spring. I only care that he's healthy, which he appears to be. Musgrove has spoken openly about working on all his pitches in the spring, which includes a new sweeper, and throwing pitches that aren't working just to keep getting a feel for them. That's why we don't really care about spring ERA.

Tier Six


Logan Gilbert



Joe Ryan



Justin Steele



Chris Sale



Michael King



Bailey Ober



Sonny Gray



Dylan Cease



Yu Darvish



Blake Snell


Like the tier above, these pitchers have all flashed high-end SP2 upside or more, but they are more volatile or have much less of a track record.

Having Logan Gilbert this high is about a belief that his breaking balls and fastball all take a step in the right direction at the same time. His slider had a strong second half, getting more whiffs as he leaned on it a bit more, and the new splitter that he added was really strong in the first half but fell off in terms of hard contact allowed in the second half. Also, his four-seam performed worse in 2023 than it did in 2022. Still, we've seen all the pieces individually: the plus slider, the strong splitter, the above-average four-seam, and all of that paired with plus command. We've just yet to see it all come together at once, but what if that year is 2024?

This Joe Ryan ranking is either offensive or too high depending on which Joe Ryan we get. The right-hander introduced a new splitter in 2023 and he was electric to start the season, looking like a legit ace. Then he lost his feel for the pitch in the second half of the year and the results were pretty disastrous. I'm not going to penalize a guy too much for losing feel for a pitch he just learned; it happens often. He's presumably had another offseason to grow comfortable with the pitch, and we saw what kind of upside it brings. We also saw that he doesn't have a lot of options to back it up should the splitter falter again, so I'm going to be a bit cautious on Ryan and think he belongs in this tier of question marks. FINAL UPDATE: I did some more digging into Joe Ryan's pitch mix changes this spring, which you can read about here, and found myself more confident in the depth of his arsenal, so I've moved him up.

I'm a little more concerned about Justin Steele. His 2023 season was great, and his slider is certainly elite, but I'm not quite sure what else there is. Last year was his first season over 119 innings in pro ball and he's only thrown above 100 twice, so I do have some durability concerns that make me more apt to draft him in leagues with an IL spot. He has also sported some high WHIPs in the past due to his lack of deep arsenal, which leads to hard contact, as I mentioned with Strider above. Steele can be a low-to-mid 3.00 ERA arm with a 24% strikeout rate, and there's nothing wrong with that. He just lacks more upside, in my opinion.

I've mentioned my fondness for Chris Sale more than a few times on the "On the Corner" podcast. To synthesize my thoughts into a shorter space: I believe he was more effective when you look under the hood than we thought last year. He still missed a lot of bats and pitched to solid ratios without his best stuff. He was rusty after battling injuries and seemed to lose feel for his pitches now and then, which led to harder contact than you'd like to see. Still, the solid raw stuff was there. Plus, he's been open about feeling that he didn't live up to his contract in Boston and said he was pissed off about how he performed. For a player as competitive as Sale, that means he's been attacking this offseason with something to prove. Now that he's in Atlanta, he finds himself with better team context and I think, even if we get 140 innings, they'll be 140 really good innings, and so I'm in on Sale in 2024. MARCH UPDATE: Sale looks lights out so far this spring, but I was already ranking him high and expecting 140 innings, so I'm OK paying the current price.

I'm also in on Michael King for similar reasons. I think some of what we saw last year was real to the extent that King has a deep arsenal of pitches and the pure stuff to make hitters look bad. He moves to a much solid ballpark for pitchers and figures to slot immediately into the Padres rotation. However, he has battled injuries in the past, and the Yankees were inclined to not push his innings totals too high. As a result, I don't think King is a lock for more than 130+ innings. I think they'll be good innings, but I have him down in this tier due to his questionable innings, and think I'd rather take the track record of Sale if push comes to shove.

Admittedly, Bailey Ober doesn't fit in this tier from a narrative standpoint, but I like him far more than the guys in the tier below him, so the only other option is to push him to the bottom of the last tier, which maybe I'll do. Ober came up through the minors as a command specialist, and even though he throws harder now, he doesn't bring elite velocity. However, his long frame allows him to get elite extension, so his fastball remains hard to hit. He pairs that with a good changeup that he started to rely on more in 2023, two solid breaking balls, and he still has that strong command. He's not going to give you tons of upside, and you'll always wonder when the other shoe is going to drop, but it's also possible that it never does. And, maybe that's the uncertainty that puts him in this tier. MARCH UPDATE: Ober has added velocity on his fastball which, if it sticks, is a game-changer since he already has elite extension. 93 mph from Ober will feel like 98 mph from most pitchers because of how quickly the ball gets on the hitter. He’s also added a cutter, which I covered here. I think is a great complement to the rest of his arsenal. Wheels up.

I don't love the move to St. Louis for Sonny Gray, but considering he's a 34-year-old who doesn't require as much development, I worry about St. Louis' lack of pitching development less than I would with a prospect. I'm also optimistic about the way Gray leaned on his sweeper more as the year went on last year, throwing it over 10% more in the second half. The pitch misses a ton of bats and also allowed him to use his cutter less, which is good since the cutter gives up a fair amount of hard contact. Gray has solid SP2 upside, albeit without great strikeout rates, but I find him a touch safer than the next year. FINAL UPDATE: It sounds as though Sonny Gray may not miss a start due to his earlier hamstring injury. Worst case, he may be skipped the first time through the rotation, but I'm not changing his ranking because of that one missed start.

We all know how good Dylan Cease can be because we saw it in 2022. However, even in 2022, he sported an elevated walk rate, and we saw consistent evidence that his command might leave him at any moment. We also saw GIF-able swings and misses on multiple breaking balls, and he looked like a young pitcher who was putting it all together. Then that control got the best of him in 2023, and he had a pretty brutal season. He's also now the only starter remaining on a White Sox team that looks like it could be among the worst in baseball with a bullpen that is sure to cost him a few wins this season. Yes, he's likely to be traded and that could put him in a better situation, but what if he's not? He's not on an expiring deal. He also won't be as bad as he was last year. Even if the walk rate stays high, his left-on-base rate should rebound from a career-low, and the BABIP should rebound from a career-high. All of that should lead to Cease being at least a 3.90 - 4.10 ERA pitcher with the skills to be so much better, and the command to be worse. That's tough to roster, especially at 180 innings where you'll feel that WHIP even more. FINAL UPDATE: Dylan Cease is now a member of the Padres, and I wrote out my thoughts in detail on why that only improves his ranking a little bit for me.

It was a career-worst year for Yu Darvish, but he's Yu Darvish. Great analysis, right? We're all done here. OK, no, in reality, I still believe in Darvish and I believe in his ability to put together at least a solid floor season with his deep arsenal of pitches. He dealt with a bone spur last year, which limited his innings and his effectiveness, but he shouldn't be hampered at all in 2024. There was no meaningful dip in velocity, so age doesn't seem to be catching up with him, and he has so many pitches that he seems to be as good a bet as any pitcher to age well since he can keep hitters off-balance and mix-and-match pitches based on what feels good on a particular day. I'd love to see him elevate his four-seam a little more and sometimes I think his command wavers because he is trying to throw so many pitches, but the floor in a non-injury season is pretty safe. Oh, man, now maybe he should be in the tier above. Ugh. Rankings are hard.

Blake Snell’s fantasy value is incredibly hard to pin down because we all know he’s coming off of a career-best year that he won’t replicate, and we also have no idea where he’ll pitch. We also know he’s thrown over 130 innings just once since 2018 and has never had a BB/9 under 3.19 in a season. Those are all legitimate concerns. We also know that Snell has been really good for most of his career, with a 3.20 career ERA and a 29.7% career strikeout rate. His change-up took a big step forward in 2023 and became his second most-used pitch, which is something we like to see since it ties up righties. On the downside, he also drastically over-performed with runners in scoring position, and his BABIP as well below career norms, so he should see a regression to the mean with both. I'm not ready to pay for Snell's career year, but I'm also not going to ignore how good he's been throughout his career. FINAL UPDATE: We now know where Blake Snell will pitch and it's a solid landing spot. Weirdly, it's actually a park DOWNGRADE from PetCo, and I still think Snell's value is more tied to his control than what team he pitches for. I believe in his talent, but I also believe in his inconsistency and that last year was far and away a career year.

Tier Seven


Jesus Luzardo



Shota Imanaga



Bryan Woo



Tanner Bibee



Shane Bieber



Nathan Eovaldi



Justin Verlander


Jesus Luzardo will be entering his age 26 season and while we've seen clear growth from him over his two years in Miami, we may also have seen the level he will settle in at. There were no real meaningful changes between 2022 and 2023 with minor improvements in walk rate and a slight dip in strikeout rate. We know that Luzardo possesses an elite change-up that the Marlins have gotten more use out of, but there doesn't seem to be another leap here. Still, even as is, Luzardo is a 3.50-3.70 ERA pitcher with a strikeout rate that will push 30% in a good pitcher's park. That's still a stable fantasy asset.

Much like we discussed with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, it's hard to rank Shota Imanaga because we haven't seen him against MLB hitters outside of a few innings in the World Baseball Classic. Still, he posted elite Stuff+ metrics at the WBC and features an array of offerings that he uses to keep hitters off-balance. He gets impressive IVB on his fastball, which is a great foundation, and he had better strikeout metrics than Yamamoto in Japan last year. I don't know how he'll adjust to the majors, but he's been a very good professional for a while, so I think the floor is pretty safe here.

Bryan Woo is another Seattle pitcher with tons of upside if he can make a few changes stick. Woo showed a great four-seam fastball in his debut, but he had a real problem with splits, giving up a .282/.389/.539 slash line to lefties, which is why Woo started throwing a cutter at the end of June. According to Pitcher List metrics, Woo used the cutter inside to lefties over 50% of the time, but, perhaps weirdly, threw it low 70.5% of the time, which is far too often in my opinion. You would believe a pitch designed to mitigate hard contact from lefties would be thrown more in on the hands, and that’s perhaps why the pitch itself allowed a 50% ICR, which is not good at all. However, now that he has a full offseason to get comfortable with the cutter and work to gameplan how to use it and how to elevate the four-seam more, I think we'll see an improvement in his splits from last year, which makes me bullish on Woo's upside.

Tanner Bibee does not have a great fastball, but he has two legitimate secondary pitches. That sounds a lot like a typical pitcher for the Cleveland Guardians, who have always seemed to get a lot out of pitchers with poor fastballs, even if that profile scares me. I have some concerns that he elevates his curve a lot, which, logically to me, is a potential issue because curveballs up in the zone are much easier to hit than curveballs out of the zone below. However, hitters also didn't hit his curveballs up in the zone in 2023 and, at some point, I need to acknowledge how good he was as a rookie with a 2.98 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, even if that came with a 4.19 SIERA. Bibee did have a sub-25% strikeout rate, so I think we could be looking at a 23% strikeout rate pitcher with an ERA around 3.70, and that's solid, but I haven't fully bought in on last year.

This is not the Shane Bieber of old. With diminished velocity on his four-seam fastball, Bieber now keeps the pitch low and then throws his breaking balls even lower. That approach has led to solid called strike rates on the four-seam and good swinging strike rates on the breakers, which certainly works. However, it does require him to be more precise. We saw a slight shift in the movement profile of the curve in the second half and it resulted in fewer whiffs, so Bieber is now the type of pitcher who has to walk a tightrope with command. I think he can do that better than most, but you're likely getting a pitcher with low strikeout upside but solid ratios. MARCH UPDATE: Not only has Bieber flashed 94 mph and higher on his fastball, but he's also gotten his curveball back to a movement profile that was more effective for him in years past. Bieber has a long track record of significantly better results when his fastball is over 93 mph, so if the velocity can stick in the spring, we could be looking at a big season as Bieber tries to earn another big contract.

We know what Nathan Eovaldi can do when healthy. He was tremendous for the vast majority of 2023, but then he got hurt and when he returned his four-seam velocity was down noticeably and the results were much worse. Then he gritted it out in the playoffs, as he does, and looked great. He will go as his velocity goes, but with only two seasons over 140 innings since 2016, we have to wonder just how likely we are to get peak velocity for an extended period. When he's feeling right, you'll be happy to have him on your team, but there will be stretches where you'll want to drop him and not be sure if you should and that will be frustrating. FINAL UPDATE: Eovaldi looks healthy right now and the velocity is there. We know how good he is when that's the case, so let's ride the wave to start the season.

Justin Verlander improved a lot in the second half of 2023. Perhaps it was coming back to Houston and throwing to his personal catcher, Martin Maldonado, who will not be in Houston next year. Maybe it was also that he got his fastball up in the zone more, which increased his IVB and jumped his SwStr%. He also started throwing his curve a little softer and with more downward bite, which led to more weak contact. I dunno. I just keep thinking that 2023 was his worst year in a while and he still had a 3.22 ERA. I don't necessarily think the strikeouts are coming back, and he will be 41 next year so Father Time is lurking, but I think Verlander has another year of decent production in him. FINAL UPDATE: Verlander was slowed in the spring with shoulder fatigue, but he's been facing hitters again and seems like he could pitch in a simulated game of spring training game soon. I would expect him before the end of April.

Tier Eight


Triston McKenzie



Bryce Miller



Nick Pivetta



Hunter Brown



Hunter Greene



Kutter Crawford



Brayan Bello



Cristopher Sanchez


Triston McKenzie is a pitcher we may have forgotten about due to injury. You may be surprised to hear his four-seamer had the most iVB of any starter’s four-seamer in 2022, and paired with excellent extension, the pitch can outperform its velocity. Especially if he keeps attacking with it upstairs. The curve was an elite put-away pitch for McKenzie before, but he has struggled to command it before. Same with the slider, which has been inconsistent in terms of finding the strike zone. I think McKenzie has higher upside than this, but I need to see it first. FINAL UPDATE: I have now seen it and McKenzie looks great. I'm back in.

I expected to be higher on Bryce Miller when I started these rankings, but he kept falling down my rankings a bit. Miller lived and died with his four-seamer as a rookie, and it gets tremendous IVB, but he also only throws it up in the zone 54% of the time, so it actually gave up an 11.6% barrel rate last year, which is not ideal for a pitch he throws almost 60% of the time. He has essentially two sliders, with a harder gyro slider and a sweeper, but the sweeper didn't miss many bats last year. He added a sinker as the year went on to keep right-handed hitters off of his four-seam, which was good because that allowed the four-seam to play up more as a putaway pitch. The issue is there's nothing much here yet beyond the sinker, which is just a setup pitch, the slider, which is far more effective to lefties, and a fastball that needs to be elevated more to reduce hard contact. There is a path forward for Miller, but it does involve a few changes and perhaps a new pitch for lefties, like a cutter? MARCH UPDATE: I wrote about Miller’s splitter here and how I like it but think he needs more.

I know, you've seen this before and you're not going to fall for Nick Pivetta, but I can assure you that this time is different. For starters, Pivetta now has a whole new pitch that drove his second-half success. Pivetta picked up the "whirlybird," which is the sweeper he learned from teammate Chris Martin in late June. The pitch was electric with a 25.4% SwStr% over the remainder of the season. He also began to throw his old slider harder and turned it into more of a cutter which made the pitch itself more dynamic and allowed his four-seam to play up. All of that takes pressure off of his solid curveball and allowed Pivetta to crush the second half of the season, finishing with a 29% K-BB%, 34.4% strikeout rate, and 3.26 ERA over 47 innings in eight starts to end the year. He was also electric out of the bullpen with this new pitch mix before moving back into the rotation. That'll play.

I don't know what to do with Hunter Brown. He looked really good to start the year, but then the bottom fell out with an ERA barely under 7.00 over his final 16 starts. Perhaps it was fatigue since he'd never thrown over 130 innings before or perhaps it was just the inconsistencies that come with a pitch mix in flux. In the second half of the year, Brown went to his curveball more as he lost the feel for his slider, and then he also toyed around with a sweeper. He mixed in a splitter more in the second half too, but lost some velocity and IVB on the fastball as the year went on. Yet, he started going to that fastball more as the year went on, and it caught way too much of the plate. So which version of Brown will show up? If he can command his secondaries and doesn't need to rely on the fastball so much, then he's the low-to-mid 3.00 ERA arm we saw in the first half of the year, but if he can't harness his breaking balls then he's at risk or imploding again. I want to believe in the talent, but it's also scary.

Everybody loves to dream about Hunter Greene because he throws 100 mph and has a wicked slider, but here's the issue: that fastball is not as good as we think. Sure, a 13.2% SwStr% is solid but it gives up tons of hard contact because it has below-average extension and IVB. So since Greene only throws a change-up 5% of the time, he basically brings the Spencer Strider profile to the mound but with worse command and a fastball that is far more hittable. Oh, and he pitches in a terrible park for pitchers. Yeah, I might be out until we see a consistent third pitch or changes to the fastball. MARCH UPDATE: I covered Greene’s potential two new pitches here. I'm not yet sold it makes a real difference for him.

People have laughed at the Red Sox staff being optimistic about their current rotation, but Kutter Crawford is another pitcher who has a really strong foundation for success. Now that the team overhauled its pitcher development staff, perhaps we see him take a big step forward in 2024. All of Crawford's pitches grade out well in terms of Stuff+ and while Crawford doesn't throw overly hard, he has a 94 mph fastball with elite IVB and good extension, and the pitch has performed well. He also pairs that with both a cutter (of course) and a slider that gets whiffs and soft contact against righties and a change-up/curve pairing that works well against lefties. It's the same kind of solid foundation that we saw from Canning but with possibly more upside. FINAL UPDATE: Crawford appears to have added vertical movement on his four-seam fastball. He has six legit pitches and five that grade out as above-average. I think he has a pretty safe floor.

Brayan Bello is another Red Sox arm who changed his slider during the season. Bello changed his slider late in the summer and went from averaging 2.3 inches of horizontal movement and 6 inches of drop at 84.9 mph to averaging 7.8 inches of horizontal movement and just 2.8 inches of drop at 85.9 mph in September. The pitch also posted a solid 21.4% SwStr% that month. Bello did seem to fade down the stretch, likely due to him tiring from the most innings he’s ever thrown in pro ball, but reports this offseason are that Bello will prioritize the slider in 2024. That would give him strikeout upside to his solid sinker/change profile that leads to lots of groundballs and is a combination that would make him a much more dynamic pitcher for fantasy.

Cristopher Sanchez was really good last year. I know some of it was due to an easy schedule, but he had a 3.44 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 99.1 innings. That should get your attention. He also has a filthy change-up that gives him a solid foundation for success against righties. However, his sinker which has tons of arm-side run, is way more impactful against lefties, as is his slider, which he throws to hitters of both-handedness but is just an average pitch to righties. Yet, he had these splits issues last year and was still able to produce a really good season. If he can alter his approach to righties with the sinker or add in a cutter, we could see him produce consistently steady results, but even if he doesn't, he seems to have a pretty safe floor on a good team, so I'm in. MARCH UPDATE: I know Sanchez is throwing harder so far in spring, but I'm not sure I like that. His change-up and sinker don't need to be harder to be successful, so I want to make sure the movement profile doesn't change too much with the velocity.

Tier Nine


José Berríos



Carlos Rodon



Merrill Kelly



Chris Bassitt



Nestor Cortes



Cristian Javier



Gavin Williams



Jordan Montgomery



Yusei Kikuchi



Kenta Maeda


Jose Berrios feels incredibly consistent. His 2022 season was his worst ever, and almost all of it feels like an outlier. He got right back to form in 2023, with a 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 23.5% strikeout rate. His curve is still the star of the show, but he started to use his sinker more as the year went on. However, instead of attacking righties with it inside, it basically lived out over the plate as a get-ahead pitch. He also saw massive whiff gains in his four-seam in the second half despite no real change to the pitch, so I'm not sure if I buy that sticking. We know his profile; we've seen it for years, and it works. There just probably isn't another level.

I feel less confident about Carlos Rodon. We've obviously seen how good he can be when he's healthy, and he certainly wasn't healthy last year. However, he hasn't been healthy for the majority of his career, and therein lies the issue. The fastball velocity seemed to be there at the end of the year in 2023, and he was able to put together some solid, high strikeout starts, but it just wasn't consistent. I feel like I have to rank Rodon here because if he's healthy enough to throw even 140 innings, they should be really good ones, but he's such a gamble that I'm just not sure I'll be drafting him. MARCH UPDATE: Rodon has this new cutter, and I'm not sure if I love it. We'll need to see how often he uses it and if it has any impact on his four-seam.

Merrill Kelly is somebody who has seemed to consistently out-produce his raw stuff since coming back over from Korea. Kelly throws tons of pitches, with a true five-pitch mix, which allows him to keep hitters off-balance because the offerings all work relatively well off of one another. He added a slider more in 2023, which had a 21.3% whiff rate, but also allowed hard contact and was only thrown 6% of the time. There will be starts where Kelly doesn't have enough of his arsenal working and he gets lit up, but I think you'll look back at the end of the season and see a solid overall line that you can be happy with in most formats.

I just can't get in on Chris Bassitt. I know he was great last year, but I also know he had just a 9.4% SwStr%, a 4.25 SIERA, a 15.4% K-BB%, and gets consistently poor Stuff+ and PLV marks. So we have a pitcher with a deep arsenal of pitches, who certainly knows how to pitch, but he doesn't miss bats and has below-average raw stuff. That's just too risky of a profile for me to get behind. I feel like it could implode at any time.

Nestor Cortes has been pretty good when healthy over the past few seasons, and he seems healthy right now at the start of spring. I feel confident in Cortes' rotation spot, which gives him a bit of a longer leash to work with in case he struggles out of the gate, but his sequencing has always kept hitters off balance and led to better results than you might think. I don't see that changing much this year. FINAL UPDATE: Cortes has looked healthy so far with his velocity trending up. I know the results aren't there from an ERA standpoint, but I'm not really bothered by that.

I've kind of fallen out on Cristian Javier. He's only had two seasons as a traditional starter; one was great and one stunk. Last year, he totally lost the feel for his slider, so his whiff rates fell and it allowed hitters to pounce on his four-seam. But that's the risk with a pitcher who throws his four-seam/slider combo 88% of the time. The four-seam has elite IVB and misses a decent number of bats, but it's not good enough to carry the entire arsenal. Javier needs to find that slider again, but even if he does, he's still essentially a two-pitch pitcher, and that worries me. Especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers waiting in the wings to return this summer. FINAL UPDATE: I have been talked into Javier a bit this spring because of how he's using his changeup to attack hitters low in the zone. I still have my doubts, but I'm not going to be as harsh with his ranking.

Gavin Williams is not at all the typical Guardians pitcher. He relies on an elite four-seamer that gets tremendous extension and also above-average arm-side run in on righties. It doesn't give up a ton of hard contact, but it also doesn't miss a lot of bats with a 12.3% SwStr%. And therein lies the problem. Williams essentially has two other pitches in his slider and curve since he barely throws his below-average change-up. The slider is a solid overall offering that he can locate in the zone and get swings and misses on; however, he doesn't use it much against lefties, going instead to the curve which he has less command over. That curve didn't get hit hard in 2023, but I can't help just thinking of it as a below-average pitch when I watch. I can see a path forward for Williams if he optimizes his four-seam usage but unless that curve takes a step forward, I'm a bit worried about his ceiling. FINAL UPDATE: Williams hurt his elbow doing weighted ball work and while the team isn't concerned, I don't love drafting pitchers who are already banged-up, but if we get more positive news in the coming days, then move him back up.

Jordan Montgomery is just not the pitcher this offseason narrative is making him out to be. Perhaps it was his good playoff run or the fact that he and Blake Snell have been the best pitchers on the market for what feels like two months now, but the truth is that Montgomery in 2023 was basically the pitcher he's always been. None of his pitches aside from his curveball grade out particularly well and his sinker-heavy approach leads to soft contact but not many strikeouts. He used the four-seam less in 2023, which was nice, but the change-up took a step back and the rest of the arsenal and approach was very similar. I'm not sure he'll be as bad as his 4.23 SIERA suggests or even his 4.01 xFIP, but I think he's probably a mid-to-upper 3.00 ERA pitcher with a below-average strikeout rate and that's fine in deeper formats, but I don't love it. FINAL UPDATE: Montgomery remains unsigned and will surely miss starts to begin the season. I don't like drafting him unless his cost really drops.

I have historically been way out on Yusei Kikuchi because his secondaries seemed suspect to me and he gave up a lot of hard contact; however, he made a few meaningful changes in 2023. For starters, he scrapped his cutter and added a curveball. The curveball not only missed bats, but it was a pitch that he could throw for a strike. Since it has a similar movement profile to his slider but is 5.5 mph slower, it created more deception in his arsenal and allowed his slider to play up. The change-up is still not a particularly good pitch, and the slider is less effective to righties, so Kikuchi does have minor splits issues, but his home park is more pitcher-friendly, and I think him as a 26% strikeout rate pitcher feels sustainable. MARCH UPDATE: Kikuchi appears to be making another change to his arsenal by switching his change-up grip to a circle change. There's nothing actionable on that yet, but it's something I'm watching.

Kenta Maeda was pretty good last year. After getting off to a slow start due to injury, Maeda posted a 3.36 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 29% strikeout rate in 88.1 innings from June 1st on. That's like, really good. Yes, he still doesn't throw hard, but the splitter remains a tremendous pitch, and he started going to it more as the year went on. The four-seam, despite its mediocre velocity, was a decent whiff pitch against righties for him since he also throws the sinker inside, which creates more deception on the four-seam. With a solid slider to round out the arsenal, Maeda remains just a solid pitcher who is now in a more pitcher-friendly park. I'm not sure how many innings we'll get, but I think they'll be good ones. FINAL UPDATE: Maeda's velocity may be down but his secondaries are missing tons of bats this spring. He has never really succeeded because of velocity, so I'm not overly worried about that.

Tier 10


Nick Lodolo



A.J. Puk



Mitch Keller



DL Hall



Ryan Pepiot



Tanner Houck


This tier is not safe, but I like the upside of a lot of these guys.

I used to be a big Nick Lodolo fan, so I don't want to quit him. There is also a world where he is a better fantasy pitcher than Hunter Greene, which many suggested would be the case two years ago. However, since then we've had injury concerns and his command goes wonky at times. Now, the injury is not arm-related, which is good to see for a pitcher, but we've also yet to see a third pitch emerge to join the fastball and curve. The four-seam has given up double-digit barrel rates in two straight seasons, so I think he needs that change-up to take a step forward to make him a safer option because allowing hard contact in that park is a really big problem. I'm ready to fly Lodolo up my rankings if I see something new in 2024, but I'm losing a bit of faith. FINAL UPDATE: Lodolo has seemed healthy and is back on the mound, so I'm buying back in on the upside.

A.J. Puk looks to have the inside track for the Marlins' fifth starter role given that Trevor Rogers had a late start due to injury. Puk is now throwing two different versions of his slider: a sweeper for swings and misses, and a harder gyro slider for strikes and to get in on the hands of right-handed hitters. I think that's a nice addition for him as he looks to move to the rotation, and I'm happy to take some fliers here. FINAL UPDATE: Puk has dominated spring and is one of my favorite later-round starters. I wrote about him in depth here.

Mitch Keller looked elite for the first half of the season and had my buddy Thunder Dan Palyo starting to think about a Cy Young. Then, the wheels fell off, particularly on his new cutter. The pitch doubled in barrel rate allowed in the second half of the year, and the rest of the arsenal couldn't recover. However, as I've said with a few pitchers already, a pitcher losing the feel of a new pitch is not the end of the world to me. It happens often. Keller will now have another offseason to work on the pitch and gain more consistency with it. The reliability of the cutter will also help the sweeper play up more, and I think we could see another step forward for Keller in 2024.

DL Hall was a player I was optimistic about when he was in Baltimore, but I felt it might take a while for him to move back into that rotation. Now that he's in Milwaukee, it seems like a rotation spot is his, and I love the upside. Hall spoke openly about last year's back injury causing him to lose velocity on his fastball, which was a blessing in disguise because it forced him to focus on his off-speed. In the second half of the season, the velocity came back, and he tweaked his slider to be four mph harder while adding drop. The pitch had a huge bump in Stuff+ grades, and I think it gives him another level of upside. We've yet to see him put it all together as a starter but seems to have been the centerpiece of the Corbin Burnes deal, which makes me think the Brewers will give him a chance to show what he can do, and I'm going to have some shares.

I like Tanner Houck, but I'm on record above as saying I think Whitlock can steal the final rotation spot. That would make Houck a reliever and maybe a future closer? If it looks like Houck will take the rotation spot then I'd likely move him up in my rankings. FINAL UPDATE: Houck is locked into a spot in the rotation after Lucas Giolito's injury. His velocity is up this spring after he cleaned up his mechanics and that seems to have also helped his command. Color me intrigued.

Ryan Pepiot had a 2.14 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, and a 24% strikeout rate in 42 innings for the Dodgers last year. But only three of those games were traditional starts. Also, now he's in Tampa Bay. All of that makes it hard to figure out what to do with him. I do know that his fastball has great IVB and extension, but he only threw it up in the zone 44% of the time (21st percentile) so the Rays could easily get him to start elevating that more, which would up his SwStr%. I also know that his change-up is a really good pitch, and he tightened it up a bit in 2023 for more swings and misses. His slider also improved in 2023 and while it remains a below-average offering, it now gives him more of a usable third pitch. Considering Tampa Bay has added sweepers with a few of their acquisitions, it wouldn't surprise me to see them tweak Pepiot's slider, and that could unlock another level for him. We just won't really know until we see him on a mound with his new team.

Tier 11


Aaron Civale



Marcus Stroman



Garrett Whitlock



Luis Severino



Jameson Taillon



Casey Mize


When the Rays trade for a pitcher, it usually peaks out interest; yet, Aaron Civale's overall numbers didn't improve after the trade deadline. However, we did see a minor tweak begin with his slider. Before coming to the Rays, the pitch averaged 83.2 mph with 11 inches of horizontal movement. After coming to the Rays, the pitch averaged 81.9 mph with 12.4 inches of horizontal movement. While he was only throwing the pitch 5% of the time, it had a massive bump in SwStr% up to 13.4%. It also gave up a lot more hard contact, but a mid-season switch like that is never going to be perfect. With a whole offseason to work on the pitch, it’s possible we could see Civale add a swing-and-miss slider to his plus curveball and a good enough cutter/sinker combo.

I loved watching Nick Pollack from Pitcher List break down one of Jameson Taillon’s starts with Taillon himself because it provides a lot of insight from Taillon into what his thought process is for his approach and pitch mix. Taillon mentions struggling with his cutter early in the 2023 season, adding a sweeper instead of more of a gyro slider, and having a hard time finding a rhythm due to injuries. Yet, we saw him make clear changes as he got healthier and found more comfort with his new pitch mix. In the second half of the season, his cutter reduced the barrel rate allowed, he found more comfort with the sweeper, and his curveball stayed low in the zone more, which led to an improved barrel rate. In fact, from July 1st on, Taillon had a 3.57 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 16.8% K-BB% in 16 starts. That'll play. FINAL UPDATE: Taillon should miss maybe one or two starts at the beginning of the year, but I'm not concerned about his health long-term.

Marcus Stroman joining the Yankees is interesting. The park is a touch worse for him, as is the infield defense, but the team context is a little better. I'm also curious to see what they do with his arsenal since Stroman has been a known tinkerer. He has some trouble finding the zone with his slider and splitter, but the cutter is really good and could be a foundational pitch if he builds around it. I don't think Stroman will be an exciting pick in your drafts, but I think he'll be a solid ratio pitcher with a good chance for wins and there's nothing wrong with that.

On some level, I want to throw out much of 2023 for Garrett Whitlock since he was on and off the injured list a few times, which caused Boston to shift him into various roles in the bullpen. When healthy, Whitlock is a sinker/change-up pitcher with good arm-side run on both pitches. He frequently attacks with the sinker up and change-up low and uses the change as a key swing-and-miss pitch to lefties. Another major change for Whitlock in 2023 is that he modified his slider from more of a gyro slider to a sweeper with almost eight inches more horizontal movement. However, he also struggled to command that pitch, but I'm willing to give him a pass since it was a new pitch and his innings were so inconsistent that it was hard for him to get a feel for it. f we believe Michael King can be a starter due to his previous minor league workload then we should be open to the idea that Whitlock can too since his workload has been pretty close to what King has been putting up recently. The beauty of taking a gamble on Whitlock is that it will be so incredibly easy to know if you should hold him on your roster or cut him. The Red Sox are stretching him out to battle for a spot in the rotation with Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, and maybe Josh Winckowski. MARCH UPDATE: Whitlock seems to have come to camp with two sliders: a harder, tighter slide for strikes and a sweepier pitch for swings and misses. If he can have that slider to command well for strikes, I think there's a real chance he wins this rotation spot, especially with Giolito now out.

Luis Severino was another Yankee pitcher with a 2023 to forget. Since Severino became a full-time starter in 2017, he had never posted an ERA worse than 3.39, a strikeout rate worse than 27.7%, or allowed more than 41% hard contact in a season. He did all of that last year. While some of it could be because he only threw 18 combined innings from 2019-2021 due to injury and then the Yankees cut his season short in 2022 after 102 innings (which he spoke openly about being upset about), the bigger issue is that Severino totally lost his fastball. Despite throwing the pitch 96.5 mph (which is a decent indicator of health), the induced vertical break fell from 17.4 inches to 16.0 inches, so the pitch didn’t “rise” or “run” which means it was relatively “flat” and got hit hard. Considering Severino is already at Driveline this offseason, I feel like it’s a pretty solid bet that he'll be working to address his IVB concerns, and then the rest of the arsenal should fall into place.

Casey Mize is healthy and throwing hard with even more vertical movement on his four-seam. It's only been two starts, but those are great things to see. He also has seemingly gone back to the velocity and shape on his splitter that he had when it was his main pitch in the minor leagues, so that's another good sign. He will likely be on an innings limit as he works back from Tommy John surgery, and the command is often the last thing to return for pitchers after the surgery, but I like Mize in leagues where you have an IL spot or draft-and-hold formats. FINAL UPDATE: Mize has made the Tigers rotation, and I'm scooping up shares. I'm not sure how many innings he goes this year, but he looks great.

Tier 12


Reese Olson



Mackenzie Gore



Max Meyer



Louie Varland



Gavin Stone



Kyle Harrison



Luis Gil


If the Tigers start the season with Casey Mize on the IL then Reese Olson will likely be in the rotation. He has looked good this spring, and I wrote about him here as one of my favorite late-round gambles.

MacKenzie Gore has always had good stuff, but he never developed in quite the way people expected when he was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He tweaked his curveball last year and got some really good results with it despite inconsistent Stuff+ results. Then he came to camp with a new plan to seemingly live more up in the zone with his fastball. That's a great thing. That will allow his curveball to play up more down in the zone, and we might get another step forward from Gore this season.

Max Meyer made the Marlins rotation, so you have to take some fliers in redraft leagues. He needs to showcase a deeper arsenal, and I'm not sure how many innings he'll pitch this year, but the talent is real.

Similarly, I have no idea if Louie Varland will be in the rotation. People seem to think he will because Anthony DeSclafani is dealing with shoulder soreness, but DeSclafani is still throwing, and the Twins say he'll be ready for the start of the season, so that would leave Varland with lots of talent but without a rotation spot. FINAL UPDATE: Varland now has a rotation spot after the Anthony DeSclafani injury but don't go crazy. He has talent, but a very limited arsenal of pitches so he's unlikely to go deep into games.

Gavin Stone has won the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation. His first two starts this season will be against the Giants and Cubs, so it's possible you'd draft him and not use him for those, which has to be factored into his ranking. I wrote about his new pitch mix here, so check that out.

Kyle Harrison had tremendous Triple-A numbers and had success in his brief time with the Giants, but it feels a bit flukey. His fastball lacks much extension or IVB but he does run it in on lefties well. I'm just not sure there's a great approach for it currently with righties since he doesn't like to get it inside there so far. His curveball is also a weird tweener pitch that grades out well but allowed an 11.5% barrel rate last year. I'm just not sure there is a deep enough arsenal here to have sustained success at the MLB level and the Giants love to piggyback their starters, so how many innings will he throw? MARCH UPDATE: Harrison came to spring training with a new cutter, which is great for him given how much he relied on his four-seam last year. I need to see it in action a bit, but I could move Harrison up the rankings if it seems like he'll use that cutter in 2024.

The injury to Gerrit Cole has opened up a rotation spot that COULD BE held by Luis Gil. Gil's talent is very clear and if I knew he'd be in the rotation, I'd have moved him up higher. However, he's a great late-round dart who you can cut if he doesn't win the final spot.

Tier 13


Reynaldo Lopez



James Paxton



Jack Flaherty



Zack Littell



Ryan Weathers



Brandon Pfaadt



Erick Fedde



Garrett Crochet



Griffin Canning


The Braves signed Reynaldo Lopez to be a starter and I didn't believe them. But so far this spring, he is preparing as a starter and looking as good as any of the candidates for the fifth starter role. At this point, I can't rule out the fact that the Braves will give him a shot, and he's always had intriguing raw stuff. Maybe this is the year we get a decent stretch out of him as a starter At worst, he's probably one of the more valuable multi-inning relievers out there in 2024. FINAL UPDATE: Lopez is the Braves' fifth starter, so I'm going to take gambles on a talented pitcher who pitches for a great team.

Much like Nestor Cortes above, James Paxton has been pretty good when healthy over the past few seasons. He was great for Boston in his first few starts but then faded before getting hurt. I'm not sure how many innings I'm going to get from him, but I think they'll be good innings for maybe the best team in baseball to start the season. MARCH UPDATE: The Dodgers say Paxton will pitch every six days to start the year to keep him healthy. That's not a bad thing, but he does mean he'll make fewer starts than other pitchers so I'm not going to raise him too high up the rankings, even if he is healthy right now.

Jack Flaherty pushes his way into the top 100 with his new velocity spike in camp. I have no idea if it will stick or how he'll pitch at that velocity because he hasn't done it; however, he does seem healthy and is in a pitcher-friendly park with a locked-in rotation spot so, at this point, it's worth a gamble to see how he performs.

I was overlooking Zack Littell earlier this spring, but he was good after the Rays moved him into the rotation, and he's been solid this spring. There's nothing flashy, but I think the results will be there on a good team that will give him a chance to rack up some wins.

Ryan Weathers is now locked into a spot in the Marlins' rotation after all their injuries. He has looked good this spring and is just 24 years old, so I think there is some upside we haven't yet seen. As the son of a pitcher, he has a great presence on the mound, which is always something I love.

Brandon Pfaadt was the darling of March drafts back in 2023, but he came up and was unable to find much success early, primarily because his four-seam gave up so much hard contact, and he didn’t really have another pitch besides a sweeper that he had trouble commanding in the zone. Well, as the season progressed, Pfaadt started mixing in a sinker and reducing his four-seam usage. While the sinker itself is not a great pitch, it induces more groundballs and gives up less hard contact to righties than the four-seam and can allow Pfaadt to set up his sweeper more consistently since he believes the sinker creates better tunneling with his best pitch. Pfaadt also moved his position on the rubber during the season so his pitches would catch less of the plate and give up less hard contact. We saw the changes pay off with a solid postseason run, and while I have some concerns about the arsenal still, I think he has a chance for a solid enough season.

I wrote about Erick Fedde’s completely overhauled pitch mix here, so you can see why I'm interested in taking late-round fliers on him.

So Garrett Crochet is the White Sox's opening day starter. I have no idea what to expect from him, but he hasn't allowed a run all spring and, more importantly, has 12 strikeouts with no walks. If he's going to show that kind of command as a starter then I'm intrigued.

I just can't quit Griffin Canning. I know the injury history is concerning. I know the Angels won't be good, and I know he's lacked consistency with his breaking balls, but the arsenal is deep, and he was solid for a long stretch last year. His four-seam isn't a great pitch, but he started throwing it up in the zone more as the season went on, and it got more whiffs. He backs that up with a hard slider that is his primary whiff pitch and actually performs better against lefties, and a change-up that can tie up lefties. The curve was inconsistent last year, and he'll need to get a better feel for it to give him another weapon against righties since the change-up is less effective there. I see a step forward for Canning, but even his floor is a solid pitcher with a four-pitch mix.

Tier 14


Eduardo Rodriguez



Walker Buehler



Jared Jones



Edward Cabrera



Taj Bradley



Matt Manning



Braxton Garrett


Eduardo Rodriguez way overperformed his peripherals in 2023 with a 3.30 ERA but a 4.06 xFIP and 4.26 SIERA. He seemed to find his change-up which led to a bump in SwStr% and the harder version of his slider missed more bats, but he only threw that pitch 7% of the time, so it's not a real difference-maker. The cutter got lit up to an 18.8% barrel rate, and that's a problem since he loves to throw it against righties. I just don't see a consistent swing-and-miss pitch other than a change-up, and I get wary about relying on guys to improve their strikeout rates when that's their best pitch. It's just really hard to do. Rodriguez feels like a solid floor but low ceiling option to me in 2024. FINAL UPDATE: Rodriguez is currently sidelined with a lat injury that might require an MRI. That added injury risk has me moving him down a bit.

We don't know what to expect from Walker Buehler. The right-hander was out all of last season and will now reportedly not start the season on time as the Dodgers look to manage his innings. It's very likely his innings are closely monitored all season, which limits his accumulation upside, and his fastball had issues with hard contact before he even got hurt. I don't believe Buehler will be bad, but I think it's safe to expect some rust, and, in limited innings, that scares me a little bit. MARCH UPDATE: I honestly don't know how to rank Buehler. He was allegedly throwing 95 mph in his last batting practice session, but he's also likely out for the first month of the season, which is a bit concerning since he missed all of last season too.

Jared Jones is one of my favorite late-round picks. I wrote about him here, and I hope the Pirates put him in the rotation.

The case for Edward Cabrera is simple: He’s 25 years old with elite fastball velocity, an electric change-up, and the ability to miss bats with a 13.4% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) and 27.2% strikeout rate. We also saw Cabrera’s four-seam take a step forward after a stint in the minors over the summer. The pitch itself has elite velocity, above-average extension and arm-side break, and average IVB, so if he does keep it up in the zone, it has the potential to be a strong offering to pair with his change-up and could be a difference-maker for him. Cabrera also doesn’t allow a lot of hard contact, but the command is a legitimate concern. FINAL UPDATE: Cabrera is already back throwing after being sidelined with shoulder fatigue. I think he should be back in the rotation soon, so I didn't want to move him down too much.

Taj Bradley is enticing, but he also couldn't put together any kind of consistent success in the big leagues in 2023. His raw stuff is great with a solid four-seamer, a cutter that flashed plus, and a potentially elite curveball. However, he also struggled to command literally all of those pitches at times in 2023. He could certainly get a better feel for them over the offseason, but with Shane Baz coming back, is Bradley even a lock to make the rotation? If he does make it over Zach Littell (which he should), will he keep the spot once one or both of Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen return? The talent is there, but there are so many question marks for me. FINAL UPDATE: Bradley is sidelined with a pec injury, and we're unclear how long he'll be out. I expect him back by the end of April but I'm a bit nervous.

At one point, Matt Manning seemed like the prized pitching prospect in the Tigers system, but injuries and a lack of development have quieted that a bit. Still, Manning has been pretty successful in his limited MLB innings over the last two seasons with a 3.43 ERA season in 2022 and a 3.58 ERA mark in 2023. His four-seam has elite extension and great approach angle, but it has mediocre velocity, so he needs to start getting it up in the zone more to get more whiffs. If he can do that, there's something here because Manning has a tremendous slider that he pounds the zone with and induces tons of weak contact. The downside is that even that pitch doesn't miss bats, and the rest of the arsenal hasn't developed. Still, with some better four-seam usage, I could see Manning being a steady ratio contributor in deeper leagues for an improving Tigers team. FINAL UPDATE: Manning was sent down to Triple-A, but I'd be aggressive in bidding on him when he gets the call. is throwing about two mph harder with his whole arsenal this spring. That's great for his four-seam fastball, if it sticks, and he's been really impressive this spring.

Braxton Garrett's ranking comes down to your faith in his cutter. The pitch missed a lot of bats in the first half of the season but did allow a fair amount of hard contact. That hard contact caught up with him in the second half, and the pitch faltered, which meant that he really on had his slider. It's a pretty good slider, so it's not a bad foundation for his arsenal, and pairing it with a sinker/cutter combo should allow him to succeed versus righties and lefties. However, he'll need that cutter to be more consistent because the change-up is average. Yet, if there was any organization that could help him fix the change-up, it would be Miami, so there are a few paths forward here for a better 2024 than the already solid 2023 season that saw him finish with a 3.66 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. MARCH UPDATE: He got a late start due to some shoulder discomfort, but there doesn't seem to be any concern about his long-term health and, as of now, he is tracking to be ready for Opening Day.

Tier 15


Shane Baz



Max Scherzer



Kyle Bradish



Kodai Senga



Eury Perez


These are all pitchers with some injury concerns but we assume they will return early in the summer (as of now).

I think people forgot about Shane Baz. The former top prospect is coming back from injury after not pitching at all in 2023 and while his minor league success has not carried over into the majors in his very brief sample size, the raw stuff is electric. Baz is in this tier simply because of innings concerns because, on a pure stuff basis, he could be up with the Eury Perez tier. Still, we also know Baz is going to be ready for the start of the season, and Tampa Bay has two big-time starters (Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen) not set to return from their own injuries until the summer at the earliest, so Baz should get a long leash for the first few months of the year. The Rays may limit his innings down the stretch, but I'll worry about that later in the year. If I can get 120+ innings from Baz, which I think is feasible, then I love him at this cost. MARCH UPDATE: Tampa Bay is going to delay Baz until the summer, so he'll join this crew but we at least know he's healthy and will pitch in the majors this year.

Max Scherzer now finds himself at the top of this tier and not in the injury tier below because the Rangers said the plan is for him to return in June. Now, we have no idea if he will actually return in June or how long he'll stay healthy, but Scherzer was still solid last year. He may not be as overpowering as he used to be, but he has a deep arsenal of pitches and is learning how to pitch without his top-end velocity. I don't think he's done yet.

I wrote up Kyle Bradish last year as a breakout candidate, but I didn't expect to be ranking him near my top 20 in 2024. However, Bradish rode his elite slider to a tremendous 2023 season with a 2.83 ERA. He also cut back on his four-seam usage as the year went on, opting for more reliance on his sinker, which is great because his four-seam remains below average. Yet, Bradish also has a good curveball which limits hard contact and is his preferred two-strike pitch to lefties. I worry a touch about him versus lefties because he has to throw his four-seam more, but he has two plus breaking balls and a good sinker, which means last year was no fluke. I'm just not sure there's another level unless the four-seam improves. MARCH UPDATE: I know Bradish is progressing well in his throwing program, but he has a UCL injury and has not undergone any surgery to repair it. That always makes me nervous. I'll likely grab a share if he falls far in drafts, but he's among the riskiest pitchers you can draft this year.

Command is a huge issue for Kodai Senga. His ghost fork is a deadly offering and his slider has flashed swing-and-miss ability; although he struggles with its consistency. Therein lies the issue for Senga: consistency and command. He induces weak contact on his cutter, but his four-seam gets hit hard and there were too many outings for me where his command just left him. I think it's reasonable to expect that he improves in his second season in this country and this league, but I don't think he will all of a sudden become a different pitcher. The walk rate will remain high, and I don't love any pitch besides the ghost fork, so while I see some room for improvement, I also still have concerns. MARCH UPDATE: Kodai Senga is likely going to return in late May, but he also has an injury that scares me when it comes to his long-term health. He's worth an IL stash, but I don't know if I have the stomach to roster him.

The raw stuff Eury Perez possesses is great and good enough to make him a clear SP1 in fantasy, but he has to shift his approach in a way Bobby Miller started to and Perez hasn't yet. Much like Miller, Perez throws his four-seam low in the zone which causes it to get hit hard. Unlike Miller, he has yet to shift that approach, but I believe he certainly can. The shape and velocity of the four-seam would make it far more impactful up in the zone. He also needs to throw his breaking balls more in the zone, with both his curve and slider both inducing lots of weak contact but not being thrown for strikes enough. Again, this is something I believe happens a lot with young pitchers who can dominate in the minor leagues by saying, "Here's my best stuff; hit it." I believe that Perez is capable of shifting his approach and being more deliberate with this location; I just think he hasn't had to be yet. FINAL UPDATE: Since we heard Eury Perez was going to see a surgeon about his elbow discomfort we've heard quite literally zero update. That sounds a bit ominous and so I have to move him to this injury tier until we know more.

Tier 16


Jordan Hicks



Chris Paddack



Seth Lugo



Charlie Morton



Michael Wacha



Tyler Wells



Ryne Nelson


Jordan Hicks is transitioning into the rotation but that has never worked in the past. I do like that he's added a split-change into his arsenal and is trying to throw four pitches for strikes, but I don't like how the Giants used their starters last year. I think Hicks could be limited to just three or four innings per start which would be good for his ability to stick in the rotation, but not great for fantasy purposes. If the Giants use an opener in front of him so he can still get wins then I'd become a bit more interested.

We've dreamed about Chris Paddack's upside before and, to a certain extent, I'm ready to do it again. Paddack may only have thrown five innings last year, but the fact that he was able to come back and pitch suggests he's had a fully healthy offseason to work on honing his pitch mix with a Twins organization that has seen a number of their starters use Driveline to improve their arsenal. He currently has a spot in the Twins' rotation, and I'm willing to take a gamble late that he's in a plate that can optimize his above-average IVB on the fastball and solid change-up. Could he learn the sweeper that Pablo Lopez brought in last year? That could be fun.

Seth Lugo is another deeper league starter who doesn’t get discussed as much as he should. He had a solid first season as a starter in San Diego and will now be locked into a rotation spot in Kansas City with a great home ballpark for pitchers. Lugo came into 2023 and split his breaking ball into two with clear differentiations between the slider and curve; however, as the season went on, he started to morph his slider into more of a sweeper, which had just a 12.1% SwStr% in the second half, so while it was an improvement from the slider, it wasn’t tremendous as a swing-and-miss pitch. However, it didn’t allow a lot of hard contact, and it allowed the harder slider to play up as well, which gave Lugo six pitches that he could go to. While he will never be a huge strikeout arm, I think that depth of arsenal in that home park will make him a solid ratio target in 15-team leagues.

Speaking of imploding at any time, Charlie Morton continues to ride his curveball into his 40s. The pitch remains elite with a 19% SwStr% in 2023, and he threw it even more, at 43% of the time. However, the rest of the arsenal leaves a lot to be desired. The change-up flashes at times, but he really only uses it to lefties. His cutter is kind of more like a slider to righties, and it was a much better pitch for him in 2023 but it also gave up a 12.5% barrel rate to righties, which is not ideal. This just feels a lot like late-career Adam Wainwright with an over-reliance on one pitch and that scares me.

At the end of 2021, the Rays had Michael Wacha go to his change-up more often, and he saw a huge surge in his results. In 2022, the Red Sox signed him and asked him to do the same, with similarly strong results, and then, in 2023, the Padres moved him into their rotation and had him throw the change-up more than any other pitch. It works for Wacha since it's such an elite offering, but he doesn't even get an 8% SwStr% on any of his other pitches. I think he'll have solid ratios in Kansas City, and he does mitigate hard contact, but I can't see much strikeout upside and win total upside, which will limit his fantasy value.

The Kyle Bradish injury means that Tyler Wells gets a spot in the Orioles' rotation. It may only be for a month or so, but you're drafting for results all season long, so getting somebody late in the drafts who will pitch for one of the best teams in baseball, in a great pitcher's park is something we want to go after. We are even more interested when that person has proven to be good at suppressing hard contact and posting solid ratios. Tyler Wells was really solid as a starter last year, and I'd be happy to roster him again in 15-team leagues.

Ryne Nelson has the fifth starter spot locked up in Arizona and has made some changes to his pitch mix to try and add more swing-and-miss to his game. He's throwing his slider harder with more of a fastball line of attack to create deception. He also spent a lot of time working on being more direct to home plate to improve his command. The early results in spring are promising, and I think Nelson could surprise some people this year.

Tier 17


JP Sears



Brady Singer



Trevor Rogers



J.P. France



Clarke Schmidt



Reid Detmers



Dean Kremer



Michael Soroka



Jhony Brito


People want to avoid all Oakland pitchers, but JP Sears is kind of good. At least, his sweeper is. The pitch is a true swing-and-miss offering and doesn't give up a lot of hard contact, so Sears just needs to set it up. Unfortunately, his four-seam isn't great and his change-up also seems to lack consistency. However, Sears was pretty good against righties with that three-pitch mix, and I think further growth on the sweeper would help him against lefties as well. I'm not fully bought in, but I do see some pieces that I like here.

Many of us have fallen for Brady Singer in the past, and it rarely pans out, but this is (potentially) not the same Singer. Singer is coming into 2024 with a new pitch mix, highlighted by increased usage of a sweeper he used a few times last season and a new four-seamer. As Eno Sarris has mentioned a bunch of times, pitchers who throw a sinker as their primary fastball are more likely to pick up a sweeper quickly because they already throw their primary pitch from the side of the baseball. So far this spring, Singer has shown that could be the case for him with the sweeper looking pretty good. The right-hander has always had solid control, so if the sweeper and increased usage of the four-seam up in the zone add more swing-and-miss to his game, we could see another usable season from him.

This Trevor Rogers ranking is because I'm not willing to give up on 2021. It was such a good season, but 2022 was a disaster with tipping pitches and losing command and then he got hurt. He's still only 26 years old and features an elite change-up when he isn't tipping it, and a four-seam/sinker pairing that works. Add in the potential in his sweeper, and you have an arm that could still be very fantasy-relevant.

J.P. France started the season late due to shoulder soreness, but he's back and throwing and should be ready for the start of the year. He won't wow anybody, but he has a deep arsenal of pitches and will get starts for one of the best teams in baseball. That's worth a shot in deeper leagues.

Clarke Schmidt is another pitcher with some concerns but a spot in a starting rotation for now. Against righties last year, Schmidt was a pretty good pitcher, with a .236 batting average against and a 25% strikeout rate. That's because righties had a tough time with his sweeper/cutter combo, and the sweeper posted solid whiff rates while the sinker did just enough to keep hitters honest. Yet, against lefties, he got pummeled with a .303 average against and just an 18% strikeout rate. The sweeper has a 17.1% barrel rate allowed to lefties and he brings in his curve against them, but it doesn't do much. Certainly, the Yankees also know this and they've come up with an offseason plan for Schmidt to improve against lefties. If he can, I think he can be a solid fantasy arm.

Listen, I won't quit Reid Detmers. You can't make me. But I will put him far down on this list. I still dream of him finding more consistency with his curve and slider to allow him to rely less on his four-seam, and then he also introduced a change-up at the end of last season, which was a solid pitch that adds depth to his arsenal. He's still just 24 years old, and I think the Angels will give him as many innings as he can handle, so maybe this is the year he puts it all together.

I wrote about the adjustments Dean Kremer made in the second half of last season, and I believe they can stick. That and his team context make him a solid deep-league pick. Oh, and his first two starts are against the Angels and Pirates, which we love.

Hey, remember Michael Soroka? We loved him when he was on the Braves, but we've forgotten about him after the injuries. Well, he's locked into the rotation in Chicago and should still be a solid high-floor arm for fantasy. His two starts to begin the year are against the Tigers and Royals, so I'll roster him and see how he looks.

I think Jhony Brito has the 5th spot in San Diego. I'm not sure, but I think the talent is good enough to gamble on in deeper formats.

Tier 18


Gerrit Cole



Jacob deGrom



Robbie Ray



Jeffrey Springs



Tyler Mahle



Dustin May


This whole tier is filled with players who are at risk of missing most of the season with injuries. If you're in a league with IL spots then I can see moving this whole tier up a bit.

I have Gerrit Cole ranked first overall primarily because I trust the depth of the arsenal more than with Strider. Cole has five pitches that he feels comfortable using, including a new cutter that he started throwing more as the year went on. I also believe that cutter was a big reason that he cut his home run rate down in 2023. I know the strikeouts were down; however, the swinging strike rates overall weren't much worse, so I think he can rebound to just under a 30% rate and given that he's likely to push 190 innings again on a team that is improved from 2023, I think Cole has the safety and upside I like if I'm going to draft a starter this early. FINAL UPDATE: Given his recent injury, I just can't draft Cole earlier than this. We know he won't even touch a baseball for almost a month as he battles a nerve issue in his elbow, and then, provided he's even healthier after just resting, he'll have to build himself back up. We've also seen many pitchers who battled nerve issues take a while to feel comfortable with the grip on the baseball and command of their pitches. There's a reasonable chance that Cole isn't the version of himself we've come to know until August, if at all in 2024.

Tier 19


Lance Lynn



Jon Gray



Tylor Megill



Andrew Heaney



Ross Stripling



Alex Wood



Logan Allen



Bowden Francis



Sean Manaea



Chase Silseth



Aaron Ashby


I know that neither Lance Lynn nor Jon Gray is overly exciting, but they are veterans who are locked into rotation spots and have been really good fantasy pitchers before. I'm not sure what kind of staying power they have, but they deserve to be in consideration for your rosters. Gray was good for Texas in 2022 and then was having a great first half in 2023 before injuries and blisters knocked his season off the tracks a bit in the second half. I'm not sure we'll ever get a full season of top-end Jon Gray like we used to believe we could if he left Coors Field, but I think he'll go through stretches where he provides tremendous value for the reigning World Series champions.

I wrote about Tylor Megill’s new pitch mix here and then he landed himself a rotation spot due to Kodai Senga's injury. Given the state of the Mets' rotation, it's possible Megill could hold that spot too.

Remember when Andrew Heaney was the next ace and the best bargain in all of fantasy baseball? Yeah, me neither, but now that people have forgotten all about him, I'm intrigued. With Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tyler Mahle all injured, Heaney will be in the Rangers' rotation to start the year. While 2023 wasn't great, I think there is enough that remains in his arsenal to think it was just a blip. His SwStr% against lefties was over 4% worse than against righties because his slider command struggled in two-strike counts. That feels like an outlier to me. However, his four-seam and change-up combo created a decent number of whiffs against righties because he has great VAA and pounds the top of the zone, something he does far less against lefties. He is just a two-pitch pitcher against lefties, so he needs to get that slider ironed out, but we've seen him be dominant with that pitch in the past, so I think he can find it again.

Ross Striping and Alex Wood are the top two starters in Oakland and, quite frankly, have been good MLB starters during their careers. I think the A's will let them go as deep into games as they can, and pitching in that park makes me interested. They also start the season against the Guardians and Tigers, so I'm taking gambles on both in deeper formats.

Logan Allen may be the least interesting of Cleveland's starters, but he's a fine pitcher. Not a high ceiling, but I think the floor is safe enough to keep him rosterable in deeper formats.

Our concern over Manoah and Gausman means that Bowden Francis has a real leg up to be the fifth starter in Toronto. He will electric for them as a multi-inning reliever in 2023 and has been the talk of training camp. Through two starts, Francis is averaging 95.5 mph on his fastball, up over one mph from last year, and has added over an inch of iVB to over 18 inches. That would give him above-average velocity, extension, and vertical movement on a pitch that already graded out well last year. Considering Francis’ bread-and-butter pitch is an elite slider, pairing that with a plus four-seam gives him an even safer floor.

Ah, Sean Manaea; one of the only pitchers who could sign into a starting job and have me think, "I mean, yeah, sure, I guess." My former Catcher's Corner compatriot Sami Akleh has always been a huge Manaea guy, and even he's fallen a bit out of love of late. We know the lefty went to Driveline after the 2022 season and came back pumping mid-90s, but he seemed to lose that as a starter for the Giants until they moved him to the bullpen and he found it again. The slider and change-up are both inconsistent so he needs that fastball velocity to remain useful in fantasy, so you'll know really early on if you should buy back in or not. If he shows good velocity in the spring, you could be looking at a low 4.00-ERA season with decent strikeouts in a pitcher's park with a solid lineup. I'll take that this late.

I'm a Chase Silseth fan because I believe in his new slider. After a stint in the minors, Silseth came back up and was throwing his slider four mph slower and with six more inches of drop, almost like a sweeping curve. While his second-half sample size was a small one (after being hit by a comebacker in a scary moment), the new slider had a 1.74 dERA and 16.7% SwStr%. If he continued to get comfortable with it during the offseason that would give him a potential plus pitch to go along with a splitter that showed good swing-and-miss potential but lacked consistency. That's a solid foundation with a chance to raise his floor if he can land on a good usage approach for his four-seam and sinker. He's just 23 years old, so I think we should expect growth, and I don't see why the Angels wouldn't keep him in the rotation.

Many people were enamored with Aaron Ashby after he debuted in 2021 and posted a 4.55 ERA in 31.2 innings but also showed off a 97 mph fastball from the left side en route to a 29.3% strikeout rate and 13.3% swinging strike rate. However, Ashby failed to take a big step forward in 2022 then got hurt and missed all of the 2023 season. However, there is enough to like in this profile. In both healthy seasons, his slider was an elite swing and miss pitch, he flashed the ability to miss bats with his change-up, and he also limited hard contact. His command suffered a bit in his second season, but he's a lefty with plus velocity, two good swing-and-miss pitches, and the ability to limit hard contact who only has to beat out Colin Rea and Joe Ross to win a spot in the Brewers rotation. MARCH UPDATE: Ashby has only made one start this spring, and it was a disaster. There's a very real chance he'll start the year in the minors and we won't see him up in the big leagues until summer.

Tier 20


AJ Smith-Shawver



Max Meyer



Paul Skenes



Jackson Jobe



Ricky Tiedemann



Cade Horton



Robert Gasser



Christian Scott



Mick Abel


These are the only prospects that I would think about drafting in redraft formats. They're all pitchers who I feel confident will be good big-league pitchers and also feel confident that they'll be up in the big leagues before midseason.

Tier 21


Jose Urquidy



Alex Cobb



Martin Perez



Graham Ashcraft



Josiah Gray



Nick Nastrini



Cole Irvin



Frankie Montas



Will Warren



Drew Thorpe



Andrew Abbott


With J.P. France delayed due to shoulder soreness, it seems that Jose Urquidy has the final rotation spot for the Astros locked in. He has never quite delivered on the promise we had for him, and his pitch mix seems like something that will always look better on paper than in action. However, he is a solid starter on a good team, and he will almost certainly provide value in 15-team formats. FINAL UPDATE: Urquidy should begin throwing again in two weeks and will be back from his forearm inflammation by the end of April.

Alex Cobb has come back quicker than most people expected and could return to the Giants rotation by May. Who knows how long he'll remain healthy, but I'll take gambles on him when he is.

Listen, Martin Perez isn't exciting but he's a serviceable pitcher and he gets the Marlins and Nationals to start the year, so I will take shares in deeper leagues.

Graham Ashcraft has allegedly been experimenting with new pitches this offseason, which is great because he needs something besides the slider. I'm not really buying into it until I see it, but he starts the year against the Nationals and Mets so maybe he's on my bench while I see if this is a new version of him.

I like Nick Nastrini more than Drew Thorpe actually. Thorpe's best pitch is his change-up, but the rest of his arsenal just doesn't impress me. I'd rather gamble on Nastrini of the two.

Cole Irvin went to Tread in the offseason and revamped his pitch mix. He then came to camp with way more velocity. I wrote about that in detail here, and I like him in deeper formats.

Frankie Montas appears healthy in spring, so much like we did for James Paxton, we have to rank him somewhere based on the talent we know he possesses. I hate the ballpark for him in Cincinnati and he has only two seasons as a real asset when it comes to strikeouts, so I don't want to be too bullish on his success this year.

I'm confused by Andrew Abbott. When I watched him last year, I felt like he shouldn't have had the success he did. The underlying metrics seem to agree with a 4.56 xFIP and 4.33 SIERA compared to his 3.87 ERA. But he also dominated Double-A and Triple-A and posted a 26% strikeout rate in his 109.1 big league innings, so something he is doing is working. There are far too many pitchers in Cincinnati right now, which makes me less confident in his innings total, but I can't sleep on what he's done on the mound so far.