The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.
Matthew Leach: We move on to starting pitchers. We both sounded a little bit of a note of caution on Corey Kluber coming into the year, because of how deep he went into last season, and because it's not unheard of for guys to go deep, deep into the postseason and then show some ill effects. Well, Kluber spent some time on the DL this year. He missed a few starts. And still: 191 innings, 17 wins, 2.35 ERA, 252 strikeouts, 0.850 WHIP. His FIP is 2.49. He's having a ludicrous year.
Where does he rank among 2018 starting pitchers? Is he clearly third? Is he knocking on the door of the top two guys? That to me is the question. You've got the tier of guys behind Scherzer and Kershaw. Is he at the top of that tier? Is he closer to Scherzer and Kershaw? Where do you have him going into '18?
Fred Zinkie: Yeah, I think he's a viable first-round pick. I think that [Max] Scherzer, [Clayton] Kershaw, [Chris] Sale and Kluber are all viable first-round picks next year. I'm always of the mindset that I would like to pick as high as possible in the first round, because you just never know what can fall to you -- you might pick second and somehow end up with Mike Trout. I usually just want the highest pick. Next year, early thinking, next year's shaping up to me to be a year where I maybe wouldn't mind picking later in the first round and just taking the ace that falls to me. And then pairing him with one of those great hitters that we've already talked about today, or a Trea Turner type or something like that, and then a slugger. But I think that those four are almost inseparable right now. I probably lean to the [National League] guys, just because they're in the NL.
As I go deeper into the offseason [I'll] look into all the underlying statistics for all four of them. I have a hard time putting Chris Sale fourth on that list after he strikes out more than 300 batters this season. The [MLB] strikeout rates aren't up that much. This isn't like the home runs, where he's striking out 300 and a bunch of other guys are striking out 275. I have a hard time putting him fourth on the list after he does that, and putting Kluber ahead of him. To me, they're almost inseparable, and it's almost just, pick the one you like the most. But I see Kluber in the Scherzer-Sale-Kershaw tier now.