A couple months back I posted my 2011 top 50 pitchers board. As is always the case in this game, things have changed. In some cases, they have changed drastically. Stephen Strasburg will miss most, and likely all, of the 2011 season due to a torn elbow ligament. David Price has dramatically increased his velocity and now ranks as a clear top-10 pitcher next year, while others (Mike Leake) have been knocked down or off the list due to performance-related issues.
Like any fantasy list, this one will remain fluid not only the rest of this year, but next season as well. Guys will get hurt or traded while others will recover from their injuries and return as strong as ever. Still, if you're like me, you don't win all of your keeper leagues every year, so hopefully this will help at least a little as you look toward the future. Even if you're not in a keeper league, these lists are a fun read and if anything else, you can simply let me know via the comments below or email that I shouldn't quit my day job.
Number in parentheses represents the ranking in last Top-50 list.
1. (4) Adam Wainwright - STL - Back-to-back Cy Young caliber years and he's still just 29. 2010 = more of the same.
2. (13) CC Sabathia - NYY - The anti-Javier has adjusted well to the Bronx. Should be a threat for 20 wins annually.
3. (9) Felix Hernandez - SEA - No idea what sort of team will be around him next year, so wins could be minimized.
4. (5) Roy Halladay - PHI - K/9 up in each of last four years, so 33-year-old is just getting better. Cy Young candidate.
5. (7) Cliff Lee - TEX - Long term I don't think his recent injury affects him, but he is a pitcher, so who knows.
6. (29) David Price - TB - See last week's Mound Musings. Really enjoy watching him pitch. Throwing very hard lately.
7. (2) Ubaldo Jimenez - COL - So much for 30 wins, but 20 seems a given. He's big, throws hard, and has conquered Coors.
8. (8) Jon Lester - BOS - Wins will be there in BOS, and he's about to notch another 200+ strikeout season.
9. (12) Clayton Kershaw - LAD - BB/9 down from 4.8 last year to 3.8 so far in 2010 - even better than that recently. Strong #1 SP.
10. (3) Tim Lincecum - SF - Far from the consistent guy we saw in 2008-9, but better recently. Drop in velocity could be manageable.
11. (6) Josh Johnson - FLA - Elite SP who could rank higher here, but back and shoulder issues trouble me somewhat.
12. (22) Mat Latos - SD - Should be a Cy Young contender next year if Pads can generate some offense. Didn't expect this much this soon.
13. (16) Jered Weaver - LAA - Has moved into ace status this year and is second in AL (Brandon Morrow) with a 9.8 K/9.
14. (11) Justin Verlander - DET - K and BB rates have regressed a bit, but he's still in his prime and a true workhorse.
15. (20) Dan Haren - LAA - Move to AL hurts a bit, but he's still one of the best and should be for several more years.
16. (10) Zack Greinke - KC - Signed through 2012, but really needs a trade to return him to the game's elite.
17. (15) Chris Carpenter - STL - Very good this year, but turns 36 in April and HR rate way up.
18. (27) Johan Santana - NYM - K/9 (6.5) has fallen off the map this year, but he's finishing strong and still has quite a bit left in the tank.
19. (14) Matt Cain - SF - Among the game's more consistent starters, but not sure he has another "level" in him.
20. (30) Clay Buchholz - BOS - Will finally enter spring training with a guaranteed job. Has the stuff to improve 6.1 K/9.
21. (18) Tommy Hanson - ATL - Very good first full season, and just has to hope team actually gives him some run support next year.
22. (19) Phil Hughes - NYY - There will be no innings cap next year, and I expect him to thrive without restrictions.
23. (21) Cole Hamels - PHI - K/9 up from 7.8 to 9.1 over last year and will pitch all of 2011 as a 27 year-old.
24. (23) Shaun Marcum - TOR - Comeback from TJ surgery going better than could have been expected. Could be even better next year.
25. (17) Yovani Gallardo - MIL - Scuffling lately, but 9.8 K/9 is very solid and should only improve with more experience.
26. (24) Roy Oswalt - PHI - Has reversed declining strikeout rate and should be in line for more wins on better team.
27. (N/A) Max Scherzer - DET - Just turned 26 and I expect his best years will begin come 2011. One guy I go out of my way to watch pitch.
28. (26) Francisco Liriano - MIN - Not quite the '06 version, but solid 9.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 and .341 BABIP indicates some bad luck.
29. (28) Josh Beckett - BOS - 3 straight QS's, so should finish strong and be the Beckett of old next year. Doesn’t make him any less overrated.
30. (31) Ryan Dempster - CHC - Command has taken a step back, but still a solid innings eater who can rack up the K's.
31. (32) Brett Anderson - OAK - Slight improvement in command will have him pushing top-20 status.
32. (N/A) Edwin Jackson - CHW - Goes to the AL and improves exponentially. It won't continue at this rate in 2011, but should still be quite good.
33. (34) Matt Garza - TB - With his stuff, I see a guy who can be much better than a 6.8 K/9 SP. Look for that in 2010.
34. (N/A) Brandon Morrow - TOR - The 17-strikeout game opened our eyes, but he's been very good in many other games too.
35.(35) John Danks - CHW - Looking like a guy who will post 200+ innings and 150 K's annually. More than an innings eater however.
36. (36) Chad Billingsley - LAD - 2010 has been a step forward and should be good for more of the same in 2010.
37. (44) Jaime Garcia - STL - Should get a fair share of NL ROY votes and gives the Cards a legit #3 starter for the next several years.
38. (38) Jair Jurrjens - ATL - Pretty much the same guy as last year with a serious hamstring injury mixed in. Step forward in '11 likely.
39. (37) Colby Lewis - TEX - Park is tough, but after a stint in Japan, he's 8th in the AL in strikeouts. A very pleasant surprise.
40. (40) Tim Hudson - ATL - 2.41 ERA is flukish (5.3 K/9, .249 BABIP), but still a solid reliable veteran.
41. (42) Ricky Nolasco - FLA - 8.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 and should recover from knee injury just fine.
42. (N/A) Jeremy Hellickson - TB - Rays will find a spot for him and he could be their second best starter in 2011.
43. (43) Scott Baker - MIN - 7.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 for his career, so have to figure a breakout is still possible.
44. (N/A) Trevor Cahill - OAK - Has benefitted from .224 BABIP, but I expect further growth in 2011 to compensate for that.
45. (45) Ted Lilly - LAD - A bit up there in age, but I think he sticks in the NL and has a solid 2-3 more years.
46. (50) Anibal Sanchez - FLA - Bucking the conventional wisdom that a torn labrum is a pitcher's death sentence.
47. (N/A) James Shields - TB - 8.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, so not concerned about the ERA approaching 5.00.
48. (N/A) Dan Hudson - ARI - I might like him more than most, but 10.1 K/9 in 2009 (minors) indicates 2010 isn't that flukish.
49. (N/A) Gavin Floyd - CHW - Can be very inconsistent, but headed for three straight years of 30+ starts and 145 strikeouts.
50. (N/A) Jorge De La Rosa - COL - Has had some health concerns, but he's a legitimate #2 to Jimenez when he's on his game.
Top 10 PITCHING PROSPECTS FOR 2011
1. Aroldis Chapman, CIN - I don't know about 105 mph, but he's a legit triple-digits guy. As a starter it may be more upper 90s, but that will work too. I can't see him back in the bullpen next year despite crowded CIN rotation.
2. Michael Pineda, SEA - No September call-up due to IP limit, but he's a favorite for a 2011 rotation spot. Big kid who throws BB's.
3. Jordan Lyles, HOU - Almost debuted as a teenager this year. Should compete for 2011 rotation spot and should win one given the competition.
4. Kyle Drabek, TOR - Jays already have four 2011 slots filled. Drabek is a strong favorite to make it five come March.
5. Chris Sale, CHW - Lights out in the bullpen this year, but hard to see a top-15 pick not in the rotation until he proves he can't be a very good starter.
6. Zach Britton, BAL - Probably deserved 2010 look, but will enter spring training as a strong competitor for rotation slot. Generates a ton of groundballs - 2.8 GB/FB.
7. Kyle Gibson, MIN - Risky 2009 pick is paying off and we should see him come mid-2011.
8. Simon Castro, SD - 2.92 ERA in Double-A and should be a candidate for a slot come spring.
9. Julio Teheran, ATL - Only 19 and relatively inexperienced, but if 2011 is anything like 2010, he'll be tough to hold back.
10. Chris Archer, CHC - 149 K in 142.1 IP, but command (65 BB) could hold him back. Love the arm though.