Bobby Sylvester’s Rest of Season Pitcher Rankings
Last week I was in Nashville for the NFL Draft so I wasn’t able to get to a set of updated rankings which means this week we’ll move along to outfielders. Think of it this way: If drafts were today, this is the order I would select the players, and as you might imagine, it has changed considerably since the start of the season. Next week I’ll update my overall rankings before me touch on prospects and dynasty rankings later in the month. I’ve got the table set up so you can move between starting pitcher and relief pitcher rankings. We’ll get to those rankings in a moment, but first I’ll tell you about four players I am especially bullish on the rest of the season compared to their consensus rankings.
Caleb Smith (MIA – SP #25)
I understand having skepticism on a starting pitcher with just 42 strong innings after he was merely mediocre in his first 96 innings. After all, Smith wasn’t a top prospect like Tyler Glasnow, nor did he have a dominant rookie campaign like Luis Castillo. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been flashes, however. Prior to his injury last year, Smith was among the most efficient strikeout pitchers in baseball but his high walk rate was too much to overcome. Now that he’s got his command under control (like Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer last year), the breakout has been set in motion. Granted, his ridiculous .239 BABIP is unsustainable but if he keeps up the astronomical 34.8% K-rate or even anywhere in that neighborhood, then this #25 ranking will look conservative by the end of the season.
Jake Odorizzi (MIN – SP #49)
We’ve seen this career arc play out time and time again. Solid prospect posts solid numbers for a handful of year, slowly getting better, then he has one injury-riddled season that drags his numbers down and suddenly everyone thinks he is done. Only then does he bounce back to the same trend he was on prior to the injuries. What we’ve seen from Odorizzi so far is just who he was becoming, so now that he is healthy, we shouldn’t be surprised at all. He has command over a handful of pitches, has the most vertical movement of any starting pitcher in baseball on his fastball, and just happens to be a fly ball pitcher with Byron Buxton roaming around the outfield. Don’t be shocked when you look up at the end of the season and see him with 14 wins, an ERA around 3.00 and nearly 200 Ks.
Forrest Whitley (HOU – SP #55)
As always, there are a handful of promising pitching prospects who are polished enough to make a major splash from day one. This list ranges from the two A’s, Jesus Luzardo (SP #60) and A.J. Puk (SP #90) to youngsters like Casey Mize (SP #67) and older prospects like Brent Honeywell (SP #76). Among them all, however, Whitley is the best package of pure stuff and MLB ready. We thought it would be tough for him to get innings in what looked like a filthy Astros’ rotation, but they may need him sooner than expected. From the moment he gets the call, we may be looking at a top 3o pitcher in fantasy baseball just like fantasy owners got from Walker Buehler over the second half last season.
Reyes Moronta (SF – RP #45)
Perhaps you are in a league where a handful of closers like Hector Neris, Luke Jackson and Hansel Robles are still available. If that be the case, just pick them up. I’m excited about Moronta because of the chance that he eventually pitches his way into saves. When San Francisco admits they are out of the race, don’t be surprised when they trade Will Smith. You may think the job will fall to Sam Dyson or Mark Melancon, but more likely, it will be Moronta, who is already the best reliever in the organization. If they want to set themselves up for success in 2020 and beyond, handing the job to Moronta in July would be their best bet. When it comes to that, Moronta should be a top 20 reliever from then on.