My rankings are out now!
Starting pitcher is the most important position in fantasy baseball. A stable of aces can lead you to a fantasy championship. And a bunch of duds can lead to a very disappointing fantasy season. This week I dive into some of the starters that I feel need a little extra love. Some pitchers that should have some light shed on them. If you haven’t seen the breakdowns that have been released so far, be sure to do that right after you’re done with the SP breakdown.
Walker Buehler (LAD)
Current ADP: 20
My SP Rank: #5
Is this the year Walker Buehler has that Cy Young kind of season? The 26-year-old righty has the stuff to be the best starting pitcher in the entire league. The 2020 season is not a great sample size for Buehler. He only tossed 36.2 innings. Still, his stuff was pretty good. Buehler’s fastball is still one of the best heaters in the bigs. His curveball maintained its nasty spin rate. That pitch sits in the top 95th percentile amongst his peers. Walker Buehler is on the cusp of being one of the most dominating pitchers in the league. I’m buying in as the 2021 season looms.
Most reservations stem from the Dodgers’ decision making. It is no secret that Los Angeles have their eyes on November and repeating as world champions. Will they manage his innings? Will the Dodgers brass decide its best to take their foot of the gas periodically throughout the season? Could Walker Buehler throw 180 plus innings like he did in 2019? Maybe some of the biggest questions in fantasy baseball.
Buehler is currently a top 20 overall pick. I love the idea of grabbing him in the second round. Regardless of pre-draft strategy, I believe Buehler is a fit. He provides tremendous upside. Doesn’t matter if my round 1 pick is a batter or another starter Buehler packs a punch in the second round. Top starter potential.
Sixto Sanchez (MIA)
Current ADP: 121
My SP Rank: #27
In my opinion Sixto Sanchez is the best pitching prospect in the big leagues. The Miami starter is in the position to explode in 2021. A lot like Walker Buehler, Sanchez’s 2020 sample size is light. That is not the only commonality between the 2 right handers. Sixto also has a fantastic fastball. A fastball that comes in faster than 95% of the league. Due to a few different factors Sanchez has only tossed 1.2 innings this spring. In that outing he touched 100 mph a number of times. None of said factors were arm related so we are clear for takeoff.
2020 PitchingNinja K Pose of the Year Award. 🏆
Sixto Sánchez pic.twitter.com/tIhS0QSmaT
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 27, 2020
Sixto Sanchez is going as early as round 8 or as late as round 12 according to current ADP data. He is one of my primary targets in the thick of the draft. If I can draft Sanchez as my SP 3 or even SP 2, I will have confidence in the base of my starting staff. He may miss a start or two to start the season. If that creates a dip in draft position, do you best N’SYNC impression. And buy buy buy.
Rostering Sanchez means I am hoping that he gets rid of that sinker. It has been an ineffective pitch and his fastball is so good. I am looking forward to watching Sanchez’s change up. He threw that pitch more than any other in his cup of coffee in 2020. Opponents’ batting average was .148 and expected batting average was a smidge higher. Get ready for a big 2021 for Mr. Sixto Sanchez.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA)
Current ADP: 177.2
My SP Rank: #57
Let me be crystal clear, I am a big fan of Shohei Ohtani. Both as a fantasy player and as a potential MLB superstar. Ohtani is a special player. He came to the MLB with a ton of hype as a legit two-way player. Well a few years into his big-league career he has displayed one way a lot more than the second. Arm injuries have been an issue for the starter. Shohei’s spring has been whatever you want to make of it. There have been downs. He has surrendered 6 runs, walked 3 batters, and given up 9 hits in 4 innings. But if you want to look at the bright side the 4 innings is a positive. His velo is there and Ohtani has struck out 9. Two more very encouraging positives.
I know this is a starting pitcher break down but when it comes to Shohei Ohtani you can get points for the days he bats. His swing is very hot in spring. He has batted over .500 with 4 home runs. But again this is a pitcher breakdown, so I won’t go to deep into that. I will be grabbing Ohtani wherever I can. His upside it worth where he is being drafted. Selecting a potential MVP candidate outside the top 150 is value I just cannot pass up.
Corey Kluber (NYY)
Current ADP: 150.8
My SP Rank: #51
Everyone knows the name Corey Kluber. A former Cy Young with the Indians is ready to rock in 2021. Now suiting up for the New York Yankees. Klubot will look to regain some of that dominance he once had in spades earlier in his career. After completing 200+ innings 5 consecutive seasons, his last 2 have been plagued with injuries. Corey Kluber is looking healthy so far this spring. Heading into his age 34 season, the right hander is looking for a bounce back campaign.
Initially I ranked Kluber lower than consensus. I was looking for him to prove he was healthy and that his stuff was still legit. Corey Kluber’s fastball has steadily declined over the past 4 seasons. Reports of his off season try out listed his fastball topping out in the upper 80’s and barely touching 90. I had concerned his stuff would no longer play in the MLB. So far, Kluber has done his best to answer some of my questions. The Massachusetts native has pitched 6 healthy innings and has struck out 5 batters. Highlights have floated around of him making batters looks foolish. Sounds like the former Cy Young is ready to produce this season. He will be climbing up my SP ranks before Opening Day.
Corey Kluber FILTH to get Ke’Bryan Hayes 🤮 pic.twitter.com/8sVZlwVgza
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) March 13, 2021
My rankings are always on the website and will be before Opening Day. The latest episode of the High Heat Fantasy Podcast is out now. Do yourself and your fantasy baseball squad a favor and check out the SP episode. Good luck and study up.
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