Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Starting pitcher tiers for Draft Day 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Get ready for a whole mess of names.

Starting pitcher is just one position, but in a way, it's half the game. A haphazard approach to it could condemn you to a last-place finish, as many have learned the hard way.

But respecting it is different from prioritizing it on Draft Day. After all, the goal isn't to avoid last place, but to win. And to win, you have to set your team apart at as many positions as possible.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiers are designed to deliver the most efficient draft possible by using player rankings to reveal the distribution of talent at each position. A new tier begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the one preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- SW

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Print Scott's tiers for Draft Day!

Around the infield especially, the only time to do that is the early rounds. If you ignore the tiers at second base, third base and shortstop to build a top-of-the-line pitching staff, you not only forfeit a potential advantage there, but you put yourself at a disadvantage by settling for whatever's left at those positions.

But won't the advantage you gain at starting pitcher make up for it? See, that's where it gets tricky.

The sheer number of starting pitchers ensures more breakouts at the position than any other. The nature of the position, too, predisposes it to breakouts, with injuries and unexpected regression creating more possibility for turnover.

Now obviously, more starting pitchers are available because more are needed. Most leagues require a minimum of five per team, with some owners opting for more to take advantage of two-start weeks. But get this: Having more to choose from grants you the freedom to choose. You get to play favorites at the position with the most breakouts to offer.

You see where I'm going with this?

Target the right starting pitchers, and you can have the best of both worlds, getting the production of an early-rounder, but with a stacked lineup to boot.

With this many names, it's not like you won't have your chances.

The Elite: Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer, Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale
The Near-Elite: David Price, Matt Cain, James Shields, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez
The Next-Best Things: Jordan Zimmermann, Homer Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Alex Cobb, Jered Weaver, Julio Teheran, Mat Latos, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Masahiro Tanaka, Tony Cingrani, Matt Moore, Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Hisashi Iwakuma
The Fallback Options: Francisco Liriano, Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Marco Estrada, Johnny Cueto, Zack Wheeler, Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner, Lance Lynn, Clay Buchholz, Hyun-Jin Ryu, C.J. Wilson, Chris Tillman
The Last Resorts: R.A. Dickey, Scott Kazmir, Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, A.J. Burnett, Doug Fister, Chris Archer, Alex Wood*, Corey Kluber, Ervin Santana, Yordano Ventura, Taijuan Walker, John Lackey, Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo, Jake Peavy, Drew Smyly*, Dan Straily, Jose Quintana, Michael Pineda, Dan Haren, Tyson Ross*, Ivan Nova
Strictly Late-Rounders: Tanner Scheppers*, Hector Santiago*, Martin Perez, Kyle Lohse, Wade Miley, Travis Wood, Dillon Gee, A.J. Griffin, Brandon Morrow, Charlie Morton, Bartolo Colon, Tim Hudson, Jonathon Niese
The Leftovers: Ricky Nolasco, Mike Leake, Tyler Skaggs, Felix Doubront, Wily Peralta, Erik Johnson, Rick Porcello, James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, Bronson Arroyo, Jarred Cosart, Josh Johnson, Jhoulys Chacin, Archie Bradley, Ian Kennedy, Garrett Richards*, Brett Anderson*, Jason Vargas, Nate Eovaldi, Tanner Roark, Joe Kelly*, Carlos Martinez*, Kevin Gausman*, Robbie Ross*, Noah Syndergaard, Jameson Taillon, Drew Hutchison, Brad Peacock, Josh Beckett, Mark Buehrle, Scott Feldman, Miguel Gonzalez, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Chad Billingsley, Derek Holland, Henderson Alvarez, Brandon Workman*, David Phelps*, Trevor Cahill, Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Milone, Matt Harrison, Danny Duffy, Tyler Thornburg, Bruce Chen*

Of course, the starting pitcher landscape has changed enough in recent years that a staff full of threes and fours may not measure up in standard mixed leagues, so just to safeguard against the worst-case scenario of your middle-rounders all performing like middle-rounders, drafting one (and only one) of The Elite isn't the worst idea. It's a large enough tier that you probably won't have to choose between Bumgarner and Sale until Round 4 or 5. Depending on how you've addressed the significantly weaker shortstop and third base positions by that point in the draft, a true ace may prove to be a luxury you can't afford, but I've made it work enough times myself to vouch for it under the right circumstances.

If you end up being the one owner to miss out on those 11, you still have a five-pitcher safety net in The Near-Elite, who some in the industry actually include with the first tier. They have their drawbacks, though -- Price and Greinke with their inconsistent strikeout rates and Sanchez with his inconsistent everything else. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see any of them in the Cy Young conversation at season's end. Price gets those strikeouts back up, and he's basically Bumgarner, provided he gets better run support than he did last year (law of averages says he will).

Get your Custom Draft Kits!
Download your Draft Kit for Draft Day 2014 that's customized to your specific league scoring system, format and player pool!
Download your Draft Kit today!

Ah yes, run support ... yet another reason why you shouldn't invest too heavily in starting pitchers. Win-loss record has a huge say in a pitcher's performance in Rotisserie and especially Head-to-Head leagues, yet it's mostly beyond his control, making it a product of luck. Investing in luck is the definition of gambling, and Fantasy owners who win consistently know better than to gamble in the early rounds. They also know better than to assess a pitcher on last year's win-loss record, instead focusing on the numbers within his control, such as strikeouts and WHIP. Innings are also critical, if for no other reason than the influence they have on win-loss record. The deeper a pitcher goes in a game, the longer his offense has to give him a lead and the shorter his bullpen has to blow it.

But getting back to the subject at hand ... The Elite and The Near-Elite. If you land one, great. You're protected against disaster and don't have too much ground to make up at the position. If not, though, you still have a chance to find an ace or two among the The Next-Best Things.

That's the tier that makes up the bulk of my staff in more leagues than not. It consists both of pitchers who have been aces in the past and are still young enough and good enough to get back there (such as Gonzalez, Weaver and Iwakuma) and of pitchers who have shown ace potential but have yet to completely establish themselves (such as Cole, Wacha, Moore, Teheran, Miller and Cingrani). Tanaka is the wild card in all of this, with no one really knowing what to expect as he transitions from Japan -- where he had emerged as the best pitcher -- to the U.S. But given the mostly optimistic scouting reports so far, I have no reservations about grabbing him as my second or third starter. Something between Darvish and Kuroda would suit me just fine at that point.

Even some of The Fallback Options could end up delivering high-end production. Gray and Salazar are on the same level as Cole and Wacha in some people's minds, though I think both have a little something more to prove. Masterson had 195 strikeouts last year -- and that was with him pitching out of the bullpen in September because of an oblique injury. Jimenez appeared to recapture his ace form with a 1.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 13 second-half starts. Estrada has a 3.36 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings in his last 29 starts, spanning two seasons. Granted, none are as safe as the pitchers a tier ahead of them, and expecting a best-case scenario from any of them is dangerous. But I'd be content to have any of The Fallback Options as my No. 3 starter and thrilled to have one as my No. 4.

It's not so far-fetched, really. You could go until Round 8 or 9 without drafting a starting pitcher and still assemble a top four of something like Teheran, Cingrani, Tanaka and Estrada. And imagine the offense that would go along with it.

The Last Resorts is kind of a misnomer at this position. Most have the potential to be steady contributors in mixed leagues. They just lack the upside to be anything more. Chances are you'll have filled out your starting five before dipping into this tier, but one or two of them wouldn't really set you back at all, which again says something about the position's depth.

Because some formats go deeper into the starting pitcher pool than others, I decided to add a tier, Strictly Late-Rounders, to prevent a notable few from getting lost in the The Leftovers. Pitchers like Perez and Morrow offer something in the way of upside while pitchers like Lohse and Hudson are sure to work their way onto mixed-league rosters by season's end.

The pitchers with an asterisk (*) next to their names are eligible at relief pitcher. Some are also eligible at starting pitcher, but others -- like Smyly, Scheppers and Ross -- aren't just yet. Because you'd be drafting them for what they could do as starters, though, I prefer to tier them that way, leaving the relief pitcher tiers strictly for closers.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Cubs closer Hector Rondon is learning from his mistakes
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5/23/2015) Cubs closer Hector Rondon blew a save Friday night in Arizona, his third blown save of the season. The right-hander served up a game-tying two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the 10th inning in the eventual 5-3 Diamondbacks win.

But Rondon, who is in the third season of his career, knows where he went wrong.

"I need better location," Rondon said Saturday, per MLB.com. "I know that pitch ran up a little to the middle [to Goldschmidt]. I think that's why we lost the game yesterday, those pitches."

Manager Joe Maddon has expressed faith in his 27-year-old closer, and a change does not seem to be in the cards, at least for now. 

"He knows what he did wrong," said Maddon. "I'll say [to him], 'Hey, listen, everything's cool. I still have a lot of trust and support.' It's one of those things that happens in our game."

Rondon has blown two of his last three save opportunities.


Cubs OF Jorge Soler: I expect more from me
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler is having a fine debut to the major leagues this season. The rookie is hitting .267 with 14 RBI in 161 at-bats this season, but he his still hoping for more, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"So far, I don't feel good about what I've done," Soler said Saturday. "I expect more from me."

Soler has struck out 59 times so far this season, 15 more than anyone else on the team. He also noted he thinks his hamstrings will hold up this year after missing more than two months in 2014 because of hamstring injuries.


Angels pitcher Mike Morin headed to the disabled list on Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Angels pitcher Mike Morin will be placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday after suffering a left oblique injury on Saturday, according to the Orange County Register.

Morin was forced to come out of Saturday's game after facing just one batter against the Red Sox. 

"I've never dealt with anything like this," Morin said. "It's frustrating. It's been frustrating."

Morin has a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings of work this season.


Marlins 3B Martin Prado delivers game-winning RBI in 13th
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Marlins third baseman Martin Prado went 1 for 5 at the plate in Miami's 1-0 win over the Orioles in 13 innings on Saturday.

Prado was hitless when he stepped in the box in the 13th. After Baltimore intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton to load the bases, Prado delivered on a 1-1 pitch from T.J. McFarland when he cracked a single into center to bring home the winning run.

Prado is now htting .273 with 17 RBI in 176 at-bats this season.


Marlins reliever Carter Capps strikes out six in win on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Marlins relief pitcher Carter Capps tossed three scoreless innings on Saturday in Miami's 1-0 win over the Orioles in 13 innings of work.

Capps came on in the 11th and allowed just one hit while striking out six. Capps, now 1-0, also did not issue a walk and lowered his ERA to 1.50 in six innings of work this season.


Orioles pitcher Mike Wright strikes out four in no-decision on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Orioles pitcher Mike Wright tossed seven scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing three hits in Baltimore's 1-0 loss to the Marlins in 13 innings, but did not factor into the decision.

Wright faced the minimum hitters through four innings, but ran into some issues in the fifth. After hitting leadoff man Martin Prado, Wright picked up two quick outs. Then after a walk put two men on, Wright forced a groundout to end the inning.

Wright, who remains 1-0, maintained his perfect 0.00 ERA in 14 1/3 innings of work. He will look to keep things rolling Thursday against the White Sox.


Marlins pitcher Dan Haren strikes out six in no-decision on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Marlins pitcher Dan Haren tossed six scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing seven hits in Miami's 1-0 win over the Orioles in 13 innings, but did not factor into the decision.

Haren struck out six with three walks in his outing. Although Haren put himself into multiple jams, including the first inning when he put runners on first and third with one out, he was able to work out of them without allowing a run.

Haren, who remains 4-2, lowered his ERA to 3.09 in 55 1/3 innings of work. He will look to get his fifth win of the year on Friday against the Mets.


Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli blasts two home runs in win on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli went 2 for 4 at the plate in Boston's 8-3 win over the Angels on Saturday.

Napoli ripped a solo home run over the Green Monster in the second inning off of C.J. Wilson. Then in the sixth, Napoli did the same thing when he belted a two-run shot off of Wilson, his seventh of the season.

Napoli is now hitting .193 with 17 RBI in 135 at-bats this season.


Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson tagged for four runs in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings of work in Los Angeles' 8-3 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday.

Wilson had issues in the second inning when Mike Napoli belted a solo shot over the Green Monster. Then in the third, Wilson put runners on first and third for Mookie Betts, who singled to left center, plating another run. Wilson then surrendered a second home run to Mike Napoli, this time a two-run shot.

Wilson, now 2-3, moved his ERA to 3.36 in 59 innings of work. He will look to get back on track Thursday against the Tigers.


Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright allows two runs in win on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright allowed two runs on four hits in  6 1/3 innings of work in Boston's 8-3 win over the Angels on Saturday.

Wright's only blemish came in the first inning when he allowed three of the first four hitters to reach safely, including back-to-back doubles by Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun, leading to two runs. Wright settled down and got out of the inning without anymore damage.

Wright, now 2-1, lowered his ERA to 3.68 in 22 innings of work. He will look to keep things rolling Thursday against the Rangers.


 
 
 
Rankings