“One thing I can promise you, even in this market, is that I never ask my readers to judge me on my winners. I ask them to judge me on my losers because I have so few”
Just kidding, I have my faults in predictions like everyone else but I’d like to think I am always one step ahead! Before the season I made my Top 100 Starting Pitchers rankings and today I’m going to highlight a few of my best and worst takes through the halfway point of the season.
Note: Not factoring in injury plagued seasons for a “bad take” as this list was produced with expected stats while “on” the field.
Stephen Strasburg #100 - why did I even take the time to rank?
Lucas Giolito #12 - Giolito has been awful this year. He has a 5.12 ERA as of today and he has pitched in 17 games so this isn't a skewed stat. Plain and simply he gives up way too many long balls. Any time a pitcher loses velocity and has a long ball problem it just gets ugly. I am concerned both long and short term here.
Robbie Ray #14 - Has not been as bad as Giolito but the reining AL Cy Young winner isn’t anything to go home and brag to your friends about. It’s tough moving cities in the offseason so I’ll give him that. Hopefully we say
Justin Verlander #49 - The fact that I had him this low is embarrassing and I should hang up my baseball writing career for ever not believing in Verlander. I guess there was some internal bias against age/injury which kills me as deep down I thought he would be fine but I let everyone get into my head with pessimistic views around the future Hall of Famer. I even ranked him relatively low with this write up. “Age is just a number. Understood that Verlander was injured all of 2021, he’s now 39 years old, blah..blah..blah. Outside of high caliber prospects I do not take many risks when it comes to drafting but Verlander will for sure be a risk I take this year. Is this even a risk? He won the Cy Young Award in 2019 and was filthy. This is a pitcher not named Ohtani who won an MVP award from ONLY pitching, are you kidding me? One of the best we have ever seen do it and I will gladly overdraft Verlander this year as he can be a league winner with his current ADP.”
Eduardo Rodriguez #50 - Not only has the performance not bounced back to levels we saw in 2018 and 2019 but Eduardo only just came back in contact with Detroit’s organization after a month of silence dealing with personal issues. I had high hopes for E-Rod this year, hopefully he can figure it out and get back to the mound as soon as possible.”E-ROD!!!!!! I just love me some Eduardo Rodriguez. E-Rod has been one of my favorite pitchers for a few years now. Yes last year the returns weren’t exactly what was expected but a new home in Detroit may help course correct. Lots of innings, lots of strikeouts. With Rodriguez it's the WHIP that concerns me. Career WHIP sitting at 1.31 isn’t ideal for leagues where WHIP is a scoring category but I expect that number to get better this season. HAVE FAITH in E-ROD!”
Christian Javier #92 - Javier has been throwing cheddar all year long and I missed big on Houston’s young ace. Has 115 K’s in 83.1 IP, 3.13 ERA to go with a 1.06 WHIP. You can say Javier is pretty good and I totally messed this prediction up. “Entering his 3rd season at the age of 25 there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Houston youngster. Drafting Javier will bring you a ton of strikeouts, a solid ERA and an above average WHIP. Playing for a contender is also never a bad thing. Looking forward to seeing how the Astros use Javier as he can start games or for multi-inning relief stints.”
Max Fried #20 - I didn’t really go on a limb here predicting Fried would be nasty as he already has proven to be so. Fried has continued to ascend and if you read my write up you’ll see why I am adding him into this piece.
Luis Castillo #21 - Last season people started to hang up their cleats on Castillo even after he started to look like himself again in the second half. The Reds look brilliant for not moving him last year as he now looks like the top pitching trade chip available for a contender this season. Maybe Castillo will join my Yankees and will be wearing pinstripes soon?
Alek Manoah #25 - The Bluejays found a good one here. Manoah was a rookie last season and had an impressive debut. Now he is continuing to shove and look like an ace for the team from Canada. Keep your eyes out on Manoah as he might be the difference between them making the playoffs versus going far in the playoffs.
Dylan Cease #28 - Had control issues entering the season but now looks completely unhittable. My exact write up for Cease “ Next Cy Young winner? Cease is a stud and I recommend drafting in all formats. At age 26 he can only climb from here and playing on a contender never hurts. 226 strikeouts in 2021 was good for 7th best in the league behind names like Robbie Ray, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Zach Wheeler, Corbin Burners and Kevin Gausman…yeah Cease is in elite company.”
Triston McKenzie #70 - McKenzie has turned it around big time. Heading into last session he was looked at as a fantasy sleeper and by the end of the year wasn’t even rosterable in some league formats. Now he is “Must Own” with a 3.11 ERA, .98 WHIP and 100 K’s through 107 IP. “TRUST THE PROCESS. Cleveland has a way with pitchers and I’m betting big like everyone else in the industry that the 24 year old will bounce back in a massive way. McKenzie really knew nothing but success in the minor leagues and with some adjustments I’d expect him to live up to the hype. With an ADP of 221 he’s practically free. Don’t wait too long to draft!”
Tony Gonsolin #88 - Gonsolin has been healthy (fingers crossed) so my attachment to Gonsolin has finally paid off. I was big on Tony last year as he had elite ratios just not the counting stats fantasy owners needed. Now he is attaining those statistics and staying healthy so he has been a league winner thus far for teams that got him late or off waivers.I wrote this back before the season started and feel it’s still fairly accurate. “The Dodgers could surely use another healthy starter in their rotation. Over 140 innings pitched in the last three years, Gonsolin finds himself with solid numbers (2.85 ERA /1.09 WHIP / 148 K). The key word here is "healthy", Gonsolin has very good stuff but had miserable luck in 2021 when it comes to injuries. He hit the IL twice both relating to shoulder issues. It looks as if Gonsolin will start the season with a relatively clean bill of health. My suggestion is to invest a late round draft pick on Gonsolin given the underlying stats and the fact he will get run support to earn some extra wins”