Skip to main content

2020 Starting Pitcher Ranking Tiers (Fantasy Baseball)

by Carmen Maiorano | @carmsclubhouse | Featured Writer
Jul 18, 2020

Enjoy this season. There has been so much negativity around baseball, and life in general, that we need to get back into why we love it in the first place. For a lot of us, we love to see pitchers’ duels, 12-to-6 curveballs, and ponder how pitchers can give up weak contact, but still give up long balls (I’m calling this Ryan Yarbrough syndrome). Below you’ll find tiers of the top-100 pitchers, and this list is subject to change daily with injury updates and news. Be sure to follow the FantasyPros NewsDesk on Twitter for the latest updates, and fire questions my way @carmsclubhouse. If you want to learn more about SPARPs (“Starting Pitchers as Relievers”), check the Relief Pitcher primer.

And check out all of our fantasy baseball ranking tiers here.

Check out our early consensus rankings for 2020 fantasy baseball drafts >>

Tier 1 – Some Things Never Change

While we’re seeing starters who were on innings limits get let loose in this shortened season, these five guys were always near the top. Verlander has rehabbed from a couple injuries to get back there, but it’s hard to bet against him. My draft strategy is to take Cole if he is still on the board at pick seven or later. Otherwise, pay up for hitting in the first round and take the starter that falls in the second round.

Tier 2 – Third Round Special

All these starters have ADPs between 23 (Strasburg) and 50 (Morton), so the draft strategy (if you didn’t grab a Tier 1 starter) is to grab the starter in this tier who falls, as all of them have similar value. Kershaw is a little light on strikeouts relative to the rest of the group, but he makes up for it by allowing less base-runners. If you did grab a Tier 1 starter, you’re probably skipping this tier, unless Morton falls into the fourth round.

Tier 3 – Putaway Pitchers

Paddack’s and Castillo’s change. Corbin’s slider. Kluber’s two-seamer. Almost everyone in this tier has a pitch that makes your jaw drop. Your SP2 is most likely coming from this tier. If you took Kershaw as your first SP, don’t pair him with a low-strikeout guy like Greinke. Otherwise, any combination is fair game. Snell is the most likely to not finish the season, as he has been trying to patch his arm problems all throughout 2020. If you took Morton from Tier 2, it probably also makes sense to avoid the Rays’ starters in this tier, as the strength of their bullpen may reduce wins across the board for their starters.

Tier 4 – Injuries and Soft-Tossers

You probably have two SPs now, but if not, target a high-upside strikeout guy here. To do that, skip out on Soroka, Hendricks, Ryu, Berrios, and the Dodgers’ starters. If you are looking to stack starting pitching, your SP3 can be anyone from this tier. Hendricks and Hill are going well outside the top 100, so you can wait on an SP3 if your first two starters were flamethrowers. If you’re concerned about injury risk, fade Ryu, Woodruff, Paxton, and Hill in favor of Berrios and Bauer.

Tier 5 – Cracks in the Armor

At this stage of the draft, you’re either getting a very late SP3 or SP4, so who you target in this tier is based on needs. Comfortable with your ratios, but need strikeouts? Robbie Ray is a great target. You drafted Bauer as your SP3, so now you want to smooth your ratios over? Look no further than Carrasco, Luzardo, Bumgarner, or Musgrove. The starters in this tier typically have at least one flaw, usually in the form of control, or lack thereof, and allowing homers.

Tier 6 – The Void

This tier is distinctly made up of two categories of pitcher. The first categories is the boring innings-eater type. This type of pitcher will net you wins and accumulate strikeouts, but will otherwise damage your ratios. If they didn’t, they would be much higher in these rankings. The other type of pitcher is a more talented youngster (Cease, Weaver, Canning, Lamet, McKay, Keller) with injury risk, control problems, or innings uncertainty. Your best bet is to build a safe floor through your first three or four starters, and then take shots on those younger guys in this tier.

Tier 7 – Upside or Bust

Again, we find ourselves at the back end of the top-100 full of veteran innings-eaters, plus some young intriguing Cleveland arms and other prospects. There’s almost no point in drafting these vets who might get a couple more wins and strikeouts, but at the expense of poor ratios.

Starters with upside just outside the top 100 include Spencer Turnbull, other young Tigers in Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal, Mariners’ arms Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield, and Patrick Sandoval.

If you’re taking seven starters in a league, the first three or four starters should give you a foundation to take your shots late. If those shots don’t work out, there will be other intriguing names on the waiver wire who pop up in this unpredictable season.

Check out our early consensus rankings for 2020 fantasy baseball drafts >>

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

Carmen Maiorano is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Carmen, check out his archive and personal fantasy blogand follow him @carmsclubhouse.