Notable Higher Ranked Players
Carlos Carrasco: My Rank- 10 ECR- 27
As a starting pitcher last year Carlos Carrasco totaled a 2.67 ERA (2.21 FIP) with 20 walks and 101 strikeouts and a 0.98 WHIP in 91.0 innings pitched. He's an ace. Those are SP1 numbers and are supported by filthy stuff. Forget his short track record, that's likely why he's ranked as low as he is by other experts. Carrasco is the real deal.
Matt Shoemaker: My Rank- 32 ECR- 53
Matt Shoemaker caught gamers by surprise last year. He was never a highly touted prospect, yet you'd never know that by his numbers. His 3.04 ERA might have been a little lucky, but his 3.26 FIP indicates it wasn't too lucky. Shoemaker 18.4% K-BB ranked 19th among pitchers who threw at least 120 innings last year. Armed with a 10.7% swinging strike rate (9.4% league average), I'm buying what he's selling.
Derek Holland: My Rank- 40 ECR- 76
Derek Holland was able to pitch in just six games last year (five starts). His 1.46 ERA was flukey, and his 2.19 FIP was aided by zero homers allowed. Having gotten the negatives out of the way, let's move to the positives. His 3.5% BB was superb and his 17.2% K was low for a guy who tallied a 10.1% swinging strike rate. In his last full season, 2013, Holland had a 21.1% K. That's a mark he's more than capable of reaching. He doesn't have to carryover all of his control gains this year to justify my ranking when his strikeout rate inevitably goes up.
Notable Lower Ranked Players
Sonny Gray: My Rank- 38 ECR- 23
I like Sonny Gray, but he's not an SP2. A mid-3.00s ERA this year is more likely than a repeat of his 3.08 ERA from last season. His walk rate was a little worse than league average and his strikeout rate was dead on with the league average. Gray's BABIP in his first year plus in the league appears to be a little on the lucky side, and if his swinging strike percentage is a good indicator, he could give some strikeouts back.
Jose Quintana: My Rank- 61 ECR- 47
I'll buy Jose Quintana's improved walk rate last year. It was the second year he improved his walk rate. I'm not buying his new found penchant for striking batters out. His 21.5% K was nearly two ticks better than his 19.7% K in 2013. The problem is, his swinging strike rate dropped from 8.8% in 2013 to 8.3% last year. Something doesn't add up. The 2013 version of Quintana looks like a more realistic projection for this year than the 2014 version.
Doug Fister: My Rank- 62 ECR- 37
Doug Fister is walking a tight rope, yet my peers don't seem to be concerned. His strikeout rate dipped under 15% (14.8% to be exact). Yes, it coincided with an improved walk rate to a dental floss thin 3.6%, but relying on your fielders to record such a high percentage of your outs is a dicey proposition. Without punch outs Fister is reliant on wins (which are fickle even on the best teams) and exceptional rate stats (ERA and WHIP) to justify cracking the top 40 starting pitchers. I just don't see it.