2024 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Pitchers who should go higher or lower than expert consensus

ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of the fantasy baseball industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site to site). This column will highlight some big differences between ECR and my own pitching ranks, with hitters to follow later this week.

Pitchers I like more than consensus

Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers(No. 10 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 2)

Glasnow ranks only behind Spencer Strider when it comes to skills (and stuff), and his 44.4 ADP comes at a discount thanks to past health issues. Roughly 40% of starting pitchers spend time on the IL each year, and Glasnow enters fully healthy and finally over his one arm injury that took years to properly diagnose. He’s also now pitching for the Dodgers in the NL West, so he should be a big help in the wins category even if his volume doesn’t quite match others. Glasnow has topped 155+ innings before (counting the minors), and he’s a real threat to win the Cy Young if health cooperates.

Don’t let fear stop you from drafting Cyler as "injury-prone" labels can clearly be exaggerated.

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves (No. 17 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 8)

Fried has improved his K-BB% each of the past three seasons, but he’s not being treated as a top-15 SP thanks to an injury-shortened 2023. Fried’s SIERA (3.38), which is a much better future indicator of ERA than ERA itself, would’ve ranked sixth best in baseball last season if he qualified. Fried had averaged 175 innings over his previous two seasons, and he enters 2024 in a contract year. The Braves are projected to win the most games and score the most runs in MLB by a wide margin this season, so Fried should rack up wins.

Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles (No. 20 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 10)

After an incredibly unlucky first half, Rodriguez was one of baseball’s best pitchers post-All-Star break. He recorded a 2.26 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over his final 12 starts when he flashed a highly impressive four-pitch arsenal. Baltimore has dramatically decreased homers since moving its left field fences back two years ago, and Rodriguez is a first-round former top prospect who’s ready for a full breakout in 2024. I have GRod ranked as a top-10 fantasy starter.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays (No. 21 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 13)

Eflin had shown flashes before, but he finally put it all together last season (while staying healthy), when just Strider and Logan Webb recorded a better SIERA (3.30). Eflin was the only starter to record a K% higher than 25 and a BB% less than 5 last year, and THE BAT projects only Strider among starting pitchers to post a better WHIP (1.11) in 2024. Eflin also recorded the third-most wins last season and should continue to contribute to that category while pitching for Tampa Bay. He’s a darkhorse Cy Young candidate who’s not being drafted as a top-20 SP.

Eury Pérez, Miami Marlins (No. 22 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 16)

Pérez accomplished a rare feat throwing 90+ innings as a 20-year-old in the majors last season, and his K-BB% joined elite company. He’s one of only two starting pitchers with multiple breaking pitches eliciting a swinging strike rate of 20+%. Pérez’s SwStr% would’ve ranked behind only Strider and Glasnow last season if he qualified and again, he was 20 years old. Pérez struck out 380 batters over 283 innings as (mostly) a teenager in the minors and will benefit from a home park in Miami that’s decreased home runs by 14% over the last three seasons. He’s a starting pitcher to target.

Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds (No. 36 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 25)

Greene dealt with a hip injury and an inflated ERA thanks to a batting average on balls in play that would’ve led the league had he qualified last season. His .339 BABIP came with a .285 expected BABIP, while Greene’s 4.82 ERA was accompanied by a 3.74 SIERA that would’ve ranked top 15 among starters. He’ll continue to have to overcome pitching in an extreme hitter’s park (a high K rate will help), but the Reds’ defense should improve in 2024. Greene’s K-BB% at his age is rare territory, and he’s been working on adding a third pitch (despite not having any trouble versus lefties). Few starters in baseball have Greene’s strikeout potential.

Michael King, San Diego Padres (No. 40 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 31)

King was one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers last season, including posting a 2.02 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 45 strikeouts over 35.2 innings (six starts) after officially joining the rotation in late August. His overall numbers need context considering he spent most of the season pitching from the bullpen, but King’s CSW would’ve ranked second had he qualified — sandwiched between Strider and Glasnow. King’s K-BB% would’ve ranked sixth — ahead of Gerrit Cole.

King is legit, and he now gets to pitch in the NL West and in Petco Park after being traded to the Padres in the Juan Soto deal during the offseason. King does have an injury history and is now being asked to start, but his upside is well worth his 147.6 ADP.

Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds (No. 59 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 36)

Lodolo is another young hurler with massive potential who’s available deep into drafts thanks to perceived injury risk. He’s still recovering from last season’s broken leg, but the Reds are hopeful Lodolo will be ready for Opening Day (and it’s no big deal if he’s a little behind). He sported an unsightly 6.29 ERA last season, but that came with a 3.46 SIERA. Lodolo will continue to give up a bunch of homers while pitching in Great American Ballpark, but his incredibly unlucky HR/FB rate (27%) is sure to regress (no qualified pitcher has allowed even a 20% mark over the last two seasons). He also allowed an almost unfathomable .457 batting average on “topped balls,” with the league average being .174!

Despite not pitching up to his previous standards (he admitted the new pitch clock was a tough adjustment) and dealing with the worst luck in baseball (his .435 BABIP was 100+ more than the next highest mark in the league and 100+ more than his expected BABIP), Lodolo would’ve ranked top five in K-BB% and CSW had he qualified. Go get him.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

Pitchers I like less than consensus

George Kirby, Seattle Mariners (No. 8 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 23)

There’s an argument Kirby has a wider margin of error given his immaculate control, but there’s a counter that things could go south given his inability to miss bats should his walk rate regress; Kirby’s 2.5 BB% last season was the best by a starter since 2014. He’s being treated as a top-10 fantasy starter despite ranking 30th in K% and 29th in CSW last season. THE BAT projects an 8.09 K/9 with a 3.73 ERA. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Kirby finishes as Seattle’s third or fourth-best starter in 2024.

Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 9 starting pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 22)

Gallen is a very good pitcher who’s being drafted as an elite one thanks in part to his 2023 volume. He threw the most pitches in a season last year since 2019 and 200+ more than any other pitcher. Fantasy managers may want to proceed with caution, but he’s being drafted as a top-10 starter.

Alexis Díaz, Cincinnati Reds (No. 10 relief pitcher in ECR vs. DDD’s No. 21)

Díaz posted a 2.03 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP before the All-Star break last season but a 4.61 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP afterward. Díaz’s dramatic drop in skills was far more worrisome than the ERA crash, as his K-BB% fell from 25.8% down to a scary 6.5% in the second half. It’s possible this was all a matter of workload, and Díaz enters 2024 fresh and with recovered velocity, but this is still a highly risky profile. Díaz ranked bottom-15 in BB% among relievers last season, and his HR/FB% (6.8) was well below league average despite a low GB% and pitching in MLB’s most homer-friendly park by a mile.

Díaz enters 2024 locked in as Cincinnati’s closer with no clear alternative, but there are red flags suggesting he’s a poor fantasy pick while being drafted as a top-10 RP.