Paul Sporer’s Updated Starting Pitcher Rankings – August 2022

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the last ranking update for the regular season as I will tackle September on a day-to-day basis because of the volatility. Schedule is so important, we’re chasing individual categories, rosters are expanded, it’s just a lot. So Boxscore Bits will be a hybrid of reviewing the starters and start/sit decisions for the following day’s starters.

I do have larger groupings when it comes to in-season rankings with 5 tiers of ranked arms and then injury and prospect guys. Aces, Must Start, Usually Start, Team Streamers, and Standard Streamers. There isn’t a big split between Usually Start and Team Streamer (guys who you purposefully curate their starts, but don’t cut them when not starting them because of their upside) as the US group has guys you consider sitting at COL or against a high-powered offense you’re afraid of (NYY, NYM, HOU, LAD off the top of my head) whereas the TS group is must-sit in those situations among others such as a home/road split. League size also dictates the cut lines in those groupings.

While my focus is primarily on 15-team mixers, these should work pretty well across the 12s and even 10s with slight adjustments based on your league. I’m quite confident starting the top 2 tiers (41 starters) across all formats and then there are some adjustments to be made in the streaming tiers for 10s and 12s which you can apply based on how your league facilitates streaming (daily/weekly pickups, pickup limits, scoring system).

ACES: The best of the best right now.

Aces
RK STARTING PITCHER TM June Diff.
1 Jacob deGrom NYM INJ NR
2 Corbin Burnes MIL 3 1
3 Justin Verlander HOU 6 3
4 Max Scherzer NYM INJ NR
5 Sandy Alcantara MIA 5 0
6 Gerrit Cole NYY 1 -5
7 Dylan Cease CWS 24 17
8 Zack Wheeler PHI 4 -4
9 Shohei Ohtani LAA 12 3
10 Julio Urías LAD 19 9
11 Carlos Rodón SFG 17 6
12 Joe Musgrove SDP 7 -5
13 Aaron Nola PHI 11 -2
14 Luis Castillo SEA 29 15
15 Shane McClanahan TBR 2 -13
16 Brandon Woodruff MIL INJ NR

 

  • Jacob deGrom is back and returns to his #1 perch. While we have some nerves about him staying healthy given how much of the season he missed, there isn’t anything actionable about it so he’s the clear #1 for me.
  • Justin Verlander is having a unicorn type season, coming back from Tommy John surgery in ace form after just 6 IP over the last 2 years.
  • Speaking of unicorns, Max Scherzer is having another brilliant season slowed only by 6-week injury that hit in late-May and kept him out until early-July. He has been even better since returning: 1.37 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 31% K-BB rate in 46 IP.
  • While Sandy Alcantara’s K% is the lowest of the Aces, his MLB-high 166 innings have aided him to the 8th-most strikeouts so far (145). He is also one of the few aces on a lower tier team, but still has 10 Ws – tied for 6th-most.
  • There has been some volatility with Gerrit Cole in the form of five 5+ ER starts, but he is still leading MLB in strikeouts (178), has a great WHIP at 1.02, and solid 3.38 ERA.
  • Dylan Cease has been out of his gourd lately with a 14-start streak of 0-1 ER during which he has posted 0.66 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 32% K rate in 82 IP. The walks are still there for the year (10%) and during this electric run (11%) though he does more than enough to overcome them with the strikeouts and hit suppression (6.4 H/9, .195 AVG).
  • With the dearth of available starters on many waiver wires this year and the influx of available PA via the NL DH, Shohei Ohtani has likely been more valuable as a pitcher than hitter for many who drafted him this year! Don’t get me wrong, you still love his 26 HR/11 SB, but 2.68 ERA/1.05 WHIP/157 Ks in 111 IP is amazing!
  • Julio Urías has answered the bell and taken on the ace role in Buehler’s stead. He has hit another level since Buehler got hurt with a 2.24 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 25% K-BB rate in 64.3 IP.
  • Am I just missing the love or is Carlos Rodón being downplayed a bit in the fantasy community? It’s not like anyone is sitting him, but it feels like there is a perception of disappointment floating around him despite an excellent follow up to last year’s breakout. His numbers are worse than last year, but 2.37 ERA/0.96 WHIP is not a standard to hold anyone to and his 2.95/1.07 is still incredible.
  • Luis Castillo’s deadline move from the 2nd-best hitter’s park to the absolute best pitcher’s park is great! The schedule has to cooperate for it to pay major dividends in such a small sample, though his 2-step on the road next week is just fine at LAA and at OAK. He ascends to the ace tier after putting up three gems against the Yankees over his last four starts. All told he put 21.7 IP against the Bronx Bombers with a 1.66 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 23 Ks.
  • The disastrous Phillies defense will get to Aaron Nola from time-to-time. He does his best to mitigate that with an MLB-best 4% BB rate (tied with Corey Kluber) and the crummy defense is at least trying to help him some with a 4-year low in BABIP at .279 which has yielded just a .218 AVG against.
  • Shane McClanahan has been amazing, and I fully believe in his transition into an ace, but he is pacing for about 195 IP and it doesn’t seem like the Rays will let him reach that and still pitch in the playoffs (assuming they make it, they have a tiny lead for the 3rd WC right now). I couldn’t find anything regarding any specifics, though. The drop is because I don’t believe he will be fully available the rest of the way. He remains an easy all-formats start even in light of his last 3 being bumpy (5.94 ERA/1.56 WHIP/7% K-BB), but you should be stocking reinforcements at SP in case they start aggressively managing his innings.
  • Since returning from the IL, Brandon Woodruff is back to his ace self: 2.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 22% K-BB rate in 48.3 IP.

MUST START: Set it and forget it…

Must Start
RK STARTING PITCHER TM June Diff.
17 Kevin Gausman TOR 8 -9
18 Max Fried ATL 9 -10
19 Alek Manoah TOR 27 8
20 Spencer Strider ATL 57 37
21 Shane Bieber CLE 13 -8
22 Triston McKenzie CLE 33 11
23 Yu Darvish SDP 32 9
24 Framber Valdez HOU 43 19
25 Nestor Cortes NYY 22 -3
26 Charlie Morton ATL 53 27
27 Zac Gallen ARI 25 -2
28 Tony Gonsolin LAD 30 2
29 Cristian Javier HOU 45 16
30 Pablo López MIA 10 -20
31 Logan Gilbert SEA 23 -8
32 Logan Webb SFG 26 -6
33 Robbie Ray SEA 34 1
34 Freddy Peralta MIL INJ NR
35 Luis Garcia HOU 40 5
36 Chris Bassitt NYM 37 1
37 Tyler Mahle MIN 71 34
38 Reid Detmers LAA 94 56
39 Kyle Wright ATL 20 -19
40 Brady Singer KCR 63 23
41 Lance Lynn CWS 31 -10

 

  • I’m not sure if it’s the fast turf infield, some legitimate struggles, bad luck, or a mix of all three, but Kevin Gausman has allowed 12.2 H/9 in 12 home starts thanks to an egregious .425 BABIP! Their infield is tied with St. Louis for the best Outs Above Average in the league at 22 but I couldn’t get a home/road split. I don’t think the infield defense is behind his .324 home AVG (4th worst, min. 100 PA) because 70% of the hits are in the air. Rogers Centre is also tied as the 2nd-best park for doubles! His core skills are still excellent and I don’t think these struggles are actionable because while all three of his starts with more than 3 ER (5 ER in all of them) have come at home, you still got 14 Ks in 11 IP and only meltdown dud was the 2.3 IP/5 ER v. BAL. The drop is to account for some of the home wonkiness but it’s cosmetic at this level as he never leaves the lineup.
  • Alek Manoah went the other way in the rankings and he has no such home/road issues. I came into the season cautious on him, not wanting to overrate a favorite of mine on a partial season a la Luis Castillo after 2017 (Manoah had 112 IP to Castillo’s 89, but those extra 23 IP didn’t make him that much more reliable). I stand by the process of checking myself on someone I had googly eyes for, but Manoah has shown no such sophomore slump despite a 6-point dip in K% and 3-point dip in BB%. He continues to stifle hits due to a flyball lean that naturally produces lower BABIPs and that aforementioned infield defense vacuuming up the 38% of groundballs he does allow, yielding just a .209 AVG on them (t25th lowest, min. 100 PA). Gausman and Manoah are likely due some BABIP regression in opposite directions and both are workhorse studs who never leave the lineup.
  • Spencer Strider will not face an innings limit this season and he’s happy about it! This is likely why the 23-year-old rookie didn’t join the rotation until May 30th. This is also why you shouldn’t try to plan for potential IP limits ahead of time by moving the player in question. If you want to stock up on potential replacements because you’re worried about someone’s innings, I get that, but moving someone who doesn’t have a confirmed hard limit is dangerous. Since the last rankings, Strider is tied with Ohtani for 1st in K-BB rate at 32% (min. 20 IP… deGrom has a 48% mark in 17 IP, lol!). I almost put Strider in the Ace tier, but there could be some rookie fatigue that sets in just as the league gets a thicker book on him. Must-Start status is still pretty excellent in such a short time.
  • Shane Bieber is suffering from the “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” phenomenon. I understood the early season focus on his velo drop (-1.5 to 91.4 mph), but the concerns lasted way too long and still haven’t been completely quelled even at 22 starts in. It seems clear that he can function at this velo level. While he did have a great fastball in 291.7 IP from 2019-20, his secondary stuff has always driven the profile. His 14% SwStr rate suggests the Ks could still jump from this year’s 25% mark (down 8 pts from last year) and we’ve even gotten a hint of that lately with a 29% mark in his last four starts.
  • After not finishing 6 IP in any of his four April starts, Triston McKenzie has done so in 16 of his last 18. He is also just one of 16 starters with 8 starts of 7+ IP. His frame and injury certainly didn’t portend workhorse especially in his second season and yet here we are with McKenzie really hitting a next level in July, reeling off a 1.82 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 19% K-BB rate in 54.3 (8 starts, 1 out shy of 6+ in all 8, too).
  • Yu Darvish is having a quietly great season. Nobody is saying he is bad or anything, but I’m also not seeing much about his sharp ERA rebound that has fueled a return to the Top 25. A big dip in HR rate has been a major key to his season (-0.5 to 1.0 HR/9). He has gone 6+ IP in 15 straight outings and in 20 of 22 this year, tied with the next guy on the list for the most (yes, even ahead of Sandy Alcantara at 19).
  • I promise I didn’t slot Darvish and Framber Valdez back-to-back because they lead the league in 6+ IP outings, I didn’t even know that until writing up the rankings! That stat alone goes a long way toward explaining the case for Valdez so high despite a 22% K rate, which is modest in today’s game. Even his 8% BB rate is just average and yet he’s a rotation staple in all formats thanks to his elite GB ability. He is pacing the league with a 67% GB rate, 9 points clear of 2nd place (Webb at 58%) and his residence on the American League’s best team has yielded 11 Ws, tied for 5th-most.
  • Charlie Morton still has his hiccups, but they have been less frequent and the good starts in between have been much better. Over his last 12 starts, he has a 3.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 25% K-BB rate in 73.3 IP. His last three duds have been against good offenses (NYM, at PHI, at BOS), but he has plenty of good starts against good teams so I’m not trying to time his off nights.
  • The return of McCullers gives the Astros a 6-man rotation right now and I haven’t seen anything about anyone joining the bullpen or having their innings limited down the stretch, so this ranking assumes Cristian Javier is safe. Remember how I thought he and Garcia would switch spots last year? I was dead wrong and they kept Javier in the pen, but his performance this year is why I was not only expecting him to join the rotation in the summer but also very excited about the notion. His 4-start run of 51% K rate was truly insane! He has come down off that level, posting a perfectly solid 24% K rate in his last 5 starts with a 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 28 IP.
  • The Regression Monster gets everyone! We knew Pablo López’s 2.30 ERA from his first 12 starts would regress and a smattering of duds have handled that pullback, pushing his season mark to 3.55 ERA. Even knowing regression would come, I still overrated him back in June. The biggest miss is that I thought his Ks could go up, instead they’ve come down! The flashy 14% SwStr at the last ranking had me dreaming of a 30% K rate upside, but he has dropped to 23% despite losing just 1-point off the SwStr rate. He still never comes out of my lineup. The skills are still strong, the velo is up of late, and we haven’t gotten word that his shoulder issues from previous years is playing any kind of role in the 5-start downturn (6.39 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 21% K-BB).
  • A couple duds against the Yankees aren’t really taking me off Logan Gilbert. While he isn’t a strikeout stud with just a 22% rate, he still has a Top 20 K total at 127 and this is also a developing profile that could absolutely push the strikeouts, whether over the remainder of this year or beyond. I’m quite bullish on Gilbert overall with his drop being tied more to those who ascended as opposed to anything I have against him.
  • Logan Webb’s strikeouts haven’t come close to last year’s 26%, primarily because he sprinkles in these bombs. He has 4 outings with 5+ IP and 2 or fewer Ks, tied with several guys for 3rd most (Marco Gonzales has 10!!). He has been a rock, with his ERA never reaching higher than 3.82 at any point this year. That horrendous defense could burn him, but we can’t really time it so he is an easy rotation staple.
  • We have only seen two starts from Freddy Peralta since his return and they’ve been OK. He has been kept under 70 pitches both times and his velo was down to 91.7 mph last time out (93.1 season avg) which is why I dropped him from his Top 15 Spring ranking. Monitor him closely and if he doesn’t start stretching out, adjust accordingly.
  • With Cincy, I saw Tyler Mahle as a Team Streamer because he simply couldn’t be trusted at home. He leaves the Reds with a 5.02 ERA/1.40 WHIP in 285.3 IP at Great American Park. He moved from the park tied for 1st in offense to the 25th. His 1.4 HR/9 has always been the primary issue and if he can bring it down to 1.0 or lower, he has a chance to be an absolute stud. His 18% K-BB rate is 16th since 2019 (min. 450 IP). A strong finish will make a major growth candidate for 2023.
  • I can’t remember if it was a radio spot or podcast, but I remember discussing Reid Detmers and my interest in him this year with the acknowledgment that he might be a summer breakout, but the upside is rich enough to take a shot on drafting him in case he clicks immediately. It wasn’t easy cutting him just ahead of his late-June demotion because I still had that summer breakout theory ringing in my head. He also had just a 1.10 WHIP at the time, but the 4.66 ERA and 19% K rate suggested he was skating by and could have some trouble without changes. The changes came as he found his strikeout pitch! The slider was instrumental in a 14-K appearance in the minors – his only one before recall – and has fueled an excellent surge. Since getting called back up, he has a 1.50 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 34% K rate!! The only reason he isn’t even higher is a potential innings limit. I haven’t found anything on it so he’s a lock in the rotation until we hear anything, including a potential NYY-HOU-at HOU run which he is lined up for if things stay on course. Maybe that’d be a good chance to stretch out his days off a little and mix him in for the DET series on Sept. 5th-7th, but that’s the only reprieve in a 15-game stretch: 3 NYY, 3 HOU, 3 DET, 3 at HOU, 3 at CLE.
  • Arm fatigue has pushed Kyle Wright back this week and it’s still unknown if he will make a start this week. The Braves might use this as an opportunity to save some juice for October. He threw 149 IP last year and he’s at 134.7 so far this year. Some extra time here in the dog days of August could ensure that he doesn’t go too far over last year’s mark, especially with playoff innings essentially counting 1.5x on the arm in terms of stress. He has been surviving a 1.33 WHIP over his last 10 starts with just a 3.84 ERA and we all knew some regression was coming, but the 19% K rate is a bit alarming. Stay tuned on the arm fatigue and consider sitting him this week because if he does start, he still gets Houston.
  • There isn’t a smoking gun change behind Brady Singer’s ascent, rather a lot of incremental development across the board. He is using his changeup more (+5 pts to 8%), aiding his 131-point OPS improvement against lefties. A massive 55-point dip in BABIP is doing a lot of heavy lifting, too, felt most with runners in scoring position where he has gone from .370 BABIP last year to just .230 this year, en route to a 327-point OPS improvement! Last year was unluckier than this year is lucky. This is a legit step forward for the 26-year-old former top prospect and I’m buying. A mid-3.00s ERA, good WHIP (1.20 or lower), and solid K rate (22%+) is what I see the rest of the way.
  • Lance Lynn languished through a meltdown inning problem in his first 7 starts of the season (7.50 ERA). He would show flashes of the Lynn we know and love, but he was wildly inconsistent and tough to start. The lack of options in 15-teamers saved me from an irrational drop because I was super frustrated! Those flashes of brilliance were a harbinger and all he needed was time (which is often the case with studs) as he has now reeled off a 3.34 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 27% K-BB rate in his last 29.7 IP. The longball is still an issue, but if you aren’t putting anybody on base, they are more palatable.

USUALLY START: This is where league size comes into play.

This is a pivot group with a mix of veterans and young arms, standouts and strugglers. They rarely come out of your lineup in a 15, but they don’t hold that same esteem across all formats. Several of these guys are team streamers or standard streamers in 10s and 12s.

Usually Start
RK STARTING PITCHER TM June Diff.
42 Blake Snell SDP 50 8
43 Frankie Montas NYY 15 -28
44 Tyler Anderson LAD 46 2
45 Eric Lauer MIL 36 -9
46 Carlos Carrasco NYM 48 2
47 Jordan Montgomery STL 52 5
48 Miles Mikolas STL 42 -6
49 José Quintana STL 135 86
50 Adam Wainwright STL 56 6
51 Jameson Taillon NYY 60 9
52 George Kirby SEA 61 9
53 Martín Pérez TEX 88 35
54 Edward Cabrera MIA 69 15
55 José Urquidy HOU 85 30
56 Taijuan Walker NYM 78 22
57 Joe Ryan MIN 28 -29
58 Lucas Giolito CWS 21 -37
59 Ranger Suárez PHI 93 34
60 Jesús Luzardo MIA INJ NR
61 Mike Clevinger SDP INJ NR
62 Michael Kopech CWS 38 -24
63 Drew Rasmussen TBR 59 -4
64 Jeffrey Springs TBR 49 -15
65 Sonny Gray MIN 54 -11
66 Andrew Heaney LAD INJ NR
67 Lance McCullers Jr. HOU INJ NR

 

  • Nine games against the Dodgers and one more series in Colorado dropped Blake Snell into the US tier. He has been on fire since the last ranking with a 3.02 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 24% K-BB rate in 53.7 IP. He still has a 10% BB rate in this run which adds pitches, but the Padres are letting him average 100 pitches per start and he has made it through at least 5 in all but one.
  • Frankie Montas took a big hit primarily because of the shoulder concerns. It is worth noting that he had a 5.80 ERA/1.36 WHIP on the road in 40.3 IP, but he didn’t have consistent home/road split throughout his career so I don’t think he’s just a product of The Coliseum.
  • Tyler Anderson has been tremendous this year, but because of how cheap he was to acquire (late draft or waiver pickup), there are plenty of scenarios where he is part of a deep rotation. Pair that with his modest 20% K rate and he isn’t always finding his way in the rotation down the stretch, especially if you are in a fight for strikeouts. If your depth starters are strikeout-heavy, you can sacrifice the Anderson ratios for extra Ks. If Anderson is more of a savior for your team because you have guys like Berrios, Giolito, Severino, etc… then he is in Must Start status.
  • One of the downsides of the Internet Era of fantasy sports is we don’t let anyone regress in peace. I appreciate that we’re at a level where we see Eric Lauer posting a 2.38 ERA in his first 10 starts and we can acknowledge that there are changes aiding the run, but that he will come down from this perch. But then when he does, it seems like folks can’t wait to jump ship. A HR barrage that included trips to 2 of the best HR parks took care of the regression in three-start run. He went from 2.38 to 3.89 ERA thanks in large part to the 8 HRs. Since then, he has been the solid-if-unspectacular guy we drafted based off last year’s success: 3.22 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 12% K-BB rate in 44.7 IP. His strong work with runners on has been instrumental to him out-performing his ERA indicators which live in the low-to-mid 4.00s. His 80% LOB rate is 6th highest since last year. Lauer can be benched for the same reason highlighted with Anderson. He has just a 19% K rate since July 1st and he wasn’t a foundational piece of your rotation so you will find scenarios where benching him makes sense depending on your team makeup and strikeouts standings.
  • I absolutely grouped the four Cardinals on purpose, but not to be cute, rather because they are essentially 2 lefty and 2 righty versions of the same guy. Miles Mikolas’s K rate lags behind the 21-23% of the other three at just 18%, but his 4% BB rate is the best of the bunch giving him far and away the best WHIP (1.06). The funniest part is that they acquired the two lefties at the deadline as if they were like “hmm, we like this type, but maybe just the other hand?” José Quintana and Jordan Montgomery have to be ecstatic about the new defensive support, especially on the infield as they’re tied for the best Outs Above Average as a unit. Both lefties have mid-40%s groundball rates so they stand to benefit greatly, Q in particular as PIT was just 19th while NYY was a plus for Monty at 7th. The venerable Adam Wainwright loves this defense, particularly at home (2.30/4.43 home/road ERA split) so you can consider benching him in tough roadies in shallower formats.
  • Jameson Taillon’s ERA has crept up a full run since the last ranking thanks to a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts. He still has just a 1.20 WHIP in that time which is why his bottom-line numbers are still strong: 3.95 ERA/1.13 WHIP. The strikeouts are up of late with a 24% mark in his last 6 starts. If he can maintain that clip with the great WHIP and a decent ERA, he could finish the season as a Top 50 SP (currently ranked 45th).
  • There will be limits for George Kirby down the stretch, but we don’t know exactly how that will look. In some cases, it will be shortening a start even if he’s dealing. They may also consider extra days off or outright skipped starts. If you have Kirby on your team, be diligent in covering the news so you know if he will pitch in each week. He remains an easy start while he’s in the rotation.
  • OK, maybe Martín Pérez is going to maintain his obscene HR rate? He had a 1.3 HR/9 from 2017-21 before slicing his HR/FB rate in half and posting a 0.6 HR/9 through 142 IP this year. His 13% K-BB rate is just a point better than last year’s mark, but massive uptick in GB rate (+8 pts 52%) has been huge for the HR suppression. He is in that Anderson-Lauer-Taillon mold where your team context might find you sitting him because that K rate is low at just 21% otherwise there is a measure of reliability if your expectations are mid-3.00s ERA and mid-1.20s WHIP.
  • Edward Cabrera has looked great in a pair of starts since returning and the time off should prevent any major innings management, but the dodgy control (13% BB) breeds volatility.
  • Taijuan Walker, José Urquidy, Joe Ryan are intentionally grouped as control artists – two with HR issues and the other prone to occasional meltdowns – and Sporer Favorites. Ryan showed the HR issue last year, though I’d hoped some experience would help tamp it down. Urquidy has always had his and maybe Ryan will, too. It highlights the difference between command and control with the latter being the ability to place the ball where you want in and out of the zone and the latter being the ability to fill the zone. Walker had similar HR problems to Urq & Ryan back in 2020-21, but he has cut his rate in half to 0.7 and the results have flowed in. The main difference has been a 16-point drop in fastball usage with the bulk of it being funneled over to his splitter (+13 pts to 28%).
  • We’re not out of the woods yet with Lucas Giolito, but outside of a couple bad innings v. DET of all teams and a dud v. CLE (3 IP/6 ER), there have been some positive signs as evidenced by his 2.88 FIP during his last 9 starts (50 IP). I might sit him in a situation like this week v. HOU, but he’s consistently in my lineup.
  • I can’t prove this, but I hearddddd Ranger Suárez was a little upset by his June ranking of 93. He wasn’t mad that I did it, he was mad that he deserved it! So he went and cultivated a little cut piece and boom, he’s good again! It debuted with just a couple on June 23rd and since then it has been a 18% usage pitch. It has played a major role in his ascent, but it hasn’t been the only good pitch in a 7-start run during which he has a 2.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 15% K-BB rate. His SwStr rate is up 4 pts to 11%, too, which could help push the K rate back into the low-20%s by season’s end.
  • Jesús Luzardo is back and looks good through 3 starts (3.18 ERA/0.88 WHIP) despite losing a tick on the fastball at 95.4 mph. His K rate is also down to 9 pts to 26%, but his walk rate is also down 9 pts to 4%. A huge pitch mix shift could be behind the improved walk rate and also the K dip as he has moved away from the slider (down 10 pts to 28%) and over to the changeup (up 15 pts to 30%). The ultimate goal is combining the previous K rate with this new BB rate, though that might be more of a next season thing. He does draw back-to-back LAD starts this week and next so these could be where you opt to sit out if you can afford to bench him.
  • Mike Clevinger isn’t fully himself this year with his velo and K rate down but he’s still good, posting a 3.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 14% K-BB rate since returning from the IL the second time and that’s with 2 trips to COL and 1 to LAD over the course of the 53 IP.
  • I’m constantly nervous about Michael Kopech which seems weird given his 3.18 ERA and 1.19 WHIP this year. But those have come with just a 22% K rate and 12% BB rate as his .194 AVG and 80% LOB rate have done most of the work. That doesn’t mean he isn’t earning any of it. His nasty stuff gives him extra margin for error, though that awesomeness has faded in and out at times, particularly with his velocity. A gem against DET is more an expectation than a treat, but his velo was back up to 95.7 mph on average and he netted 17 whiffs with the fastball and 22 in all on 85 pitches. It’s hard to get him out of your lineup because the upside is so rich (6 starts of 5+ IP, 0 ER). He’s not quite a set it and forget it because you have to closely monitor his stuff, but you’re still nowhere near cutting him in any format.
  • It seems every Rays pitcher could be subject to some innings management down the stretch with Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs in particular focus. Rasmussen has been tightly managed throughout the year, eclipsing 90 pitches just twice and Springs was a career reliever before moving to the rotation this year. He has been pushed a bit further than Rasmussen, averaging 84 pitches/start to Rasmussen’s 79. The tough part is they will be subject to sub-5 IP outings as a way of managing them as Rasmussen was after 3 perfect IP in Detroit. I don’t think they telegraphed that ahead of time and I’m not sure there is any value in them doing so in the future meaning there could be some pain here if you’re in a big Wins battle.
  • I really wanted to rank Andrew Heaney higher, but the Dodgers simply aren’t trusting him enough to do so as he hasn’t reached 5 IP in any of his last 4 starts and with Dustin May working his way back, there could be further shenanigans with his innings down the stretch. He has been positively brilliant in his 31 IP as a Dodger with injuries remaining a major hurdle for him. His 3% HR/FB rate won’t last at that clip, but I think even the regressed level will be a lot better than his 1.6 career mark coming into this year. That slider has been a complete gamechanger.
  • Lance McCullers Jr. returned Saturday with a solid outing against OAK throwing 6 scoreless. He did walk 4 but only allowed 2 hits and fanned 5. It seems the Astros are going to let him go so as long as he’s healthy, he will be a good option. If the Astros stick with a 6-man, there won’t be many 2-starts to go around, but they are all so good that most of their 1-start weeks will be worth using.

TEAM STREAMERS: Not starting all the time, but good enough to keep

These are the streamers that you move to your reserve when you’re not using them instead of cutting them back into the waiver pool.

Team Streamers
RK STARTING PITCHER TM June Diff.
68 Alex Cobb SFG INJ NR
69 Alex Wood SFG 55 -14
70 Daniel Lynch KCR 122 52
71 Braxton Garrett MIA 91 20
72 Michael Wacha BOS 87 15
73 Noah Syndergaard PHI 79 6
74 Kris Bubic KCR 144 70
75 Merrill Kelly 켈리 ARI 77 2
76 Ross Stripling TOR 75 -1
77 Johnny Cueto CWS 133 56
78 Marcus Stroman CHC INJ NR
79 JP Sears OAK NR NR
80 Sean Manaea SDP 35 -45
81 Corey Kluber TBR 62 -19
82 Austin Voth BAL NR NR
83 Dean Kremer BAL NR NR
84 Spenser Watkins BAL NR NR
85 Kyle Bradish BAL 92 7
86 Aaron Civale CLE INJ NR
87 Kutter Crawford BOS 106 19
88 José Berríos TOR 39 -49
89 Justin Steele CHC 118 29
90 Keegan Thompson CHC 123 33
91 Nathan Eovaldi BOS INJ NR
92 Patrick Sandoval LAA 44 -48
93 Ryan Yarbrough TBR 138 45
94 Aaron Ashby MIL 58 -36
95 Nick Lodolo CIN INJ NR
96 Josiah Gray WAS 74 -22
97 Cole Irvin OAK 134 37

 

  • Alex Wood and Alex Cobb have been victims of San Francisco’s horrible defense with ERA indicators well below their low-4.00s ERAs. They have 18% K-BB rates and 12% SwStr rates, but they might need 50% K rates to survive this defense. Cobb’s 61% GB rate might actually be a negative on this team. They still have 2 trips to COL and 1 to LAD, too. Be careful with these two!
  • Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic aren’t quite dealing like Singer, but both have shined brightly over the last calendar month. Lynch has a 3.15 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 17% K-BB in 20 IP (with an IL stint mixed in) while Bubic has a 2.90 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 13% K-BB in 37.3 IP. Bubic got hit around a bit at MIN on Monday night, allowing 4 ER for the first time since June 27th. I’m still closely monitoring the pair, but I’m not letting anyone get a crack at them on the wire if I choose to sit them.
  • Braxton Garrett has had a sharp split based on opponent, posting a 2.60 ERA/1.01 WHIP against sub-.500 clubs and 4.76/1.41 against .500+ clubs. There is major skill dip, too, going from 28% against weaker clubs to 9% K-BB against the solid or better ones. I would hew closely to that split until I see him find some success against premium lineups. Normally I don’t have a big reaction to such a split, but the cratering of his core skills got my attention.
  • Michael Wacha returned from the IL with an absolute gem: 7 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 1 BB with 9 Ks. I can’t get beyond the 82% LOB rate and .234 BABIP as the key drivers here. He does have a hand in that, of course, as he is limiting hard contact to tune of a 35% Hard Hit rate (down 8 pts) and 7% Barrel Rate (down 4 pts). A 9-point drop in HR/FB rate has also been great. These are metrics that are hard to sustain at premium levels, but it doesn’t mean he is a stone cold luckbox. He will likely regress toward his 73% LOB, .298 BABIP, and 13% HR/FB career marks over the remainder of the season.
  • Johnny Cueto has been a legit workhorse! He now has a 2.66 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 105 IP. Sure, it comes with a 16% K rate, but if you already have your Ks locked down, he is a great fit. He handled HOU on Monday night, allowing just 2 runs (1 ER) in 8 IP on 6 hits and a walk with 3 Ks. He has gone 6+ IP in eight straight and 14 of his 15 starts.
  • JP Sears was my favorite part of the Montas deal and I think he could be a gamechanger down the stretch. As I mentioned in that write up, we haven’t seen the consistent swing-and-miss from him in the majors yet, however he missed plenty of bats in the minors so there is reason to believe he can exceed the 18% K rate. Even if the Ks don’t soar, his command profile will play in OAK. He’s at least Cole Irvin with the upside to be more.
  • A 2.0 HR/9 over his last 10 has pushed Sean Manaea’s ERA up 1.24 runs to 4.76 for the year. The schedule sets up a chance to get right starting this week at MIA and v. WAS followed by a trip to KC. If things stay on track, he would get LAD twice after that so you might not want to rely on him into early-September.
  • A .367 BABIP over Corey Kluber’s last 6 starts has saddled him with a 6.23 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. He still has an 18% K-BB rate thanks to just 4 BB in the 34.7 IP of work. Tampa Bay’s rough infield defense (26th in OAA) is playing a role in that elevated BABIP so Wander Franco’s return will very welcomed. A devastating upcoming schedule could make him a dicey start if that BABIP doesn’t come down quickly. Here’s what he is slated for based on the current setup: at NYY, LAA, at BOS, NYY, at NYY, and at TOR. The Rays also end with HOU, TOR, at CLE, at HOU, and at BOS. Between the potential IP limits and insane schedule, these strong Rays arms who got us to this point might not be so reliable down the stretch.
  • I had some interest in Austin Voth with WAS, but it never came together. Now 30 years old, he has latched on with BAL and found some success. Moving from the 30th infield defense to the 14th was undoubtedly helpful. He allowed a .455 BABIP with the Nationals defense and it’s down to .286 with the Orioles. Some of that is natural regression, the rest is that terrible defense and it’s no surprise that the .316 BABIP for WAS starters is behind only COL’s .321 mark. Voth hasn’t even taken full advantage of the deep LF wall in BAL yet with a 4.05 ERA/1.35 WHIP at home and 2.45/1.09 on the road since joining the team. The hideous WAS numbers have likely kept him on wires longer than he should’ve been (or currently is in many leagues), but if you isolate his BAL numbers he’s an easy scoop: 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 16% K-BB, 12% SwStr in 42 IP.
  • As I looked at the BAL pitchers, I had a hard time putting a discernible split between them. They are all Team Streamers on the same team with similar skillsets, like the diet version of the Cardinals quartet. Despite the identical profiles, the results have varied since the last update. All four are in a 13-17% K-BB range, driven by strong walk rates with Voth toting the highest K rate at 24%. Their ERAs range from 2.52 for Spenser Watkins to Kyle Bradish at 5.55 after a tough outing TOR on Monday night. Bradish still has a 4.17 SIERA during this run, but I don’t blame anyone being cautious, including sitting out this week at TOR and v. BOS. Watkins has a 1.04 WHIP with that shiny ERA, though he doesn’t overpower the opposition with just a 15% K rate on the season and 20% during this run. He also has the slowest fastball of the bunch at 91 mph. Those factors tighten his margin for error, but do not preclude him from success.
  • Dean Kremer is actually the prize of the Manny Machado deal now. It was Yusniel Diaz at the time, but Kremer has taken up the mantle with a breakout season. He has a home lean, particularly in his WHIP: 3.41 ERA/1.17 WHIP at home, 3.98 ERA/1.45 WHIP on the road in 31.2 IP both home and away (love when they randomly have equal samples in a given split). I will start the Baltimore Four at home against almost anybody while being more judicious on the road, letting my team and league context dictate my willingness to take chances with them. In no world did I think I would have a ranking with 4 Orioles in the Top 100 and even if you had told me ahead of time that I will, there’s no universe where I could’ve fathomed that neither Grayson Rodriguez nor DL Hall would be in the quartet. Speaking of Hall, we got a little taste over the weekend and it was clear that his stuff is nasty but so is his control… in a bad way. He was sent back out immediately and will be seen as a bullpen weapon when he returns. It’s a great move for the O’s in real life, but makes Hall a non-factor in fantasy outside of fringe situation where a flamethrowing middle reliever could have some use (AL-Only, 20+ team mixers?).
  • Aaron Civale couldn’t get a softer landing than back-to-back outings against DET and he has taken full advantage of it with 14 Ks and 7 base runners in 10 IP. Civale’s season started to turn after his first IL stint. He had a 7.84 ERA/1.52 WHIP in his first 7 starts before a glute injury cost him a month. He did a lot better in 5 starts upon returning before getting sidelined again with a wrist injury. Over his last 7 starts, he’s at a 3.55 ERA/1.18 WHIP/22% K-BB in 33 IP. The most impressive part of the run are the 36 Ks (27% K%), but plan for the low-20%s we’ve seen in his career and take anything extra as a bonus.
  • Three ugly outings as a reliever for Kutter Crawford saw him allow 9 ER in 2 IP of work. That work has obscured the fact that he’s been quite good as a starter: 3.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 15% K-BB rate in 48.7 IP. Fittingly, his namesake has been the key to his success with his cutter ranking 9th in Pitch Values despite fewer than 50 IP which is why he jumps to 5th in per 100 thrown ranking.
  • José Berríos, Nathan Eovaldi, and Patrick Sandoval are my three biggest fallers from the spring. The trio has been painfully inconsistent doing just enough to make them tough cuts in 12+ teamers only to inflict more pain. The one consistent aspect from Sandoval is the horrendous WHIP. We were teased with his 1.00 from 3 April starts as it has since skyrocketed to 1.58 WHIP in his last 85 IP. He still has a 3.42 ERA on the season in 100 IP which is what reels us in, but that WHIP is undoubtedly doing more damage than the ERA and Ks can cover, especially since he is bad bet for Ws (3-8 record).
  • Berrios has allowed 3 or fewer ER in 15 of his 23 starts. The problem is that he has a 16.00 ERA in other 8. His consistent inconsistency over the years has made him a fantasy EKG, but this year the downturns have been flatlines and his good work can’t recover the damages. Game Score is a good shorthand to judge starts. Anything mid-50s and above is a good start or better while anything under-40 is a definite dud. Berrios’s 7 starts of under-30 Game Scores is tops this year while his 12 at 54+ are tied for 8th most (46 total SPs with 12 or more). After at NYY/at BOS in his next 2, the schedule does lighten up with CHC, at PIT, and at TEX. He could get a trip to BAL if things get mixed up, but it’s a good stretch for TOR.
  • Eovaldi has returned with 1.5 mph off his fastball and the results have cratered: 6.32 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, and 11% K-BB rate. He might be coming out of it, though. The velo is still down during his 3 solid starts in August, all of which went at least 6 IP, but he is using the heater less (down 6 pts to 33%) and rediscovering his cutter (up 9 pts to 17%). I can’t put a talent like him back on the wire, but I don’t think he’s a must start, either. He does have harsh home/road split but 2 nightmares at home are doing a lotttt in that split. He allowed 15 ER in 4.3 IP during those outings. You can pick and choose matchups, but don’t lean on the home/road ERA.
  • Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have quietly played themselves into the streamer landscape after showing some hints of quality early on. Since the last update, Steele is at 2.83 ERA and Thompson is at 3.66 with 19% and 15% K-BB rates, respectively, but both have 1.30+ WHIPs (exactly that mark for Thompson and Steele is up at 1.34). I felt like Steele had some K upside earlier this year when I was recommending him and that has finally come to fruition with a 28% K rate over his last 8 starts, which pairs very well with his 51% GB rate. Thompson has had flashes with his Ks including a 31% K rate in five starts from mid-June to early-July, but then tanked to just 13% in his last five. Expect to see Steele on my breakout lists for 2023 as I think there is still upside to tap into, while Thompson is more fully formed and can remain a Team Streamer into next year.
  • Aaron Ashby has the kind of upside profile I will always take a shot on in case it pops while understanding that the shaky command and control make them plenty volatile. He just hasn’t put it together as a starter just yet with a 4.58 ERA/1.49 WHIP compared to 2.45/1.09 in relief. I haven’t been able to find anything on a potential innings limit, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they did dial him back. He had 95 IP last year and is at 91.3 IP so far this year. If his move to the rotation was working better, I could see them pushing it a bit, but the return of Adrian Houser could put Ashby back in the bullpen.
  • Nick Lodolo has shown flashes of his upside and he will be a popular 2023 breakout, but his command just isn’t there yet to trust him consistently. There’s enough upside to hold him when you’re not using him. Try not to put yourself in a spot where you are relying on him.
  • Josiah Gray is a very team dependent streamer down the stretch. He is a HR machine with a 2.4 mark in each of his MLB samples so literally any of his starts can go haywire. He has just 4 HR-free starts all year and has allowed 17 in his last 50 IP (3.1 HR/9). He has allowed 3 or fewer ER in 5 of the 9 starts, but still has a 5.94 ERA in that time because the bad games are really bad. Be careful!
  • Cole Irvin is a ratio gem who should be leveraged for his home starts (1.66 ERA/0.87 WHIP in 70.3 home IP). You can mix in the occasional road start if the matchup is right, but his 4.88 ERA/1.27 WHIP on the road makes clear the danger of taking on those starts. With such a clear split to use, he fits in the Team Streamer realm for multiple formats.

 

STANDARD STREAMERS: Inconsistent arms with varying levels of value

Standard Streamers
RK STARTING PITCHER TM June Diff.
98 José Suarez LAA NR NR
99 Kyle Gibson PHI 76 -23
100 Kyle Hendricks CHC 116 16
101 Nick Pivetta BOS 68 -33
102 Mitch Keller PIT 115 13
103 Drew Smyly CHC 136 33
104 Cal Quantrill CLE 82 -22
105 Jakob Junis SFG INJ NR
106 Matt Manning DET INJ NR
107 Jordan Lyles BAL 111 4
108 Jake Odorizzi ATL INJ NR
109 Touki Toussaint LAA NR NR
110 Dylan Bundy MIN 139 29
111 Graham Ashcraft CIN 84 -27
112 Chris Flexen 플렉센 SEA 107 -5
113 James Kaprielian OAK 117 4
114 Cole Ragans TEX NR NR
115 Dane Dunning TEX 90 -25
116 Glenn Otto TEX 97 -19
117 Domingo Germán NYY INJ NR
118 Madison Bumgarner ARI 96 -22
119 JT Brubaker PIT 108 -11
120 Brad Keller KCR 142 22
121 Zach Plesac CLE 105 -16
122 Germán Márquez COL 128 6
123 Zack Greinke KCR INJ NR
124 Ryan Pepiot LAD PROS NR
125 Dakota Hudson STL 86 -39

 

  • Since his latest recall on June 18th, José Suarez has a nice 2.95 ERA/1.11 WHIP in 39.7 IP and you should’ve definitely sat him for his worst start of the bunch, a 3.7 IP/6 ER dud v. LAD. He also had a 3.7 IP/4 ER start at BAL that you likely would’ve started because of how well Camden plays for pitchers this year. A cushy schedule at KC, v. OAK, at OAK has seen him reel off 17.3 “scoreless” innings (he allowed 1 unearned run v. OAK) with 16 Ks.
  • Kyle Gibson is who we thought he was! He had a cushy early schedule that made him an interesting early season stream, but I held on too long. I did avoid his starts in COL and LAD (he actually put up a baseline QS in COL) so I had a 2.84 ERA from him through May but I started trusting him as an every week kind of play and ate a lot of the 4.66 ERA he’s had since June 1st. Thankfully, it has come with a 1.15 WHIP so there was at least a silver lining. Horrible defense, too much contact, and a hitter-friendly home park keep him firmly in streamer territory with your league size and context deciding if he’s a team streamer or standard issue streamer.
  • I mentally group Mitch Keller and Matt Manning together. Keller is 2 years older with twice as much MLB experience, but both are premium prospects who are trying to figure things out on the job. Keller had his big velo spike this year and is finally netting some results from it with a 2.23 ERA/1.10 WHIP in his last 36.3 IP, but still with just a paltry 17% K rate and 7% SwStr rate. This was supposed to be a growth year for Manning, but right shoulder inflammation ate up 3.5 months, so he’s left trying to salvage something from the last 2 months. With just five starts so far this year, there is little to go off, but he has a 13% SwStr or better in three of them. The problem is that he’s at 5% and 6% in the other two. It is just such a vast range and puts all the burden on his ratios since Wins are unlikely with DET. I’m not quitting either and outside of a massive September finish, neither will be all that expensive in 2023.
  • Jordan Lyles is a lower tier Cole Irvin with a favorable home split, but only ERA. He has a 2.73 ERA/1.42 WHIP in 59.3 IP at home and a 5.85 ERA/1.47 WHIP in 75.3 IP on the road.
  • Jake Odorizzi was acquired for depth and while Strider isn’t facing an innings limit, they did just lose Fried to a concussion and Wright is dealing with some arm fatigue. Odo will hit you with the occasional bomb regardless of opponent (duds v. OAK & KC this summer), but he has put together a 3.02 ERA/1.07 WHIP/14% K-BB in his last 11 starts (59.7 IP). If he stays in the rotation next week, he is set up for at PIT/at STL, a nice little 2-step even with the Cards being a good team.
  • Cole Ragans, Dane Dunning, and Glenn Otto are an interesting trio in Texas. Ragans has grinded through his two starts v. CWS and at HOU with 7 BB and just 4 Ks, but he was excellent at Double- and Triple-A with a 3.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 21% K-BB rate in 94.7 IP. Things might not come together this year, but I’m keeping tabs on him and he could be a deep league breakout pick for 2023. Dunning is a younger Kyle Gibson with a playable home/road split: 3.23 ERA/1.13 WHIP/15% K-BB rate at home and 5.08 ERA/1.66 WHIP/7% K-BB rate on the road. Otto has shown flashes, but his inconsistency has made him tough to trust even in 15-teamers. I still think there is another level if he finds that start-to-start stability so he will be on my 50-round Draft Champions lists for 2023.
  • I like some of the development we’ve seen from Jakob Junis this year, but he hasn’t finished 5 IP in any of his five starts since returning from the IL. He can’t be in a lineup until we see him hit that threshold again. He averaged just over 5 IP in 9 appearances before this (7 starts and 2 5-IP relief appearances).
  • Ryan Pepiot has impressive stuff, but little idea of where it’s going so far. He also isn’t long for the rotation with May back on Saturday and Kershaw eventually back from injury. I’m eager to see if they create an opening for him in 2023 or perhaps even trade him to somewhere that will give him a clear rotation spot. I’m a sucker for young arms with a nasty changeup so I will be keeping a close eye on Pep.

INJURED ARMS: And the tier they would be in once they return…

Injury Arms





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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Jimmember
1 month ago

I’ve been reading FanGraphs for years and I believe this is the longest piece I have ever read. Congrats, Paul.