Top 80 Starters for 2022 Fantasy Baseball

Looking at the overall 2022 fantasy baseball rankings, the top 80 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball is from around 225 overall to 275 overall, which is just about the end for 12-team mixed leagues.  This is your late fourth, mostly fifth thru the beginning of the sixth starters. This is just about it for 12 team leagues, though the last tier in this post is still in 12-team league territory, so you’ll have to wait until the next post to finish off that tier. Don’t worry, on that next post, I’ll be by with another 70-ish pitchers for those in deeper leagues, and/or dynasty and keeper leagues. Or for those that just like to read about fantasy baseball while the world burns around them. I fall into that latter camp. Our subscriptions are up and running, and that comes with our online Fantasy Baseball War Room — now for auction drafts, AL-Only, NL-Only, Best Ball and more. Here’s Steamer’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections included here are mine, and where I see tiers starting and stopping are included. Anyway, here’s the top 80 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball:

NOTE: All 2022 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games, due to the CBA. Also, I’m going on the assumption the NL is getting the DH.

NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.

NOTE III: Free agents are listed as just that and not yet projected. Once a guy signs, I will write out their blurb and add in projections, or remove them, if they sign in an unfavorable place. They are ranked currently where I think they might be if they sign on for a full-time job.

61. Lance McCullers – This tier started in the top 60 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball and goes until Bauer. I called this tier, “Chck ngin.” As for McCullers, here’s what I said this offseason, “Dealing with a forearm strain. Weird from a guy who only throws 96% curveballs. The good news is his MRI says there’s no issue with the UCL in his elbow. The bad news is once the MRI started talking another patient screamed and jumped out a window.” And that’s me quoting me! You couldn’t pay me enough to draft McCullers. Okay, actually, you could. I’d do it for $5. I mean, I’m drafting for free, so $5 that I can put towards a boba sounds great. But as a figure of speech, yes, that is accurate. You couldn’t pay me enough to draft McCullers (unless you Venmo’d me $5, and I had a Venmo). Wouldn’t be shocked to see the Astros wait all the way to April to announce McCullers needs surgery just to prove the Mets aren’t the only dumb organization. 2022 Projections: 6-5/3.32/1.15/129 in 121 IP

62. Zac Gallen – Ya know, there’s gonna be some guys in this tier that prove me downright goofy for avoiding them. It’s fine. As I always say, you need six-ish starters, and you have 50-ish starters total to choose from; just grab the safest ones you can. Listen, even the ones we draft, they’re not all safe. We’re wearing a parachute every time we get on the elevator for the one in a billion chance the elevator free falls, but the parachute is still gonna hit the falling ceiling, collapse back on you, and smother you occasionally. We’re not able to avoid all risk, but starters are so inherently risky as it is, why not try to avoid as much risk as you can? As for Gallen, he had this news blurb last year “injured list since May 12 because of a sprain to a section of the UCL in his right elbow” and a subpar year afterwards, so *raspberries lips* 2022 Projections: 8-13/3.81/1.27/179 in 161 IP

63. Hyun-Jin Ryu – This whole tier isn’t participating in its first rodeo. Ryu, experienced? Oh yeah! Jimi Hendrix hits a cut on the ax, doing a rendition of O, Canada that is making a hockey player in a bear hat, who is missing teeth, sob loudly. The spectacle! I’m moved to tears–Oops, confused “Ryu experienced?” with Are You Experienced, Eh? which was performed by the Canadian Jim Hendricks, a white guy who has an ancedote about his aunt and Dan Akyroyd. Ryu’s what happens when a pitcher, who tops out at 90 MPH and stays around the plate, ages. He might be able to reinvent himself, but I’m not in to find out. 2022 Projections: 11-8/4.08/1.19/151 in 174 IP

64. John Means –  Prior to placing Means in this tier, I had him in the Dorf tier in the top 60 starters. Ended up moving him to the Chck ngin, because he was sidelined with a shoulder strain and, when he returned, his 2nd half strikeout rate was way down, his ERA was way up and his 94.1 MPH fastball in June became 92.8 by September, and same-same on all his pitches. A massive dip in velocity for a guy who didn’t have a ton of velocity to play with is a “by all Means help yourself,” but I’m fine. 2022 Projections: 9-13/4.22/1.08/147 in 156 IP

65. Trevor Bauer

Angel on my shoulder, “Trevor Bauer is the biggest piece of shit and shouldn’t be ranked.”
Devil on my shoulder, “MLB didn’t suspend Ozuna, outside of time served, and he was actually on camera beating his wife, so why would they suspend Bauer this year? MLB is going to shrug and say they can’t do anything else with Bauer. They will say Bauer’s time served last season is his suspension, and they let him back on the field at the start of the season.”
Angel on my shoulder, “Shouldn’t I be wearing an Angels jersey? Or am I Angel Berroa?”

As the Angel on my shoulder-slash-Angel Berroa showed, I can’t argue with the Devil. I could see raising Bauer in my rankings when, what I think will be inevitable, happens, and MLB says his time has been served. In early drafts, I’m seeing him go about fifty starter ranks after this, and I think that might be people thinking, because they don’t like Bauer, that MLB will suspend him all year. Even if MLB suspends him for part of the 2022 season, he will have some value. How much? There’s the risk. 2022 Projections: 8-2/3.45/1.09/184 in 149 IP

66. Jon Gray – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Wood. I call this tier, “Broken emergency anchor glass.” This tier is usually filled with safe number five starters who you can get cheap and they anchor your staff. In the past, this was a condom tier. Something that could glue the team together. A Dollar Store condom, so there was some risk, but the wrapper says it’s safe. Not this year. No one is safe. These guys are the closest guys I can find to anchor your staff, but the emergency glass is broken and the anchor is hanging out on the floor. You can see I’m very familiar with ships, thinking anchors are behind emergency glass. Usually this tier is cheap, older guys. I’m going to do my best to find safer guys, but I purposely put actual ‘safe’ guys earlier this year (Bassitt, Stroman, etc.) because safety will be harder to come by and Dollar Store condoms can’t be found.

As for Jon Gray, here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Rangers. So, the Rangers’ great aunt passed away, and left them a huge inheritance, huh? Rangers’ home park, Arlington National Cemetery of Home Runs, isn’t a great place to hit, but Jon Gray’s going there? *Succession theme song plays* “I want my son, Gray, on my teams this year.” That’s me talking to Shiv. For his career, 9.5 K/9, 2+ BB/9, and headed to one of the best home parks. I know, I know, he had a better home ERA in Coors than in away games, but that’s silly. No one wants to pitch in Coors. He’s about to have a Robbie Ray resurrection in Arlington; someone take in his inseam six inches.” And that’s me copying and pasting me! 2022 Projections: 10-9/3.64/1.29/174 in 167 IP

67. Steven Matz – Here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed by the Cards. Mets fans were upset that Matz signed with the Cardsrather than returning to New York. Why? Best I can figure it’s because Matz sounds like Mets. The Mets didn’t want Matz last year, happy to bid him adieu, then he went to Canada, learned French, so he knew what ‘adieu’ meant, and how to better locate his pitches, and now the Mets fans think they’re entitled to something. The funniest (not funny) thing is their owner, Steven Cohen, tweeted about how he was upset Matz’s agent lied to him. Agents lying? What’s next, water being wet? St. Louis is a solid landing spot for any pitcher who is barely a number five that wants to pitch like a three or four, and Matz is no different.” And that’s me, well, you know. 2022 Projections: 11-8/3.79/1.31/157 in 168 IP

68. Adam Wainwright – The year is 2081 and Adam Wainwright turned 100. He just retired, deciding he can’t wait any longer, after a 60-year lockout. Then, as luck would have it, a deal is finally struck between the 80-year-old player rep, Wander Franco, and Rob Manfred Jr. Jr., the 15-year-old MLB commissioner-slash-influencer who has a TikTok channel that is just him opening up graves and harvesting human bones for petroleum. So, when the Cards ask Wainwright to throw out the 1st pitch for the restart of baseball, he surprises them and everyone, by staying in the game and throwing a complete game shutout. His catcher, Yadier Molina. 2022 Projections: 12-7/3.77/1.12/148 in 178 IP

69. Aaron Civale – The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Cleveland has smoked-glass windows so it’s hard to see inside. On those smoked-glass windows, there’s shadows of a vibrant, meatball-eating public inside loving their marinara treasures. But, if you walk inside, you’ll see the shadow on the window is nothing more than a cardboard cutout of a person eating a meatball, and it’s not a Spaghetti Factory at all, it’s the Cleveland Starting Pitcher Factory. Don’t have to dig too deep through the discarded garlic bread to find Civale with a 8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 3.40 ERA. He just needs to redeem his Penny Saver meatball-shaped coupon at the front door, and show up in time for his ressie. 2022 Projections: 9-11/3.61/1.10/129 in 149 IP

70. Cal Quantrill – I’m rubbing my hand on the windows of the The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Cleveland, thinking it’s just fogged up, but it’s actually smoked-glass. Hmm…Putting my face up to the window to try to see in, looking for where all the noise inside is coming from, the commotion is a low roar. What I don’t know, Cal Quantrill stands by a record player, turning up the volume, and the record that spins, “Italian Restaurant Ambient Noise.” It’s really a pitchers’ factory! There’s no meatballs over the plate here, especially not from the pitchers.

Not sure where Civale or Quantrill came from to pitch this well, if not for the factory explanation. It’s also why I fear another Guardians’ starter, say, Cody Morris, will come out of nowhere and Quantrill or Civale will disappear, but that’s completely anecdotal. For now what we have is, Quantrill with a 3.64 ERA in 284 2/3 career innings, and stuff that reads to me as 8+ K/9, and a low-2 BB/9, which is easily a number five, and makes a strong case to be a number four. Or the Board of Health closes down The Starting Pitcher Factory. Sorry, just laughed thinking of Cleveland having a Board of Health. 2022 Projections: 9-8/3.58/1.14/151 in 179 IP

71. Alex Wood – Mentioned this once or five hundred times before: If you could only draft one team’s starters, you could do a lot worse than drafting only Giants. Last year was a magical year of Giants figuring out a way to cheat, and thankfully without Mike Fiers on the team. Even without Gene, the Giants’ genie, their starters are in a good place to, uh, start. Worst case scenario is you draft Wood, move him out of your lineup, and show your wife that you built a Wood bench. Best case scenario, he continues to be a 9+ K/9, low-to-mid 2 BB/9 guy with a plenty usable ERA. 2022 Projections: 8-7/3.71/1.20/154 in 151 IP

72. Huascar Ynoa – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until the top 100 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “I’m using the milkrowave.” Is using the microwave fun? No. Is it fun to use the microwave and call it the milkrowave? Yes, undeniably. That’s this tier. Guys who are likely just using microwaves, but it’s late and I’m enjoying myself by pronouncing it milkrowave, making these guys fun.

As for Huascar, I don’t Ynoa, to be honest. A part of me thinks I know Ynoa, ya know? Another part of me thinks can one human ever know another? Nah, seriously, if you look at his results last year (9.9 K/9 and most importantly 2.5 BB/9), it’s hard to understand how I could wait this long to rank him. Well, if you take out all the starters who I’ve ranked who I don’t want to draft, then this is like the 55th best starter. But that’s hogwash, and confusing. Ynoa likely should’ve got a sleeper post written for him, but there’s reasons against him. One drawback is he might only be able to throw 130 IP. That is a fairly big drawback in a deep league. In a shallow league, put him together with a top middle reliever and you have 200 of the sexiest innings. Those innings be walking in the door and I’m like dayum! Ynoa raised his arm slot last year and increased his FB velocity from 94.9 MPH to 96.5 MPH, but it’s super flat, and had a .305 xBA. Not great, but his slider is .200 xBA and he throws it nearly 50% of the time. That’s kinda reliever-esque, which is why in the end, I was fine ranking him this low and not writing the sleeper, but I do like him as a 5th to 6th starter. 2022 Projections: 8-4/3.97/1.13/148 in 131 IP

73. Cristian Javier – As I’ve mentioned before, I rank all the guys, then go back and move them all around and jot down a little note like, “Sleeper” or ” Rookie,” but for Javier I wrote, “Rotation?” As in, is he in it? Your drafting of Javier depends on how optimistic you are McCullers or Verlander are going to throw 170+ IP. Verlander, maybe, but McCullers’s over/under is “April forearm discomfort” and “May forearm discomfort.” I’m betting April, but it May-be. Javier might be the first guy I ranked in the starters that gets saves. Though, there’s an argument for Kopech. Could also see Javier getting 150 IP and us being wrapped in those delicious innings and becoming yummified.

Javier has a similar pitch mix to Ynoa, and why some project him as a long-reliever vs. a starter. Really think people need to get out of their heads “pitcher only has two pitches, so he can’t be a starter.” First off, if a guy’s got one pitch he throws 30+% of the time and it has a .098 xBA like Javier’s slider, then does it matter he only has one other pitch? Also, starters are being used for 4-5 IP now so if they have two pitches it doesn’t matter anymore. It mattered when a guy was meant to go 7+ IP. On a side but actually related note, Javier has a 3.53 ERA across 155 2/3 IP, and Steamer projects him for 4.44. Yeah, sometimes I just don’t get it. Last year, Javier was actually better as a starter than a reliever, 3.14 ERA as starter vs. 3.93 ERA. 2022 Projections: 7-3/3.41/1.16/149 in 119 IP

74. Triston McKenzie – Stretch Armweak aka McStickzie aka the feather in Forrest Gump aka a Chris Rock Precious Moments Figurine aka the guy who does indoor skydiving and is pinned against the ceiling aka whatever you want to call Triston McKenzie is becoming the Willie Calhoun of starters. You can’t be an upside, 5th to 6th starter every year without losing some shine. Ideally, you appear in this tier, and next year you’re way higher or way lower. Last year in this tier was Freddy Peralta, Chris Sale, Ohtani, Syndergaard and a bunch of guys who have us saying, “Hey, whatever happened to Mitch Keller?” This might be the last time I can look at McKenzie and see upside still. If Triston McKenzie goes sideways one more time, he’ll naturally disappear. 2022 Projections: 8-8/4.12/1.31/158 in 143 IP

75. Josiah Gray – This tier is the “Upside or up side yo’ head,” tier. Kinda feel like their projections are irrelevant. They’re either going to be 3.30 ERA or better or 4.50 ERA and worse. This tier is the end of shallower leagues. You grab one upside flyer to fill out your staff, and you get to April and that starter has a great start and you think, “Damn, I shouldn’t have dropped him in March right after drafting him.”

Think it’s important to state that starters that will be in the next top 100 starters post might be better picks over these pitchers if the league is deep. In a deeper league, you sometimes need innings vs. upside. We’re firmly in the point in the draft where you need to evaluate what your team needs vs. what a ranking is saying. With that said, Gray had a .144 xBA and .161 xBA on two of his pitches (curve, slider), which accounted for 45% of his pitches. His third pitch was his 95 MPH fastball. The Nats did well getting Jo-Jo Gray. There’s absolutely going to be a point where he finds the right pitch mix and is a great starter. Will it be this year? Again:  This is an upside or upside yo’ head tier, so it’s unclear. 2022 Projections: 7-10/4.06/1.31/143 in 129 IP

76. Drew Rasmussen – Ya know what’s kinda wild, all Rays’ starters with 40 to 45 prospect grades become number two starters and all 60+ grade Pirates prospects become 35-grade arms, until they’re traded. Also, the Brewers are most like the Rays, and the Tigers are most like the Pirates, and the Marlins are the Rays and Brewers, and the Rangers are the Tigers and Pirates. I could go on across the whole league. If your team can’t scout or develop for shizz, maybe you get some new hirees? Just throwing it out there.

Rasmussen is in the mold of Cristian Javier. Don’t think he stays in the rotation all year, and, if he did, he’d struggle to throw more than 130 IP. Also, similar to Javier, he was much better as a starter than a reliever (1.93 ERA vs. 3.97 ERA). His strikeouts fell dramatically though, and his luck was a little absurd. More than likely Rasmussen is going to be a solid stream at times, and might be on and off waivers in shallower leagues. The end result should be more better than worse. More on this in the video, don’t forget to subscribe! Just announced on there that Rudy’s Draft War Room is now for Best Ball and Auction leagues, too. 2022 Projections: 8-5/3.20/1.13/118 in 123 IP

77. Bailey Ober – Already gave you my Bailey Ober sleeper. It was written while becoming a flat earther. 2022 Projections: 9-10/3.89/1.11/161 in 157 IP

78. Nate Pearson – Imagine this entire tier was under a manhole in NYC. The smoke coming out of that manhole would spell, “Did everyone forget these guys were highly sought after last year and are still very young?” And that smoke would smell like hot pretzels, because of course.

As for Pearson, is Stripling still in the rotation? Are all the Jays’ starters healthy? Pearson should be the first guy up and, even though he doesn’t have a spot in the rotation right now, that could change with a snap of the fingers, especially if Stripling’s the one snapping his fingers and he has a blister. Don’t Caviezel Nate low, he’s a Pearson of interest. *door gets knocked off hinges* You’re being arrested for a terrible pun! Come with us! “NOOOO!!! I’m sorry!!! Please!” Rethinking, “Wish you were here earlier,” off looks, “Because I had a fly and you’re a Swat team.” *Dragged out of house screaming* 2022 Projections: 6-4/3.77/1.36/119 in 98 IP

79. Jesus Luzardo – Is it me or do you always think of Jim Morrison when you see Jesus Luzardo’s name? Oliver Stone would dress Luzardo in a crown of thrones. It’s just me, isn’t it? Mmkay. So, this ranking is still based on prospect grades and the hopes for Luzardo, and not based on results. That’s fine for a 24-year-old. Guys take different amounts of time to breakout, look at Charlie Morton vs. Andy Dufresne. At a certain point, a guy needs to produce and Luzardo’s just about at the put up and/or shut up portion of his career. 2022 Projections: 7-11/4.06/1.35/148 in 145 IP

80. Tony Gonsolin – Pretty tricky guy to rank, if I’m being honest, and for once I am. Well, also when I call myself handsome. Gonsolin’s tricky because in shallower leagues, this flyer means nothing. If he sucks or is bumped from the rotation again, you drop him. Or hold him for middle relief innings. No harm, no foul this late in, say, a 10 or 12-team league. In a 15-team or deeper league, this could be a costly flyer. Again, this is why I say Fantasy Pros rankings of, uh, rankings are so wildly dumb. Rankings are totally fluid depending on your team and the league. If you have four upside flyers on your staff in a 15-team league, then you absolutely should be drafting someone like Marco Gonzales over Gonsolin, and I haven’t ranked Marco yet. Where is Marco? Polo! Show yourself, Marco! He’s much further along in the rankings, because this is first and foremost a 12-team and shallower ranking. You can use what I say for each player and their projections for any league, and if a guy is in a favoriable tier vs. not favorable tells you whether I’d draft them in deeper leagues, but Gonsolin or, say, Greinke in a 20-team league? Well, do you have risky starters on your team already? Do you need a safer, older starter? Do you need upside?

Pretty confused why there’s no shine on Tony Gonsolin early on in drafts from what I’ve seen. He was around a top 60 starter last year for people even though he wasn’t in the rotation. Now, he’s way off radars, while being penned (penciled?) into the rotation finally? Was last year a disappointment? You tell me: He had a 3.23 ERA and 10.5 K/9 in 55 2/3 IP. Oh, and he also started 13 games vs. appearing in only two as a reliever, so the Dodgers are viewing him as a starter. Could he get bumped from the rotation again? Sure, but if I were the Dodgers, I’d first bump Price or Heaney, and fist bump Gonsolin. 2022 Projections: 8-3/3.76/1.28/123 in 111 IP

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