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FANTASY BASEBALL – 2015 SP Rankings + September 24-26 Stream Ranks


BaseballMLB

THORNE’S 2015 MLB POSITIONAL RANKINGS: 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | C | OF | SP | RP

2015 BIG NAME BUY-LOWS | THORNE AND SOPPE: CI | MI | OF | SP

THORNE’S 2015 SP RANKINGS

  1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
  2. Felix Hernandez (SEA)
  3. Yu Darvish (TEX)2012 and 2013 were near opposites for Darvish and while his 2014 was cut to just 22 starts, it showed the middling in the LOB% and HR/9 I was looking for. More importantly, the Ranger’s 11.35 K/9 would have lead baseball had he thrown enough innings to qualify while his walk rate fell for the second consecutive season.
  4. Chris Sale (CWS)
  5. Corey Kluber (CLE)Kluber was one of just six pitchers in baseball to have a K/BB ratio above 5.00 and a K% above 25% joining Kershaw, Hernandez, Sale, David Price, and Stephen Strasburg. He also recently went on a run of 13 consecutive innings with multiple strikeouts. He’s legit. Don’t be afraid of how high he’ll go.
  6. Madison Bumgarner (SF)
  7. David Price (DET)
  8. Stephen Strasburg (WSH)I get the feeling people are forgetting just how good Strasburg is. Whether it be the underwhelming record or his occasional blow-ups (two seven-run games in 2014), the National is easily the most under-appreciated, consistently in the Top 10 SP out there. He pitched to a 10.12 K/9 this season, lowering his BB/9 to under two in the process. When a .319 BABIP and 13.5% HR/FB ratio normalize next season, Strasburg will be a Top 5 candidate. …again.
  9. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)Tanaka went 5.1 in his return start on Sunday, a start that really had no other purpose than to remind us how good the import is heading into the off-season. The Yankee’s 7.32 K/BB ratio is incredible and while an 83.9% strand rate is unsustainable, his 14.0% HR/Fb ratio should normalize next season even in Yankee Stadium. Still, depending on the price, I might steer clear of Tanaka in 2015. Feels like you can only delay what feels like an inevitable Tommy John for so long.
  10. Johnny Cueto (CIN)
  11. Max Scherzer (DET)
  12. Matt Harvey (NYM)
  13. Adam Wainwright (STL)Yes, Wainwright is coming off an apparently fantastic season, but it only took career-lows in opponent BABIP (.269) and HR/FB ratio (5.5%) to do it. Throw in his first sub-20% strikeout rate since 2008 and I have a lot of question marks about a pitcher who will certainly go too high in drafts next year.
  14. Zack Greinke (LAD)
  15. Cliff Lee (PHI)Age and injury generally aren’t a great combination, but the public will be so out on Lee in 2015, there will be value to mine. Now, he did pitch to a mundane 3.65 ERA over his 81 innings this season, but what would have been a league-leading .358 opponent BABIP played a huge part in that, as did a 70.7% strand rate. Don’t ignore the 36 year-old.
  16. Cole Hamels (PHI)
  17. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH)
  18. James Shields (KC)Shields is perpetually undervalued and 2015 will be no different. The veteran has pitched 200+ innings in eight consecutive seasons, a streak so long Tampa Bay was the Devil Rays when it began. Also, Shields’ 2014 stats are somewhat misleading as he got unlucky in sort of a hard to quantify area: Scheduling. The Royal has always been hampered by the long ball, even at his best, and one would assume that spacious Kauffman Stadium would assist in that regard (it has, Shields has a 0.61 HR/9 at home) – it’s just that he drew the road assignment so often. Shields began the year with 14 starts away from Kauffman in 22 outings and his superior second half numbers (a 2.49 ERA compared to a 3.65 first half mark) reflect the schedule evening out. Don’t expect such misfortune next season.
  19. Alex Cobb (TB)
  20. Jon Lester (OAK)
  21. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
  22. Julio Teheran (ATL)
  23. Carlos Carrasco (CLE)I’m banking on the huge second half numbers, but not as much as I’m banking on just the raw talent. Taking out his first four starts of 2014, Carrasco has thrown 97 innings (split between starting and the bullpen) and has a 1.67 ERA. As much as this is about his plus strikeout ability (9.83 K/9 in his last eight outings) and a slider that with it’s 29.1% whiff rate might be one of the better pitches in all of baseball, it’s also about Carrasco’s clearly improved control. The Indian walked nine opponents in those first 22 innings – he’s allowed just 1.48 free passes per nine since. Carrasco is an obvious breakout candidate next year.
  24. Tyson Ross (SD)
  25. Anibal Sanchez (DET)Injury and what would have been a MLB low 63.2% strand rate marred 2014 for Sanchez, but he’s still a solid option on one of baseball’s better teams. The 3.1% HR/FB won’t sustain, but the 7.34 K/9, lower than his career average, should rebound. Either way, I don’t see much risk with the Tiger.
  26. Collin McHugh (HOU)
  27. Garrett Richards (LAA)I fear that Richards will become next year’s Michael Wacha or Gerrit Cole though we can take some solace, unless you’re an Angels fan, that the flamethrower won’t be seeing playoff inflation like those two young arms. A .264 opponent BABIP is too low as is an incredibly suppressed 3.9% HR/FB ratio. I still don’t mind Richards, but I wouldn’t be shocked if his ADP is as a Top 20 SP in 2015 and I’m not willing to spend. 
  28. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)
  29. Jeff Samardzija (OAK)
  30. Dallas Keuchel (HOU)Keuchel is legit and while for strikeout purposes I’d rather have his teammate McHugh, a league-leading 63.5% ground ball rate is astounding and makes Keuchel a very, very safe play.
  31. Alex Wood (ATL)
  32. Phil Hughes (MIN)
  33. Gio Gonzalez (WSH)
  34. Jose Fernandez (MIA)The latest has Fernandez starting a throwing program in October which should put him on pace to be back with the Marlins around June. I’ll take four months of 12.19 K/9. Hell, I’ll take three months of that. Gauge where the former National League ROY is going and try to stash him. At the very least he’ll be a tantalizing trade chip if your season gets off to a rough start.
  35. Yusmeiro Petit (SF)It seems like Petit finally has a secure job in the Giants rotation, which has really been the only thing holding him back the past couple of years. Not only does Petit get to pitch in what is, according to ESPN’s Park Factors, the worst home run park in baseball, he does so with an elite 5.95 K/9 – which would have been good for 6th had Petit been starting the whole season.
  36. Sonny Gray (OAK)
  37. Andrew Cashner (SD)
  38. Matt Shoemaker (LAA)Very much in the mold of Carrasco. The Angel doesn’t walk anyone (1.59 BB/9) and possesses a legitimate strikeout pitch in his splitter. Still, be wary of his value if he carries this over to the playoffs.
  39. Tanner Roark (WSH)
  40. Marcus Stroman (TOR)Stroman compliments his classic control/strikeout ability success combination with an above-average 53.9% ground ball rate – essential to survival at Rogers Centre.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH

  1. Jake Odorizzi (36%) @BOS
  2. Trevor Bauer (14%) vs. KC
  3. Jeff Locke (13%) @ATL
  4. Jason Vargas (32%) @CLE
  5. Scott Feldman (11%) @TEX
  6. Taijuan Walker (20%) @TOR
  7. Bud Norris (21%) @NYY
  8. Yohan Flande-High (0%) @SD
  9. Hector Santiago (14%) @OAK
  10. Dillon Gee (20%) @WSH

It’s important to adapt rules as the season progresses. Remember when Baltimore wasn’t hitting so well? Yeah, that changed in a hurry. The point is nothing is above revision, especially if that rule has anything to do with Atlanta’s anemic offense. Early in 2014, the effective way to exploit a Braves team that has seemingly ranked inside the Top 5 in strikeout rate all season was to stream anything but left-handed pitchers against the club. Now you can pretty much toss anyone in your lineup who has Atlanta on the schedule and thankfully Jeff Locke meets these strict specifications. The former All-Star has found decent success in 2014 by solving the control issue that plagued him throughout a down 2013 campaign – shaving a full two walks per nine off of his awful 4.55 rate. Locke has been even more consistent in his past seven starts pitching to a highly respectable 2.83 ERA. Still, this stream is entirely about the Braves who have not only been shut out three times the past week, but rank dead last in the MLB in ISO (.069), wOBA (.249), and home runs (3) across the last 14 days. Plus, with Locke shutting down left-handed opponents this season to the tune of a .238 wOBA, even potent Atlanta bats Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward don’t project to have great games – specifically the latter who, on top of currently being day-to-day, has hit just .174 off lefty pitching in 2014 compared to a .304 average against right-handers. Start Locke, start the bat boy if he’s called in as an emergency replacement. The Braves just can’t hit.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25TH

  1. Yusmeiro Petit (33%) vs. SD
  2. Jose Quintana (49%) vs. KC
  3. Edinson Volquez (32%) @ATL
  4. Jason Hammel (49%) @TEX
  5. Kevin Gausman (15%) @NYY
  6. David Buchanan (2%) @MIA
  7. Jeremy Hellickson (10%) @BOS
  8. Tom Koehler (18%) vs. PHI
  9. Colby Lewis (4%) vs. OAK
  10. Allen Webster (1%) vs. TB

One of this season’s great mysteries, right up there with why is Ron Washington having his mid-life crisis at age 62, is what exactly happened to Kevin Gausman‘s strikeout potential? The Oriole struck out over a batter an inning over the course of 47.2 major league innings last year, very much in line with his minor league totals, but had managed to only sit around six per nine for most of 2014. However, that’s changing just in time to have a serious impact on your fantasy championship chase. Across his past eight starts, Gausman has a somewhat pedestrian 3.30 ERA (though he has a far more impressive 2.00 ERA his last three starts), but he’s complied 43 strikeouts over that 46.2 inning span – good for a 8.35 K/9. This run of success included seven scoreless frames of baseball against the Yankees on the 12th, where Gausman, true to his old/re-found form, struck out seven. New York will get a final look at the righty on Thursday, but don’t expect the results to be much different. The Yankees have struggled all season long to produce runs (they rank 24th) and over the past two weeks they sit 28th in the league with a .208 average and 24th with a .277 wOBA. Clearly there will be better options in most standard leagues, but Gausman will be a commodity in deeper formats. Pick him up and take advantage of the true #RE2PECT gift that keeps on giving – Derek Jeter and his .055 ISO’s consistent presence in the top of the Yankees’ order.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH

  1. Jon Niese (21%) vs. HOU
  2. Jarred Cosart (27%) @WSH
  3. T.J. House (9%) vs. TB
  4. Nathan Eovaldi (16%) @WSH
  5. Mike Leake (40%) vs. PIT
  6. Ryan Vogelsong (21%) vs. SD
  7. Brad Peacock (1%) @NYM
  8. Jeremy Guthrie (10%) @CWS
  9. Drew Hutchison (24%) vs. BAL
  10. Nick Tepesch (1%) vs. OAK

If someone had told you in April that the Cleveland Indians would be making a playoff push with Carlos Carrasco, a twice demoted Danny Salazar, and T.J. House leading the charge, you’d think that person was insane. Still, while the general public appear to have caught on somewhat to Carrasco and have re-warmed to Salazar (double-digit strikeout games help heal old wounds), House has remained under-appreciated in the fantasy realm and is widely available even in deeper formats. Across his last four starts the rookie has been outstanding pitching to a 1.38 ERA, working at least seven innings in three of the four outings. A big part of that trend has been the conservation of pitches – which directly correlates to a 25:1 strikeout to walk ratio over that time frame. Really, that’s where House’s true value lies, he’s not inherently risky in any way. The Indian doesn’t allow any free base runners, he suppresses extra-base hit potential with a 60.6% ground ball rate, which would be good for second in all of baseball behind only Dallas Keuchel, and even his one glaring, due to normalize weakness, a 16.7% HR/FB ratio, doesn’t factor when House can go an entire game without allowing a single fly ball – like he did against the Twins last Saturday. Toss the southpaw into your lineup Friday against a Rays team that ranks in the lower half of the league in basically every conceivable offensive category. Even if neither team has anything to play for, House will be pitching to keep a rotation spot in 2015.



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