This season, DraftKings is bringing its popular Best Ball contests to Major League Baseball. This format gives players a chance to draft a fantasy baseball team for a season-long competition that requires no active in-season management but still provides a full season of drama and competition.
You can find all the details, scoring and rules for the format in this overview post along with links to the rest of our season preview content.
In this post, you can find my top 30 starting pitchers ranked coming into the season. Check back throughout Spring Training for more content to help get you ready for all your Best Ball contests.
1. Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers
I went with Burnes in my top spot, though the top four are all extremely close. The Brewers let the righty pile up a career-high 202 innings and he went a solid 12-8 in his 33 starts with a 2.85 xFIP, 10.83 K/9 and 0.97 WHIP. His strikeout rate was a little down and his home run was a little up, but he still managed an impressive all-around season.
After losing his arbitration hearing this offseason, he should be fired up to prove his value to the team, as he continues to feast on the NL Central and stack up plenty of strikeouts. He is projected for another dominant season and should not disappoint if you take him as the first pitcher off the board.
5. Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
Strider is the fifth option on my board, but I definitely think he could emerge as the clear No. 1 SP by the time we make this list next year. The Mustache Man arrived in the Majors last year as a 23-year-old and made 20 starts and 31 appearances while compiling a ridiculous 13.81 K/9 to go with his 1.83 FIP and 0.99 WHIP.
While his strikeout rate is projected to dip slightly in a full season as a starter, he is still expected to be among the league leaders in that stat, which is critical for Best Ball production. He did deal with an oblique injury at the end of last season, but when he was healthy there were not many better options. Strider was edged out for the Rookie of the Year award by his teammate Michael Harris II, but don’t be surprised if he sets his sights on a Cy Young this year. His supporting cast is exceptional, and the Braves have shown a willingness to let their starting pitchers pile up innings. After a sharp spring, Strider is definitely worth targeting early in drafts as soon as the biggest SP names are off the board. If he builds on his breakthrough, he could end up being a great pick if you get him in the second-round or even at the end of the first-round depending on your league size.
11. Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners
Castillo was shipped to the Mariners at the trade deadline last season, and he immediately benefited from the change in scenery. Not only did the roster around him improve dramatically, but he also got a massive park upgrade, moving from Great American Ballpark to T-Mobile Park, which is vastly more pitcher-friendly.
In his 11 starts for Seattle, Castillo posted a 10.61 K/9 rate, 2.91 FIP and 1.10 WHIP. The Mariners liked what they saw so much that they locked him up with a five-year, $108 million contract extension before the end of the season. Castillo helped Seattle to the playoffs and pitches well against the Astros and Blue Jays. He doesn’t quite crack my top ten, but he’s definitely a great option I like from the second-tier of pitchers.
30. Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds
Despite the fact that the Reds are a mess and play in a very hitter-friendly park, I’m still extremely high on Lodolo coming into this season. He squeaks into my top 30 based on the sky-high upside brought by his strikeout potential.
Last season, Lodolo made his MLB debut and went just 4-7 with a 3.90 FIP and 1.25 WHIP. However, he did showcase good stuff with an 11.41 K/9 rate. Throughout his rise to the Majors, the lefty has piled up punchouts at a prolific rate. He had a 13.5 K/9 in Triple-A over 2021-22 before his promotion and a 13.91 K/9 rate in Double-A in 2021.
Lodolo has the stuff to improve on his strong rookie season and should hit his incredible ceiling often enough to be a regular in your starters throughout the season. He is a little risky since he’s unproven, so if you reach on Lodolo, be sure to build in some reliable options into your depth later in the draft.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.