Welcome back! We’ve got a special piece for you. Say you whiffed on pitching, or the injury bug stung you after the draft. I’ve broken down every MLB team’s starting rotation and forecasted them with each team’s upcoming schedule. You may ask, why would you do this? The most straightforward answer is finding the best upcoming matchups for the lesser-known starting pitchers.
This way, we can maximize the end of our rosters and try to squeeze every last ounce of value that might be available on a waiver wire. Or, perhaps, drop a fringe-worthy pitcher early due to horrendous matchups. Churning your roster at the correct times is key to late-season management. Think about it this way: do you really need to hold onto that pitcher if you’re not going to start him in these key weeks?
Indeed, we are ranking these matchups based on the opponent’s offense, and here are my offensive tiers to do so. Also, please don’t get too held up on the offensive ranks… it’s early and there are always surprises.
You’re only starting your highest-quality SPs against these squads. ATL, HOU, LAD, NYM, and TOR were part of last year’s cream of the crop in runs scored. As always, try and avoid matchups in Coors Field. It’s never worth the aggravation.
This should almost be renamed the VERY SOLID TIER as all these teams can rake. For parts of last year, NYY, PHI, and SDP spent time in the TOP TIER, and it’s not a stretch to say it again. Additionally, STL was a powerhouse with a team K-rate under 20% and during the second half, boasted the best team ISO (.190).
SEA isn’t sneaking up on anything this season after last year’s run. Especially not when you consider they added plenty of big-league bats like Teoscar Hernández, Kolten Wong, and AJ Pollock. If Jarred Kelenic lives up to the hype-LOOKOUT!
While many in the FINE TIER have their warts, plenty also assembled parts to fashion a worthy lineup. However, this is also the tier where teams flow back and forth quite frequently. Surely, we can make a case for any of them to go up, down, left, or right. The best way to put this is, let’s wait and see on these ones.
Riddled with question marks, it’s a challenging task to determine how proficient any of these squads will be. Take a team like CLE for example; they finished 2022 with the second-most SB (119) and the second-fewest HRs (127). And all they added… Josh Bell and Mike Zunino. Or, perhaps a squad like KCR who saw a power step-back from Salvador Perez but bolster the lineup with Vinnie Pasquantino, Bobby Witt Jr., and MJ Melendez. Lastly, MIL sent Kolten Wong and Hunter Renfroe out the door for William Contreras and Jesse Winker. Maybe it works, or maybe it won’t but for now, consider the brew crew as a viable team to stream against.
No surprise here as all these teams were bottom-feeders in runs scored last season. Even with additions, it’ll take quite a bit for them to get out of the dog house. Stream with confidence when this is the upcoming matchup.
(OFF) means the team has an off-day before they play that team.
(DH) indicates a doubleheader that day.
With much of the first two weeks coming against more profound offenses, the best bet is to skip this rotation. Sure, Gallen is Gallen and you’ll start him but the rest shouldn’t garner your attention until Week 3. Until then, stream elsewhere.
Kyle Wright begins his season on the IL, and likely misses a couple of turns in the rotation. That’ll open the door for Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd to audition for a more permanent spot. Between the pair, my lean is toward Shuster. Not only does he draw a significantly better matchup but flexed a tantalizing array of secondary pitches during Spring Training. If you’re looking for an early streamer, scoop Shuster off the wire.
The sneakiest pickup might be Kyle Gibson, who will be the team’s Opening Day starter. As you see from the chart, things appear to line up for several viable starts. At only 38% rostered in Yahoo leagues, he should be someone you could put on the bench and stream until all the rotations clear up.
On top of Gibson, Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin get a decent matchup against the Red Sox. Indeed, you’d cut bait after the first start. They aren’t elite, but Baltimore showed they were able to maximize development. Somewhat like they did with Kyle Bradish, who upped his slider usage and took off. Unfortunately, he’s not quite there and should sit vs. the Yankees.
Grayson Rodriguez is seemingly a lock for the rotation. He’s got several plus pitches and commands the zone. Somehow he’s only 13% rostered in Yahoo. Get him now, because that certainly won’t last as he gets starts.
Sigh. Instead, we’ll have to wait and settle for Tyler Wells.
Boston kicks off the season with a softer schedule, and it doesn’t get too challenging for the pitchers following the first two weeks.
Easy streamer pickups in deeper leagues are Kutter Crawford and Nick Pivetta. Neither will dazzle you with an overall skillset but are widely available. Heck, even Kluber (51% rostered) and Houck (35% rostered) might be available while having decent matchups.
Although, I wouldn’t get too overly invested. Brayan Bello will return at some point in April.
The Cubs are a meh place for the first two weeks. The matchups are favorable but the skills don’t entirely blow you away. Still, everyone in play would get some use on your roster. After those first two weeks, however, feel free to drop Drew Smyly and Hayden Wesneski.
Getting an early start against Houston is rough unless they were short Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez. From there, its turbulence free for everyone’s second start. Unfortunately, all of these starters are rostered in over two-thirds of leagues. So, you might be too late on this one.
Plesac? No, this feels like a mirage. Great matchup but a subpar arm. Look elsewhere!
Aaron Civale and Cal Quantrill lock in for a double-matchup against Seattle. I’d sit them the first start before making any decision. If they look great put them back in for the second start. Unfortunately, that means you’re likely holding both and waiting.
Lastly, keep an eye on Triston McKenzie as he was removed from his last start with arm tightness, and he will start on the IL for at least two weeks.
Don’t do it. On the road are the Padres and Dodgers, then at home. Even if it is the Nationals, it’s not worth it.
Spencer Turnbull finally returning is a fun one. Before Tommy John, Turnbull was known for showcasing quality stuff. Taking a flyer on him is not a bad idea, and he’s definitely on the wire. The same goes for Matthew Boyd, however, it’s worth noting that he didn’t pitch on Saturday and could have trouble making his start.
Joey Wentz and Matt Manning? No, that’s a wait-and-see play… especially against those matchups.
If Eduardo Rodriguez is on the wire, I’m letting him stay there. If you’ve already drafted him, start him for the opener and drop him for the next hot streamer.
Most of the Houston rotation is universally rostered, and if you drafted them. Start them with confidence.
The one to monitor is Hunter Brown. First, he’s available in over 75% of leagues. Also, he’s struggled mightily with command. To add to the injury, he’s been nursing a back issue. Even with concerns, the upside is too immense. Scoop him up, but you could see him only throw five innings. Be prepared and don’t assume he’s a lock.
Brady Singer is interesting-ish, but you’ll have to sit him against the Blue Jays and wait another week to get him in your lineup. Otherwise, there is very little here worth keeping on your radar. Brad Keller has OK matchups to start but it’s a tad risky to begin your season with him.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Much like Athletics, six-man rotations are a challenge. They may stick with the extra arm and give Ohtani the rest, but due to the early extra days off the Angels could skip Tucker Davidson on the first go-around.
The one to keep on the radar is Reid Detmers. After going to a slider-heavy approach, the pitch mix helped bolster a 2022 second half. While I’d sit him for the matchup in Seattle, he’ll collect a slew of favorable matchups afterward. Just hope the rotation sticks.
Everyone’s rostered except for Ryan Pepiot, and he’ll keep that spot in the rotation until Tony Gonsolin returns from his ankle injury. You have to think Pepoit is worth the cost to acquire. The Dodgers have been solid at developing arms and he’ll get weaker opponents for quite a bit.
The Mets and Twins are proficient offenses, so sitting Rogers isn’t a bad idea. However, you’re going to roll the dice with Sandy and Jesús Luzardo. Johnny Cueto is an easy cut, or wait for the perfect spot to stream.
Burnes and Woodruff are Cy Young contenders. Start them every chance.
Wade Miley can remain on the wire, he’s a Toby.
I’d sit Peralta for his first turn against the Mets. He’s not known for going deep and you should be fine if he gets a sit. There are plenty of streaming options.
Eric Lauer could be that streamer you’re looking for. He’s rostered in only 50% of leagues and a matchup against the Seiya Suzuki-less Cubs is perfect. However, I’d send him back to the wire after that. It’s a tough call but you’re not going to want to start him for several weeks after.
The team recently sent Bailey Ober to the minors and will focus on a five-man rotation. And for the most part, they’re all healthy.
They’ve got terrific matchups to begin the season and then run into trouble with Houston and the Yankees. You’ll have to make some tough sit/start decisions. Take Joe Ryan and Tyler Mahle for example, you can’t drop them because someone will scoop them up. Instead, after Week 1, you’ll have to find streamers for them.
Kenta Maeda is back and healthy. He’s shown a little rust, so if he can’t find the strike zone against the Marlins, I might pause on starting him against the White Sox. If it’s vintage Maeda, plug him in for the second start.
The matchups might be away but they don’t get any better than this to open up the season. Unfortunately, the only starter you’ll likely find on your waiver wire is David Peterson.
Last year, Peterson showed he could handle an MLB staff and struck out 126 batters in only 105.2 IP. Additionally, with José Quintana not coming back any time soon, make Peterson a priority pickup at least for these first two starts.
Injuries. They’ve already devastated this rotation. Frankie Montas, Carlos Rodón, and Luis Severino are slated for the IL. Furthermore, the injuries have made the Schmidt/German debate a thing of the past, and both are thrust into starting. Then, after making a strong case, Jhony Brito looks like the final member of the rotation. In 18 Triple-A starts, Brito tossed 70.2 innings with a 53:24 K/BB ratio and 3.31 ERA. Surely, he’ll need to stop allowing free passes for success.
At only 5% rostered in Yahoo, Clarke Schmidt is the most interesting pitcher. With winnable matchups against SFG and BAL, he needs to be a priority pickup in 12-team leagues.
This will be a difficult rotation to predict. For one, Fujinami will start every six days, not five. Also, they’ve got injuries to Paul Blackburn and Drew Rucinski, who’ll start on the IL.
Although, there are a few intriguing arms. The entire rotation is a wait-and-see, even with good matchups. Not yet!
Taijuan Walker against Texas isn’t a stand I’d be willing to make but against Cincy would keep him on my roster if there were no other options. The other potential pickups would be Falter and Strahm, who gets a shot at the rotation while Ranger Suárez is on the mend. Scooping either of them might be worthwhile, but don’t worry about making the pickups until next week.
This isn’t the staff you want to keep an eye on. They’ll primarily be streamers with Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras getting all the attention. Keller doesn’t have bad matchups in his first two starts. You could do worse, keep him on your radar as he could rack up Ks.
A six-man rotation will be implemented, and until Joe Musgrove gets back from the IL, and Ryan Weathers has been informed he will start in his place.
With Colorado on the docket for the first series, anyone looking for early streamers will flock to Nick Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Seth Lugo. Sure, they are all wildcard plays but with a stout enough offense to pick up a W.
San Francisco starts with two series away before setting down against the Royals. That’s tough!
Hopefully, Alex Cobb doesn’t start on the IL. But there’s been rumors about it. In that case, we’d likely see Anthony DeSclafani jump in for a start.
Skip only the first turn with Ross Stripling, and make sure Manaea is locked into your lineups the whole way. Lastly, Alex Wood has looked good in Spring Training, but still should only get consideration as a streamer. That means no starts against the Dodgers and Mets but plug away against the White Sox (maybe) and Tigers.
All systems go in Seattle! The matchups are favorable and they start the first two series at home.
For those in QS leagues, Marco Gonzales poses as a solid pickup. In 2022, he posted 18 QS with a 4.13 ERA. While the Ks won’t be there, he’s still available in over half of all Yahoo leagues.
Atlanta and Toronto aren’t welcoming signs for anyone heavily dependent on this rotation. Luckily, they’ll get somewhat of a breather against Milwaukee. But, at that point, we’ll be nearly ten days into the regular season. And you can’t just drop starting pitchers like Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Jordan Montgomery. Instead, find an early streamer like Jared Shuster to get you by.
With Adam Wainwright unavailable due to a strained groin, Jake Woodford soaks up his challenging start against Atlanta. Additionally, it could be more as groin strains and getting stretched out could take some time. Only in very deep leagues would Woodford be an option.
What about Steven Matz? Sadly, he’s a drop. You really don’t want to have to hold onto him that long, before he becomes relevant.
Before we get into the pitchers, keep in mind the Rays like to do Rays’ things like limit pitch counts and remove pitchers early. To begin the season, this might be the case and the starters might only go five innings, at most.
With that out of the way, onto the good news. The Rays have some mighty good matchups in the first two weeks.
Josh Fleming outdueled Luis Patiño and Yonny Chirinos to lock down a rotation spot. Furthermore, he’ll be on your waiver wire but I’d instruct you to avoid him. While he has easier matchups, it’s not like there is a massive strikeout upside or an ability to go deep into games (3.5 IP/G). To be honest, he’ll probably get piggybacked by a bulk reliever.
Now, Eflin, Springs, and Rasmussen? There is a bit more appeal and favorable matchups. The easiest to acquire would be Eflin, as he’s available in over 90% of Yahoo leagues. Unfortunately, Springs and Rasmussen are probably only available in 10-team leagues.
Obviously, deGrom is matchup-proof. But what about the rest? Among the other four starters, Martín Pérez is the highest rostered SP at 75%. Oddly, that’s who should be rostered the least of the lot.
You’ll be able to get away with Jon Gray and Andrew Heaney for the first two weeks but neither should get the following start(@HOU). Furthermore, Eovaldi gets a home start vs. Philly, but you’ll want to sit him and monitor the fastball velocity. If it’s there and sticks, you’re golden for quite a while.
Back to Perez, sit him against the Phillies, and start him against the Cubs. That’ll get you through until Week 3, and we’ll see how things look at that time.
With an offense as loaded as Toronto, you’ll want to get as many of the starters as possible. No doubt, Manoah Gausman, Bassitt, and Berrios are already rostered. However, Kikuchi secured the final spot in this rotation and was only rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues.
You should at least give Kikuchi the nod in the first matchup (@KCR). But keep a close eye on his performance since he’s been up to his old tricks (walking too many but also piling up Ks). Either way, he’s worth the early add, and then pray he finds the zone more.
Patrick Corbin was awarded the Opening Day start at home…but it’s against Atlanta. Even a second start vs. the Rays could be intriguing, but let’s remember Corbin has lost 35 of his last 62 starts. Pass!
The more intriguing arms (Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore) have horrid matchups to between the season. Do yourself a favor and throw them back for an early streaming option. Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to use them later in the season—just not in the first two weeks.
Oof! Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl. NO WAY!