April Starting Pitcher Rankings

It’s time to update the rankings. This is an especially tough ranking this early into the season because we have 3-4 starts for most guys and I don’t want to overreact… or underreact for that matter. My thoughts from March on these guys still carries a lot of weight, but factors like velocity, pitch mix, and role can influence a big change. The performances carry weight, too, but I try to temper what I’ll do based on three starts.

Pay attention to the tier! If I didn’t rank someone as high as you thought I should, but they are still a must or usually start, then it’s probably not worth freaking out too much. Those tiers mean they are in the rotation pretty much all the time. I’m open to debating slotting, too, but worrying about a 4-spot difference between two guys in the same tier is probably a waste of time. I’ll have some more extensive notes on a host of big movers coming soon (likely early next week as I probably won’t have time on Friday).

The tiers are as follows:

#1s (7 SPs) – The true aces of fantasy baseball.

Must Start (23 SPs) – Should be pretty obvious, but these are the guys who always start. Again, it isn’t just the very best guys. There are second and third tier arms in terms of market value that I’d start every time out. They don’t have an obvious split or weakness that would give you a better chance at picking off their poor starts. Some of them are “No Coors Field”-types, but it’s predominantly set it and forget it.

Usually Start (25 SPs) – If “No Coors Field” is 20-25% with the MS group, it’s more like 60-70% with this group. You need to find a reason to sit them right now in most formats. You might feel like you can spot them properly, but we’re just not that precise in identifying when a solid arm will falter. These guys are good enough to thwart any opponent even on something less than their best day or they could get smacked by a weaker opponent. If you’re rostering them, you should probably be starting them.

Shallow Spot Start (35 SPs) – Flawed talents. A lot of these guys are on the cusp of or have been in the Usually Start tier, but currently you’re looking to curate their starts a bit where you can. These guys might also be US tier arms here temporarily while they get on track. Pay very close attention to gamelogs of pitchers, get a feel for how they arrived at their bottom line numbers. Not all ERAs are created equally and that’s why it’s not a gauge for future production, especially in small samples. I decided to split the group a bit as sort of a way to identify upward or downward mobility for these guys. The shallow ones are a bit more talented and/or running hot so we’re maybe keeping a closer eye on them.

Deep League Spot Start (30 SPs) – I know many of you are dealing with some brutal pitching staff conditions right now after drafting a rotation you thought would be a strength, so you might find yourself in this tier a little more than you’d like. There is some talent to be plucked and the right two-start week could really set you up. This is essentially the Spot Star tier for single leagues or super-deep mixers (16+ teams).

Please leave your questions and comments below!

April SP Rankings
Name Tier TM LG
1 Max Scherzer #1 WAS NL
2 Jacob deGrom #1 NYM NL
3 Justin Verlander #1 HOU AL
4 Gerrit Cole #1 HOU AL
5 Blake Snell #1 TB AL
6 Trevor Bauer #1 CLE AL
7 Noah Syndergaard #1 NYM NL
8 Chris Sale MS BOS AL
9 Clayton Kershaw MS LAD NL
10 Patrick Corbin MS WAS NL
11 Jameson Taillon MS PIT NL
12 Aaron Nola MS PHI NL
13 David Price MS BOS AL
14 Corey Kluber MS CLE AL
15 James Paxton MS NYY AL
16 Carlos Carrasco MS CLE AL
17 Jose Berrios MS MIN AL
18 Charlie Morton MS TB AL
19 Stephen Strasburg MS WAS NL
20 Luis Castillo MS CIN NL
21 Walker Buehler MS LAD NL
22 German Marquez MS COL NL
23 Jack Flaherty MS STL NL
24 Madison Bumgarner MS SF NL
25 Chris Archer MS PIT NL
26 Zack Wheeler MS NYM NL
27 Masahiro Tanaka MS NYY AL
28 Collin McHugh MS HOU AL
29 Joe Musgrove MS PIT NL
30 Zack Greinke MS ARI NL
31 Shane Bieber US CLE AL
32 Matthew Boyd US DET AL
33 Yu Darvish US CHC NL
34 Tyler Glasnow US TB AL
35 Kevin Gausman US ATL NL
36 Miles Mikolas US STL NL
37 Jon Gray US COL NL
38 Chris Paddack US SD NL
39 Jose Quintana US CHC NL
40 Cole Hamels US CHC NL
41 Kenta Maeda US LAD NL
42 Brad Peacock US HOU AL
43 Yusei Kikuchi US SEA AL
44 Domingo German US NYY AL
45 Robbie Ray US ARI NL
46 Nathan Eovaldi US BOS AL
47 Trevor Williams US PIT NL
48 Caleb Smith US MIA NL
49 Jordan Lyles US PIT NL
50 Joey Lucchesi US SD NL
51 Hyun-Jin Ryu US LAD NL
52 Kyle Hendricks US CHC NL
53 Marco Gonzales US SEA AL
54 Carlos Rodon US CWS AL
55 Eduardo Rodriguez US BOS AL
56 Kyle Freeland SSS COL NL
57 Yonny Chirinos SSS TB AL
58 Sonny Gray SSS CIN NL
59 Jeff Samardzija SSS SF NL
60 Zach Eflin SSS PHI NL
61 Steven Matz SSS NYM NL
62 Jimmy Nelson SSS MIL NL
63 Frankie Montas SSS OAK AL
64 Luke Weaver SSS ARI NL
65 Ross Stripling SSS LAD NL
66 Mike Minor SSS TEX AL
67 Brandon Woodruff SSS MIL NL
68 Matt Strahm SSS SD NL
69 Spencer Turnbull SSS DET AL
70 J.A. Happ SSS NYY AL
71 Jake Arrieta SSS PHI NL
72 Pablo Lopez SSS MIA NL
73 Matt Shoemaker SSS TOR AL
74 Trevor Richards SSS MIA NL
75 Brad Keller SSS KC AL
76 Wade Miley SSS HOU AL
77 Merrill Kelly SSS ARI NL
78 Tyler Mahle SSS CIN NL
79 Aaron Sanchez SSS TOR AL
80 Drew Pomeranz SSS SF NL
81 Mike Foltynewicz SSS ATL NL
82 Anibal Sanchez SSS WAS NL
83 Trevor Cahill SSS LAA AL
84 Julio Teheran SSS ATL NL
85 Michael Soroka SSS ATL NL
86 Michael Pineda SSS MIN AL
87 Marcus Stroman SSS TOR AL
88 Touki Toussaint SSS ATL NL
89 Jake Odorizzi SSS MIN AL
90 Dereck Rodriguez SSS SF NL
91 Michael Wacha DSS STL NL
92 Julio Urias DSS LAD NL
93 Derek Holland DSS SF NL
94 Zack Godley DSS ARI NL
95 Trent Thornton DSS TOR AL
96 Jakob Junis DSS KC AL
97 Max Fried DSS ATL NL
98 Ryan Yarbrough DSS TB AL
99 Tyler Skaggs DSS LAA AL
100 Kyle Gibson DSS MIN AL
101 Rick Porcello DSS BOS AL
102 CC Sabathia DSS NYY AL
103 Lance Lynn DSS TEX AL
104 Nick Margevicius DSS SD NL
105 Jordan Zimmermann DSS DET AL
106 Felix Pena DSS LAA AL
107 Jerad Eickhoff DSS PHI NL
108 Clay Buchholz DSS TOR AL
109 Anthony DeSclafani DSS CIN NL
110 Homer Bailey DSS KC AL
111 Martin Perez DSS MIN AL
112 Sandy Alcantara DSS MIA NL
113 Reynaldo Lopez DSS CWS AL
114 Tanner Roark DSS CIN NL
115 Eric Lauer DSS SD NL
116 Dylan Bundy DSS BAL AL
117 Jorge Lopez DSS KC AL
118 Zach Davies DSS MIL NL
119 Mike Leake DSS SEA AL
120 Jose Ureña DSS MIA NL

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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3 years ago

I don’t currently own him in any league, but as a Mets fan, I definitely do not share your optimism on Syndergaard.

King Donko of Punchstaniamember
3 years ago
Reply to  Moltar

Care to explain why?

3 years ago

Not saying I agree with Moltar, but as a Mets fan who has watched him this year I understand where he is coming from. He is not going to be great if he keeps making bad pitches at critical times and letting teams back in games.

3 years ago

It mostly comes down to efficiency for me. He’s averaging nearly 17 pitchers per inning, barely making it through six innings per start at under 100 pitches. He’s allowing more hard contact than usual, his O-swing percentage is down a little, he still isn’t great with men on base. I’m not trying to say that he isn’t a top-20 arm, but top-7? I’m just not on board yet.

The optimist in me says his hr/fb rate will normalize and his 2.99 xFIP will translate to better fantasy results. The pessimist in me says he was SP44 in my points league last year (SP22 on points per start basis), and I’m not seeing much evidence he’s taking a step forward in 2019. As a Mets fan, I want the optimistic side to win out because it means the Mets will win more baseball games, but I’m not holding my breath.

3 years ago
Reply to  Moltar

Today is a case in point. The stuff is there; the execution is not. Lead-off walk, 2 hits (1 on 0-2 count, 1 on 1-2 count), error. 3 runs in, 1 ER.

Next inning. Lead-off walk to Ozuna after 1-2 count. Bloop hit to Martinez. Molina ground out. Fowler single (too much plate). Wong ground out. Pitcher ground out. 2ER.

He’s not putting guys away. He’s making bad pitches in favorable counts. He’s not getting out of jams. He’s pitching to a lot of contact.

It also seems like he hasn’t been throwing his change-up a lot.

3 years ago

He’s pretty hittable for a guy with 100 MPH gas.

3 years ago
Reply to  Moltar

He has a career 3.05/2.91 ERA/xFIP. Not why you are worried. If he’s healthy no reason he shouldn’t be a top 10 SP.

3 years ago
Reply to  Moltar

Literally the first thing I noticed too. The raw stuff is there but the results absolutely are not.