Anyone want to be fantasy's No. 5 starting pitcher?
Perhaps no fact sums up the state of starting pitcher in fantasy baseball better than this: In the past 30 days, just four of them rank among our Player Rater's top 25 overall players, Danny Duffy, Rick Porcello, J.A. Happ and Justin Verlander. Meanwhile, only three of the top 10 starting pitchers selected on average during the preseason rank among the top 75 overall: Corey Kluber (28th), David Price (45th) and Max Scherzer (74th).
Now consider what three members of my going-forward rankings from last week have done since: Jake Arrieta, No. 5, issued a career-high seven walks in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers, though he did respond with eight shutout innings of two-hit baseball on Tuesday to quell some concern. Stephen Strasburg, No. 6, afforded nine runs in a disastrous, 1 2/3-inning start at Colorado's Coors Field, then landed on the DL on Monday with an elbow issue. Jose Fernandez, No. 7, posted the sixth-worst Game Score of his 70 start big-league career, after his Miami Marlins had skipped his previous turn in order to keep his innings total in check.
As pitchers leave the top 10, though, new names must move in, which is why the aforementioned Verlander is a surprising -- depending upon your perspective -- new entrant. Since July 1, Verlander ranks tied for fifth in the majors in wins (6), fourth among qualifiers in ERA (1.97) and first in WHIP (0.89), and third in strikeouts (74). He's also a top-10 starting pitcher on our Player Rater for the season, ranking ahead of such names as Jon Lester, Fernandez and Strasburg.
Though Verlander's velocity will probably never return to its 95-96 mph average, more likely hovering in the 93 range, he has done an excellent job adapting to the change during the past year-plus. Better yet, here's his projected remaining schedule, should he pitch every fifth Detroit Tigers game: LAA (8/26), CWS (8/31), @CWS (9/6), MIN (9/12), @CLE (9/17), KC (9/23), CLE (9/28).
Here are some quick thoughts about the week's big movers in the rankings:
Since his return from the DL, J.D. Martinez is now a .438/.481/.781 hitter with six home runs, 11 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 19 games. He was a top-30 overall player entering the season, and easily belongs in that group now.
Both Kyle Hendricks and Danny Duffy joined the top 20 starters, and a case could be made for either as a member of the top 10. Duffy makes an especially strong case, with his 5.07:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and his Kansas City Royals having impeccably kept his workload in check. Given another seven starts, he'll probably tally only another 45 innings, giving him 183 2/3 for the season; that'd be only 47 more than he had in 2015.
I might've significantly under-ranked Clayton Kershaw at No. 74 overall and 21st among starting pitchers, though it's still a dangerous thing to assume he'll make more than five starts the remainder of the year. Six or seven is entirely possible, however, and Kershaw is capable of outperforming any other starter out there in each of them, making his range of possible outcomes as great as the No. 5 overall starter going forward, or as low as outside the top 250 overall players.
If you're not taking Jose Ramirez seriously as an impact player in all formats, chances are you've already shifted your focus to fantasy football. Ramirez's 2016 profile doesn't look all that much different from his previous two seasons; he has hit a slightly lower rate of ground balls and greater rate of line drives, with a little more hard contact. It's his .232 BABIP of 2015 that now stands out as the outlier. Chances are, he's a .280-hitting, 12-homer, 25-steal player given a full season's schedule, and that's a player with top-100-overall potential for the remainder of 2016.
For those who haven't noticed, Chicago Cubs sophomore Addison Russell is a .283/.352/.543 hitter since the All-Star break, shaving five percent off his strikeout rate (19.3 percent in the second half) with a 21-point increase in well-hit average and a 15 percent greater fly-ball rate compared to the first half. Russell has long had 20-homer pop in his bat, and it's possible that he'll perform at that pace or better for what remains on the 2016 schedule.
New ESPN position eligibility
The following players added new position eligibility within the past two weeks. As a reminder, position players need to appear 10 times at a new position to gain in-season eligibility, while pitchers need to make three starts to earn starting-pitching eligibility or five relief appearances to earn relief-pitching eligibility.
The following players are within two games of earning new eligibility, with their total games played noted at the listed position.
Cristhian Adames (2B, 9 games), Emilio Bonifacio (OF, 8 games), Daniel Castro (3B, 9 games), Christian Colon (3B, 8 games), Ivan De Jesus (3B, 9 games), Matt Duffy (SS, 9 games), Stephen Drew (3B, 9 games; SS, 9 games), Phil Gosselin (3B, 8 games), Marco Hernandez (3B, 9 games; 2B, 8 games), Paul Janish (3B, 9 games), Howie Kendrick (1B, 8 games), Michael Martinez (2B, 8 games), Shawn O'Malley (2B, 8 games), Jorge Polanco (3B, 9 games), Jurickson Profar (SS, 8 games), Adam Rosales (SS, 8 games), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1B, 9 games), Ronald Torreyes (SS, 9 games).
Going-forward rankings: Week 20
Listed below are my updated, going-forward rankings. These are based upon an ESPN standard league of 10 teams and Rotisserie 5x5 scoring. Click here to see these rankings sorted by position.