Cover Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Fantasy baseball preparation has now begun, and it all begins with the guys standing on the mound at the start of each and every game. We'll rank the top 10 hurlers that you should try and get on your team this upcoming season, and you'll certainly recognize all of these names.
Fantasy Baseball Top-10 Rankings:
10. Luis Severino, New York Yankees
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Luis Severino improved in some ways last season, but got worse in others. But the few things that were nearly identical between the 2017 and 2018 seasons were his starts, innings pitched and strikeouts. His ERA jumped up almost half a run (from 2.89 to 3.39), but his win total improved from 14 to a career-high 19. The Yankees' ace should rack up another 220-plus strikeouts, a 3.00 ERA and at least 15 wins putting him in elite company for starting pitchers.
9. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
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Aaron Nola had career-best numbers across the board in 2018, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 212.1 innings. If it weren't for an uncharacteristic September, where he gave up nine homers in 36.1 innings, Nola would've been much more of a contender in the National League Cy Young race. Expect big things out of the Phillies' ace in 2019.
8. Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
Gerrit Cole has been incredibly durable, making at least 32 starts in three of the last four seasons. His first season in Houston was a great success, as he had career bests in WHIP (1.03) and losses (5), while his ERA (2.88) and wins (15) were good enough for second best of his career. With Houston re-loaded and ready for another run at a World Series, Cole is a good bet as a top 10 pitcher come season's end.
7. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
And speaking of Astros pitchers, Justin Verlander maintained his exceptional ways once again in 2018, going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Houston's elite hitting, defense and bullpen will almost always give him a shot to get the win in each of his usual 30-plus starts. Verlander also had a career-high 290 strikeouts in 214 innings last season, which is also a big perk in fantasy baseball.
6. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
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Clayton Kershaw gets the biggest drop of anyone in these rankings, largely in part to having only nine wins last season – his lowest total since 2009. Aside from his two horrific outings in the World Series, Kershaw was great after the All-Star break, going 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA. Kershaw is a good as they come, but his durability has come into the question in recent years with 21, 27 and 26 starts in the past three seasons, respectively. If Kershaw can make 30-plus starts, he's an enormous value play for the 2019 season.
5. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
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Corey Kluber continues to be a starting pitcher that fantasy owners can rely on throughout the course of a season. He finish the 2018 season with a career-high 20 wins, giving him at least 18 of them in four of the last five seasons. He also hasn't had an ERA above 3.00 in the last two seasons, making him arguably the best pitcher in the AL again in 2019.
4. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
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The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was a sleeper last season, but you cannot sleep on the absolutely dominant season he had in 2018, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. This wasn't a fluke either, as Snell had a solid finish to the 2017 season, and certainly showed just what he was capable of last season. Expect another Cy Young caliber season out of the Rays' ace this year.
3. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
Chris Sale missed some time last year due to injury, but still managed to finish the season with a 12-4 record, 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 237 strikeouts in 158 innings. He returned in time to help the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series and should be fully healthy this coming season. And whenever he's healthy, he posts monster numbers. Look for at least 250 Ks, 17 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA in 2019.
2. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
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Max Scherzer reached the prestigious 300-strikeout mark for the first time in his career in 2018. Scherzer finished with elite pitching numbers once again, going 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, and if not for the No. 1 guy on the list, he would've been the National League Cy Young Award winner. Amazingly, he's had at least 230 strikeouts in seven straight seasons. There's no reason to think 2019 won't be his eighth.
1. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
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Jacob deGrom was straight filthy last season, and luckily his win-loss record didn't stop him from winning over Cy Young voters and capturing the award. With a 10-9 record, deGrom had the lowest win total in the history of the Cy Young. His 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 269 strikeouts were so good that being a .500 pitcher didn't matter. The Mets have made some upgrades to their roster, so deGrom should be able to tack on a few more wins to his already gaudy numbers because of that.
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Al Walsh is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Al Walsh also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username 14AdotWalsh. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.