The List 4/12: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 3

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021.

We’ve begun the weekly tradition here at Pitcher List where I rank the Top 100 Starting Pitchers in fantasy baseball.

Want an earlier update to The List? Join me on Mondays at 12:00pm EST as I live-stream its creation each week!

As always, make sure to read the notes as there are many changes that have good reasons behind them, and please consider that these ranks are based on a 12-teamer, 5×5 roto format. Adjust accordingly to your situation.

 

Ranking Notes

 

  • This is your reminder to please read these notes as they’ll tell you plenty about why “someone moved up” or “why is he at #X?!”
  • Seriously. Read the notes.

 

  • We’re about two starts in for most starters and it’s too early to shift around the Top 25 starters.
  • …except for Corbin Burnes one spot. He’s been so dominant and it does look sustainable. The only reason he’s still hovering #20 is his questionable depth through the full year. Let’s hope the Brewers allow him to accrue more than 160 innings in 2021.

 

  • I shifted Tier 3 into a larger grouping and did the same for Tier 4, pushing up Jose Berrios, Sandy Alcantaraand Lance McCullersEach has made improvements this year (Berrios’ higher velocity, Alcantara’s command, McCullers’ slider) that should make them secure inside your rosters all season.
  • Despite lower velocity from Stephen StrasburgI’m giving him the benefit of the doubt after just one start. Hopefully, he can ramp up the velocity as we keep setting and forgetting

 

  • Starting Tier 5 is Patrick Corbin who certainly didn’t look like a sturdy ace in his debut start. However, it was the Dodgers after an extended break on the COVID-IL and was sitting a touch above his 2020 velocity. His drop is less about his own skills and more about the others advancing above and below him.
  • While many were clamoring for Joe Musgrove to get a sizeable boost this week, it’ll be hard for Musgrove – and many inside of this tier – to jump up the ranks. There are simply too many aces with good track records to hurdle over.

 

  • Sticking with Tier 5, I’ve elected to push John Means and Kevin Gausman into the Top 40. Means was able to succeed despite a pair of tough opponents, displaying his strong changeup of 2019 while improving his velocity in his second start. Get ready for an exciting two-start week. With Gausman, he recovered his fastball velocity in his second start back to the 2020 spike, quelling concerns I had about sustainability.
  • Don’t be alarmed about the -2 for Pablo Lopez – I just wanted Joe Musgrove and Julio Urias to get some love.

 

  • In Tier 6, Chris Paddack takes another fall. We’re two starts in and he hasn’t quite gotten up to speed with his four-seamer. There’s still time to recover against weak opponents and still worth your starts, but he may continue his descent if that fastball doesn’t show up.
  • I know, I know, you’re concerned about Corey KluberIn the preseason we talked about how we didn’t want to overreact to a poor April – he’s notorious for them! – but here we are, two starts in, and Kluber has been disappointing to say the least. His fastball is hovering 90 mph instead of 91/92 and while it’s far too early to throw in the towel, I can’t help but push him down a few knocks for his early struggles. Like Corbin and Paddack, he has a TIARA where the moment we see it all click, all our fears will go away. Here’s to that moment coming soon.

 

  • Joining Tier 6 is, I know, I’m as shocked as you are, Trevor RogersI’ve intently watched his first two games and I’m incredibly impressed not only with his 96+ mph velocity, but the command of his fastballs and pairing them with changeups and sliders. This is the early pickup of the season and while there’s always a chance he’s off your team in the next few weeks, I’m willing to wager he sticks for the year.
  • Ending the tier is Jordan Montgomery who disappointed against the Rays. Stick with him, he has the skills to be a solid add through the year, just not the same ceiling as Rogers.

 

  • Tier 7 is when it starts to get a bit wild. Yes, I had to blow everything up and start from scratch, essentially, as we’re at the point where it’s a waiver-wire frenzy and guys are getting added and dropped without thought. Here we have some guys who could provide some stability, including Dustin May who still has a firm hold on the #5 spot in Dodgerville.
  • Carlos Rodon isn’t the golden standard for stability, but his increased velocity and wonderful situation in Chicago make him a must-add. Let’s hope it sticks as he gets more innings.

 

  • Jake Odorizzi and Eduardo Rodriguez make it back to The List this week as they returned to their rotations. Eduardo featured a solid changeup last time out and could be a rock through the year, while Odorizzi will join the team against the Tigers. Start Odorizzi, he’s been ramping up at the alternate site.
  • Yusei Kikuchi also gets a bump after pitching well against the Twins. He’s in a good place and while there’s risk – get used to that word – he’s a fun one to chase right now.

 

  • Tier 8 is a short one, essentially with solid Toby arms that you should be considering before the next tier of fun, wild, and chaos. Chris Bassitt gets the nod here despite poor underlying numbers in his first two outings. He had poor matchups and now gets to see the green pastures of Arizona and Detroit. Yes, I know Arizona has few of them, just go with the emotion.
  • Zach Eflin takes a small tumble as his second start came without the curveball that propelled him in parts of 2020 and in his debut outing. It’s likely going to be a tumultuous ride with and without the pitch for the year ahead. Good luck.

 

  • I’m not sure what to do with Shohei OhtaniOn one hand, he should be pitching this weekend and still carries immense strikeout upside. On the other, it’s a headache tracking his starts and his command needs a heavy dose of polish. The reward is worth the risk right now, but don’t hold on too tight if there are better options out there.
  • Triston McKenzie returns today, but he gets the White Sox followed by the Reds and I wouldn’t start him for either one…and likely not the Yankees after that. BUT, then we can reap the rewards and enjoy his strong repertoire.
  • I gave some love to Andrew Heaney who has been throwing harder early in the season. He’s still volatile, but he provides more production than those below, even when the longballs happen (WHIP and strikeouts are still a thing!).

 

  • Entering Tier 10 is a slew of new names as those below are mostly arms who we chased early and have become questionable holds.  Taijuan Walker, Sean Manaea, Zach Davies (please find your changeup again), and Nathan Eovaldi aren’t as exciting as the others but could be solid ratio plays.
  • Many newcomers are here as they can become speculative adds moving forward. Anthony DeSclafani gets the Marlins twice and could capitalize. Jose De Leon has earned plenty of whiffs on his sinkers and this may work. Dean Kremer has a great two-start week, Steven Matz has had a solid changeup to kick off the year, and we’re getting our first glimpse of Robbie Ray tonight after a spring showcasing more strikes than usual.

 

  • Tier 11 is a touch like Tier 10, just without as much conviction. Carlos Martinez falls based on his lower velocity and few whiffs on sliders and changeups. Mike Minor also disappointed with a slower fastball and a worse changeup (and a poor schedule ahead). I’d love to see both of them rise up next week.
  • Luke Weaver makes his season debut after his astounding performance against the Reds on Sunday. Unfortunately, it came without a third pitch, but his command of fastballs up and changeups down worked magic. It could be something that sticks.

 

  • Tier 12 holds a ton of risk with arms that can be used for a stream or as a possible stash if they can put things together. Huascar Ynoa gets a two-start week after flashing improved velocity and a filthy slider and should be on your radar. Kyle Gibson also gets two reasonable starts and after dominating the Jays, he’s a decent option.
  • I’ve elected to lower Adbert Alzolay as he seems a little too far away to trust in the short term. Please prove me wrong tonight.
  • I’ve also added Rich Hill and Taylor Widener to The List. Hill was given a leash of six frames, while Widener has flashes with his fastball at 96 mph and slider diving away from bats.

 

  • In the final tier, we have backup Tobywho I’d only consider for the right start. Bruce Zimmerman is the most intriguing of the lot after his BSB approach in his first outing. The second wasn’t as sharp, but it may return and he could be of value in the short term against the Marlins.

 

Fringe Pitchers I Considered

 

My rule for moving from the IL back to the rankings: If they are confirmed to return before the next edition of The List, then I will add them.

All right, now that the notes are at the top and you understand where I’m coming from, let’s get to The List:

RankPitcherBadgesChange
1Jacob deGromT1
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
2Shane Bieber
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
3Gerrit Cole
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
4Yu Darvish
T2
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
5Lucas Giolito
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
6Aaron Nola
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
7Walker Buehler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
8Max Scherzer
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
9Trevor Bauer
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
-
10Clayton Kershaw
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
11Kenta Maeda
T3
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
12Luis Castillo
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
13Jack Flaherty
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
14Brandon Woodruff
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
15Blake Snell
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
-
16Lance Lynn
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
17Tyler Glasnow
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
-
18Corbin Burnes
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+1
19Zack Wheeler
T4
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
20Hyun Jin Ryu
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
21Max Fried
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
22Kyle Hendricks
Aces Gonna Ace
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
23Zach Plesac
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
24Stephen Strasburg
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
25Charlie Morton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
26Jose Berrios
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
27Sandy Alcantara
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+1
28Lance McCullers
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
+1
29Patrick Corbin
T5
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-3
30Zack Greinke
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
-
31Jesus Luzardo
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
-
32Julio Urias
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
33Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+1
34Pablo Lopez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-2
35Tyler Mahle
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-
36Dylan Bundy
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+2
37Aaron Civale
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-1
38Ian Anderson
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
-1
39John Means
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+4
40Kevin Gausman
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+5
41Frankie Montas
T6
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
42Jameson Taillon
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-1
43Corey Kluber
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-3
44Chris Paddack
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-5
45Jose Urquidy
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
-1
46Marcus Stroman
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
47Trevor Rogers
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+17
48Jordan Montgomery
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
+1
49Dustin May
T7
Ace Potential
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+9
50Dallas Keuchel
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+3
51Drew Smyly
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+5
52Carlos Rodon
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+19
53Jake Odorizzi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Streaming Option
+UR
54Yusei Kikuchi
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+9
55Eduardo Rodriguez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+UR
56Chris Bassitt
T8
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+9
57Marco Gonzales
Quality Starts
Toby
-3
58Ryan Yarbrough
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+1
59Zach Eflin
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Toby
Streaming Option
-9
60Shohei Ohtani
T9
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-13
61Mitch Keller
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+8
62Triston McKenzie
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-11
63Freddy Peralta
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+4
64Andrew Heaney
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+12
65Matthew Boyd
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+3
66Michael Pineda
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-6
67Taijuan Walker
T10
Quality Starts
Toby
Streaming Option
+10
68Sean Manaea
Injury Risk
Ratio Focused
+11
69Anthony DeSclafani
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+UR
70Jose De Leon
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
71Nathan Eovaldi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+7
72Zach Davies
Quality Starts
Toby
-17
73Logan Webb
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
-7
74Dean Kremer
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+UR
75Steven Matz
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
76Robbie Ray
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+UR
77Justin Dunn
T11
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
-2
78Carlos Martinez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-17
79Dane Dunning
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+1
80Tarik Skubal
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-10
81Luke Weaver
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
82German Marquez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-9
83Mike Minor
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-26
84Griffin Canning
T12
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+2
85Wade Miley
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+4
86Adbert Alzolay
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-12
87Dylan Cease
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+3
88JT Brubaker
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+4
89Huascar Ynoa
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
90Logan Allen
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+5
91Kyle Gibson
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
92Rich Hill
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+UR
93Taylor Widener
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+UR
94Nick Pivetta
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+6
95Casey Mize
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-2
96Brady Singer
T13
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-14
97Joey Lucchesi
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Streaming Option
-
98Bruce Zimmermann
Playing Time Question
Toby
Streaming Option
-10
99Adam Wainwright
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-1
100Matt Shoemaker
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-15

Labels Legend

Aces Gonna Ace
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low IPS
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
Stash Option

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire – Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Avatar KGB says:

    Really tempted to drop Marcus Stroman for Trevor Rogers. Your rankings have them next to one another, so I imagine it’s splitting hairs?

  • Avatar TommyBoy1189 says:

    Surprised to see Peralta so low. Is it more or less his BB rate? Is that what’s holding him back from entering potentially the 6th or 7th tier?

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    It really is crazy how terrible the overall SP landscape has become. It should surprise nobody that de-emphasizing starting pitcher development leads to this point. Tier two is what used to be tier three type talent. Tier three have major question marks in many cases. The guys in the top 30 are just scary. There is also clearly not a crop of heir apparent rising through the ranks. When I look through the overall list it is littered with guys that I think are way too high and way too low which is just all part of the volatility of the decline of pitching overall. You hit scrub territory well before you reach the end of the list. It would be good to recognize what direction this is going. The game has shifted from the best players in the world playing the game at the highest level to incompetent, painful micro-managing the players out of their jobs. Unfortunately the only way out is to start pointing at the people ruining the game with no benefit to anyone other than themselves.

  • Avatar Pat says:

    Where do you see Blue Jays pitcher Nate Pearson land on The List once he’s back?

  • Avatar Neil says:

    Surprised not to see Junis. The new cutter is sliiiiick.

  • Avatar Cody says:

    Tejay Antone appears to be healthy after last night’s near 4-inning save. Where would he rank on The List and when will he be a starter this year?

  • Avatar mike says:

    Nick where is the love for Burnes? Yes small sample size but between last year and this year numbers right there with Cole and Jacob. Yes inn limit but right now he is top 5.

    • Avatar Anodyne says:

      I have him the #2 starting pitcher, right behind deGrom. He’s been absolutely dominant over enough starts for it not to be a fluke.

  • Avatar Justin says:

    Seems low for German Marquez

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