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Starting Pitcher Shuffle Up: Jacob deGrom on top of fantasy mountain

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

This is where you want to get a few breaks.

[Prep for MLB's return: Create or join a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball League]

The salaries 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 of publishing.

Big Tickets

$42 Jacob deGrom

$40 Gerrit Cole

$37 Max Scherzer

$36 Walker Buehler

$35 Jack Flaherty

$35 Shane Bieber

$34 Stephen Strasburg

$34 Mike Clevinger

$32 Justin Verlander*

$32 Clayton Kershaw

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 05:  Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets pitches against the Miami Marlins during their game at Citi Field on August 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Jacob deGrom casts an intimidating shadow. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

DeGrom gets the nod in the big chair because of continuity; same team, reasonable division, NL backdrop. I have to hold a tiny bit of skepticism to Cole given that he shifted teams, moved to a harder division, and might not have access to Houston voodoo . . . Age and attrition are the only cases against Scherzer, and I understand if you’re willing to overlook them . . . Buehler is well-slotted, in a friendly park and division, and on a team that gets its playoff berth in the mail . . . Clevinger’s injury isn’t arm related, and the delayed season buoys his value.

Still Could Be Your Ace

$30 Patrick Corbin

$29 Luis Castillo

$27 Blake Snell

$27 Chris Paddack

$26 Lucas Giolito

$25 Yu Darvish

$24 Charlie Morton

$24 Aaron Nola

$24 Zack Greinke

Corbin has the keys to the kingdom: Strikeouts and ground balls. He’s been baseball’s most underrated pitcher for a while . . . Darvish finally found the right arsenal (at one point he threw too many different pitches), and he’s also a good example of how data mining can help a pitcher . . . The wraps should be off Paddack this year, and while Petco is no longer the offensive death grip of the past, it’s still a tailwind . . . Greinke continues to succeed even with reduced volume; that’s what guile is, what knowing how to pitch means. Most of the best pitchers are the smartest guys, anyway.

Proactive Picks

$22 Jose Berrios

$21 Trevor Bauer

$21 Brandon Woodruff

$20 Mike Soroka

$19 Tyler Glasnow

$19 Corey Kluber

$18 Frankie Montas

$18 Sonny Gray

$18 Zack Wheeler

$17 Dinelson Lamet

$15 Lance Lynn

$15 Matthew Boyd

$14 Jesus Luzardo

$14 Zac Gallen

Berrios’ salary is close to his floor but still might have a level to climb. And the Twins are one of the deepest, soundest teams in baseball. The defense is also a plus . . . If Boyd refines that third pitch and gets a little better against righties, he could be in the second tier the next time I run this list . . . Big contract bias might be pushing down Wheeler’s ADP. Well, you don’t have to pay the financial freight. There’s a lot of room for profit . . . Leaving New York was the best thing that could have happened for Gray . . .

I’ve backed Lynn in some bad years and I faded most of his comeback year, so perhaps I’m not the right guy to ask. For now, we have to assume the new Texas ballpark is close to neutral, a big win for their pitchers.

Reasonable Plausible Upside

$13 Shohei Ohtani*

$13 Eduardo Rodriguez

$13 David Price

$13 Kyle Hendricks

$12 James Paxton

$12 Julio Urias

$12 Kenta Maeda

$11 Max Fried

$11 Madison Bumgarner

$11 Carlos Carrasco

$11 Hyun-Jin Ryu

$11 Robbie Ray

$11 Mike Minor

$10 Carlos Martinez

$10 Sean Manaea

$10 Jake Odorizzi

$10 Mike Foltynewicz

$9 Lance McCullers Jr.

$9 Marcus Stroman

$9 Masahiro Tanaka

$8 Andrew Heaney

$8 Luke Weaver

Price moves from a barracuda media market to a relaxed one, and he doesn’t have to be at the front of LA’s rotation. He’ll also enjoy the friendlier park and the NL backdrop. I’ve been out on Price for several years, but it’s a complete 180 this year; a perfect mid-round target . . . Hendricks is another intelligence pick and someone who understands the geometry of pitching . . . I’d be a lot higher on Ryu if he didn’t go to the most jagged offensive division . . . Odorizzi will be spared a lot of deep appearances, but the innings he provides should be quality . . . Folty is a volatile stock, someone who could chase into the $20s or fall off the list completely. But at some point, you start downshifting into the question of “Is there anyone here who could strike out 185 guys in a full season?” Folty has proven that he can.

Do You Feel Lucky?

$7 Joe Musgrove

$6 Jose Urquidy

$6 Dylan Bundy

$6 Mitch Keller

$6 A.J. Puk

$6 Caleb Smith

$6 Joey Lucchesi

$5 German Marquez

$5 Josh James

$5 Anthony DeSclafani

$5 Garrett Richards

$4 Aaron Civale

$4 Dallas Keuchel

Smith has to deal with a lousy team around him, but the strikeouts play and the park is still a boost, even with the fences coming in a bit . . . Stop trying to talk yourself into Colorado starting pitchers. Gravity always wins . . . I’m not sure Lucchesi has an exciting upside, but San Diego still builds a floor. And he’ll be around a strikeout per inning . . . Make sure you know what Houston’s rotation is when the season starts. I’ll be willing to bet on any of their cheap guys.

Bargain Bin

$3 Sandy Alcantara

$3 Ryan Yarbrough

$3 Dylan Cease

$3 Miles Mikolas*

$2 Chris Archer

$2 Jon Gray

$2 Steven Matz

$2 Julio Teheran

$2 Cole Hamels*

$2 Jose Quintana

[Yahoo Rankings: Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

$1 Alex Wood

$1 Dustin May

$1 Mackenzie Gore

$1 Jordan Montgomery

$1 Freddy Peralta

$1 Kevin Gausman

$1 Matt Shoemaker

$1 Daniel Hudson

$1 Jeff Samardzija

$1 Mike Fiers

$1 Homer Bailey

$1 Jon Lester

$1 Jake Arrieta

$0 Michael Kopech

$0 Yonny Chirinos

$0 Nate Pearson

$0 Reynaldo Lopez

$0 Rich Hill

$0 Ross Stripling

$0 Johnny Cueto

$0 Nathan Eovaldi

$0 J.A. Happ

$0 Justus Sheffield

$0 Rick Porcello

$0 Yusei Kikuchi

$0 Corbin Burnes

$0 Kwang-Hyun Kim

$0 Kyle Gibson

$0 Chris Bassitt

$0 Michael Pineda*

* = Check Status

Previous Episodes

Middle Infield Shuffle Up

Corner Infield Shuffle Up

Catcher Shuffle Up

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