Two weeks of the season are already behind us. If you’ve missed some things, 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 simplest 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 in-season management. Think about it this way: do you really need to hold onto that pitcher if you’re not going to start him for several weeks?
Indeed, we are ranking these matchups based on the opponent’s offense, and here are my offensive tiers to do so. Also, stop back in from time to time since there will be updates.
HOU and NYY have struggled to begin the season. We’ll give them a pass, especially with HOU not having Yordan Alvarez available. Heck, even BOS isn’t playing at their peaks.
The most notable change is CHW dropping from the Top Tier, and injuries to Yoán Moncada and AJ Pollock deplete them of depth quickly. While it’s still a solid offense, the lack of depth and health concerns knocks them down a notch.
We’ve got some new additions to the tier. MIL drops down from the Solid Tier because they can’t seem to make consistent contact. Additionally, too many Brewers have massive swing-in-miss in the profile, and the strikeouts are problematic. If they start to heat up, expect them to move back up.
Also, @CIN drops down to this tier. The park can be a haven for HRs, but this offense lack much in the way of pop. Furthermore, it’s a lineup with horrendous strikeout problems. We should be OK with starting SPs against this lineup-even in Great American Ball Park.
There is quite a bit of shake-up in this tier. MIN drops down from the Fine Tier because of the injuries to Alex Kirilloff and Byron Buxton. While Buxton’s injury reports came back as a negative, it’s been the catalyst of this offense. Until Buxton looks right, MIN isn’t really that scary.
Also, CLE doesn’t look like the bottom-feeders we saw last year. Emerging from the depth charts are Steven Kwan and Owen Miller. Not to be forgotten, Josh Naylor was activated from the IL. However, they’ll likely come back to Earth and become a streaming target.
Additions of Kris Bryant and Randal Grichuk haven’t paid massively yet for the Rockies, but this lineup looks far more complete than last season. Still, it’s nothing special and should still garner your streaming attention.
Given all the runs, OAK has been a huge shocker. Still, we’ve got to see more before considering this a Meh offense.
Without further ado, let’s get into those matchups.
Note: (Off) means the team has an off-day before they play that team. For example, SEA (OFF) means they are off the previous day. (DH) indicates a double-header that day.
Caleb Smith got the boot, and Humberto Castellanos moved to the rotation. He grabs a few favorable matchups as the calendar flips to May but doesn’t strike out enough batters while having a problematic walk issue. Even in the deepest leagues, you’re best to avoid.
Merrill Kelly found a few ticks on his fastball and showcases a 13:4 K/BB ratio through his first 9.1 IP. After LAD, it’s smooth sailing, and he should be added in all 12-team formats.
Given the lack of days off, this rotation should remain fluid until mid-May.
The Braves look like they’ve switched to a five-person rotation. Bryce Elder moves into the rotation as Huascar Ynoa was demoted to Triple-A. This situation raises some questions, like how long will Ynoa stay down? Likely, Elder isn’t long for his spot, and Atlanta makes a switch at some point.
Early standout Kyle Wright is generating all sorts of whiffs and has 15 Ks in 11 IPs. Not to mention only allowing eight base runners. He’s been a popular waiver-wire add, and rightfully so. Until further notice, it would appear Wright isn’t going anywhere, so double-check your wire.
John Means was placed on the 60-day IL, which is a disaster for a Baltimore rotation that lacked depth to begin. Furthermore, the current projected staff has a 25:21 K/BB ratio – YIKES!
Although, lefty Bruce Zimmermann has been a bright spot. Over his nine innings, he’s yet to allow an earned run and flashing some swing-and-miss stuff(26.3% K-rate). And that’s against formidable offenses like the Yankees and Brewers. He could be a helpful bench streamer in 15-team or AL-only leagues.
The rest of this rotation should be avoided. Yes, even Tyler Wells, who looked promising.
Quite a rough patch for Boston as the schedule lights up with red. The main question is, who belongs in the circle of trust? Nathan Eovaldi has shown the Ks are sticking, and the walks aren’t coming back. He’s in.
Tanner Houck? Nope, not yet; we’ll need to see more from him.
Same for Michael Wacha. Sure, he’s putting up good stats, but the walks are piling up(14% BB rate), and that’s against DET and MIN. In the next few weeks, you’re not going to want him starting against TOR, LAA, ATL, or HOU.
UPDATE – Houck is unable to make the trip to Toronto. Garrett Whitlock starts in his place.
Alec Mills is still on the IL, which means Mark Leiter Jr. jumps into the mix. However, Leiter Jr. is a place-holder until the staff gets healthy. He’s a career minor leaguer with a deep arsenal but only showcases a reliable sinker. Pass!
If you’re looking for an early stash, Justin Steele gets solid matchups @ARI and vs. PIT. He’s a bit of a two-pitch SP that flashed promise in his first start. In 15-team leagues or one with deep benches, he could be a streamer for a couple of starts.
Kyle Hendricks is back to his up-and-down ways. He looked terrible against PIT and capable against TBR and MIL. In smaller 10-team leagues, he shouldn’t be rostered, but as a streamer (in a pinch), he could work out.
Injuries have played a significant role with the White Sox, causing Michael Kopech to grasp a rotation spot firmly. He looks like a lot of what was expected, and if things line up correctly, he’ll get a good stretch with KCR, @CHC, and CLE.
Lucas Giolito is returning from a strained abdomen. Bumpy starts against LAA and BOS but smooth sailing afterward. Depending on where manager Tony La Russa slots him in the rotation, he could pick up easier matchups vs. CLE and @KCR.
Vince Velasquez looks like a trap. Three preferable matchups, but he’s not a good pitcher. He’s still giving up far too many walks(15% BB rate) with a barrel% over 18%. Let someone else fall for it.
Mike Minor and Luis Castillo have begun rehab assignments. Upon their return, this will spell disaster for someone. Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo look better than advertised, and it wouldn’t appear they’re going anywhere. Instead, the expectations should be for Gutierrez and Sanmartin to head to the bullpen.
I expect a shuffling of the rotation, so expect an update as more unfolds.
The rotation was starting to look fluid. Triston McKenzie is no longer piggybacking, and then Cal Quantrill gets put on the COVID IL. In place of Quantrill, Konnor Pilkington will get a start. He’s more of a multi-innings RP, so don’t expect many innings as he’s yet to hurl more than 25 pitches in an outing.
The Cleveland staff as a whole isn’t being limited on pitch counts. Bieber looks OK after a few shaky velocity readings but remains a lock for starting, regardless of the matchup.
The road games are incredibly challenging outside of matchups in Coors Field (@PHI, @SFG). With the only playable series @ARI for the two weeks, it’s best to avoid this whole staff. Don’t do it!
Luckily, Michael Pineda joins the rotation and slots in after E-Rod. Pineda hasn’t looked himself in his two MiLB starts(6.1 IP and 7.1% K-BB%). It’s probably best to watch a start before plopping him into your lineup.
This is another rotation to keep an eye on. They’ll need to get someone into the rotation if Mize and Manning are out for an extended period of time. Be on the lookout for updates, and put a little less stock into the upcoming schedule.
Finally, we have a rotation not in flux … for now. HOU SPs should be set for a nice May with decent matchups towards the back half. In shallower 10-team leagues, consider stashing Urquidy and Garcia.
Jake Odorizzi is the only piece of the Astros rotation that might be available on the wire. He’s rostered in less than 7% of Yahoo leagues due to a poor start but could be a decent source of wins if he gets control back on the arsenal.
Many of the Royals’ SPs are widely available in 12-team leagues. However, they’re best suited as streamers. Week 3 should be considered a pass due to tough matchups.
The spot to target any (outside of Lynch vs NYY) is for their second and third starts. Zack Greinke and Brad Keller should be the first two you’re looking at. Keller is leaning heavier on his slider and four-seam while ditching the sinker. At the moment, it’s working nicely.
Los Angeles Angels on Anaheim
The Angels are sticking with a six-person rotation, and this likely won’t change unless there’s any injury.
Sandoval should sit against @BOS and TBR, but you can’t pass up Ohtani’s strikeout upside; start him. The same goes for Syndergaard; he’s looked solid enough, even though the Ks haven’t been there.
José Suarez gets a bevy of favorable matchups but has been batting fodder. Avoid!
Breaking the hopeful heart of many is the injury news of Andrew Heaney. Tyler Anderson looked solid in his piggyback/multi-IP RP role before moving into his spot. He might not go too deep right away but should be a big-time target in all formats. He’s currently available in over 90% of Yahoo leagues; get him ASAP.
Walker Buehler has been somewhat concerning. The fastball doesn’t look as electric, and he’s giving up a few too many hits. However, he’s got to continue being in your starting lineup. The same goes for the rest of the staff.
Trevor Rogers was supposed to be an anchor for your team, but that’s not the case yet. Luckily, he’s got some decent matchups, and these will be a couple of weeks needed to determine his future. Stay strong, Rogers’ faithful.
Hernandez and Luzardo have been OK. Both have the upside to shove massive games but might still be matchup dependent. Although, given the state of pitching, these are decent enough matchups to make them easy starts.
Many managers get an early birthday wish, and Aaron Ashby enters the rotation. The seven walks in nine IP is a bit concerning, but he’s also striking out a batter per inning, so take what you can get. At the moment, how frequent he’ll start isn’t clear. So, monitor closely.
Except for Freddy Peralta, the rotation has been terrific. The excellent news is that Peralta gets a pair of cupcake matchups to start Week 3, and he should be fine for @CIN and ATL.
The target of this rotation is Bailey Ober, as he’ll avoid the Rays and have an extremely friendly string of matchups. Additionally, he’s available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues, making him a must-add.
Lastly, Dylan Bundy mowed down Boston his last time out. His slider looks nasty, and you’ve got a good stretch outside of his first start. Considering he’s available in most 12-team leagues, scoop him up.
Yes, the matchups aren’t great, but the rotation has delivered. Put your faith in your arms and start Bassitt, Carrasco, and Megill regardless of the matchup.
What a disaster Gerrit Cole has been. At the moment, he looks nothing like the ace we envision. However, you’ve got to keep trotting him out there since the upside is too high.
While Nestor Cortes Jr. looks like an ace, it’ll be too difficult to trust him against TOR in back-to-back games. Especially considering he relies so heavily on deception.
Severino looks back to form, and until further notice, we should start him against every matchup.
Oakland’s results aren’t half bad for a rotation that no one wanted to touch. Although, Adam Oller is not worth consideration.
In many FAAB leagues, Paul Blackburn was a popular name. He’s found some extra velocity and relies more on his curveball for ground balls.
While they’re solid, I’m not ready to anoint anyone (outside of Montas). Unless the matchup is a shade of green, you should look elsewhere.
The entire Phillies staff has been hit all over the yard. Call it luck or small sample variance, but it’s undoubtedly upsetting fantasy managers.
Much like Gerrit Cole, Wheeler looks unstartable. However, you shouldn’t sit him. A home start in Week 3 vs. COL is more than favorable enough to right the ship. Let’s hope he’s rolling by @LAD to make a difficult decision easy.
The Pirates have a pitcher-friendly park for home games, which should make them viable against many matchups, and some of the names will be bailout streamers all season. The deeper the league, the more relevant this staff becomes.
Let’s make it easy and lump them all in together. Use one at home or on the road @DET if you’re in a pinch.
MacKenzie Gore was added to the rotation and looked able to handle the role. In 10.1 innings pitched, Gore has sat down ten batters via the strikeout and limited the walks. Is he here to stay? Maybe. Mike Clevinger is making rehab starts and will rejoin the rotation at some point.
Will they move Nick Martinez to the pen? Will Gore get sent back down? Until further notice, this will undoubtedly require an update.
Otherwise, the schedule is highly favorable for the entire staff.
Sitting Tony Disco against @LAD makes a bit of sense. However, everyone in the rotation looks like comfortable starts since the matchups aren’t too challenging.
Far too much red for comfort. You’ll uncomfortably start Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert in tougher matchups, but the others are sitting for a couple of weeks. Consider dropping Gonzales and Flexen until Week 6, as they require decent matchups to start.
Matt Brash has some nasty stuff but a terrible time with control. When he’s on, he can shut down any offense, and he can walk the world when he’s off. Unfortunately, @HOU and PHI will take those walks given.
Thrust back into a starting role is Jordan Hicks. Health has never been his friend, and we should expect St Louis to take his first few starts lightly. Later in the season, he could be relevant, just not yet.
Wainwright and Mikolas look locked in. The most significant difference is that Mikolas is available in 65% of Yahoo leagues, and there is no reason he shouldn’t be on your bench in 12-team leagues.
Steven Matz has mowed down 11 batters in 8.2 IP, but it’s come with 12 hits and an ERA north of 7 – yikes! Do we trust him @SFG? Probably not, but the rest isn’t so bad.
Injuries and overall sporadic usage make the Rays a headache. Ryan Yarbrough is making rehab starts and likely re-join the staff in Week 3. However, it’s not clear how many innings he will pitch when starting.
The rotation returns to full health but gets tough matchups. You’ll have to hold Jon Gray on the bench for a couple of weeks as he returns to form, but the rest is droppable.
Back to Gray, his fastball was concerning last time out. We are giving him a pass because it was his first start coming off the IL.
UPDATE – Jon Gray headed back to the IL for a short stint. Glen Otto will start in his place.
Ryu was moved to the IL with shoulder inflammation. That’s a tough break for an SP trying to regain his form after last season’s poor showing. But, good news for Ross Stripling as he becomes Toronto’s 5th starter.
If you’re an AL East team, you’ll likely see a lot of red matchups.
Kikuchi can dominate left-hand bats but has trouble against righties. That means he could be helpful against HOU, who relies on LHB like Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker. It’s playing with fire, though.
Joan Adon is interesting. He wields a three-pitch mix that leans heavily on a 94-95 mph fastball. However, he’s not someone you’ll want to take a stand on.
The only SP worth rostering for the upcoming weeks is Josiah Gray. His last start was against the lousy Diamondbacks but he limited base runners and struck out eight in 5.1 innings of work. @SFG, @LA, and NYM are tough matchups, so consider finding a streamer unless you’re in a deep league.
Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)