The List 4/5: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 2

The Top 100 Starting Pitchers 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.

 

 

  • So I’m not changing anything inside the Top 18 and really just one thing in the Top 26. Corbin Burnes gets a rise given he clearly has the command of last year intact and the innings difference between him and the other arms around him doesn’t make up for the step-up in quality.
  • Meanwhile, I so badly want to raise Tyler Glasnow with his new slider, but I just can’t after one start of its existence. It is really pretty, though.

 

  • I elected to raise Jose Berrios, Sandy Alcantara, and Lance McCullers a touch as each of them showcased improved ability. Berrios is throwing even harder than 2020’s velocity bump, McCullers is featuring a new – and deadly – slider, and Alcantara already had both his slider and changeup working on opening day.
  • They all remain behind Strasburg and Corbin as they simply haven’t given me anything to gauge from them yet. It’s hard making changes after just four days of games!

 

  • The main story in Tier 6 is the fall of Chris PaddackWe were already uneasy about his performances in spring training and his outing against Arizona was more of the same disappointment. His fastball simply isn’t what it was in 2019 at the moment and that’s a problem. Still inside the Top 40, mind you, but I prefer others instead, now.
  • Speaking of which, many inside this tier had their first outing and showed us why we wanted them in drafts. Joe Musgrove and Tyler Mahle each quelled some of my fears, though. Musgrove was able to dominate with his slider as he did in September and move away from a heavy dose of heaters, while Mahle was trusted to go over 80 pitches in his first outing. Both could be legit arms for your teams through the full year.

 

  • Tier 7 isn’t very interesting, but I made it smaller as Tier 8 is a bit riskier. Frankie Montas is here without a start as I don’t think I’ll have the same confidence in him as others in Tier 6.
  • John Means didn’t get a major bump as his fastball velocity was back to 2019 levels. I can imagine it gets back up through the year, though, and it was fantastic seeing his changeup work like the ole days.

 

  • After casting plenty doubt that Zach Eflin would be able to bring over his curveball to 2021, he tossed it 19% of the time and it worked wonderfully. I’m still skeptical that it can be a regular feature through the season, but this is a great start. And hey, it gets questionable very quickly in the back half of starters, so welcome to the Top 50, even if just barely.
  • I considered lowering Shohei Ohtani after his volatility Sunday night and his lack of adjustment is more of a product of the landscape than of his ability. There just weren’t guys to place above him.

 

  • Tier 9 has only one major adjustment – the addition of Dustin MayWith Gonsolin and Price out of the picture, May has fallen comfortably into the 5th rotation without the caveats of “how long will he go?” and “how long will it last?” Both questions seem to have satisfying answers at the moment, making him a somewhat secure option…for the short term. I still question if he has a whiff pitch and, hey, maybe they do cut his starts shorter in favor of Price, but May deserves the love.
  • Ryan Yarbrough is a bit underrated, too, and with the Rays lacking depth in their rotation, expect him to go at least 80 pitches regularly moving forward with a solid WHIP.

 

  • Tier 10 features a pair of Twins near the top, with Michael Pineda and J.A. HappEach has a solid schedule and a repertoire that should allow them to take advantage. Easy end-of-rotation fill-ins until you find that guy later in the year.
  • I also gave significant boosts to Yusei Kikuchi and Chris BassittKikuchi pitched admirably against the Giants, but I can’t help but worry that his 2020 inconsistencies will crop up again + he has a tough schedule. Still, Tier 11 is dicey and Kikuchi’s skillset awards him the Top 65 spot.

 

  • As for Bassitt, he’s already one start down with a poor matchup, with one to go. I think he should help overall in 12-teamers through the year, and as it gets easier for him, he deserves the bump.
  • I did lower Carlos Martinez into this tier, simply because there’s a touch more volatility than those in Tier 9. I still think he pitched a little better than the 4 ER stat line will tell you.

 

  • Tier 11 is filled with fun arms who haven’t quite made it yet. Freddy Peralta came in to relieve in Game 1 of the season and displayed the wonky control that makes us terrified. Here’s to hoping that disappears when he starts.
  • I’ve also added Tanner Houck to this tier as he surprisingly got the call against the Orioles and flat out dominated with his slider. I have some reservations about the rest of his repertoire, but he gets a repeat matchup against the O’s and it could be the start of a productive April that will force his attendance even when Eduardo Rodriguez returns.

 

  • Houck’s teammate Nathan Eovaldi fell to Tier 12, though, as his schedule is a rugged one across the next three weeks. You can drop him in 12-teamers.
  • It wasn’t Brady Singer‘s day against the Rangers and now his schedule is rougher than we’d like. I was hoping last week to see a performance that would grant some confidence despite the gauntlet ahead, but sadly we got the opposite.

 

  • There are a ton of names in Tier 13 and for the most part, they are here because they have a decent schedule or could be a serviceable Toby if things align. Griffin Canning is oddly the opposite – a Cherry Bomb and I have low expectations that he can perform well early. I hope to be wrong there.
  • Plenty of new names here to replace all the clear removals. Bruce Zimmermann showcased the BSB and could be a Vargas Rule.

 

  • Wade Miley has a gorgeous schedule and could be a sneaky innings eater for your teams.
  • Dylan Cease didn’t perform well on Sunday, but maybe his command corrects itself in the near future. JT Brubaker has the tools to be a Toby but we haven’t seen him yet this year.

 

  • Adrian Morejon has a rotation spot in San Diego and I won’t rule out that his splitter can show up to make him valuable.
  • Finally, there’s Logan Allen who I don’t believe will get plenty of innings early in the year, but he could earn the fifth spot and display growth after getting traded to Cleveland in 2019.

 

  • Lastly, there’s Tier 14, with a few arms that could be considered a decent streamer at times. Nothing much to write home about with Joey Lucchesi, Adam Wainwrightand Martin Perez.
  • Finally, with the final slot I could have put Taylor Widenerbut I wasn’t too impressed with his fastball command and he has a rough schedule. Instead, why not bring back an old “friend” in Nick PivettaI don’t really believe it, but hey, who knows.

 

Fringe Pitchers I Considered

 

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
T4
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
-
18Zack Wheeler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
19Corbin Burnes
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+4
20Hyun Jin Ryu
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-1
21Max Fried
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
22Kyle Hendricks
Aces Gonna Ace
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-1
23Zach Plesac
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
24Stephen Strasburg
T5
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
25Charlie Morton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
26Patrick Corbin
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
27Jose Berrios
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
28Sandy Alcantara
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+2
29Lance McCullers
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
+2
30Zack Greinke
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
-2
31Jesus Luzardo
T6
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
+2
32Pablo Lopez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+2
33Julio Urias
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
34Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+7
35Tyler Mahle
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+8
36Aaron Civale
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
37Ian Anderson
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+2
38Dylan Bundy
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+4
39Chris Paddack
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-12
40Corey Kluber
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-3
41Jameson Taillon
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-3
42Frankie Montas
T7
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
43John Means
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
44Jose Urquidy
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
-
45Kevin Gausman
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+1
46Marcus Stroman
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+1
47Shohei Ohtani
T8
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+1
48James Paxton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+1
49Jordan Montgomery
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
+1
50Zach Eflin
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Toby
Streaming Option
+13
51Triston McKenzie
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-
52Domingo German
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-
53Dallas Keuchel
T9
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
54Marco Gonzales
Quality Starts
Toby
-
55Zach Davies
Quality Starts
Toby
-
56Drew Smyly
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-
57Mike Minor
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
58Dustin May
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+34
59Ryan Yarbrough
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-
60Michael Pineda
T10
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+12
61Carlos Martinez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-3
62J.A. Happ
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+11
63Yusei Kikuchi
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+18
64Trevor Rogers
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+7
65Chris Bassitt
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+19
66Logan Webb
T11
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
-6
67Freddy Peralta
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-6
68Matthew Boyd
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-4
69Mitch Keller
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-4
70Tarik Skubal
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-4
71Carlos Rodon
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+4
72Tanner Houck
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+UR
73German Marquez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-5
74Adbert Alzolay
T12
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-4
75Justin Dunn
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+7
76Andrew Heaney
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+3
77Taijuan Walker
Quality Starts
Toby
Streaming Option
-
78Nathan Eovaldi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-4
79Sean Manaea
Injury Risk
Ratio Focused
+1
80Dane Dunning
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+7
81Daniel Ponce de Leon
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+9
82Brady Singer
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-15
83Brad Keller
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-5
84Jake Arrieta
T13
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+9
85Matt Shoemaker
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+10
86Griffin Canning
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+2
87Mike Foltynewicz
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+7
88Bruce Zimmermann
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+UR
89Wade Miley
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
90Dylan Cease
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+UR
91Cristian Javier
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-2
92JT Brubaker
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
93Casey Mize
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-2
94Adrian Morejon
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+UR
95Logan Allen
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
96David Peterson
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+2
97Joey Lucchesi
T14
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+2
98Adam Wainwright
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-1
99Martin Perez
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+1
100Nick Pivetta
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+UR

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 Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm 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 Thom says:

    I see Kikuchi listed as Ace Potential and Toby… that seems almost contradictory. Could the last start been seen as a step in the Ace direction with the 40% CSW?

  • Avatar TOBTTR says:

    Surprised Domingo German didn’t drop a bit. Better days ahead when he’s not facing the Jays?

  • Great stuff as always! How you would rank some of the guys who don’t currently have rotation spots or are in the minors? I lean towards stashing someone with better potential than lots of the guys in tiers 12-14. I’m looking at guys like Price, Dobnak, Lindblom, Antone, Whitley, Jefferies, etc.

  • Avatar Zack S. says:

    How is Triston McKenzie still on this list? Francona already said they’re skipping him, and it remains to be see if he’s a traditional part of the rotation.

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