Shuffle Up: Blake Snell is probably fine

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Scott Pianowski
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ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JUNE 14: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field on June 14, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
After a dream season, Blake Snell hasn't had much luck in 2019. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

This is the big one, the one that matters. If we could get all the baseball answers from the genie, we’d want the starting pitcher answers first.

And like any other pitching list, this will look out of date in short order. It’s the nature of the position, the ebbs, the flows, the shoulders and elbows.

I will not rank the injured guys, especially the pitchers. You’re on your own there. Assume 5x5 value going forward, as always; what’s happened to this point is merely an audition.

Players at the same price are considered even, and please don’t obsess over guys who are separated by a buck or two. That’s not a big deal. Consider the tiers, where values cluster. And as always, use my prices as part of a foundation (if you want) for your own bottom-line decisions. Listen to everyone you respect, but in the end, make your own choices.

Have disagreements? Great. Catch me on Twitter: @scott_pianowski.

And here are the starting pitcher prices.

The Big Tickets

$42 Max Scherzer

$40 Justin Verlander

$36 Gerrit Cole

$35 Walker Buehler

$34 Jacob deGrom

$31 Zack Greinke

$31 Chris Sale

Scherzer is basically unfair, and his bad luck with the wins has been ironed out. With Washington now back in the playoff discussion, maybe the roster will be upgraded. It’s scary to think he might be getting better; Scherzer has the best strikeout rate of his career, the best FIP of his career, and the lowest home-run rate of his career. He’s trimmed his walks, too. It’s criminal he’s never seriously challenged for an MVP, because he deserves consideration . . . Buehler didn’t do much in spring training and then had a slow start that was perfectly reasonable. Over his last 11 starts, he has a 2.77 ERA over 74.1 innings, with five walks and 89 strikeouts. He’ll allow a home run here and there, but this is a Cy Young waiting to happen. He’s also relaxing to watch, since he’s always around the plate but misses bats so often . . . DeGrom is still wonderful, but good luck with that awful defense. The mess of the Mets kicks him down to the second half of this tier . . . Enjoy Greinke while we still have him in the game. He’s mostly junk and guile these days, and it’s a joy to watch. His average fastball has been under 90 mph for two years now, but there he is with dominant ratios. And if we excuse the Opening-Day meltdown at Chavez Ravine (a place many pitchers get hit), his numbers shoot down to 2.43 and 0.89.

Legitimate foundation arms

$29 Lucas Giolito

$29 Charlie Morton

$28 Stephen Strasburg

$28 Blake Snell

$27 Hyun-Jin Ryu

$27 Trevor Bauer

$24 Clayton Kershaw

$24 Jose Berrios

If you had told anyone that Snell would make 17 first-half starts and he’d improve his walk and strikeout rates from last year, we would have drafted him in the first round. Instead, he’s sitting on a 4.87 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP — numbers that don’t really make sense. This is a clear case of bad luck, something that can’t last much longer.

A .354 BABIP, that’s coming down for sure. That 66.5 strand rate is unfortunate (it should be in the 70s). Did Snell really pitch to a 1.89 ERA last year, skill wise? Probably not. But this year the shoe’s on the other foot — the fantasy gods are taking their pound of flesh. Last year his FIP was 2.95, this year it’s 3.35. Like with most outlier seasons, the true answer lies in the middle.

The fastball velocity is stable. Tampa has a good team around him. I doubt many who roster Snell are unsophisticated enough to see the forest for the trees here, but the next time he has a rocky start, maybe you can sniff around and see if there’s a deal to be made.

With Ryu, it’s all about the expected workload. Check his career page and consider the IP column; if he has even the slightest hiccup with his body, the proactive Dodgers are going to give him a timeout. And remember Los Angeles is running away with the NL West; this team is already thinking about October. I’m still giving Ryu a lofty price, but let’s try to be realistic about it.

Uber-talents but they drive you a little crazy

$22 Aaron Nola

$22 Patrick Corbin

$21 Shane Bieber

$21 Matt Boyd

$20 Brandon Woodruff

$20 Luis Castillo

$20 David Price

$19 Noah Syndergaard

$19 Mike Soroka

When I heard that the Astros might be interested in Boyd, it put a bounce in my step. Yes, I’d like some Astros special sauce. Yes, I’d like to see Boyd actually supported by one of the major championship contenders. Yes, I think he could be a star in that park, not that he’s far from it already. And one great thing about Boyd; even when he doesn’t have his best start, you still get a contribution in the strikeout column. It’s like pizza —even when it’s off-peak, it’s still pretty damn good.

Thor hasn’t pitched to his peripheral-suggested ERA, but again, that could be the Mets defense talking. And keep in mind, that FIP is merely 3.73. And given his stuff, what’s with a strikeout rate of 8.8/9? Something doesn’t add up with this guy.

Talk them up, talk them down

$17 Sonny Gray

$17 Chris Paddack

$16 Joey Lucchesi

$16 James Paxton

$15 Mike Minor

$15 Kenta Maeda

$15 Masahiro Tanaka

$14 Zack Wheeler

$14 Yonny Chirinos

$14 Madison Bumgarner

$14 Mike Clevinger

$13 Lance Lynn

$12 Kyle Hendricks

$12 Brendan McKay

$12 Domingo German

$11 Wade Miley

$11 Andrew Heaney

$11 Joe Musgrove

$10 Mike Fiers

$10 Anibal Sanchez

$10 Ryan Yarbrough

$10 Yu Darvish

$10 Robbie Ray

$10 Jack Flaherty

$10 Miles Mikolas

$10 Jose Quintana

The Paddack peeps are going to throw tomatoes at this price, but the Padres are a season or two away and we know they’re unlikely to push Paddack’s workload. We’re fools if we don’t price that factor in . . . I was so patient with Lynn last year, I waited and waited and waited. It never worked for him in Minnesota, and he was marginally better with the Yankees. And now he puts together a star season in Arlington, of all places? I still expect there to be a major correction, but I can’t completely ignore the banked stats. I’d say you try to sell him high, but good luck finding an interested party, a true believer. This is one of those forced holds. (I do think you can sell Minor high, but of course league perception will vary. You know the assumed tagline to everything we write — it’s all contextual. (No matter how many times I write that, someone is currently composing a reply that starts with “Well, in my league . . . )

More name or more game?

$9 Jon Lester

$9 Griffin Canning

$9 Dallas Keuchel

$8 Jordan Yamamoto

$8 Kyle Gibson

$7 John Means

$7 Merrill Kelly

$7 Michael Pineda

$7 Ross Stripling

$6 Dakota Hudson

$6 Jordan Lyles

$6 Jon Gray

$6 Zac Gallen

$6 Eduardo Rodriguez

Lester has been burned by home runs lately, but his BB/K ratio is still in a good spot. His splits show a home slant this year, but it was the opposite last year — that’s probably nothing. The Cubs have a slew of No. 3-5 starters, but who would be the frontman for a playoff series?

Even with a playable ERA this year, Gray still has a lousy WHIP, and his walk rate is veering into dangerous territory. And how comfortable can you ever be for his home turns? I’ll never understand the willingness to run uphill when you don’t half to. Colorado is forever hell for pitchers, and it’s not just the ball carrying — the breaking pitches also have less spin, and the acreage of the field results in a ton of cheap hits. Common sense is still the most important fantasy skill a gamer can possess.

Rodriguez has a pedigree and a pretty strikeout rate, but his ratios stink and he’s in the wrong park and division. Hey, I’m a Boston guy, originally; I’m pulling for him. But I dare you to use him against me. Too much downside risk.

Everybody else

$5 Mike Leake

$5 Eric Lauer

$5 Marcus Stroman

$5 Zach Eflin

$5 Chris Bassitt

$5 German Marquez

$5 Rick Porcello

$5 Martin Perez

$4 Tommy Milone

$4 Zach Plesac

$4 Trevor Richards

$4 Logan Allen

$4 Dylan Cease

$4 Nick Pivetta

$4 Tyler Mahle

$4 Chase Anderson

$4 Jeff Samardzija

$4 Jake Arrieta

$4 Steven Matz

$4 Chris Archer

$3 Jason Vargas

$3 Tanner Roark

$3 Adrian Sampson

$3 Sandy Alcantara

$3 C.C. Sabathia

$3 Adam Wainwright

$3 Yusei Kikuchi

$2 Andrew Cashner

$2 Cal Quantrill

$2 Anthony DeSclafani

$2 Zach Davies

$2 Jake Junis

$2 Marco Gonzales

$2 Matt Strahm

$1 J.A. Happ

$1 Max Fried

$1 Vincent Velasquez

$1 Homer Bailey

$1 Michael Wacha

$1 Trevor Williams

$1 Trent Thornton

$0 Daniel Mengden

$0 Dylan Bundy

$0 Drew Pomeranz

$0 Aaron Sanchez

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