With the 2021 season, I’m changing how I’m doing my starting pitcher streamers and daily matchup rankings.
Instead of being featured in the SP Roundup, I’ll be highlighting my SP streamer picks for today and tomorrow inside this article, while also introducing four tiers and adding notes to each table.
The four tiers are as follows:
Auto-Start – Just do it. Don’t overthink this, start the man.
Probably Start – I’m likely starting these arms, though I recognize there is more risk than we’d like there to be. Either it’s a tough matchup for a good pitcher or a weak lineup for a volatile arm.
Questionable Start – There are situations where I’d take the chance, either with strong enough upside on the ability side, or a poor offense that a pitcher could take advantage of.
Do Not Start – The reward is not worth the risk. Don’t do it.
Obviously, there will be circumstances where pitchers should move between teams for your situation specifically and these new tiers should act as a little more help than the straight table from last year.
Please keep in mind that streaming is far from a perfect play. In fact, if they work out over half the time, I’d consider it a success. These matchup rankings & streamer picks are going to be wildly different than the actual results through the year, so please, have sympathy before the scathing comments and tweets. I’m only trying to help!
Make sure to read the notes if you’re wondering why I’m favoring certain pitchers over others – I won’t get to everyone and hopefully I answer what questions you will have.
There is a second table for tomorrow’s starting pitcher matchups as well, helping everyone get a jump on their nightly pickups. Please note that these matchups are subject to change, though, and there will be times when I have the incorrect pitcher going. I thank you for your future understanding.
Finally, there are my streaming picks of the day, and please keep in mind that I am forced to pick a streamer every day. Those highlighted in Green are in the second tier and I’d roll with them everywhere. The most common are those in Yellow in the third tier and should be decent if you’re searching for something on a given day. Finally, those are Red are those I really don’t want to start (they are labeled as “Do Not Start”, after all) but have no other choice. Don’t stream these guys until you are truly desperate. A streaming pick is defined as “rostered in 20% or fewer leagues,” which really emphasizes the point that I’d be happy if over 50% of these worked. I could do the whole sub 30/40% rostered, but there’s no fun in that. You can use the rankings to realize who would be those picks, instead.
2021 Streamer Record: 71-52
Today’s Starting Pitcher Rankings
- We have the return of Chris Sale on Saturday and given that they’ve already stretched him out to at least five innings, I don’t see a reason to let him sit on your bench. You’ve stashed for so long, unleash the beast.
- Despite his failure against Cleveland this week, I’d still comfortably start Luis Castillo against the Phillies. It was a blip, not a destined relapse.
- In the second tier, I’d trust Kenta Maeda to have his secondaries working well enough to make a start against the Rays worthwhile. I understand those who want to be hesitant, so he gets the “probable” not “auto” label.
- It hasn’t been the smoothest ride for Zach Thompson since the All-Star Break. He should get a bit of respite against the wounded Cubs lineup, though, and I’d start him without fear.
- It’s Dylan Cease vs. Jameson Taillon and I find it hard to discern who is the better play. Cease got the love here as he carries higher upside, though Jameson is on a legit tear right now. Feel free to start both…or neither one as each faces an offense that can make this disastrous in a hurry.
- James Kaprielian gets yet another start against the Rangers and while he hasn’t quite dominated them in his four previous starts, the floor is simply too dang high.
- We only have two arms in this dramatically small third tier. Yusei Kikuchi has a tough challenge ahead as he prepares to stave off the elite Jays offense. He’s been bit volatile with both his fastball velocity and nailing down the feel of his secondaries, making this the most wide-ranged outing of the day. Be careful.
- Taijuan Walker is dealing with a difficult opponent as well as he squares up against the Dodgers. He has looked far from his spring self as of late and I’d like bench him, though I recognize that he can cruises 5/6 frames if his fastball is on point. Let’s hope the heater is there for him on Saturday.
- The Brewers are suddenly having a doubleheader today and it allows me to select Aaron Ashby as my streaming pick of the day. He’s allowed to return to the majors this quickly because of the doubleheader and his stuff is as electric as you’ll find from a young arm. Check out his video breakdown from earlier this week and you’ll understand quickly.
- The final tier is a large one as many back-end starters are going across the league, paired with often questionable options having a rough go of it. Take Jaime Barria or Kyle Freeland, for example. They would both be considered as a possible “Toby”, but Barria gets the mighty Astros and Freeland has to deal with the blazing hot Giants. Not for me.
- For those in dire need of a stream, consider Brad Keller as he attempts to follow “The Cardinal Rule”. Yes, I prefer this to Zach Davies as I simply prefer Davies’ repertoire a touch more with his ~94 mph heater and sudden emphasis on breakers.
Tomorrow’s Starting Pitcher Rankings
- It feels weird giving Sean Manaea the #2 spot after he’s struggled a bit in his last two starts. However, he gets a gift in Texas and I expect Manaea to rebound in a major way. His stuff is still excellent and the Rangers can hit themselves out of success.
- It’s a similar situation for Lucas Giolito, who has been a bit volatile with his slider and changeup. This isn’t the easiest matchup against the Yankees, either, but I anticipate a solid recovery.
- The second tier leads with Steven Matz, who I trust as a “Toby” to take down the Mariners. Startling, I know, but it’s not the strongest tier two we’ve seen and Matz can sneak away with an easy Win.
- Seriously, there are some legit questions here. Eduardo Rodriguez has his fastball command, but the Orioles are strong against southpaws. Aaron Nola’s volatility has been well documented and faces a home-run clubbing Reds crew. And Sonny Gray’s success against Atlanta was fueled by fastballs – not breakers – and I doubt he can replicate that performance without his curveball or slider.
- In the third tier, Jon Gray leads the way as he faces a cruising Giants offense. I’ve learned my lesson starting arms against San Francisco this week and Jonny G way run into some trouble here.
- Triston McKenzie follows as he’s been able to throw strikes with his fastball and breakers lately. It’s risky as we don’t know what his command will look like on a given day, but I’d heavily consider this one in Detroit.
- Our streaming pick of the day is Luis Patiño as he faces the Twins. I’m not in love with this, but Patiño could overwhelm with his heater as long as he can throw his slider for a strike. Let’s hope he can pull it off.
- I debated the order of Zac Gallen and Carlos Carrasco for a good moment, leaning Gallen in the end as he has a higher volume ceiling. Both arms will have their work cut out for them, though, and I’m crossing my fingers we see their best selves.
- It’s been great watching Drew Smyly have his best curveball of the season across the last few weeks, though I can’t help but be anxious after his fastball dipped roughly two ticks in his last game. The Nationals make for a comfortable afternoon, though, and Smyly could produce once again with that glorious hook, despite the lackluster heater.
- Alec Mills isn’t someone to write how about, but he can take down the Marlins….right? They did just rough up Ryan Weathers and Adbert Alzolay, so it’s not an absolute lock as you may think.
- In the final tier, there are few starters who even have the ceiling to push the needle on a desperate Sunday. My favorite option is Kris Bubic, who can follow “The Cardinal Rule” if he’s throwing changeups down in the zone. It’s super risky, but at least there’s a decent shot.
- And fine, I guess J.A. Happ could come through on the other side of the bump. Not the worst idea to hedge your bets and start both of these if all you need is a Win. I wouldn’t suggest the double-start otherwise.
- Is this the day we see Elieser Hernandez return for Miami? I sure hope so, though it’s clearly a “Still ILL” as we don’t know how good his feel is for his slider, nor how long the Marlins will let him pitch.
- And hey, maybe Steven Brault can whip up some magic for 5-6 innings against a middling Brewers offense. Unlikely, but sure, why not.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)
Maybe he makes me eat my words but how is Sale an auto-start, he hasn’t really been great since 2018 right? Is it solely bc of the matchup? Just curious, I love the matchup rankings you guys do but this one confuses me, after Flaherty who’s been one of the best SP’s this year and coming off a much shorter layoff was a “Probably Start”. Thanks!