Pre-Draft Player Rankings

5 Clayton Kershaw (LAD - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 6.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 12 4 0 149.0 172 1.69 0.72
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 16 5 0 193.3 237 1.91 0.83
Outlook: Despite missing two months with a back injury -- specifically, a herniated disc -- Kershaw finished as the No. 6 pitcher last season in terms of earned 5x5 fantasy value. He was more dominant than ever when on the mound, posting an otherworldly 172:11 K:BB in 149 innings (65:2 K:BB in May). His 15.3 percent swinging-strike rate would have tied Max Scherzer as the best among qualifiers had he logged enough innings to qualify, and Kershaw's command and control reached unprecedented levels as he shaved his walk rate to just two percent. There were no noticeable lingering effects from the back injury upon his return in September (0.86 ERA) and he looked plenty strong into late October as he carried the Dodgers on said back to the NLCS. Entering his age-29 season, Kershaw still looks very much in his prime and remains worthy of a first-round pick, if not top-five overall.
13 Max Scherzer (Was - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 13.6
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 20 7 0 228.3 284 2.96 0.97
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 17 8 0 225.7 271 2.95 1.02
Outlook: Scherzer posted his second straight season with a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP, his third straight with more than 250 strikeouts, his fourth straight with more than 210 innings pitched, and his second 20-win campaign en route to his second Cy Young Award, becoming the sixth pitcher in history to win the award in each league. In fact, his 11.2 K/9 rate was the best of his career, and while his BB/9 and HR/9 rates showed some regression, the former in particular has a long way to go before it will be anything close to a concern. Scherzer has become the prototype of a modern ace, and his presence at the top of the Nats' rotation allows them to weather Stephen Strasburg's annual DL trips better than most other organizations could. As long as the stress fracture in his finger suffered over the winter is healed by spring training, he should remain one of the majors' truly elite starting pitchers.
15 Madison Bumgarner (SF - SP)
DL10
ADP: 16.9
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 15 9 0 226.7 251 2.74 1.03
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 17 9 0 220.7 235 2.90 1.04
Outlook: Coming into the season, Bumgarner was regarded as one of fantasy baseball's top arms and he once again lived up to expectations. The wood-chopping lefty posted a career-best ERA over a career-high 226.2 innings. He has defied the critics who thought he would break down after throwing 270 combined regular and postseason innings in 2014. Bumgarner just keeps adding to his regular-season innings total year-over-year while increasing his strikeout rate (to a career-high 10.0 K/9 in 2016). While his demeanor is that of a seasoned veteran, the Giants' ace will be just 27 years old entering the 2017 season, leaving the scary possibility that he could take yet another step forward.
17 Noah Syndergaard (NYM - SP)
DL60
ADP: 19.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 14 9 0 183.7 218 2.60 1.15
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 12 8 0 166.7 192 2.92 1.10
Outlook: Thor established himself as the Mets' ace fairly early in his sophomore season, improving upon nearly all of his rookie metrics en route to leading all qualified starters with a 2.29 FIP. His elbow was examined in May, and in late June he was pulled from a start and it was revealed that he was dealing with a bone spur in his elbow. Syndergaard posted a 3.10 ERA and 108:31 K:BB in 92.2 innings after the diagnosis, compared to a 2.08 ERA and 110:12 K:BB in 91 innings prior, so it is possible that his control was negatively affected, although he still pitched like an ace. Surgery to remove the bone spur was deemed unnecessary in the offseason. Syndergaard still boasts two filthy pitches in his 98 mph fastball and 91 mph slider, so he should be one of the top five pitchers off the board heading into his age-24 season. The next hurdle for the best young pitcher in baseball will be to eclipse the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career.
24 Chris Sale (Bos - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 23.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-2
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 17 10 0 226.7 233 3.34 1.04
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 14 8 0 203.0 238 3.01 1.03
Outlook: There was a great disturbance in the fantasy baseball force at the start of 2016 when Sale declared he was looking to be more efficient in 2016 with his pitches. By season's end, Sale struck out at least 10 batters just four times, matching his career low from 2012 when he threw 34 fewer innings and made three fewer starts than in 2016. This came on the heels of 2015, when he struck out 10 or more 13 times. He still carried a 9.3 K/9 and was as stingy as ever with walks. How does moving from The Cell to Fenway Park affect him? Fenway is also hitter-friendly, but he's pitched in dangerous conditions for home games throughout his career. Of course, his numbers won't rival those of the top NL aces, considering he's had an ERA over 3.30 in back-to-back seasons. He is the best real-life rotation arm in the American League, which makes him good enough to scrape the top five or, more comfortably, top 10 fantasy starters.
31 Corey Kluber (Cle - SP)
DL10
ADP: 29.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 18 9 0 215.0 227 3.14 1.06
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 15 11 0 224.3 247 3.01 1.07
Outlook: Kluber is wrongly perceived as underrated. He's quiet and prior to 2016, Cleveland didn't get a lot of national run, but that hasn't muted Kluber's price. Consider that he was the 35th overall pick on the heels of his Cy Young win in 2015 draft season and then even after a 9-16 season that saw his ERA rise by a full run, the fantasy market still understood just how good he was and slotted him as the 38th overall pick on average. He rewarded that faith with another Cy-worthy effort that saw minimal erosion in his skills with an ERA and WHIP that essentially split the difference on his 2014 and 2015 seasons. Even with the overall stock of SPs dropping, Kluber will likely set a new best Average Draft Position, going somewhere in the top 30 picks. He has the occasional blowup (five starts of five-plus earned runs), but his eight starts of at least eight innings were third-most in MLB. Those five starts were virtually his only bad ones out of 32. He's elite.
38 Jon Lester (ChC - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 37.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-2
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 19 5 0 202.7 197 2.44 1.02
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 15 9 0 209.0 208 2.76 1.08
Outlook: Lester's age-32 season was arguably the best of his 10 at the big league level as he spun career bests in ERA, WHIP, and batting average against (.209). Little changed with his skill set or his approach against opposing hitters, however, as he struck batters out nearly one-quarter of the time (24.8 percent) for the third straight season and kept his walk rate (6.5 percent) a tick below his career rate (7.8 percent). Despite his ongoing refusal to throw over to first base in order to keep baserunners honest, Lester stranded 84.9 percent of the baserunners who reached against him -- a big jump from the 71.8 percent he held in his first season with the Cubs, and a noticeable spike from his career 75.3 percent mark. There is little reason to expect a full repeat of 2016, but Lester should again have plenty of run support, a good defense around him, and a bullpen capable of protecting his leads this season. That's a profile worthy of a fantasy ace, but one drafted toward the bottom of the tier.
41 Johnny Cueto (SF - SP)
DTD
ADP: 43.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 18 5 0 219.7 198 2.79 1.09
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 16 9 0 225.0 205 2.80 1.06
Outlook: The Giants' big offseason acquisition turned out to be a smashing success in Year 1 of the six-year deal. Cueto turned in ace-like numbers with a 2.79 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 4.4 K/BB ratio while earning early Cy Young contender mentions after starting the season 13-1. His strengths lie in his pinpoint control and ability to hit both sides of the plate with all three of his fastballs. While his crafty pitching style and excellent command could offset an eventual drop in velocity, the 30-year-old was still dialing up his four-seam and two-seam fastballs in the low-to-mid 90s, similar to his prime years in Cincinnati. There is no reason to think that Cueto can't repeat his success with the Giants in 2017, making him a safe high-end pitcher to invest in.
42 Yu Darvish (Tex - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 47.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 7 5 0 100.3 132 3.41 1.12
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 8 6 0 122.3 157 3.24 1.20
Outlook: Darvish's road to recovery from Tommy John surgery had some speed bumps, as a return trip to the disabled list with neck and shoulder issues occurred just three starts into his comeback. He didn't get as many as 90 pitches into a start until just before the All-Star break, after which he went on a streak of eight consecutive quality starts. The Rangers were careful with his single-game workloads, allowing Darvish to exceed 100 pitches in just two of his 17 starts, but most compelling was his sudden affinity for low-walk outings. Darvish walked one or zero batters in 11 of those 17 starts, and in the low-walk games he had a K:BB of 90:9 in 69.1 combined innings. Pitch command is typically the last thing to come around for a pitcher coming off major elbow surgery, so the fact that his stuff was intact and that his command was potentially better than pre-Tommy John mean that his skills survived the trip under the knife. He could take off once fully unbridled.
46 Jake Arrieta (ChC - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 39.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 18 8 0 197.3 190 3.10 1.08
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 17 6 0 194.3 198 2.41 0.97
Outlook: Following a heavy 2015 workload (248.2 innings, including the postseason) there were concerns as to how Arrieta might respond atop the Cubs' rotation last season. After opening 2016 with a bang -- including his second career no-hitter in April -- Arrieta showed signs of regression during the second half, as his strikeout rate tumbled (from 26.1% to 20.9%) while his first-half control woes persisted (9.6% BB% in 2016 after he posted a 5.5% mark in 2015). At a glance, the walks seem like the biggest issue, but Arrieta's home-run rate nearly doubled from 2015, and it's fair to wonder if he's already peaked approaching his age-31 campaign. Even if 2016 is the new baseline, he is still an upper-tier starting pitcher. However, consecutive seasons with heavy workloads, and a reduced reliance on his cutter, may foretell more carefully monitored workloads, especially since he's only eclipsed 200 innings in the regular once as a big league starter.
51 Stephen Strasburg (Was - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 51.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-2
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 15 4 0 147.7 183 3.60 1.10
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 13 7 0 163.3 193 3.36 1.11
Outlook: For two tantalizing, fleeting months to begin the year, it looked like Strasburg was finally going to put it all together. He won his first 10 decisions, posted a filthy 11.1 K/9 and 4.3 K/BB in 106.2 first-half innings, and surprisingly took himself out of the 2017 free agent market by signing a seven-year, $175 million extension at the beginning of May. Then he missed a month with an upper back strain, and when he got back on the mound in June, the magic was gone. A brutal outing in Coors Field in August led to a seemingly inevitable DL stint due to elbow inflammation that effectively ended his season, and his final line was much the same as it had been in 2015, featuring a stellar strikeout rate that didn't seem to be in sync with a merely good ERA and WHIP figures over fewer than 150 innings. Strasburg's arsenal remains exceptional, with a 95 mph fastball contrasting with a devastating high-80s changeup and low-80s curve, but the slider he threw 17.1 percent of the time was blamed for his latest injury issues, and he vowed to throw it far less in 2017.
54 Justin Verlander (Det - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 53.7
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 16 9 0 227.7 254 3.04 1.00
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 12 10 0 189.0 175 3.67 1.16
Outlook: Those paying close attention noticed that Verlander was actually "back" in the second half of 2015, after recovering from his triceps injury. In fact, his 2014 struggles were directly related to core surgery he had before that season started, so looking back it seems clear that the supposed decline of Verlander was more a matter of injury than flat out skill erosion. Even still, it's somewhat surprising that Verlander went all the way back to being a Cy Young frontrunner (he was robbed), but a deep secondary arsenal in his prime was always cited as a reason why he would decline gracefully even as his velocity waned. A fully healthy Verlander recaptured some of the lost velocity and worked the top of the zone at 93-96 mph while leaning on a pair of devastating breaking balls in the middle and lower thirds of the zone. Plan for a 3.30-3.50 ERA, a good WHIP and tons of strikeouts.
56 Carlos Carrasco (Cle - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 63.4
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 11 8 0 146.3 150 3.32 1.15
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 11 9 0 154.7 169 3.20 1.07
Outlook: The final numbers for Carrasco look well and good, but his owners were left wondering; what might have been? Carrasco missed more than month after suffering a hamstring strain in his fourth start of the season, and a non-displaced hand fracture ended his season prematurely in September. He wasn't quite as dominant when on the mound, as his strikeout rate fell from 29.6 percent to 25.0 percent, while his hard-hit and HR/9 rates leaped considerably (to 36.4 percent and 1.29, respectively). His fastball and slider velocity averages were down a tick overall from 2015, but Carrasco regained some of those losses late in the year. Further, his walk and groundball rates remain excellent, and his strikeout rate was still strong for a starting pitcher. If he can stay healthy and reduce the amount of hard contact allowed, Carrasco could return to borderline ace status. Unfortunately, he's not off to a good start with the "stay healthy" part, having come down with some swelling in his elbow during spring training. The Indians say there is no structural damage.
59 Jacob deGrom (NYM - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 60.4
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 7 8 0 148.0 143 3.04 1.20
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 10 7 0 159.7 164 2.76 1.10
Outlook: New York's super rotation held together for all of a year as two of the three aces suffered through injuries that eventually required surgery. DeGrom's season was markedly better than Matt Harvey's, but he imploded late and missed the final month of the season thanks to ulnar nerve surgery. Through 21 starts, he had a 2.30 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 129 strikeouts, all of which is peak deGrom. The surgery was a clean-up around the nerve while the nerve itself was healthy and in good shape. This all bodes well for a strong recovery and winter reports suggest deGrom won't be limited in spring training. Don't be surprised if deGrom's price rises throughout spring as he proves himself healthy during the Grapefruit League and earns back the confidence of drafters. He was a 6th-7th round bargain in some winter drafts, but could wind up back in the 4th-5th round area where more frontliners are going for 2017. With health, buy in bulk.
65 Chris Archer (TB - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 67.8
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 9 19 0 201.3 233 4.02 1.24
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 10 14 0 202.7 219 3.51 1.21
Outlook: Archer's one-of-a-kind 2016 campaign included career-highs in losses (19) and homers surrendered (30), but also his second-highest strikeout total (233) and two starkly contrasting halves. His improvement virtually across the board after the All-Star break certainly gave the Rays and fantasy owners hope that the first three-plus months of the season were an extreme outlier for the 28-year-old, who also was victimized by a lack of run support from an anemic offense in several of his defeats. While the long-ball issues were certainly a concern, they too tailed off in the latter portion of the campaign, with his HR/9 rate dropping from 1.47 to 1.18 after the All-Star break. By season's end, Archer had tallied a double-digit K/9 rate (10.4) for the second consecutive campaign and dropped his ERA to a respectable 4.02. Many of the slightly elevated metrics that the hard-throwing righty finished with were largely composed of remnants of his disastrous first half.
68 Carlos Martínez (StL - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 69.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-2
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 16 9 0 195.3 174 3.04 1.22
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 11 7 0 154.7 147 3.20 1.28
Outlook: Yet again, Martinez dazzled on the mound for St. Louis. He finished the year with a 16-9 record to go along with a 3.04 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Martinez managed to keep batters guessing at the plate, as he threw his 95 mph fastball just 58 percent of the time and regularly mixed in a slider, changeup, and curveball. He also continued forcing batters to hit grounders and recorded a GB/FB identical to 2015's mark of 2.49, which resulted in a HR/9 of just 0.69 and forcing 33 batters to ground into double plays, the second most in the league. Although he limited batters to a .233 batting average, a lack of control was a byproduct of his pitch variety and resulted in a walk rate that was nearly nine percent. His ERA likely will regress to a higher figure, but fortunately for the club and fantasy owners, Martinez will be only 25 years old when the 2017 campaign begins, so he still has time to further refine his arsenal and move into the ace conversation.
75 Masahiro Tanaka (NYY - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 74.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 14 4 0 199.7 165 3.07 1.08
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 13 5 0 163.3 148 3.14 1.05
Outlook: Tanaka has perpetually been on injury watch since electing to forgo Tommy John surgery in 2014 and pitching through a partially torn UCL, and although he was shut down for the final week of the season with a slight forearm strain, the team's ace made it through 199.2 innings and 31 starts in 2016. He ranked third in the American League among qualified starters in ERA (3.07), fifth in WHIP (1.08), and was fourth in K/BB (4.6). The Japanese import showed some personal improvement keeping the ball in the yard - a problem that plagued him in 2015 - and posted a career-best 14 wins. There were some aspects of his game that left something to be desired, as he struck out batters at a career-low rate and walked them at a career-high clip, but the season mostly trended in the right direction. The injury specter will continue to hang over him, but as long as he's healthy, Tanaka figures to have another productive campaign in 2017.
82 Cole Hamels (Tex - SP)
DL10
ADP: 78.6
CHG: 0.0
Depth: --
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 15 5 0 200.7 200 3.32 1.31
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 12 7 0 206.0 204 3.15 1.21
Outlook: Hamels has been one of the most consistent pitchers of this generation, posting top-tier performances in virtually every season of his 11-year career. He has pitched 183-plus innings in every season since his rookie campaign of 2006, and he has maintained an ERA of 3.65 or less in nine of the past 10 seasons (the outlier was in 2009). Hamels has registered between 7.8 and 9.1 K/9 in each of the last 10 seasons and hasn't given up more than a hit per inning since 2010. The one oddity is a walk rate that jumped from a steady string of 2.0-2.7 BB/9 seasons to a career-high of 3.5 BB/9, inflating his WHIP to a career-high mark as well. Given his track record, the extra free passes of 2016 stand as an outlier in a career of above average walk rates, and he is likely to drop back into his familiar zone of vintage Mike Mussina performance this season.
83 Zack Greinke (Ari - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 83.2
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 13 7 0 158.7 134 4.37 1.27
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 16 6 0 194.7 180 2.77 1.06
Outlook: In the first year of a six-year, $206.5 million deal with Arizona, Greinke failed to meet understandably lofty expectations. Expecting a repeat of 2015 (1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 19 wins, 200 strikeouts) was unrealistic, but Greinke's 4.37 ERA was his worst since his 2005 rookie season, and his 1.27 WHIP was his worst since 2008. Injuries to his oblique and shoulder played a role, as Greinke only made 26 starts and tossed just 158.2 innings, his lowest total since 2007. The move from Dodger Stadium to the more hitter-friendly Chase Field likely had an impact, as did swapping a top-third defense for a bottom-third defense. We might not see the pitcher who dazzled in three seasons with the Dodgers, but the Diamondbacks and his fantasy owners should expect more from Greinke in 2017. Given his track record, a rebound seems likely, and he could come at a slight discount given his subpar 2016. He's still a very valuable fantasy asset.
84 José Quintana (CWS - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 90.1
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 13 12 0 208.0 181 3.20 1.16
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 10 11 0 205.0 179 3.29 1.22
Outlook: Quintana delivered another strong season of 200-plus innings, his fourth in a row. This time it finally resulted in more than nine wins -- a mark he'd been stuck on for three years running. He saw his home run rate inch upward, but maintained his solid strikeout and walk rates over a career-high 208 innings. He probably deserved even more than 13 wins, but he suffered an 0-7 record in a nine-start run from mid-May through June, during which he had five quality starts and only two real blowups. The only major change in approach from previous seasons was that he leaned on his fastball a career-high 66.5 percent of the time. Despite career bests in ERA and WHIP, there weren't enough gains from Quintana to believe it's some new level. He is a mid-3.00s ERA, 1.20s-WHIP pitcher, who is about as bankable of a 200-inning arm as is available.
86 David Price (Bos - SP)
DL10
ADP: 68.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-3
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 17 9 0 230.0 228 3.99 1.20
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 17 9 0 233.0 241 3.24 1.12
Outlook: Price's final numbers were respectable -- 3.99 ERA and 228 strikeouts in a league-high 230 innings -- but not worth $30 million a year. He struggled with command at times, allowing a career-high 30 homers and his highest WHIP since 2009. When his season started slowly, there was the sense he'd come around. When he didn't, there was talk of reduced fastball velocity, reminding us that Price is entering his 30s and may be losing some mustard. Then his leg kick wasn't as high as it used to be. When the velocity and the mechanics came back, there was always something -- poor command, too many hits, inability to put hitters away, a shaky bullpen -- conspiring against him. He eventually pitched better in the second half and still wound up with a BB/9 below 2.00 for the fourth straight year. A spring arm injury provided a significant scare and will inevitably suppress his cost, but Price is expected to avoid surgery.
88 Kyle Hendricks (ChC - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 84.6
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-3
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 16 8 0 190.0 170 2.13 0.98
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 10 6 0 150.0 128 2.94 1.07
Outlook: Hendricks took another step forward in 2016 and established himself as one of the best starters in the National League. Concerns about his strikeout rate in 2015 were erased as he improved his swinging-strike rate to a career-high 10 percent, while maintaining the pinpoint control he's shown throughout his time as a professional. While he does not overpower opposing hitters, Hendricks locates his offerings exceptionally well, and he consistently works ahead in the count by pounding the strike zone early (his 68.6 percent first-strike rate tied him with Johnny Cueto as the MLB leader among qualified starters). His changeup continues to be his best pitch, and that offering generated the fourth-most swinging strikes among all changeups league-wide last season. Even though his skills appear to be stable, Hendricks' ERA seems almost certain to rise, but he could stay below the 3.00 mark if the defense behind him continues to rank as the league's best.
89 Gerrit Cole (Pit - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 94.5
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 7 10 0 116.0 98 3.88 1.44
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 12 8 0 154.0 146 3.21 1.21
Outlook: Cole landed on the disabled list three times in 2016. An elbow ligament injury ultimately ended his season after he tried pitching through the pain. He opted for rest over offseason surgery. When Cole did toe the rubber, the results were disappointing with the right-hander registering career-worst numbers across the board: 3.88 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 K/9. His average fastball velocity (95.2 mph) was close to his career mark (95.4 mph), but the pinpoint accuracy was lacking. Cole is a rebound candidate -- he's one season removed from 19-8, 2.60 ERA, 1-09 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 208 IP -- but he also carries more risk than other starters in his tier.
91 Danny Salazar (Cle - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 97.3
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-3
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 11 6 0 137.3 161 3.87 1.34
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 10 8 0 144.0 159 3.81 1.26
Outlook: Salazar ran into his first injury woes as a major leaguer, and they not only cost him time, but also impacted his bottom line. The shoulder, elbow, and forearm were all cited as issues during the season, with the latter two both forcing him to the sidelines. Meanwhile, his walk rate surged to a career-worst 10.8 percent, the fourth highest figure among starters (min. 130 IP). In 60 starts from 2013-15, he walked more than four batters just twice, but he had five such outings in 2016. His first-pitch strike rate also dropped to a career-low 53.9 percent (career 58.6). On the plus side, his 27.6 percent K% was the highest since his 30.8 percent mark in his 52-inning debut back in 2013. He also improved upon his groundball gains from 2015, aiding him to his best home run rate ever (1.05 HR/9), made more impressive by the colossal leap in homers league-wide. The injury issues will lower his price, but there's still huge upside. Speculate.
96 Rick Porcello (Bos - SP)
Healthy
ADP: 93.0
CHG: 0.0
Depth: SP-1
W L SV IP K ERA WHIP
2016 Season 22 4 0 223.0 189 3.15 1.01
2017 Projections -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Year Average 15 11 0 200.0 156 3.74 1.19
Outlook: A year after generating the ire of Boston's baseball followers, Porcello won the AL Cy Young award and a league-high 22 games. Sure, he had a league-high support of 6.61 runs per game in his starts, but much of this was for real. He accented his career-best ERA by striking out 5.91 batters to every walk, and he posted his best control rate thanks in large part to a stellar first-strike percentage (64.2). He stopped throwing the four-seamer as often, something coaches harped on him about in 2015. Still, many pitfalls remain, including his underwhelming ability to overpower hitters and a dwindling groundball rate. That 3.89 xFIP and .269 BABIP showed how much good fortune he enjoyed, as well. Though he'll remain a useful fantasy arm, he doesn't boast the profile of a mixed-league ace or even a solid SP2.
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