New York Mets' Jacob deGrom
New York Mets' Jacob deGrom (48) during the first inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

FANTASY BASEBALL 2022 – STARTING PITCHERS

Mike Shara

It snuck into my email inbox quietly overnight. When I woke, there it was staring back at me: “******* has invited you to rejoin his Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball League for 2022”. I shook my head in disbelief, but then I realized: we’re just 8 weeks from the start of the 2022 MLB season (provided a labor agreement is in place before then). With a late-March start in mind (I’m an optimist at heart), every few days I’m going to start releasing some fantasy baseball lists, suggestions and sleepers to help you win your draft. It’ll give us all something to think about after football’s over and while hockey and basketball play out their endless regular seasons.

No matter what new school heretics will tell you, the best teams win with starting pitching (in fantasy and in MLB), so I thought I’d start my preseason rankings there. As you scroll down you’ll notice I tend to lean more towards experienced pitchers who have proven they can handle a season-long workload and veer away somewhat from young pitchers who made a few dazzling appearances last year. In a year-long pool you need reliability and volume. DFS/streaming is an entirely different beast. In the preseason I’m focused on year-long productivity.

Here are my top 64 starters. Why 64? Because around that point I really had to squint to see anyone I’d want to roster. Frankly if you’re going past the end of this list, you’re either in a really deep league, you spent all your auction money on offense or you’re tanking for draft picks in 2023.

TOP 64 STARTING PITCHERS FOR 2022

  1. Gerrit Cole, NYY – almost by default – can you believe he’s still never won a Cy Young?
  2. Walker Buehler, LAD – yes, I have him that high. Now he’s officially L.A.’s #1 guy.
  3. Jacob deGrom, NYM – clearly MLB’s best SP – but how many innings can you count on?
  4. Corbin Burnes, MIL – 2021 was first time he threw more than 60 innings in an MLB season
  5. Max Scherzer, NYM – new team, and now at age 37 he doesn’t have to be the ace.
  6. Zack Wheeler, PHI – I thought he should have won the NL Cy Young last year.
  7. Brandon Woodruff, MIL – Brewers depending on a lot of guys who’ve only had 1 big year.
  8. Sandy Alcantara, MIA – Oh you didn’t know? 200+ innings with that WHIP? Elite.
  9. Shane Bieber, CLE – was hurt last year, but when he returned, he looked great.
  10. Chris Sale, BOS – was hurt last year, but when he returned, he looked…mixed.
  11. Aaron Nola, PHI – possibly the unluckiest starter in NL last year. Peripherals were strong.
  12. Robbie Ray, SEA – didn’t win Cy Young last year so much as not lose it. Can he repeat?
  13. Julio Urias, LAD – only 20 game-winner in MLB last year only going to get better.
  14. Max Fried, ATL – check out his numbers from Aug/Sept. He was as good as anyone.
  15. Kevin Gausman, TOR- tougher division, ballpark. He won’t surprise teams this year.
  16. Lucas Giolito, CHW- wobbled early but found his way in the second half.
  17. Lance Lynn, CHW – was the AL Cy Young front runner until August.
  18. Joe Musgrove, SD – well, somebody from the Padres’ staff had to have a good year, right?
  19. Freddy Peralta, MIL – another Brew Crew pitcher whose innings skyrocketed last year…
  20. Justin Verlander, HOU – after 2 years away, are you betting on a return to form?
  21. Frankie Montas, OAK – in his first season over 100 innings, he threw 187 at age 28.
  22. Jose Berrios, TOR – “The Machine” is a sleeper AL Cy Young candidate this year…
  23. Shohei Ohtani, LAA – If your league allows you to draft him as a P/DH, he’s #1 overall.
  24. Charlie Morton, ATL – not a sexy pick, but he’ll bring value and steadiness again.
  25. Jack Flaherty, STL – started 2021 8-0, 2.53 but pitched just 4 innings after Aug 18.
  26. Trevor Rogers, MIA – An all-star as a rookie in ‘21 but wore down late in the season.
  27. Logan Webb, SF – came out of nowhere as a rookie, already might be Giants’ ace.
  28. Luis Castillo, CIN – had a 7.22 ERA in April/May, then regained Cy Young levels after.
  29. Shane McClanahan, TAM – impressive debut in ‘21- Rays might need even more in ‘22.
  30. Pablo Lopez, MIA – just 100 IP last season, but those 100 were for real.
  31. Hyun-Jin Ryu, TOR – did he get old or was he unlucky? Both? Don’t bet against him.
  32. Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS – Covid wiped him out for a while early. Nice new park, though.
  33. Dylan Cease, CHW – You don’t get ranked just for pure stuff, but if you did…
  34. Yu Darvish, SD – Perhaps the most diverse repertoire in MLB. So…what happened?
  35. Nate Eovaldi, BOS – 4th in AL Cy Young voting, had his best season ever at age 31.
  36. Marcus Stroman, CHC – Wins might be tough to get, but he’s steady as a rock.
  37. Carlos Rodon, FA – In 2021 we finally saw why he was the third overall pick in 2014.
  38. Jose Urquidy, HOU – was 2-0 in the World Series. Can he make 32 starts this year?l
  39. Ian Anderson, ATL – speaking of being really good in the playoffs…still only 23 though.
  40. Framber Valdez, HOU – advanced stats say he was a bit lucky last season.
  41. Clayton Kershaw, FA – so much depends on whether he’s back in L.A. or not…
  42. John Means, BAL – threw a no-hitter in May – will he win more than 6 games this year?
  43. Adam Wainwright, STL – 200+ innings, 3.05 ERA, 1.057 WHIP. Why is he only #44, Mike?
  44. Chris Bassitt, OAK- A’s most consistent starter in 2021 – will he be in Oakland in 2022?
  45. Alek Manoah, TOR – In many other seasons, human firecrackers would have won AL ROY.
  46. Sonny Gray, CIN – another Reds trade candidate – still well above average, big K ratios.
  47. Lance McCullers Jr, HOU – very good in 2021 but got hurt (again) in the playoffs.
  48. Sean Manaea, OAK – most frustrating pitcher in AL? His collapse in ‘21 killed Oakland.
  49. Michael Kopech, CHW – will bullpen dominance translate as an SP? Will his arm hold up?
  50. Cal Quantrill, CLE – once he got a steady starting job in July, he ran with it. Really ran.
  51. Ranger Suarez, PHI – won’t have an ERA <1.40 again but Phils will take anything close.
  52. Steven Matz, STL- he’ll like pitching in the NL Central a lot more than the AL East.
  53. Blake Snell, SD – there’s always hope he returns to 2018 form. Feels unlikely, though.
  54. Yusei Kikuchi, FA – bad second half after he looked like he’d figured things out.
  55. Nestor Cortes Jr, NYY – ratios are excellent. Guys like him are always undervalued.
  56. Noah Syndegaard, LAA – had 2 IP last year. Guys like him are always overvalued.
  57. Luis Severino, NYY – a huge wildcard after missing nearly two full seasons.
  58. Anthony Desclafani, SF – first year out of Cincinnati = best ERA, WHIP of his career.
  59. Tyler Mahle, CIN – lots of K’s, big stuff. Reds have been waiting on him for years.
  60. Casey Mize, DET – Tigers were careful with him last year. 180 innings in 2022?
  61. Logan Gilbert, SEA – Rookie season was great. Peripherals say he can be even better.
  62. Luis Garcia, HOU – Another great rookie season in AL. Not a bad 4 or 5 starter, Houston.
  63. Kyle Hendricks, CHC – Nothing good about his 2021. History says he might get it back.
  64. Stephen Strasburg, WAS – His injuries make him a huge risk. Rinse. Repeat.

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