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: 78-57
Today’s Starting Pitcher Rankings
- After ace day, it’s a small top tier with Max Scherzer and Chris Sale acting as the only two definitive elite arms. Obviously start them, but keep an eye on Sale’s velocity and slider whiffs. We want a touch of improvement from last time.
- Alex Wood and Jameson Taillon are a little more debatable. I’d start both wherever I had them, with Wood’s skills looking legit (92 mph + slider whiffs) while Taillon has cruised for nearly two months and gets a middling Athletics offense. Put them in your lineups and don’t think twice.
- In the second tier, Sonny Gray gets a difficult matchup facing the hot Brewers offense in their hitter-friendly park. Gray improved his slider last time out, though, and it should propel a strong outing on Thursday.
- Yes, I’m THAT confident in Patrick Corbin. He sat 94 mph (not 91/92!) with slider whiffs last time out and he gets the Marlins. The Marlins! This is the start you’ve been waiting for.
- Continuing with the third tier, Zac Gallen and Yusei Kikuchi are at odd moments of their seasons. Gallen hasn’t found his cutter and changeup quite yet, but his fastball dominance makes him a worthy start against the Phillies. Probably. Meanwhile, Kikuchi is enduring a tough schedule and finally gets his respite, but we don’t know if he’ll respond well or pitch too battered to make the impact you want.
- Finally, there’s Elieser Hernandez as he faces the Nationals. His last outing wasn’t pretty, but moving from the bandbox that is Great American Ballpark to a date with the Nationals is more than welcome. He should help your teams.
- In the third tier, it looks like both Carlos Rodón and Yu Darvish are returning for their respective teams on Thursday. Rodón has a slightly easier matchup against the Jays (no Springer!) and doesn’t have as long of a history of struggling pre-injury like Darvish. For Yu, hopefully his rest resets him to pre-July times and he can excel out of the gate. It’s up to you to choose if you want to take the risk, I’d love to sit out for one start and regain confidence for their following outings.
- I was thrilled to see Hyun Jin Ryu find his changeup last start (10 whiffs!), but the ChiSox are plenty tougher than the Tigers. I completely understand if you’d rather not take the chance.
- The streaming pick of the day is Miles Mikolas as he eases back into the rotation with another start against the Pirates. The stuff isn’t overwhelming, but it’s good enough to go another 5+ frames of productive baseball.
- I don’t want to ignore what Brad Keller is doing – leaning heavily on a solid breaker + sitting 94 mph with fastballs. It’s close to a “BSB” with his approach and the Mariners aren’t a team to fear. This could work.
- In the bottom tier, Carlos Carrasco has yet to get comfortable with his changeup and slider and the Giants offense is too intimidating to take the chance. He does get a much better schedule after this, though, and let’s hope there’s a sign for improvement here that we can lean on moving forward.
- Zach Eflin returns from the IL and tossed just 31 pitches in his last rehab start. That’s an easy “Still ILL” for you to avoid.
- I won’t rule out Mitch Keller having a solid performance against the Cardinals. He had his best outing in a long time last time out as dominated with heaters and the Cardinals don’t instill fear.
- There’s a shot that Jordan Lyles can have his best slider and performs against Cleveland. I don’t love it (at all), but there are worse gambles to make.
Tomorrow’s Starting Pitcher Rankings
- There’s a decent amount of debate about the ranking of the top tier today. While Gerrit Cole is the clear favorite, who should be #2? Kevin Gausman is expected to pitch after being sidelined from receiving the COVID vaccine, but his splitter hasn’t been the same lately and it’s not the best bet to expect him in rhythm with this disruption.
- How about Aaron Nola? He’s been frustrating with his inconsistencies and even against the Sneks on the road, it’s more about his command than it is the opponent.
- So we go Shane McClanahan as the #2 play for Friday against the Orioles. His velocity has been down, but it hasn’t stopped his production and it should be more of the same against the sputtering birds of Baltimore.
- Wade Miley and Max Fried fill out the end of the tier in two different ways. Miley rises up here with a date against the Marlins, while Fried falls to the bottom as he has to endure the tough Giants offense.
- In the second tier, Steven Matz leads the way against the Tigers. It’s a great matchup and having the Jays offense at his back could make this “Toby” squeeze out his full potential.
- It hasn’t been fun watching Eduardo Rodriguez fidget as he attempts to mold his repertoire with changeups and cutters, but his four-seamer has been excellent and should be enough to handle a poor Cleveland crew.
- Sean Manaea kicks off the third tier as he has a date with the Yankees. Manaea’s velocity shot back up to 92/93 mph in his last start and is trending back in the direction of being a legit ace for squads. Monitor his changeup and breaker in this one – if one of them is working and he keeps the velocity, it should be a strong finish to the season.
- I wish I could raise Logan Gilbert into the second tier, but he hasn’t had his slider working for over a month. The Royals will give him a great canvas to work on the pitch, but it’s unclear if it’ll show or not.
- The streaming pick of the day barely belongs to Zach Thompson as he hosts the Reds in Miami. His cutter was plenty better last time out and facing Cincinnati on the road helps plenty when dealing with their dangerous bats.
- In case Thomspon is gone, consider Kris Bubic as well as he heads to Seattle. Bubic sported a full two-tick boost to his fastball velocity in his last start and the extra firepower creates a strong foundation for his breaker and changeup to do some damage.
- In the bottom tier, Taylor Widener is the best desperate option of the lot. There are times when his slider and changeup are on point and can earn plenty of whiffs in a heartbeat. It’s too risky for many situations, but not the worst option for the weekend.
- I really wish Kyle Freeland had an easier matchup than the Dodgers – he came out swinging with a fantastic curveball out of nowhere last time out, leaning on it more than any other pitch. I’m excited to see if the hook is still there.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)