Now that the baseball season is in full swing, I will continue to analyze starting pitching and the pitchers who were top pitchers last year and why they don’t make my top 10. Even coming off the best year of his career, I still didn’t rank Stephen Strasburg in my top 10 and fair or not this year is kind of proving why there is so much injury concern and risk when you invest in Strasburg. If his health was guaranteed he has all the makings of a top starting pitcher but that’s not how it works, and while he’s not really the dominant power pitcher he used to be I’m also not going to say he’s a bad option when healthy. I am going to try something new for now where in each post I will dive into one player and really give an in-depth analysis of the player while also updating my top 10 starting pitcher ranking whenever I feel it’s appropriate and needed.
This may be a brief analysis of Strasburg just because he hasn’t really pitched this year and I would rather focus more on players relevant to this year. As unfortunate as it is this is a talented pitcher who is constantly battling injuries, and while he didn’t get hurt last season he’s only made 30 starts in a season 3 times out of 9 seasons in his career. Last year he also threw over 200 innings for the first time since 2014 and only the second time in his career and begged the question how he would hold up after a season in which he threw the most innings of his career if you include the postseason. He was very good last season, being the 4th highest scoring starting pitcher and one of only four pitchers who scored over 600 points.
Contrasting last year with this year shows why there can be high reward for buying into him but also high risk, and to draft him with the expectation of last means you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment. Fast forward to this season and he only made 2 starts throwing a total of 5 innings, and is out for the rest of the year after having surgery on his hand. It is definitely unfortunate and would be better for baseball for him to stay healthy, but this is the reality of Strasburg and should be taken into account when considering his draft stock and where he should be picked. Yes Strasburg could stay healthy and throw 200 innings and have a great season, but could also battle injuries all year like he has in 2020. The most likely outcome in his entire career is that in most seasons he misses 8-10 starts due to injury and should be considered when comparing him to other top pitchers.
Starting pitching from year to year is hard to project as it is, with the position being very volatile, proven by the fact that who the top pitchers are in baseball fluctuates from month to month. Strasburg is more proof of that, fair or not, and when you’re competing in a fantasy baseball league you need your top pitchers you invest in to be healthy and making most of their starts if not all of them. Last year having Strasburg would have been great for your squad, but even after that I didn’t invest in him in any leagues because I didn’t trust he would stay healthy, so I personally stay away from drafting him.
I will now give my updated 2020 starting pitcher rankings, but am not going to give long explanations or necessarily any at all simply because the ranking can potentially change a lot from week to week or month to month. I would rather just give a ranking without explanations and deep analysis each and every time. I will compare it to my original top 10 however, so it will be listed here as well.
Original 2020 top 10: 1. Gerrit Cole 2. Justin Verlander 3. Max Scherzer 4. Jacob deGrom 5. Mike Clevinger 6. Chris Sale 7. Walker Beuhler 8. Shane Bieber 9. Blake Snell 10. Aaron Nola
One specification I need to make is I made this list assuming full health simply because the season hadn’t started yet and there wasn’t any guarantee a 2020 season was going to happen, so my new top 10 will be more relevant to the present and this season in fantasy baseball so injuries have to be considered now.
Updated 2020 top 10: 1. Shane Bieber 2. Jacob deGrom 3. Aaron Nola 4. Max Scherzer 5. Trevor Bauer 6. Gerrit Cole 7. Lucas Giolito 8. Mike Clevinger 9. Walker Beuhler 10. Tyler Glasnow
You will notice that this new ranking barely resembles my original one, and for my next post I want to focus on Tyler Glasnow and give a deeper analysis, with a focus on the eye test while updating my rankings if needed, so stay tuned for that.