Max Scherzer at the top of Starting Pitcher Shuffle Up

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This is the big one, the most important position, the running backs of fantasy football. This is where you want to pick well or run well.

This is where you want to get a few breaks.

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The prices are unscientific and meant as a comparison tool. Assume a 5x5 scoring system, as usual. Pitchers at the same cost are considered even. I retain the right to tweak this list in the first 24 hours from publishing.

Good luck in your drafts this weekend, probably the biggest draft weekend of the year.

I’m not going to price Luis Severino, given the extended injury. Call him anything you want. I’m never the injury optimist in my room.

Best of the best

$39 Max Scherzer

$37 Jacob deGrom

$36 Justin Verlander

$35 Chris Sale

$35 Gerrit Cole

Mad Max: King of fantasy pitchers. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Mad Max: King of fantasy pitchers. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

$33 Corey Kluber

$31 Aaron Nola

$31 Carlos Carrasco

If you want to take Scherzer at Pick 3 or deGrom early in the first round, I’m not going to say you’re wrong. At the end of the year, the best starting pitcher is very likely to be the most impactful player in fantasy. Scherzer has made 30 or more starts in 10 straight years; he’s safer than most will accept or admit.

Strong 1A Aces

$29 Blake Snell

$28 Trevor Bauer

$28 Noah Syndergaard

$26 Walker Buehler

$25 Stephen Strasburg

$24 Patrick Corbin

$24 Jack Flaherty

$23 Mike Clevinger

$23 Jose Berrios

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$23 Zack Wheeler

$22 James Paxton

$22 Zack Greinke

$21 Jameson Taillon

$21 *Clayton Kershaw

$20 David Price

$20 Miles Mikolas

The floor for Berrios is last year, and the upside is “this year’s Blake Snell.” The AL Central is a soft landing for any pitcher; everyone knows the Indians staff is a good place to shop, but Minnesota’s mound has plenty of appeal and much nicer price (make sure Pineda is on your lottery-ticket list) . . . Kershaw is unlikely to be on any of my teams, as I’m reluctant to draft into injured players unless a notable discount comes standard. With a name, fun player like Kershaw, the coupon is likely to exist.

An escape from pitcher-purgatory should help <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/7509/" data-ylk="slk:Cole Hamels">Cole Hamels</a> this season. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
An escape from pitcher-purgatory should help Cole Hamels this season. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Dogs with different fleas

$19 German Marquez

$19 Charlie Morton

$19 Luis Castillo

$18 Masahiro Tanaka

$17 Madison Bumgarner

$17 Robbie Ray

$17 Kyle Hendricks

$15 Yu Darvish

$15 Mike Foltynewicz

$14 Rich Hill

$14 Cole Hamels

A lot of projection systems are going to kill Hamels for his Texas stats, but fantasy owners should throw those stats out. Not only did Arlington crush Hamels’s ratios, but his confidence tanked as well. He was a true ace after the trade to Chicago, and while that’s not the way to price him, a durable arm with a likely ERA in the 3s (and on a contender) is a wonderful piece as your SP3 or SP4. I will have many shares here . . . Bumgarner is now a finesse pitcher, and heaven help him if he’s traded out of San Francisco (although a deal would likely be to a contender). The name is stronger than the current game, and he’ll go a round or two earlier than I’ll consider him in most drafts . . . Hendricks is another pitcher tied to a winning situation, and a good guy to target if you’re steering into the WHIP profile (like runs scored, WHIP is often an underrated commodity in fantasy leagues).

Plausible upside

$13 Chris Archer

$12 Nick Pivetta

$12 Shane Bieber

$12 Eduardo Rodriguez

$12 Rick Porcello

$12 Hyun-Jin Ryu

$11 J.A. Happ

$11 Nathan Eovaldi

$11 Kenta Maeda

$10 Tyler Glasnow

$10 Jose Quintana

$10 * Andrew Heaney

$10 Jake Arrieta

$9 Dallas Keuchel

$9 Yusei Kikuchi

$9 Tyler Skaggs

$9 Joe Musgrove

$9 Ross Stripling

$9 Joey Lucchesi

$8 Alex Wood

$8 Chris Paddack

Heaney would have been $3-5 bucks higher before the elbow started barking . . . Porcello has to navigate the nasty AL East, but he’s another WHIP guy who’s running with a winning team. Given the current striation between the haves and have-nots in baseball, it’s more important than ever to be on a winning ball club. Porcello isn’t much in the K/9 column, but given his durability, he’ll actually be a solid strikeout source through inning volume . . . Arrieta’s all-star form is long gone, but he gets a partial injury excuse from last year, and the improved Phillies should support him well. A nice target for the back of your draft . . . Ryu is like most of the LA pitchers: you can’t pay for 170-190 innings, but he’s likely to be useful for as long as he’s active. The Dodgers can essentially act like they’re already in the playoffs, and treat their staff as a seven-man rotation. They’ll be proactive with the disabled list as well, no matter if their arms are already hurt. This is not meant as a fade of Ryu; you decide what high efficiency with moderate volume is worth. I’ll consider him when the market is reasonable.

Short-leash guys

$7 Carlos Martinez

$7 Jon Lester

$6 Jon Gray

$6 Collin McHugh

$6 Kevin Gausman

$6 Zack Godley

$6 Alex Reyes

$6 Marco Gonzales

$5 Jimmy Nelson

$5 Sean Newcomb

$5 Steven Matz

$5 Jesus Luzardo

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$5 Matthew Boyd

$5 Michael Pineda

$4 Kyle Freeland

$4 Sonny Gray

$4 Kyle Gibson

$4 Michael Fulmer

$4 Luke Weaver

$4 Mike Minor

$4 Julio Teheran

$4 Mike Fiers

Bargain bin

$3 Josh James

$3 Dylan Bundy

$3 Michael Wacha

$3 Anibal Sanchez

$3 Forrest Whitley

$3 Freddy Peralta

$3 Vince Velasquez

$3 Matt Strahm

$3 Brad Peacock

$3 Trevor Cahill

$3 Derek Holland

$3 Matt Harvey

$2 Marcus Stroman

$2 Carlos Rodon

$2 Julio Urias

$2 Jhoulys Chacin

$2 Jake Junis

$2 Reynaldo Lopez

$2 Touki Toussaint

$2 Aaron Sanchez

$2 Caleb Smith

$2 CC Sabathia

$1 Danny Duffy

$1 Jeff Samardzija

$1 Dereck Rodriguez

$1 Trevor Richards

$1 Mike Soroka

$1 Chase Anderson

$1 Tanner Roark

$1 Trevor Williams

$1 Jake Odorizzi

$1 Zach Eflin

$1 Anthony DeSclafani

$1 Brandon Woodruff

$1 Tyler Anderson

$1 Drew Pomeranz

$1 Merrill Kelly

$1 Lucas Giolito

$1 Gio Gonzalez

$1 Brent Honeywell

$1 Domingo German

$1 Danny Salazar

$1 Jake Faria

$1 Dinelson Lamet

$1 Lance Lynn

$1 Nick Kingham

$1 Brad Keller

$1 Clay Buchholz

NR *Luis Severino

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