Every Tuesday and Thursday for the next 4 weeks Caveball will sort out the 8 tiers for all 8 Fantasy positions. The following week at the end of February we will release our unique “Chartfelt Tiers”, the ultimate Cheat-sheet for Fantasy Baseball – unique because it allows you to easily cross-reference players in different positions who have similar value.

During that same week we will offer up our General Draft Strategy, which will then be followed by a specific strategy for 2015, which you can use in tandem with our “Chartfelt Tiers”.

Here now are Caveball’s Tiers for Starting Pitchers:

Tier #1 – The Alpha Wolves (Level 1)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked in the top 24 players overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 1 and 2.

  • Clayton Kershaw - Only isssue is sacrificing a 1st round pick for an arm
  • Felix Hernandez - Learned how to win long ago, and now his team has (20 wins)
  • Stephen Strasburg - Found a new gear in 2nd half and kept improving
  • Chris Sale - Dominating, yet how long can his frame stand the violent releases? Will miss the opener.
  • Johnny Cueto - Had an incredible year amidst a tough one for the Reds
  • Corey Kluber - 28 yr old Cy Young winner has no history of this kind of dominance (Maybe his initials give him super powers, like his N.L. Cy Young winning comrade, and the man of steel himself)
Tier #2 – The Alpha Wolves (Level 2)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked from 25 to 48 overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 3 and 4.

  • Madison Bumgarner - Legendary playoff performance may overhype his value
  • Max Scherzer - Should dominate in the weaker-hitting N.L. East
  • David Price - Old-school workhorse led MLB in IP (248) and Ks (271)
  • Adam Wainwright - Mirror image (20-W) year with 2010 with slight dip in Ks
  • Matt Harvey - This year is as cheap as he will come in the next 5
Tier #3 – The Beta Wolves (Level 1)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked from 49 to 84 overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 5, 6 and 7.

  • Jordan Zimmermann - Always reliable – allowed 29 BB in 32 starts
  • Zach Greinke - The odd poor outing balanced out by win opportunities
  • Masahiro Tanaka - Injury is the only concern here, but it’s a big one
  • Jon Lester - Transition to N.L. East should suit him quite well
  • Cole Hamels - Consistent workhorse will battle for new team
  • Julio Teheran - Handled a big workload with Braves staff dropping like flies. Two ways to look at this.
  • Alex Cobb - Takes over as the ace for a Rays team that could surprise many
  • Jake Arrieta - Can he repeat breakout year? Yes. His season splits were almost a perfect reflection, and his team is for real now.
Tier #4 – The Beta Wolves (Level 2)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked from 85 to 132 overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 8, 9, 10 and 11.

  • Alex Wood - How jinxed can the Braves be? He’s already had Tommy John
  • Sonny Gray - Pitched better away than in the bay. Has less support this year
  • Hisashi Iwakuma - Lack of Spring Training/late start hurt his numbers
  • Jeff Samardzija - Back in Chi-Town, but with a contender this time
  • Garrett Richards - Knee injury and recovery will ease some of the hype, but don’t let him slide too far
  • James Shields - Undervalued workhorse gains more in Petco
  • Tyson Ross - Should get some run support this year to go with solid starts 
  • Matt Latos - Move to Miami provides value, but injury risk remains
  • Gio Gonzalez - Most of 29 yr. old’s poor starts came around DL stint
  • Jered Weaver - Avg’d 16.7 wins over last 4 yrs & won’t hurt you elsewhere 
  • Yordano Ventura - Exposure and extra IP in post-season may overhype 2015
  • Lance Lynn – 15-10 in ’13, 15-10 in ’14 – 3-peat for steady 27 yr. old?
  • Doug Fister - If you can live without the Ks, he contributes well elsewhere
  • Jose Fernandez - How Marlins baby him almost as important as return date
Tier #5 – The Gamma Wolves (Level 1)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked from 133 to 192 overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 12-16 inclusive.

  • Michael Wacha - Wouldn’t touch him with a 10-round pole this year
  • Jacob DeGrom - Sophomore slumps seem to prey particularly on ROYs
  • Collin McHugh - Rookie stats as good as DeGrom’s, but will go rounds later
  • Chris Archer - 26 yr. old should surpass the 200 mark in IP – maybe Ks
  • Carlos Carrasco - Kershaw-like stats after the All-Star break for 28 yr. old 
  • Gerritt Cole - Needs to prove durability to become an true ace
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu - Allowed 2 runs total in 4 stellar starts against the hapless Padres – this won’t be repeated. As well, durability issues loom after September fade
  • Homer Bailey - Career record of 58-50 indicates Christian Bale lookalike is no superhero.
  • Phil Hughes - 16 BB in 32 GP. Is this the new Hughes out of the NY spotlight?
  • Drew Smyly - Kershaw-like stats over 7 starts with new team (Rays)
  • Dallas Keuchel - Surprise year from southpaw sets up for some regression for 2015
  • Michael Pineda - “Pine Tar” (am I the only one who thought of this nickname?) appears tough to hit, even without greasing up the balls – durability is the big question
  • Andrew Cashner - Shoulder issues hurt an otherwise strong year
  • Jake Odorizzi - Promising start for 25 yr. old. Could surpass 200 Ks
  • Anibal Sanchez - Good time to draft him (after a non-arm injury)
  • Ian Kennedy - Cheap K source and more Ws on a much improved team
  • Scott Kazmir - Beane rejuvenates yet another career – seems like a name from another era, but he’s only 31
Tier #6 – The Gamma Wolves (Level 2)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked from 193 to 240 overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 17-20 inclusive.

  • Fransisco Liriano - Has yet to surpass 200 IP, but had a .218 BAA 
  • R. A. Dickey - Same 14-13 record in ’13 & ’14. Prediction: 15 in ’15
  • Chris Tillman - Yes, Bird’s ace ranks below Nat’s 5th – Solid not spectacular
  • Mike Fiers - Doesn’t overpower, but Ks batters with off-speed stuff (Sleeper)
  • Danny Duffy - Excellent numbers (2.53 ERA/.209 BAA/1.11 WHIP) from the 26 yr. old southpaw that shouldn’t surprise (Career Minors Avg.: 2.28 ERA/.223 BAA/1.15 WHIP) , but still do (Sleeper)
  • Jose Quintana - ERA (3.32) has improved 3 straight yrs. 15-win potential for the 26 yr. old with much improved ChiSox
  • Matt Cain - Down time could be just what he needed after 5 yrs of 200-plus innings and post-season workloads 
  • Matt Shoemaker – Enigma-man allowed 489 hits in 397.1 (PCL) innings, yet won 16 of his 20 starts with L.A. That conversion rate is all out of whack. Not to worry – one of your opponents will take him long before you even start to consider him, right? 
  • Edison Volquez - Warning: A.L. Central is full of improved lineups  
  • John Lackey - Card’s staff’s height make it look like an NBA team
  • Jason Hammel - Used to be less than an afterthought when he pitched at Coors Field, which can tell you why it’s tough for the Rockies to lure pitchers there – it can destroy careers. Hammel was back on the Fantasy radar once he left Colorado, even in Baltimore. With the Cubs he has been very good. (Sleeper)
Tier #7 – The Omega Wolves (Level 1)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked from 241 to 276 overall. For 12-team leagues this covers rounds 21-23 inclusive.

  • Bud Norris - Another 15 wins is not a reach behind Bird’s Offence
  • Shelby Miller - Doesn’t wow in any category
  • Kyle Lohse - 36 yr. old still hasn’t dropped off, but why take the risk
  • Justin Verlander - Fierce competitor working on new pitch (with the media)
  • Drew Hutchison - 24 yr. old had 184 K in 184.2 IP/allowed 173 H
  • Matt Garza 31 yr. old is still effective, but hasn’t pitched 200 inning since 2010
  • Danny Salazar Talent is there – may have been tipping pitches (Sleeper)
Tier #8 – The Omega Wolves (Level 2)

This tier includes all starting pitchers ranked lower than 276 overall who have a chance to crack the top 300. For a 12-team league this covers rounds 24 and higher.

  • Clay Buchholz - Another enigma: when he’s on he’s on and, well…
  • Tanner Roark - Probably headed to the bullpen with Scherzer signing (will be a great waiver wire pick up with first Nats’ injury)
  • Rick Porcello - Career .283 BAA and Fenway ain’t gonna help
  • Andrew Heaney - Angels’ coaching could groom touted southpaw (Sleeper)
  • A. J. Burnett - Thought he didn’t want to return to Pittsburgh(?)
  • Kyle Hendricks - 13-game sample size was smooth transition to Majors
  • Yusmeiro Petit - Good enough to be a starter, but will he be?
  • Wei-Yin Chen - .266 BAA suggests he won’t repeat 16-win 2014
  • Mike Minor - .285 BAA/1.44 WHIP. “Breakout Year” became breakdown
  • Alfredo Simon - Last year’s 1st half looks like a fluke after poor 2nd
  • James Paxton - Apparently its tougher to pitch in PCL than MLB
  • Wade Miley - The terrible truth: None of the Red Sox starters belong in a higher tier
  • Ervin Santana - 4-year contract with 4th team in 4 years
  • C. J. Wilson - Hard-working veteran has seen better years
  • Jake Peavy - Ditto
  • Tim Hudson - Celebrates his 40th in July, 4 days before another T.H. (Torii Hunter) celebrates his, but he’s fading
  • Marco Estrada - Demoted to the bullpen before the all-star break
  • Yovani Gallardo - New home bandbox trumps unfamiliar hitters
  • Nathan Eovaldi - New tough division trumps unfamiliar hitters
  • Kevin Gausman - Sophomore slump probably on the way
  • Henderson Alvarez - .275 BAA suggests 12-7 record was lucky
  • Taijuan Walker - Still only 22 yrs. old – Must battle for a spot
  • Brandon Morrow - Shield’s acquisition means the battle is on for the 5th spot
  • Bartolo Colon - Has defied us all for years, but turns 42 in May
A Few Others:

Willie Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, C.C. Sabathia, Mike Leake, Jonathan Niese, Carlos Martinez, Brandon McCarthy, Kyle Gibson, Trevor Bauer, Derek Holland, Mike Leake, Jarred Cosart