The Next 16 SPs

Last week I unveiled my Top 24 Pitchers for 2017 and yes, it was an amazing list, I know, buuuuttt I feel like your appetites weren’t satiated so here’s the next 16 pitchers on my list right now giving you a top 40 to chew on until at least November.

  1. Aaron Sanchez – Underwhelming strikeout rate for a frontliner, but has the raw stuff (95 MPH heat, filthy curve) to add more as he gains experience similar to teammate Stroman.
  2. Jose Quintana – Remarkably consistent mid-rotation arm who finally broke double digits in wins; you roster him to absorb some volatility elsewhere.
  3. Gerrit Cole – Shutdown with an elbow injury clouding his future and making him a tough rank; still has insane upside when (if?) healthy, so if he comes into camp looking good, I’ll be jumping on any discount.
  4. Kyle Hendricks – I’m surprised no one mentioned him when I posted the top 24… *ducks*; skills and indicators say he is the same good-not-great SP we saw in ’14 and ‘15 if we’re being honest, but y’all did talk me up four spots from my initial rank.
  5. Rick Porcello – Doesn’t walk anyone so when hit suppression goes his way, this is the results; likely to be somewhat overrated next year.
  6. Marcus Stroman – Added strikeouts to his elite groundball rate and saved his season: 5.33 ERA, 16% K, and 64% GB through June; 3.29, 24%, and 63% since July 1st. Bottom line ERA (4.34) could leave him overlooked.
  7. Tanner Roark – Kind of a baby Hendricks and yet no one clamored for him to be anywhere near the top 24… *ducks again*
  8. Danny Salazar – Another injury case (forearm) who is difficult to rank because of the uncertainty, though there are rumblings of him returning at RP for the playoffs which might offer some clarity.
  9. Michael Fulmer – The idea of a late-season slowdown is built off two starts, admittedly his two worst all year, but he has 3.24 ERA in the four starts surrounding the duds (and that doesn’t even include his shutout at Texas on 8/14).
  10. Jake Odorizzi – Leaguewide HR surge didn’t do this flyball righty any favors; still shows flashes of being more than mid-to-upper 3.00s arm, but potential is drying up for a guy headed into his age-27 season.
  11. Vince Velasquez – More upside than results at this point, but I really love that upside; needs to avoid the implosion: 4.12 ERA despite allowing 0-3 ER in 17 of his 24 starts (plus his 28% K rate was tied with Verlander, Bumgarner, Archer, and Salazar after rounding).
  12. Felix Hernandez – Might actually be harder to rank than the injury concerns because it was such a weirdly bad season for him: 3.71 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were eight-year highs and his 19% K rate was a career-worst. Blip or end of him as a frontliner? I really don’t know.
  13. Julio Teheran – Three of his worst starts came after mid-August DL return or he might’ve finished with a sub-3.00 ERA like ’14; the ’17 offense shouldn’t be as bad as the one that left him with a 3-9 record through his first 21 starts this year.
  14. Kevin Gausman – ERA reached a season-high 4.37 after 6/20 start at Texas, since: 3.19 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 25% K, and 3.9 K:BB in 104.3 IP; HRs remain a concern: 1.4 for season, 1.3 during isolated stretch after 6/20.
  15. Marco Estrada – Showed the doubters that his stuff does influence the BABIP more than we thought while also recapturing his previous strikeout rate in exchange for some walks.
  16. Jon Gray – He still pitches in Coors which adds a level of volatility that is beyond his control; his six outings of 10+ Ks tied him with Archer and Bumgarner while topping Thor (5).

OK, have it. Who are the biggest misses of the top 40 in your eyes? Please make a case that isn’t just “he had a good ERA this year!” as these aren’t just looking at 2016. Also, would y’all be interested in some preliminary top 12s (or maybe top 10s w/a few honorable mentions) at each position over the next couple of weeks?

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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JA Happ doesn’t seem like a crazy pick to include in a top 40 SP discussion. His end to 2015 + a season of surviving in the AL East seems to show that repeating something like his year this year in 2017 is very possible.


I feel like Happ hasn’t been getting any love this season from Fangraphs, despite how awesome he’s been


I too was very curious about folks’ thoughts on Happ for next year. He had a quietly great season, but his ERA is notably lower than his FIP/xFIP, so I’m not sure what exactly that means for 2017.