The discussion for this edition of 2015 Starting Pitcher rankings and tiers is — what course of action will you choose?
The young, less experienced, upside arms versus the more proven starting pitchers coming off injuries.
There are a vast number of starting pitchers that fall into this pool of pitchers.
This underscores my belief of the “Dual Aces” strategy for 2015.
A strong pitching foundation will allow for greater variation in your rotation structure throughout the auction and draft processes.
Man down! Marcus Stroman lost for the season with torn ACL.
Recurring elbow discomfort will likely lead to surgery for Cliff Lee.
Masahiro Tanaka, is he worth the risk? Tick….
Exhibit 3 (Look at the first article in this series (1-18) to understand how we’re breaking these players up.)
2014 IP >=180, ERA <= 3.50, WHIP <= 1.25 & SO >= 180 (Baseball-Reference Play Index)
*Only 17 starting pitchers qualified under this criteria
2015 Starting Pitcher Rankings and Tiers: 19-36
Tier No.7 – Brave New World
19. Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
Teheran has quickly become a favorite to watch compete every fifth day. Julio doesn’t own an elite strikeout rate, and he outpitches his advanced metrics. But he is a talented pitcher with mound presence.
In 2014, only four starting pitchers qualified under this criteria (minimum 200 IP):
- ERA <= 2.90
- WHIP <= 1.10
- K >= 180
*(Baseball-Reference Play Index)
Those pitchers are Cueto, King Felix, Kluber — and Teheran!
20. Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves
Now entrenched in the rotation and coming off a season where he totaled 171.2 IP, innings limits are a thing of the past.
[2013 & 2014] CAREER STARTING PITCHER STATS
35 GS 11-12 212.1 IP 2.84 ERA 3.18 FIP 3.32 xFIP 1.19 WHIP 8.68 K/9 16.5 K-BB%
.238 AVG 1.19 BABIP 78.7 LOB% 46.0 GB% 8.6 HR/FB%
21. Michael Wacha, St.Louis Cardinals
I am a Wacha enthusiast and the tremendous upside he presents, but shoulder injuries and starting pitchers are longstanding cautionary tales in MLB. Wacha will take an initial hit in the first wave of ranking but a Healthy Wacha will create a bidding war in auctions and be flying up draft boards if all systems are go.
22. Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
The soon to be 25-year-old has impressed in his brief but successful career.
[2013 & 2014] CAREER STATISTICS
43 GS 283.0 IP 2.99 ERA 126 ERA + 3.29 FIP 3.34 xFIP 3.44 SIERA 1.17 WHIP
7.95 K/9 21.6 K% 13.5 K-BB% .225 AVG .277 BABIP 74.6 LOB% 55.3 GB% 9.2 HR/FB%
Tier No.8 — Waino & Shields
23. Adam Wainwright, St.Louis Cardinals
Wainwright has been a stalwart in the starting pitcher market for years and the very definition of an Ace. That said, buyer beware because there are ominous signs, and not just a declining K-rate, but elbow surgery — even if minor — is still a big red flag. Vintage Wainwright offers tremendous upside, but invest at your own risk. (Gonos took him in Round 6 of the MLB.com Mock Draft.)
24. James Shields, San Diego Padres
The tales of Big Game James demise are greatly over exaggerated. Yes, Shields owns a 5.46 ERA in 11 GS over 59.1 IP during the postseason, but everyone remain calm. What is a prudent prognosis for this durable veteran pitcher? Welcome to the National League and the pitcher’s park that is Petco.
Tier No.9 – Imports
25. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
Multiple DL stints because of shoulder soreness masked a statistically sound season for Ryu.
Early season reconnaissance reveals a value play but a clean bill of health should warrant a price correction.
26. Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
In dissecting Iwakuma’s 2014 season versus his career, we see a consistently solid starting pitcher who ran into a stretch of bad luck at season’s end. Pretty much everything & anything that could go wrong did. There was no erosion of skills but an anomaly with BABIP, LOB% & HR/FB% all going BOOM!
27. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Phenomenal debut over his first three months [April 4th – June 28th] prior to being diagnosed in July with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Tanaka surprisingly returned in September but remains a HUGE question mark heading into the 2015 offseason.
[APRIL 4th – JUNE 28th] SWEET 16
16 GS 11-3 115.2 IP 2.10 ERA 2.94 FIP 2.45 xFIP 2.51 SIERA 0.96 WHIP 9.88 K/9 28.2 K%
24.2 K-BB% .214 AVG .273 BABIP 87.6 LOB% 45.1 GB% 14.3 HR/FB%
Tier No.10 – Young Guns
28. Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels
Prior to last year Richards had appeared in 84 G but only started 29 of those games. Once given a role in the rotation the young hurler thrived and is now the ace in Anaheim upon his return. Garrett’s skills were supported and the hard throwing Halo [2nd in FBv @ 96.3 mph SP in 2014 min 162 IP] with circa 50% GB rate is a sought after commodity but his 3.9 HR/FB% is surely north bound. Richard’s injury progress will need to be monitored in Spring Training, but if healthy I’m buying a cost effective pitcher [injury discount] with high-end profit potential. Godspeed!
29. Zack Wheeler, New York Mets
Command + Control are the deficient components to Wheeler’s game.
CTM subscribes to the Mantra that everything works off the fastball & commanding his
[FBv ranked 5th @ 95.0 mph] will enhance his game while he refines his secondary pitches.
Improved Control, Wheeler registered the fourth highest Bases on Balls total in MLB with 79.
Clearing these hurdles could catapult him to ACE status.
[MAY 24th – SEPTEMBER 25th] Zack to the Future
23 GS 135.2 IP 3.05 ERA 3.43 FIP 3.33 xFIP 3.32 SIERA 1.23 WHIP 9.35 K/9 24.6 K%
*Wheeler moves down because news of a tender elbow has surfaced today and I’m beyond freaked out.
30. Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
The curious case of Carlos Carrasco and his 2014 season: The bad, the good and the elite.
Carrasco’s rotation spot was short lived, he didn’t even survive the month of April with mitigating circumstances such as, ridiculously high BABIP factoring in an ugly WHIP and a laughably low Strand Rate, but ERA indicators & other peripherals highlighted skills that existed. Out of options Carrasco was demoted to the bullpen where he flourished. In early August the Tribe reinserted him into the rotation and Carlos seized the opportunity. The 10-game sample size resulted in a statistical tsunami, Carrasco posted SUPERB numbers on par with & in some cases better then both Kershaw and Kluber respectively.
Tier No.11 – With a Little Help from My Ballpark
31. Jacob deGrom, New York
The deGrom debate begins for 2015, where do we go from here? The Hair exhibited 2 Jakes existed in 2014, the first 10 GS versus the dominant dozen to close out the season. I will be bidding for Jacob’s services, but advise to split difference when prognosticating his pitching line for the upcoming season.
32. Andrew Cashner, San Diego
I’m still of the belief that if Andrew reaches that 200 IP plateau a windfall of riches awaits.
The Ground Ball rate is there [50.9 GB%/45 GS/289 IP], if the strikeouts come, [$$$] ring the register.
The talented right-hander’s stock price will be discounted in 2015 creating a buying opportunity.
33. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
Gonzalez is undervalued and a cost effective option entering 2015. Gio has lost some of his shine in the starting pitcher market, but this type of asset is a key component when assembling a successful rotation.
[2012 – 2014] CAREER STATS @ NATIONALS PARK
43 GS 260 IP 20-11 2.87 ERA 1.16 WHIP 8.96 K/9
34. Mat Latos, Miami Marlins
Are you willing to give Mat a mulligan for the 2014 season?
An intriguing option who warrants sizable consideration for market speculation when calculating his presumed 2015 price. At this time last year I had Latos as a fringe fantasy ACE and I’m still enthusiastic about the possibilities he presents in the starting pitcher market.
35. Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres
Since being inserted into the Padres rotation on July 23, 2013, Ross has thrived & the preseason trendy sleeper earned his first All-Star selection in 2014.
The Petco Prodigy
- [2013 + 2014] HOME NUMBERS:
154.0 IP 152 K 105 H 1.93 ERA 0.993 WHIP
- [2013 + 2014] AWAY NUMBERS:
166.2 IP 162 K 160 H 3.89 ERA 1.367 WHIP
36. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
|2015 Starting Pitcher Rankings|
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I do believe an increased strikeout rate is plausible but command + control improvements & advancements vs left-handed hitters are the perfect storm needed for attaining his lofty ceiling. Archer owns the skills, has the competitive makeup on the mound & like his teammate Smyly, is a 2015 breakout candidate.
The conclusion of the starting pitching tiers is up next with 36 more pitchers to fill out your 12-team mixed rotations. If you are interested in more in depth statistical analysis and commentary checkout http://www.ctmbaseball.com/
Carlos Carrasco Photo Credit: Keith Allison