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2022 Starting Pitcher Ranking Tiers (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 26, 2022
Corbin Burnes

If looking for the top tier pitcher in this year’s draft, Corbin Burnes may be your best choice.

Pitchers are a polarizing topic in fantasy.

Do you go early and get a stud, or do you build around hitting early and find value at pitching? Finding a balance is the desire, of course, but there’s only one Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL) and one Trea Turner (SS – LAD).

However you decide to build, there are great values throughout the draft at the position.

When it comes to rankings, tiers are the best way to go about them, as it allows you to group a set of players so that you know when you need to take a specific player at a position before that tier is exhausted.

We’ll look at starting pitcher ADP based on FantasyPros composite ADP and break them down into tiers for you, so you know when to grab the guy FantasyPros composite ADP and break them down into tiers for you, so you know when to grab the guy who you like.

We should note that these tiers are based on a 12-team standard roto league, so adjust accordingly for your league scoring.

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Tier 1: The Elite Tier

Burnes is slightly above Cole, but you can’t go wrong with either. Both will give you the elite across-the-board numbers you need from an ace.

Tier 2: Also Elite Tier

Woodruff is my No. 3 starter, and I wanted to include him in the top tier. It was great to see an entire season of dominance from him. 

Buehler and Urías both had the kid gloves taken off last year and should enjoy an equally successful 2022. 

The only concern with Scherzer is the age and the potential for injuries to creep back up. That’s baked into his projections, which is scary given how good those projections are.

Tier 3: The Concerning Studs Tier

The names in this tier are so damn good, but they are also so damn concerning.

deGrom says he’s healthy. He’s pumping like he’s healthy. But you NEED to know he’s fully healthy to feel comfy taking him at his cost. Bieber is the least concerning here, but still, he is coming off of missing the majority of last year. However, his profile warrants him being here.

With their latest injuries, Wheeler, McCullers, and Flaherty are all on my do-not-draft list. No matter how far they fall, I won’t touch them.

Kershaw needs to fall in the draft to a spot where I’m fine taking the risk. Anything greater than my SP4, I won’t take him. Sale has a rib injury and isn’t vaccinated. It’s just going to be a mess, so I’m choosing to let someone else take on the headache.

Tier 4: The 👀 tier

Alcántara is polarizing in the fantasy community, but he shouldn’t be. The steps he took last year are in line with the growth of a young pitcher. He’s worthy of his ADP. 

Nola’s peripherals were better than the outcome last year, but the defense behind him is alarming. Giolito may not be the ace we had hoped he’d be, but he’s a perfect SP2. Same with his teammate Lynn.

Ray still has the change in his delivery – and the tight pants – so what more do you need to buy into him for 2022? Gausman signed a big deal heading to Toronto, and while I’m in on him, I’m also a little cautious given the division. Berríos feels slightly overpriced this year for a career pitcher whose only consistency is being inconsistent.

Webb is the perfect pitcher to wait on if you go hitter-heavy early. He’s an SP1 being drafted as an SP2.

Fried for Cy Young. You read it here. Get those bets locked in, friends.

Ohtani is format specific. As just a starter, this feels like the correct range.

Morton is getting knocked a bit because he’s older, but use that to your advantage. The stuff is still good. Musgrove is no longer underrated but maybe a tad overrated. He’s toward the end of this tier for me.

Castillo no longer has Eugenio Suarez (3B, SS – SEA) behind him on defense, an automatic boost. Montas had a tremendous bounce-back season and would benefit from being traded in a big way.

Tier 5: The Youth in Revolt tier

There is a ton of buzz around Cease for a Cy Young candidate. His stuff is filthy.  If he can fully harness it, we could see a Burnes-type leap.

It’s a big season for Darvish after a disappointing 2021 campaign. I’m in but also realize that a return to being an ace is unlikely.

Look at these young arms! Manoah, Rogers, and McClanahan all look to repeat on their outstanding rookie campaigns, while Baz looks to solidify himself as a soon-to-be-ace in his first extended run.

Rodón’s shoulder concerns me, but I love the landing spot. López is dipping a bit for me, but I love the profile still.

Verlander is older and hasn’t pitched in two years. But he looks damn good in Spring Training. I’m cautiously optimistic about him this year.

I have a few longshot bets on Mahle winning the Cy Young. A trade out of Cincinnati would do wonders for him. Bassitt arguably has the safest floor among all non-aces. 

Tier 6: The Applebees-on-a-Date-Night Tier

All of these guys are fine. Boring, low-effort, fine.

Gallen and Anderson lead the tier in upside, but one has a weird pitch profile, and the other can’t seem to stay healthy.

I was skeptical of Eovaldi and Wainwright last year. I’m in at the right price, but I am not expecting a repeat this season for either guy.

Suárez, Valdez, and Manaea are all interesting in their own rights, but if I have to take one, it’s Valdez, given the cost, team, and profile. 

Clevinger has always been overrated, and I’m not changing on that stance now. Rodríguez may be my favorite of this group. I love Detroit as a landing spot for him.

Tier 7: Great Value Tier

Gray was already one of the best values in all of the drafts. Going to Minnesota only increase his value now. He probably should be in Tier 6. Stroman had a great 2021, yet his value dipped. He didn’t improve his strikeouts as we had hoped, but he’s a damn good fantasy arm as your SP3.

Gilbert, Kopech, and Skubal all have fantastic upsides for young guys. Kopech is my favorite given the ceiling, but Gilbert is a pitcher who should have a much better floor if you need that with your roster build.

Ryu should see his ADP climb. It was an off-year for him in 2021, and now he has Matt Chapman (3B – TOR) playing behind him, so his value is way up. Greinke being back in Kansas City is a great story, and it’s a great landing spot for him for fantasy. Why aren’t more people discussing this?

Tier 8: The Leftovers Tier

There are so many names in this tier that I’m just going to highlight those that stand out.

The first is Strasburg, who should be the one player in the player pool that you cross off your list immediately. Please don’t do it.

Ryan and Quantrill are interesting in their 2021 numbers, but both profiles are concerning from a fantasy perspective.

Javier gets a nice boost with the McCullers injury, and Cobb is severely underrated this year in San Francisco.

Hendricks and Civale are good floor pitchers who are pushed down too far. Gray is finally out of Coors Field, which is what we’ve all been waiting for.

Sandoval has the highest upside here, and I’m targeting him wherever possible.

Key Takeaways

  • The elite guys are so tempting to take because they give you the high innings and the elite production across the three main pitching categories.
  • For me, I extended Tier 4 in ADP because all of the pitchers are similar in value. I’m fine waiting and taking a few at the end of the tier and going hitter-heavy early.  
  • There are a lot of guys I like in Tier 5 as well. I prefer pairing an excellent floor pitcher with a young guy like Baz or McClanahan.
  • Avoid injured starters. Pitchers already have a higher risk level than hitters, so taking someone who is already injured or fresh off an injury only increases that risk.

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

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