Wow! A quarter of the season is already over. I’ve broken down every MLB team’s starting rotation and forecasted them with each team’s upcoming schedule if you’ve missed some things. 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 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.
The Mets moved into the top tier. All cylinders are clicking, and by that, I mean touting a 114 wRC+ and striking out less than 20% of the time. They deserve to be considered here.
There were a couple of changes in the solid tier. MIN moved up as they’ve started to get healthy and infuse some younger prospects into the mix. MIL also moved up as they’ve scored the seventh-most runs in the MLB and showcase plenty of talent throughout the lineup.
The Rays dropped down a rung but are still formidable offense; just not elite.
The White Sox and Marlins moved into the fine tier. And they’ve been just that; fine! Both have been middle-of-the-road in runs scored and not striking out much.
The Cubs bumped into the meh tier. They’ve been probably as meh as you can be with a 98 wRC+ and sub-.700 OPS. However, they are 11th in runs scored.
Arizona bumped up as well. They’ve actually scored the 8th most runs in the MLB since the calendar flipped to May. Their .193 ISO is the third-highest among all MLB teams.
The Royals were added here because they continue to get injured and weren’t producing runs consistently anyway. Additionally, Detroit has been a bottom-feeder offense. The Tigers’ .604 team OPS isn’t going to cut it.
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.
Gallen looks like the pitcher of old, and you should start him through the tougher matchups. However, sitting Bumgarner and dropping Castellanos in deeper formats would be the correct moves.
Merrill Kelly had recent blowups, and his roster% is plummeting, but jumping back in against some decent matchups would work in 12-team formats. PIT and CIN aren’t terrific offenses, and he could be streamable if needed.
On Monday, Zach Davies took a comebacker to the leg and is listed as day-to-day. He lacked strikeout potential and wasn’t a viable streamer in 12-team leagues anyway. Also, steer clear of him in 15-team leagues-even with solid matchups.
Entering the rotation is Tucker Davidson, whose been electric in the minors with a 3.02 xFIP and 22.9 K-BB%. It’s smooth sailing after a pesky series in Coors Field, and he should be on your radar.
Charlie Morton, Kyle Wright, and Max Fried are locks for the upcoming weeks.
This two-week stretch might be precisely what Ian Anderson needs to get right. While he’s done a solid job of limiting the earned runs, the K-rate is way down, and the walks are piling up. This weekend might be a perfect time to make a trade for him.
The rotation has been a revolving door so far. Except now we get to see if Keegan Akin‘s strikeout gains will hold up as a starting pitcher. Will he stick? I don’t really know, but he’s got a decent string of starts if he does.
Kyle Bradish looks like he’s got the stuff to hang but gets walloped. He is widely available in 12-team formats and deserves at least a bench spot for the upcoming weeks.
The rest of the rotation is only viable in 15-team formats.
Boston Red Sox
Looming in the back, Chris Sale continues to work his way back. However, it’s unlikely he will make it back very soon. Also, Tanner Houck is always ready should they need a spot starter. With only two off days in the next two weeks, he might make an appearance.
The ageless wonder Rich Hill has done an excellent job making things work, albeit without striking many batters out. He’s worth an add in deeper leagues with favorable matchups ahead.
Pass on Michael Wacha!
Outside of Marcus Stroman, you’re only going to start a Cubs’ SP against a team with a shade of green-even in deeper 15-team leagues.
Keegan Thompson has been a maven out of the pen and touts a 1.54 ERA in 35 IP. The 31 strikeouts are also lovely, but staying that effective as an SP will be challenging. Starting him in either double-header isn’t warranted.
Chicago White Sox
Kopech, Giolito, and Cease are matchup-proof starts. They’ve got some bumpy starts ahead, so let’s hope they don’t get in too much trouble.
Dallas Keuchel and Johnny Cueto are the only viable streamers in green matchups. Even then, it’s not a solid play, and I’d drop them in any league format for the next few weeks.
Cleveland has a great start to the upcoming weeks but a dreadful finish, and that’s how they should be started. Do yourself a favor and find streamers for the last weeks.
For those looking for some insights into Konnor Pilkington, he’s a four-seam fastball heavy pitcher(56% usage) with a changeup(21% usage) and slider(14% usage). Much like several other Cleveland SPs, the fastball sits in the low-90s. His biggest flaw is the inflated walk rate. Proceed with caution!
Ryan Feltner will likely leave the rotation as soon as Senzatela is available to make starts.
We’ve been down this road before; you’ll need to start Rockies’ SPs on the road. The challenging part is Colorado plays most of the upcoming schedule at home and challenging matchups on the road. Pass!
Injuries have riddled this rotation. Hence, you’re seeing a bunch of names you don’t recognize. Check back later for updates as the weeks continue.
Tarik Skubal is going to make for a bunch of difficult decisions. He’s been tremendous but also draws a few tougher matchups. I’d likely only sit him in 10-team leagues and hope he survives the starts.
Finally, Cristian Javier has been elevated into the starting rotation. He’s still available in 34% of Yahoo leagues, so double-check your wire as he checks the boxes: on a winning team and strikes a lot of batters out.
The rest of the bullpen is a “set-it-and-forget-it.”
Kansas City Royals
It’s a bit of a wishy-washy upcoming schedule, and Daniel Lynch and Brad Keller fit nicely into the back half if you’re trying to get ahead. Additionally, Lynch flexes some nice strikeout gains(21% K-rate), and Keller limits quality contact(5% barrel rate and 40% hard-hit rate).
The rest get a pass for the next two weeks outside of those two.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
YIKES! The sea of red will make these next couple of weeks a stomach-turning experience.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Mitch White gets his shot at the rotation. While I don’t love his fastball that he throws over half the time, he wields a pair of breaking balls to put hitters off-balance. In 15-term leagues, give him a shot vs. PIT and CLE, but the rest is no dice.
The rest of the rotation is a must-start.
Alcantara and Pablo can weather the storm against tougher matchups but sitting the rest makes sense, specifically in 12-team leagues.
Trevor Rogers has struggled with his fastball, and last year’s magic doesn’t seem to be there. Perhaps, he’s been a little unlucky since his xFIP is 3.99 with a 5.20 ERA.
The injury to Freddy Peralta is pushing Aaron Ashby into the rotation. From last season, we should remember Ashby when he showcased 39 punchouts in 31.2 innings pitched. He draws some enticing matchups and is available in 68% of Yahoo leagues(+20% from last week). Grab him before he’s gone!
Josh Lindblom should only be making a spot start for the double-header.
Devin Smeltzer will likely get one more start for the double-header. His rotation spot will be filled by Joe Ryan, who’s currently on the COVID-IL.
The upcoming schedule isn’t a favorable one. Chris Archer is a no-go since the Twins won’t let him go deeper than four innings.
New York Mets
Oof! Injuries are continuing to plague the Mets. Stop me if you’ve heard this analysis before. Hopefully, this will be Trevor Williams only start of the season.
For 12-teamers, start Bassitt and Carrasco. For 15-teamers, start Walker. Sadly, David Peterson needs to be benched(or even cut) for a few weeks.
New York Yankees
The team is rolling, and the SP staff has been dominant.
So, let’s nitpick a little. Jordan Montgomery has squared off against many easier matchups and been solid. But if you’re struggling to strike out BAL(x4), TEX, and DET at a 20% rate, it could be a little concerning.
Oakland’s running into a lot of early matchups. Which makes only Frankie Montas a priority starter.
Paul Blackburn has made this work with a 13% K-BB rate, but how long will that last? Skip him til @CLE and vs. KCR. And much like Blackburn, Cole Irvin is skimming by on the thinnest off error margins. I’d stop playing with fire and sit(or drop) him.
Nola is Nola, and Wheeler is Wheeler; you’ve got to keep them in your lineup regardless of matchup.
Bailey Falter is making a spot start on Friday(5/27) but won’t remain a fixture in the rotation.
In 12-teamers, sitting Zach Eflin or Ranger Suárez for the first couple of starts would be ideal. Luckily, there are several early week streamers in this piece.
Roansy Contreras is back in the rotation for now. And let’s hope he stays there as he’s got electric stuff and striking out nearly 30% of batters faced. He’s a must-add in deeper leagues, especially with matchups like ARI and CHC.
Without consistently favorable matchups ahead, it’s best to pass on the rest of the rotation. Yes, even José Quintana, unless you’re in an absolute bind.
San Diego Padres
The Padres’ rotation will need a six-person look for a little bit, which is excellent news for MacKenzie Gore, who deserves the added looks. Additionally, the bigger question is who will inevitably get bumped out of the rotation? Indeed, there will be updates ahead.
San Francisco Giants
Logan Webb is a workhorse, and Carlos Rodón is a bonafide stud. Easy starts!
The pair of Alex’s(Wood and Cobb) have been a bit unlucky. Neither one is giving up quality contact, but the results haven’t been there either. Stick with them these next few weeks, especially with the excellent matchups ahead.
Jakob Junis isn’t striking many out but also not walking anyone. The upcoming matchups aren’t easy, and you can drop in 15-team leagues for now.
George Kirby is still available in 64% of Yahoo leagues, which is far too low for a prospect with a rotation spot who outs a 20:2 K/BB rate. Furthermore, he draws two favorable matchups to begin the week. Get him now!
Flexen and Marco Gonzales are only viable for the first start and should be cut in 12-team formats.
St. Louis Cardinals
We’ve got a mystery starter for the double-header. You’ll likely see a spot starter, given the short week, but they haven’t been announced. Check back in for an update shortly.
After an injury to Steven Matz, Matthew Liberatore is back in the rotation before making the bus trip back to the minors. The Cardinals’ prospect was shaky in his first start but could be nerves. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Although, matchups @CHC or vs. CIN could ease things up a bit.
Tampa Bay Rays
The fresh face is Jeffrey Springs, and he’s been spectacular. He’s touting a 1.32 ERA and 27% K-rate in a smidge more than 27 IP. Scoop him up, and you’ve got a solid streaming option for the next few weeks.
Outside of Kluber @ NYY or Yarbs @MIN, the rest of the rest should be started.
Martín Pérez has been an ace! Let me repeat that, Martín Pérez HAS BEEN AN ACE! Will it continue? I don’t know but check out a fantastic Going Deep piece from Ben Palmer on his season.
The rest of the rotation has been streamers, at best. Yes, sadly, even Jon Gray. Utilize them only in green matchups.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have a slight advantage during home games, and many away team players can’t make the trip, leading to weaker lineups. However, these arms aren’t widely available, but you’re starting them regardless of matchup.
With very few favorable matchups in the next few weeks, you won’t be streaming any options here. Josiah Gray is a viable starter for @CIN and @MIA if you’re in a pinch but otherwise, pass on the rest.
Image by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)
Thanks for the helpful analysis!
Im really glad you find it helpful.