Draft Prep Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Breakouts 1.0 | Busts 1.0

Tiering starting pitchers can get unwieldy. With so many names and so few tiers, getting them to sync up perfectly is in many ways a fool's errand.

But I can't recall a time when the delineation between tiers was so clear.

Even at the top, Clayton Kershaw no longer demands a separate tier all to himself. With him missing time three of the past four years with back issues, you can't count on the same volume from him that you'll get from Corey Kluber, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer. The gap has closed.

Then there's the rest of the aces in The Near-Elite and the not-quite-but-possibly aces in The Next-Best Things. If there's one inconsistency with the starting pitcher tiers, it's that the front half of The Fallback Options has by and large more upside than the back half, but whatever. Divide it in two if you'd like. As many pitchers as you'll be drafting, chances are you're taking multiple from that tier anyway.

As you can see, there are enough proven aces (the first two tiers) that you'll be at a distinct disadvantage if you don't grab a couple yourself, especially at a time when innings are being more evenly distributed and aces aren't emerging as regularly. The strategy of loading up on a bunch of high-upside arms from the middle tiers and trusting a couple to break through is, quite frankly, outdated.

The Elite: Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer
The Near-Elite Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Madison Bumgarner, Luis Severino, Stephen Strasburg, Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco, Jacob deGrom, Yu Darvish, Robbie Ray, Chris Archer, Carlos Martinez, Dallas Keuchel
The Next-Best Things: Jake Arrieta, David Price, James Paxton, Zack Godley, Sonny Gray, Aaron Nola, Jose Quintana, Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Jon Lester, Johnny Cueto
The Fallback Options: Alex Wood, Danny Duffy, Luis Castillo, Lance McCullers, Shohei Ohtani, Rich Hill, Marcus Stroman, Dylan Bundy, Jose Berrios, Chase Anderson, Charlie Morton, Luke Weaver, Jon Gray, Gio Gonzalez, Michael Fulmer, Jeff Samardzija, Jacob Faria, Trevor Bauer, Kyle Hendricks, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger
The Last Resorts: Cole Hamels, Patrick Corbin, Aaron Sanchez, Danny Salazar, Kevin Gausman, Garrett Richards, Tanner Roark, Rick Porcello, J.A. Happ, Drew Pomeranz, Jameson Taillon, Sean Manaea, Dinelson Lamet, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Mike Minor*, Lucas Giolito, Luiz Gohara, Kenta Maeda, Julio Teheran, Jordan Montgomery, Taijuan Walker, Jimmy Nelson, Ervin SantanaBrad Peacock*, Marco Estrada, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Dan Straily, Mike Leake, Jake Odorizzi
The Leftovers: Collin McHugh, Zach Davies, Tyler Glasnow, Matt Harvey, Mike Foltynewicz, Steven Matz, Vince Velasquez, German Marquez, Jake Junis, Joe Musgrove*, Brandon Woodruff, Sean Newcomb, Robert Stephenson*, CC Sabathia, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Vargas, Miles Mikolas, Reynaldo Lopez, Andrew Heaney, Matt Moore, Erasmo Ramirez*, Brandon Finnegan, Tyler Chatwood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Homer Bailey, Zack Wheeler, Tyler Skaggs, Eduardo Rodriguez, Carlos Rodon, Brent Honeywell, Alex Reyes, Daniel Mengden, Felix HernandezIvan Nova, Anthony DeSclafaniWei-Yin Chen, John Lackey, Kendall Graveman, Tyler Anderson, Jaime Garcia, Trevor Williams, Jerad Eickhoff, Chad Kuhl, Jose Urena, Andrew Cashner

*: RP-eligible