Pitching rankings, any rankings at all for that matter are extremely tough. The reason being is that everything is very situational. If you end up with too much risk early on you need to go after pitchers with minimal health risk. If you don’t have enough strikeouts early on you need to chase high strikeout upside and so on. While we love to nitpick pitchers being five picks apart it actually doesn’t mean much.
As for strategy, I have surprisingly been waiting on starting pitching. It seems like you can get quality pitching later in the draft whereas hitters seem to fall off quicker. In my opinion, you can go about it in two ways. The first way is grabbing two “aces” in the first three rounds, using them as your anchors, and following it up by drafting a lot of hitters in the middle rounds. The second way is drafting hitters with your first two picks then grabbing a top-end pitcher and then going back to hitting while sprinkling in some pitching here and there. Either way, I think this year more than ever you can really manipulate your strategy based on your draft position as well as by reading the room.
In these rankings compared to my initial ones, I decided to add in the latest NFBC ADP this way you can see where I really differentiate. Some of them were really surprising to me and I want to discuss them below before you get to the actual ranks.
Justin Dunn (63 spots higher than ADP): I think people are forgetting about Justin Dunn. His season was cut short and he isn’t the most flashy pitcher but he did increase his velocity before getting hurt and he should start the season having a spot in the rotation.
Brad Keller (51 spots higher than ADP): I know he burned us all last season but that rotation is a complete mess. Even if Keller just posts a low four ERA he will stick and could get you some innings making him a decent grab in draft and holds.
Michael Wacha (31 spots higher than ADP): Wacha finished the last month and a half of baseball with a 24.7 K-BB% and 29.2 K%. He also had a 3.14 FIP in that timeframe.
Jordan Montgomery (20 spots higher than ADP): Fantasy players might be sleeping on the upside of Montgomery. From a recently posted Did You Know: Montgomery had a lower zone contact rate and higher SwStr% than both Luis Castillo and Lance Lynn in 2021.
Justin Verlander (55 spots lower than ADP): I get it if you want to take a shot, just not for me.
Joe Ryan (53 spots lower than ADP): The Joe Ryan hype is real and I know he has high strikeout rates but the whiffs aren’t there and I just can’t buy in yet.
Triston McKenzie (24 spots lower than ADP): Until he gets that fastball velocity to stabilize his ADP will always be too high for me.
Shane Baz (14 spots lower than ADP): I was surprised by this one because I thought I was high on him. Amazing pitcher no doubt but the innings will certainly be limited.
Tarik Skubal (13 spots lower than ADP): I am seeing a lot of love lately for Skubal. Check out his four-seam stats: 166 wRC+ against, .310 ISO against, and a .403 wOBA against. That’s really bad.
Shane Bieber (10 spots lower than ADP): Bieber is coming off a serious shoulder injury and his velocity continued to trend down. Too much risk in my opinion.