The List 4/19: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 4

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021.

It’s the weekly tradition here at Pitcher List where I rank the Top 100 Starting Pitchers in fantasy baseball and it’s time for Week 4’s starting pitcher rankings.

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.

 

 

  • It’s the fourth week and it’s time to make some changes in the Top 20 – not sweeping ones, but a few, starting with swapping Aaron Nola and Lucas Giolito. It gave me no pleasure to do so, but after a CGSHO from Nola and a 7 ER brigade from Lucas Giolito earlier today, it’s hard to argue against it. Does it really matter though? Not really, they’re both dope.
  • I’ve also elevated Trevor Bauer above Max Scherzer as Bauer is displaying the stamina we saw last year paired with consistent performances. It’s tough to ignore at this point.

 

  • Tier 3 is seeing the changes I wanted to make last week but needed one more week of validation. Even when Tyler Glasnow didn’t have the same slider we saw across the first few weeks, he still had enough for five quality innings. Corbin Burnes is stupid talented but his season-long volume is still in question. Brandon Woodruff has been productive as well and is proving to be more of a rock than Jack Flaherty, Luis Castilloand Kenta Maeda.
  • It’s wonderful to welcome back Zac Gallen to The List, whose biggest knock entering the season was his questionable workload. Given that he’s missed two weeks, it does push him slightly farther up relative to how I thought of him in the pre-season, letting him land ahead of Maeda and Castillo.

 

  • Why is Hyun Jin Ryu in Tier 3? Simply put, I wanted all pitchers currently with the Aces Gonna Ace label to be in the same tier.
  • Blake Snell recovered against the Dodgers after a sub-40-pitch start, but he’s still more inconsistent than the others around him, causing Glasnow and Burnes to leap-frog him.

 

  • Despite allowing 10 ER across his last three starts, Sandy Alcantara‘s skills are pushing him up the ranks, as he’s failed to throw fewer than six frames in each of his four outings. He’s reminding me of Brandon Woodruff, Lance Lynnand Zack Wheeler with his workload and strikeout ability and I’m a huge fan for the rest of the season.
  • It was a rough outing over the weekend for Lance McCullersthough it was a product of his vaccine side effects. His new slider is legit and should be a strong member of your staff through the year.

 

  • Sonny Gray has returned and despite not being his best self in his 2021 debut, you should trust him to be a sturdy arm for the months ahead.
  • I gave a small dip to Zach Plesac after he imploded against the ChiSox last week. I don’t think it’ll be a regular occurrence, but he deserved a light drop for it.

 

  • I elected to put Joe Musgrove, Dylan Bundyand Tyler Mahle into the fourth tier. As long as they continue performing well, we can continue to see them rise the ranks. Not too far but hopefully they never head back to the fifth tier.
  • Julio Urias had himself an unfortunate night against the Rockies and I’m not grading him harshly for it. He’s still a fantastic asset as the Dodgers are giving him a comfortable spot in the rotation.

 

  • Pablo Lopez displayed his volatility last week when his changeup wasn’t as effective as we’ve seen in the past. He’s still Top 35, but his lack of depth does prevent him from escalating like his peers.
  • Yes, I’m in shock as well, but Trevor Rogers is inside the Top 40. I can’t deny him any longer as he’s peppering 95+ with a great changeup and slider and looking at the rest of the landscape, he’s clearly a cut above Tier 6.

 

  • While I trust those arms inside the Top 40, Tier 6 has many that could climb over the next few weeks but have some work to do. Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber each are making their returns from nearly two years of consistent starts and I’m willing to give them another pair of starts before altering my season-long expectations for them. I think they have the ability, but we need to see it first.
  • I had little choice but to move Kyle Hendricks down as he’s continued to struggle. His weekend performance could have been a product of his skipped start (due to a non-COVID illness), but his fastball velocity has been down and he hasn’t had that elite command we’ve seen in years past. Here’s to hoping he demands a Top 40 spot again soon.

 

  • Carlos Rodon not only threw a no-hitter, but he did so with legit velocity still at 95 mph – albeit starting slowly around 92/93 and ramping up as the adrenaline kicked in. I’m a bit shocked at how high I have him and this #44 rank is more of a product of the landscape than a belief that he’ll hold it all season.
  • Freddy Peralta jumps into the Top 50 as his effectively wild approach continues to get strikeouts and avoid blowups. I still have my reservations that his mechanics breed consistency, though you have to keep starting him as there are few options as electric as him.

 

  • I made a separate tier for Patrick Corbin and Chris Paddack as their ranking is highly dependent on your situation. I’m in the camp that believes both pitchers will figure it out as the season goes on (each has a TIARA) but it’s unclear when they will lock in and turn back into Top 35 starters. It’s up to you if you’re in a situation that can take the chance or if you need something more enticing in the short term.

 

  • I can’t deny any longer how effective Michael Pineda has been since he returned last season. It would be foolish to hold him back at this point so let him fly for as long as this goes.
  • There was a great discussion in the Twitch chat about Huascar Ynoa vs. Triston McKenzieand I eventually settled on Ynoa for his fantastic heater (95-99!) and easier schedule ahead. There’s a bit more floor for McKenzie through the season, though.

 

  • Yes, I am bolstering Nathan Eovaldi after his ten strikeout performance against the White Sox today – it completed before today’s update = I incorporate it into The List. His breakers have continued to have success and it’s to embrace the new approach as legitimate.
  • I’m not exactly sure what to do with Shohei Ohtani and I’m completely fine if you want to push him in the late 60s or 70s. We’ve only seen him once and that upside is still a mystery.

 

  • Tier 9 is mostly the Toby tier, with arms who are decent in the short term and should be somewhat stable through the season. Ignore the “rank change” for the most part, it’s all about grouping like players together at this point (i.e. don’t be upset about Chris Bassitt and Zach Eflin moving down!)
  • Steven Matz gets a sizeable bump as he’s had success with his sinker and changeup. I think it’s a bit of a Vargas Rule but it’s hard to deny his clear rosterability at the moment.

 

  • I didn’t know what to do with Andrew Heaney and shoved him into the Toby tier. He’ll be volatile through the year, but he is still a step up from the Tier 10 options.
  • JT Brubaker – aka Coffee Cakes – has impressed with his slider and command of his sinker, though the ceiling is capped without a deep repertoire. A solid addition, nonetheless.

 

  • Tier 10 is where we start to get upside players who could rise in future weeks. Alex Wood has returned from the IL and is throwing a touch harder than in the past. Here’s to hoping it sticks.
  • Dylan Cease didn’t have the line you wanted, but his fastball and slider command were as good as I’ve seen from him. It could be the moment before he turns the corner as he gets Cleveland and Detroit next.

 

  • Matt Shoemaker was denied a start over the weekend and I’m liking the feel of his slider. Here’s to hoping he can keep the momentum this week despite the long gap between starts.
  • Danny Duffy makes his return after sitting 94/95 in his last outing. It’s hard to ignore the man throwing like his breakout 2016 year again and I wish it lasts.
  • Do you want to keep rostering German MarquezIt’s up to you, really. It’s too much of a headache for me, but I completely understand if you’re willing to endure Coors.

 

  • Tier 11 contains all the interesting additions to The List this week. David Peterson fanned ten and could keep it up moving forward. Alex Cobb tossed 50% splitters and had success. Michael Fulmer is back throwing 95 mph once again and I hope his changeup can return as well. Jakob Junis seems to be on a decent role with his cutter, though don’t be too shocked if his lack of depth comes back to haunt him. Michael Wacha had excellent fastball/changeup command and may be a solid play against the Royals this week.
  • I took no joy lowering Ryan Yarbrough (aka The Fratty Pirate) but with the Rays using an opener for him paired with an overall low strikeout rate and a shaky start to the season, it may be time to look elsewhere.

 

  • Joe Ross has performed well in his short two-start stint against the Cardinals and Dodgers and may be able to keep this going for another round or two, pushing him to join The List.
  • It was sad to give major drops to Zach Davies and Mitch Kellerbut neither can be trusted in the near future as neither have the command of their arsenal we wanted to see. Monitor both and hopefully they can enter the Top 75 soon.

 

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

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 Armadillofury says:

    Is TB “optimizing” Wacha? 15.9% SwStr%, 3.35 SIERA and 21.3% K-BB% in 3 appearances against full strength Yankees (2x) and Red Sox lineups. His FB usage is down ~20% and cutter usage up ~20% from his STL days.

  • Avatar Hitter List SuperFan says:

    Nick, thanks for all of your hard work to put this list together every week! I look forward to reading it every Monday and adjusting my pitching staff accordingly.

    With that being said, I got my pitching staff into a world of hurt following your draft guide and am hoping to get some advice on what I can do to improve it.

    My current SP’s are: Bieber, Plesac, Taillon, Kluber, Rodon and Corbin.

    I also have Fried, Sale, Severino and Syndergaard all on the IL currently.

    The highest ranked available pitcher on my waiver wire is Urquidy, followed by Montgomery. Your rankings say that I should drop Corbin for Urquidy, and I think that my situation has me needing a more enticing arm in the short term. Would you make that switch? Also, would you drop someone like Kluber or Taillon (no way I’m dropping Rodon even though he’s somehow ranked lower than both of them) for a streaming pitcher spot? I would have been much better off streaming the last two weeks than taking multiple double digit ERA beatings from my entire pitching staff (save for Bieber).

    • Avatar AH says:

      PL always seems to underrate Urquidy’s ceiling. He’s a top-30 arm (currently #18 by K-BB%, which is one of the few things that’s worth a damn at this moment!), and you should 1,000% make that switch. I’m surprised to hear there were preseason rankings anywhere putting him behind Kluber, Rodon, or Corbin.

      You won’t beat a healthy Taillon with streaming pitchers, though Yankee Stadium means a big old asterisk there, but beating this version of Kluber might be feasible.

  • Avatar Scott says:

    How much longer does luzardo get to stay in that range of your rankings? He hasn’t looked good. Thanks

  • Avatar Emmanuel in Space says:

    Nick! I love the list and look forward to every update. Great work, and thanks. Could you change one thing? Your color coded squares are impossible for us color blind folks to follow! Can you maybe add a letter inside each color box for us to be able to follow along? Thanks!

  • Avatar Jack says:

    What makes “The Bear” you only “Stash” label?

  • Avatar I Have 4 SP on IL, Woo Hoo! says:

    Which would be the preferable IL stash between Strassburg and Soroka? Not feeling great about either’s return at the moment.

  • Avatar Bebop says:

    Where would Justus Sheffield slot?

  • Avatar Jonathan says:

    Yah, I’m going to roll my eyes at this despite the preemptive warning. Eflin is just in the wrong tier. He is 15-20 spots too low.

    • Avatar Manley Ramirez says:

      Agree. Love PL but Nick has biases just like everyone else — namely he is anti sinker pitcher, pro yankee, and slow to write off big name guys that are washed like Corbin, Kluber and Bumgarner. Hence Kluber being ranked 20 spots higher than Eflin despite his last good year being 2018 and needing a miraculous turnaround just to be able to match the type of production Eflin has been providing in 20/21.

      • Avatar Gin Andrus says:

        “Kluber stinks in April, we’re anticipating that so make sure you bake that in.” – Nick
        “Kluber is pitching terrible in April, he should be dropped in the rankings” – Commenters
        …….SMH

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