Had a conversation with me the other day, trying to figure out how deep the starting pitching should go. I couldn’t argue with me when 100+ was suggested.
You’re going to pick nine or 10 for your team, maybe more depending on your roster settings, so you’re going to need options.
The first thing you might ask when checking these projections is, why bother putting the 0 in the saves slot for EVERY pitcher? Dude, or dudettes, it’s a reminder. Each pitcher can only possibly win you four of the five pitching categories. That’s why you take elite hitters first.
Like all of the hitter ADP rankings, these are based off average draft position with comments that either confirm or deny the ADP listing. For easy reference, here’s a list of all the ADP starting pitching rankings: Top 20 | 40 | 60| 80 | 100+
1. Tim Lincecum — This is the first tier, it goes to Sabathia. Talked about Lincecum in the Overall Top 20 for 2010.
2. Roy Halladay — Has only two 20-win seasons in his Major League career, however Halladay has a great opportunity to add to that in Philly. One word of caution, Halladay is a workhorse — in his last four seasons he has 220, 225 246 and 239 inning pitched. That’s tired-arm material, but look at me, I’m not heeding my own caution. Projections: 20/0/3.15/1.10/200
3. CC Sabathia — In his first season with the Yankees, Sabathia was just stellar. however, his workload over the last three years was even harder than Halladay’s — 724 total innings. Projections: 20/0/3.40/1.20/200
4. Zack Greinke — This new tier includes both Grienke and Hernandez, two young aces with considerable upside. Talked about his downside risk at length in the cleverly named Downside Risk 2010 post. He set personal bests across the board in 2009 and is only 27. Projections: 15/0/3.20/1.15/210
5. Felix Hernandez — Like Grienke, he set career bests across the board. And he’s only 24. King’s monster career continues this season. Projections: 15/0/3.20/1.20/200
6. Dan Haren — This tier runs from here to Lester. This is the last tier with any SP1s. The poster boy for the first half/second half split debate. Haren has 216 or more innings pitched in five straight seasons and he’ll be the opening day starter for the Diamondbacks. There’s not much reason to avoid Haren in 2010. Projections: 15/0/3.25/1.10/200
7. Justin Verlander — One of my personal favorites for 2010, Verlander will be 27 this season. He scored 269 Ks in 2009, his best by more than 80 and pitched 39 more innings than he ever has. There’s serious downside risk. But, dude, 269 Ks! Projections: 15/0/3.50/1.25/210
8. Johan Santana — At age 31, we can’t call Santana’s career over. Elbow issues are never great, especially for a 31-year-old, but he’s ready to play and making his spring debut today (Tuesday). He’s completely capable of outplaying these predictions and if he does he’ll be a tremendous value. Projections: 15/0/3.40/1.15/180
9. Cliff Lee — Suspended for five games and dealing with a lower abdominal strain, Lee might scare some people off. However, don’t forget about last season. He pitched six complete games between Cleveland and Philly then shut down the Yankees in two games during the World Series. Projections: 15/0/3.45/1.20/150
10. Adam Wainwright — Wainwright turns 29 in August and will try to follow up a fantastic season. With 19 wins, a 2.63 ERA, 212 Ks and 233innings pitched, Wainwright had a career year. You’re paying for a career year, so don’t pick him at this spot. Projections: 15/0/3.30/1.25/165
11. Jon Lester — He’s been an excellent pitcher, but his 225 Ks to 203 IPs is well off his career norm. In fact, he’s never had a K/inning of 1 or greater in his career until 2009. He’s a solid option and an SP1, but expect a regression. Projections: 15/0/3.50/1.30/180
12. Javier Vazquez — This is the final tier, it runs through Beckett. This is a boring tier. Vazquez’s Ks nearly make him a legit No. 1 fantasy starter. His ace-tastic year at age 34 in 2009 is going to be hard to top, especially considering his previous stint in New York. Paying for another career year here. Still… Projections: 15/0/3.60/1.20/200
13. Josh Johnson — “Won” him in an autodraft. I put won in quotes because I don’t feel he’s a win. Johnson is the youngest player in the tier, but he’s got miniscule Ks. I’d take five other guys ranked below him first. Projections: 15/0/3.50/1.25/140
14. Chris Carpenter — Carpenter’s not one of those guys. When he’s healthy, Carpenter has been an outstanding pitcher. When he’s been unhealthy, he’s been an utter disaster — see 2002, 2007 and 2008. He’ll be an injury prone 35-year-old starting pitcher come April. Projections: 15/0/3.10/1.15/110
15. Josh Beckett — Just in case you didn’t get the memo in the Vazquez blurb. Go with strikeout pitchers first. Beckett should get 180, could get 200. He’ll be 30 in May. Projections: 15/0/3.70/1.20/180
16. Tommy Hanson — This is a new tier, it’s got young’uns in it. This tier stops short before Peavy. Last year was Hanson’s first full season in the majors and he was outstanding. He went 11-4 with 2.89/1.18. In the minors, he was better than a K per inning. Projections: 15/0/3.40/1.20/170
17. Yovani Gallardo — It seems like his name has been around forever, but Gallardo is only 24 — that’s the same age as Hanson, who debuted last season. Believe his K/9 from last season. In the majors and minors combined in 2010, he had 211 Ks in 187 innings. Projections: 10/0/3.55/1.30/180
18. Matt Cain — Another personal favorite. It’s the Ks and the 26-year-old’s draft spot. Dude’s a legit No. 2 SP and he’s going in the 10th round. Projections: 15/0/3.60/1.25/180
19. Clayton Kershaw — The youngest player in the top 20 by two years, Kershaw’s got serious upside. The 22-year-old K’d 185 batters in his first full season in the majors last season. Expect the punchouts to continue when he’s on the mound. Projections: 10/0/3.30/1.30/180
20. Jake Peavy — This is a one man tier. And even if this was the beginning of the Top-40 and not the end of the Top-20, Peavy would get his own tier. He’ll only be 29 in May, but his injury woes the last two seasons should concern everyone. he only pitched 173 innings in 08 and only 101 last season after being a 200-inning workhorse for three consecutive years. He still has a great K rate, but Peavy will give your DL slot a workout. Projections: 10/0/3.60/1.30/180
Like with the outfielders, the bonus round will come after 100 pitchers have been reviewed. However, if you want bonus material now we’ve got lot’s of rankings, sleepers and busts available for free on our 2010 fantasy baseball page.