DraftKings' Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 50 Pitchers For 2019

With Opening Day just around the corner and season-long drafts hitting their swing, our eight fantasy baseball writers compiled their top 100 hitters and top 50 pitchers for nine-category (no saves), head-to-head fantasy leagues. Those individual rankings culminated in the consensus ordering you see below, with some write-ups and justifications along the way.

To dive deeper into how these rankings were calculated and who just missed the cut, click here.

Scroll below the rankings to access the individual rankings for each of the eight writers who comprise these lists.

Let’s get to the rankings:

TOP 50 PITCHERS

50) Jake Arrieta, PHI
49) Jon Lester, CHC
48) Jose Quintana, CHC
47) Nick Pivetta, PHI
46) Collin McHugh, HOU


45) Tyler Glasnow, TB

USATSI_12227886_168381090_lowres

The Rays acquired Glasnow from the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade last season. Pittsburgh soured a bit on the former top prospect and relegated him to 34 games out of the bullpen. The Pirates actually even sent him back to Triple-A to work on his command. During his 11 starts after joining the Rays, Glasnow showed signs of putting it together despite an ugly 1-5 record. He allowed more than three runs just twice during those starts and held opponents to a .208 average while striking out 64 in 55 2/3 innings. Glasnow got his walks under control in the second half and has further tweaked his delivery this offseason. Pitching in Tampa, where many great pitchers have found their stride, look for Glasnow to continue to take strides and grow into a top 40 SP this year. — Zach Thompson (Zach’s rank: 43)


44) Yu Darvish, CHC
43) Cole Hamels, CHC
42) Nathan Eovaldi, BOS
41) Rich Hill, LAD
40) Luis Castillo, CIN
39) Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS
38) Dallas Keuchel, FA
37) Andrew Heaney, LAA
36) Rick Porcello, BOS
35) Shane Bieber, CLE
34) J.A. Happ, NYY
33) Madison Bumgarner, SF
32) Kyle Hendricks, CHC


31) Robbie Ray, ARI

Ray is one of the most maddening pitchers to draft. On one hand, he’ll strikeout a ton of batters — as evidenced by his 31.4 K% in 2018. On the other, he’ll also put a ton of them on base, as 2018 saw a new career-high 13.3 BB%. You likely never will go through a Ray start without feeling multiple emotions including awe, disgust, rage and joy. Despite the emotional distress, you’d be hard-pressed to find strikeout potential in the range you likely will draft Ray. If you can stomach the walks, he’ll reward you in strikeouts. — Steve Buchanan (Steve’s rank: 33)


30) Chris Archer, PIT
29) Mike Foltynewicz, ATL
28) Miles Mikolas, STL


27) German Marquez, COL

USATSI_12261152_168381090_lowres

Going off the board as SP24 in NFBC drafts, Marquez’s value still is being viewed too heavily through the prism of Coors Field. Sure, nothing he does will change the fact that half his starts this season will come in the altitude; however, he’s augmented his arsenal in precise ways to mitigate these factors outside his control.

Coming into his first June outing of 2018, Marquez had been throwing his devastating slider just 11.3 percent of the time. His statistics to that point had not been great. Then, from June 2 on, the RHP began using that very same slider — a pitch with a 22.2 percent whiff rate — at a clip of 21.4 percent. The results were immediate. In the 138 1/3 innings Marquez threw beyond this change in philosophy, he complied a 3.11 FIP, a 31.4 percent strikeout rate and a 48.5 percent groundball rate. Want to suppress the park effects of Coors? Either keep the ball on the ground or don’t allow any contact at all. There’s clearly some risk here, but, with a tangible reason for his breakout, I’m trusting Marquez in 2019. — Garion Thorne (Garion’s rank: 18)


26) Charlie Morton, TB
25) Masahiro Tanaka, NYY
24) Zack Wheeler, NYM
23) Jameson Taillon, PIT
22) Mike Clevinger, CLE


21) David Price, BOS

Price has had a lot of mental struggles throughout his career, but he got an enormous monkey off his back during the 2018 postseason. He out-dueled Justin Verlander in Houston to take his team to the World Series, then arguably should’ve won World Series MVP. He’s ready to put his postseason questions behind him and be the best pitcher he can be. Price went 16-7 with 177 punchouts in 30 starts last season. I’m looking for slight improvements there, with a big improvement to his 3.58 ERA. — Julian Edlow (Julian’s rank: 14)


20) Zack Greinke, ARI
19) Jose Berrios, MIN


18) Jack Flaherty, STL

In his rookie campaign, Flaherty earned himself a 29.6 K% while inducing a 13.4 percent swing-and-miss rate through 28 starts. What will scare some owners away is his 9.6 BB% and his 1.2 HR/9. With those type of numbers in play, we really can’t be all-in on him just yet. Nonetheless, if he can get over the hump, he has the arsenal to be the ace of the Cardinals’ staff and potentially one of the best pitchers in the National League. I’m drafting for the upside here. — Steve Buchanan (Steve’s rank: 17)

Flaherty’s 8-9 record from last season isn’t very impressive and he is only 8-11 in his two seasons in the majors, but he showed towards the end of last season why he can be a top 20 starting pitcher this season. On the year, he had a solid 3.34 ERA and 1.106 WHIP while striking out 182 in 151 innings and allowing opponents to hit just .199 against him. During August, he showed off his ceiling, going 4-0 in five starts with a 1.13 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 32 innings. The advanced metrics show that stretch was no fluke and he was unlucky during a run of rough starts in September. Flaherty has proven to be durable throughout his minor league journey and is on track to throw about 200 innings in the majors for a team that upgraded its lineup to contend. He isn’t as proven as some of the names below him in my rankings, but I love his upside and think he can grow into a top 10 SP this season. — Zach Thompson (Zach’s rank: 16)


17) Stephen Strasburg, WAS
16) Patrick Corbin, WAS


15) Clayton Kershaw, LAD

A drop in velocity, strikeouts and mounting injuries all are piling up simultaneously. After ending the 2017 season with a 29.8 K%, Kershaw saw that number drop to 24 percent in 2018. His swing-and-miss rate also dropped 3 percent over that same span to 11 percent. With his fastball dropping down to 91 mph, it’s forced Kershaw to rely upon on his slider much more. If he comes out and has a stellar 2019 season, so be it, I’ll take my L. Currently, there are too many negatives to rely on the once former ace. — Steve Buchanan (Steve’s rank: 20)


14) James Paxton, NYY


13) Walker Buehler, LAD

walker buehler

Buehler was spectacular in his first full season in the bigs (he pitched just 9 1/3 innings in 2017). The 2.62 ERA and 151 strikeouts he registered were scary good, but even more scary is he should build upon those numbers coming into this season with experience under his belt. While I bumped Clayton Kershaw up higher than most on my board, I still think it’s obvious Buehler will be the Dodgers’ ace this season. Just look at what he did the last time we saw him on the big stage in 2018: seven scoreless innings in the World Series, allowing just two hits to the Red Sox. — Julian Edlow (Julian’s rank: 7)


12) Noah Syndergaard, NYM

Syndergaard has one of the biggest arms in baseball, and his extreme fastball velocity combined with his nasty slider and changeup give him an excellent repertoire to miss bats with. His 13.6 percent swinging strike rate was about three percentage points better than the league average of 10.7 percent and ranked 11th-best among starting pitchers in 2018. That said, Syndergaard still has room for improvement in the bat-missing department.

Syndergaard, who primarily throws a two-seam fastball, has struggled to miss bats up in the zone. He posted just an 8.6 percent swinging strike rate on pitches located in the top third of the strike zone or above the strike zone last year, which is worse than the league average swinging strike rate of 9.5 percent in those elevated zones. A two-seam fastball has more sink and less carry than a four-seam fastball due to the way the seams hit the airflow as the pitch approaches the plate.

Syndergaard has made a point to throw his four-seamer up in the zone more often this spring in an effort to expand the zone upwards, and if he executes that during the regular season, he’ll give himself more ways to get batters out — particularly with strikeouts and swings and misses. It could be the leap forward that takes Syndergaard into one of the top five starters in baseball, and a dangerous weapon up in the zone also could make his other pitches even more effective. — Tim Finnegan (Tim’s rank: 9)


11) Trevor Bauer, CLE

Bauer, one of baseball’s most analytic-heavy athletes, dramatically improved his production last year in part through pitch design at Driveline Baseball in Seattle, using high-speed video cameras to design a slider similar to teammate Corey Kluber’s wipeout pitch. Bauer cut his ERA down from 4.19 in 2017 to 2.24 in 2018, third best in baseball. His FIP dropped from 3.88 to 2.44, second best in baseball. His 31 percent strikeout rate was sixth best. Despite all that, Bauer’s ADP is outside of the top 10 among starting pitchers in major formats.

In a similar manner to last year with his breaking ball, Bauer worked on designing a better changeup this winter by improving the efficiency of the movement of the pitch, cutting out the backspin to create more drop. Bauer has showcased the new pitch this spring, and it looks nasty.

Bauer’s improvements are legit, and he’s probably going lower in fantasy drafts than he should be. An improved changeup in 2019 due to his offseason work would help offset potential regression, although Bauer’s elite run prevention looks fairly sustainable, with strong evidence shown through his 2.44 FIP. — Tim Finnegan (Tim’s rank: 8)


10) Carlos Carrasco, CLE


9) Luis Severino, NYY

Currently nursing right rotator cuff inflammation, Serverino’s draft stock is about to plummet, as he’s projected to miss Opening Day. The injury might even linger back to the second half of 2018 — he recorded 5.57 ERA while allowing a .379 BABIP after the All-Star break, after all. However, his second-half 3.37 FIP certainly suggests there was poor luck involved, too. At some point on draft day, the reward will outweigh the risk, but arm injuries are always concerning for pitchers, so buyer beware. — Neil Parker (Neil’s rank: 9)


8) Aaron Nola, PHI
7) Corey Kluber, CLE


6) Blake Snell, TB

I have Snell rounding out my top 10 despite many looking to get him beforehand. Despite posting an absolutely stellar 2018, I think he’s in for a lot of regression in 2019. Snell is going to struggle to earn wins this season, as the Rays’ lineup lost a lot of power over the offseason with C.J. Cron and Jake Bauers gone. His 88 percent strand rate could lower, meaning his ERA also would take a hit this season. While his stuff remains elite and he’ll be one of the top pitchers in the league, I’m looking to take other pitchers ahead of him that are more proven and reliable when drafting. — Steve Buchanan (Steve’s rank: 10)


5) Gerrit Cole, HOU
4) Justin Verlander, HOU
3) Chris Sale, BOS
2) Jacob deGrom, NYM


1) Max Scherzer, WAS

Max Scherzer 3

Scherzer is baseball’s No. 1 fantasy pitcher on the back of elite strikeouts, elite volume and elite baserunner prevention. Scherzer led baseball in both strikeouts (300) and innings pitched (220 2/3) last year, and his 0.91 WHIP ranked second best. Scherzer has been very consistent in recent years as well, leading baseball in innings pitched and strikeouts extending over the past three seasons. While a decline at age 34 is always a possibility, Scherzer showed no signs of decline last year, with his velocity holding steady while posting the best swinging strike (16.1 percent) and strikeout rates (34.6 percent) of his career. Scherzer will be backed by a Nationals offense that is projected to rank in the top 10 in runs scored, which should put him in position to generate another strong win total. — Tim Finnegan (Tim’s rank: 1)


MEET THE RANKERS

Click on a name to see their own rankings with more blurbs inside

Anthony Amico

Garion Thorne

Greg Ehrenberg

Julian Edlow

Neil Parker

Steve Buchanan

Tim Finnegan

Zach Thompson


Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.