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2022 Fantasy Baseball Primer: Starting Pitcher

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 25, 2022
Corbin Burnes

After a stellar 2021 season, Corbin Burnes is primed for another big year in 2022.

If you talk to 10 different fantasy players, you’ll get 10 different approaches to starting pitching. Some like to invest early and often, while others prefer to find values throughout the draft.

Like we have in past years, we’ll be ranking them in tiers for you using Fantasy Pros ADP, breaking down the categories they can help you in.

Check out our free fantasy baseball Draft Kit for even more advice >>

2021 Recap

A couple of the biggest standouts from last season were Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL) and Trevor Rogers (SP – MIL). Burnes parlayed his stellar 2020 performance – 59.2 innings – into a full season of dominance for 2021. He went 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA (2.00 xERA) and a 35.6 K%. Burnes is a clear top-2 pitcher this year and the No. 1 pitcher in dynasty leagues. As for Rogers, he’s the latest Miami pitcher to break out into a star. In 133 innings, Rogers posted a 2.64 ERA (3.39 xERA) with a 28.5 K% and 30.3 CSW%.

On the flipside, Dylan Bundy (SP – MIN) was absolutely terrible and was being drafted in an area where we expected SP3 production from him. Bundy posted a 2-9 record in 90.2 innings with a 6.06 ERA (4.83 xERA), a 1.36 WHIP, and a pedestrian 21.2 K%. Bundy is in Minnesota now, but his early Spring Training fastball velocity is under 90 mph. 

If we are looking at an out-of-nowhere guy, let’s talk about Robbie Ray (SP – SEA). Yes, we’ve known the name Ray, but not to this level. Ray seemed destined to be a high-K, high-BB pitcher, but made a change on the mound and turned it into a Cy Young Award. He may take a slight step back, but he’s a perfect SP2 in Seattle.

2022 at a Glance

The first starter off the board is Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY), with an ADP of 6.8. He’s followed closely by Corbin Burnes, who has an ADP of 9.2, and Shohei Ohtani (SP,DH – LAA) – technically – who has an ADP of 10.2. Walker Buehler (SP – LAD), Max Scherzer (SP – NYM), Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM), Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL), Shane Bieber (SP – CLE), Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI), and Julio Urías (SP – LAD) round up the starters selected in the top 30 picks.

We always want to identify potential breakout players at a position, and there are a few starters I have my eye on this year. Dylan Cease (SP – CWS) is getting a ton of Cy Young hype – and rightfully so – but I also want shares of Michael Kopech (SP,RP – CWS), who is going 173rd overall on average. Kopech is a former top pitching prospect who can light up the radar gun. With injuries and even considering walking away from the game, Kopech’s path to the big leagues has been a windy road. He’s going to get a shot as a full-time starter this year, and his upside is that of a top 15 arm. Another young arm I like a lot is Reid Detmers (SP – LAA). He gets punished for making it to the bigs last year sooner than he was expected to and not succeeding right away. The curveball is a thing of beauty, and at an ADP of 397, you’re not overinvesting.

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Grade Legend*

A: A no-doubt stud capable of winning you a category

B: A solid, consistent contributor

C: Won’t lose you the category, but won’t win it, either

D: You can do better here

F: You’re getting NOTHING

(*Grades listed are relative to the position and consider positional depth.)

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

Tier 7

Others I like outside the top 75: Bailey Ober (SP - MIN), Jordan Montgomery (SP - NYY), Alex Cobb (SP - SF), Josiah Gray (SP - WSH), Luis Patino (SP - TB), Yusei Kikuchi (SP - TOR)

Need more advice? Check out our free fantasy baseball Draft Kit >>

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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.

Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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