The List 5/17: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 8

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021 - Week 8.

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 7’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.

For those unaware:

  • Cherry Bomb = A volatile pitcher who is either super sweet or blows up in your face. There are few middle grounds.
  • Toby = A middling pitcher who you can’t decide if they do enough to stay on your team and give you the itch to drop every single day. Named after Toby from The Office.

Here are the rules for those wondering why a pitcher is or isn’t ranked here:

  1. If a pitcher is on the IL or out of the rotation and not confirmed for a start this week, they are pushed into the Fringe table.
  2. If a pitcher is in a rotation and not confirmed to start but has not been placed on the IL or officially removed, they remain on The List.
  3. These rankings are made as if I am drafting a team today for the rest of the season.
  4. This means the Top 40-50 picks are more for ROS, while the rankings after are more short-term focused.
  5. I will only incorporate a game played on Monday if the pitcher’s performance is completed before 2:00pm EST.

 

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.

 

  • Hey there, Gerrit ColeWelcome to the #1 ranking in fantasy baseball. Shane Bieberwhile still so obviously elite, hasn’t been quite as sharp and is falling just a bit behind. I also felt Cole deserved to get a moment as the top arm while Jacob deGrom was still out. So here we are.
  • Brandon Woodruff is taking the step above Walker Buehler this week as he’s done everything you could ask of him with a 33% strikeout rate, 1.64 ERA, and 0.73 WHIP. He’s gone at least six frames in every start save for his first, as well. Woody isn’t toying with your hearts.

 

  • Tier 3 looks…exactly the same. I’ve seen discussion about Aaron Nola dropping further but I don’t see a reason to after enduring Dunedin – arguably the worst place for starters to pitch this year. He also had his changeup working plenty there, making the start somewhat encouraging as that #3 pitch could be more consistent moving forward
  • Please note, I had to remove Zac Gallen from this tier as he’s dealing with a UCL injury, creating an innate “+1” for everyone outside the Top 15 before Huascar Ynoawho broke his hand punching the dugout bench coming out of Sunday’s game.

 

  • Tier 4 is the super fun dope THOSE ARE MY DUDES tier. Max Fried is the only one who didn’t earn the AGA label this past week, but he certainly pitched like it. I expect to hand it out in the future weeks as he gets more starts under his belt.
  • Look at that, Trevor Rogers is technically Top 20 now. What a wonderful world it’s been.

 

  • The following tier is where some concern begins. Sandy Alcantara took a nosedive against the Dodgers, showcasing a floor I didn’t expect to see. It came with bad luck, yes, but if his whiffability were higher, it would have nipped some of the damage in the bud. I expect him to recover, though a drop to #21 and a removal of the AGA tag seems fitting.
  • Lucas Giolito has also been off lately, now accruing four games of underwhelming numbers. The good news is I believe it’s a product of fastball command that he can reclaim – he has in the past – and his changeup is still a wonderful option. He’ll rebound over time, possibly as soon as his next outing.

 

  • While I very much believe in Sonny GrayI needed to drop him slightly as his slider hasn’t returned to its brilliant self yet. Gray’s curveball has carried him thus far and I’m eager to watch his next start in anticipation of the sweeper’s return.
  • Joe Musgrove gets a slight boost this week not because of a great performance this week, but because of Dylan Bundy and Sonny Gray falling. He’s at a very specific moment in his season where he can recover or continue in his current spiral. I think one of his curveball, cutter, and changeup will return soon and improve his future starts.

 

  • In the sixth tier, Dylan Bundy leads off as he’s stumbled in his last two outings against the Dodgers and Red Sox. The schedule will be better, I expect him to make fewer mistakes with two strikes, and everything is fine. His slider is still stupendous.
  • Blake Snell has disappointed many managers this year as we’ve been waiting since July 2019 for the southpaw to toss six frames. While some may want him further down The List, I think Snell can make the tweaks to succeed as he pitches for a winning ball club. The tweaks will come, his stuff is still excellent. Blake, please focus on throwing sliders and curveballs for strikes k thx.

 

  • Robbie Ray has entered the sixth tier as his fastballs-in-the-zone approach has propelled a 42/2 strikeout per walk ratio across his last five starts. It does come with more longballs + some dates in Dunedin, but the low WHIP and excellent strikeouts make it worthwhile.
  • I’m raising Freddy Peralta as he’s looking like someone who will overwhelm more than struggle. Still a Cherry Bombbut we’re starting him with more confidence these days.

 

  • Leading off Tier 7 is the man of the hour, the belladeballPatrick Corbinwho featured a heater at 92.6 mph and had 13 whiffs against the Phillies. It’s the man we’ve been waiting seven weeks for and now that he’s expressed the ability, it’s awfully convincing that he can keep this up moving forward. I can see Corbin continuing to climb if he’s able to sit 92 mph with this slider in future weeks as it’s reminiscent of his 2018 and 2019 self.
  • Charlie Morton sits right after Corbin as we all recognize this as the tier of the questionable performers with large upside. Morton’s four-seamer has a .385 BABIP that should come back down to Earth, while his cutter and curveball are both performing well. This will get fixed and we can’t penalize him harshly for 3 ER across 4.2 innings in Dunedin.

 

  • Kyle Hendricks got a huge bump after looking more like his former self as he tossed eight frames against the Tigers for 41% CSW. Yes, it was the Tigers, but that’s two out of three successes for Hendricks, with the sore thumb being an unlucky affair against the Pirates. He’s performing better with his changeup + curveball and the sinker is back at 87 mph. All signs point to redemption.
  • Nothing really changed with Luis Castillo this past week as his horrendous day was spent in Coors. Can we really change our opinion of him after that? He fell a decent amount moreso because of those going ahead.

 

  • Let’s outline the tiers really quickly. All through Tier 6 are the strong plays you should be starting most of the time. Tier 7 = guys we anticipate will be secure in the near future. At Tier 8 is where we start to see the massive cliff of talent, a plateau of ability where the gap continually shortens between ranks. In other words, the value between #25 and #50 is much larger than #50 and #75.
  • This means we’re going to heavily start favoring upside over “steady” plays as losing a player in the 50s doesn’t have a significant impact on your squad ROS. However, the impact of an upside play panning out and becoming a Top 35 arm can be a league-winning move.

 

  • All of that is to say that Shane McClanahan ranks at #46 after tossing 5.1 frames for the Rays. His stuff is ace-like and if he’s able to go 5-6 frames with consistency, he will continue to rise up the ranks. He oddly tossed just 75 pitches in his last start after the leash extended to 80 in his previous outing, though I imagine it’ll continue to expand with time.
  • Yusei Kikuchi also gets a high mark for his upside after his last three games have displayed a 96 mph fastball + a cutter & slider that earns whiffs and called strikes. Here’s to hoping he can keep up the effort.

 

  • JT Brubaker and Kyle Gibson offer value in the short-term as each have cruised across the last month. While I don’t believe either can keep it up through the year, it’s hard for me to deny them this Tier 8 ranking.
  • Then there’s Shohei Ohtaniwho finally gave us a start worthy of his potential against the Astros. We’ve been waiting for him to get into a rhythm and this could be the start of a wonderful stretch.

 

  • I wanted to raise Madison Bumgarner further up the rungs as he featured a 92/93 mph heater last time out. Keep in mind, we were excited he was sitting at 91 mph after tossing an 88/89 mph fastball in 2020. However, he’s slated to get the Dodgers twice now and it’s hard to trust that he can handle the gauntlet – will the 92/93 mph still be there? It’s unclear.
  • I’m not thrilled about placing Zack Greinke this far down, though he hasn’t done a whole lot to suggest a higher rank. I can see him holding good enough ratios across plenty of volume through the year, but he doesn’t carry the immediate impact nor the long-term ceiling as the others.

 

  • Tier nine is where it begins to get a bit questionable. Chris Bassitt is a solid arm for 12-teamers, though there is innate volatility as he doesn’t have much in his repertoire outside of a dependable sinker. He’s a hold on average, but explore other options.
  • Adbert Alzolay could ascend moving forward as his slider/fastball combination draws Huascar Ynoa comps (Oh Ynoa….sigh), just a few ticks slower. Hopefully he can keep commanding the breaker well without his fastball getting beat up.

 

  • Rich Hill takes a leap as the Rays have made it clear that they’ll let him pitch six frames and 100 pitches when he’s up to the challenge. He can get it done with an 88/89 mph fastball – somehow – and a curveball that gets taken for a strike constantly.
  • Sean Manaea takes a dive after getting beat up by the Red Sox and Orioles across his last three games. His fastball is better this year at 91 mph and I love the jump his changeup has made from a 24% CSW to 36% this season, though the consistency isn’t quite there yet.

 

  • Tier 10 is filled with some intriguing names that are still heavily matchup dependent. Taijuan Walker, Anthony DeSclafaniand Matthew Boyd have all impressed early this year, but I question each one’s repertoire as I’m waiting for something new to show up to help their secondaries for the long haul.
  • Logan Gilbert makes his debut on The List after getting the call last week. Check out the GIF Breakdown I wrote on the outing, with the TL;DR conclusion being that he’s on a low pitch count & will need some time to ramp up + refine the command of his breakers. I like him for the full season, but likely in 3-4 weeks instead of now.

 

  • Tier 11 is all about streaming and sadly, not all of them are available to do so – I’m looking at you Brady Singer and Steven Matz.
  • It’s incredibly confusing what you should be doing with Ryan Weathers and Dinelson LametWeathers looks to be getting stretched out and his fastball/slider combination should be serviceable if he’s allowed to toss 80+ pitches constantly. Meanwhile, Lamet was used in relief on Sunday and may not stay there moving forward. Either way, it’s a stash play as we’re waiting for him to get the green light to toss 80+ pitches again. Feel free to drop as this could take some time.

 

  • In the final tier, we have a collection of arms deserving of a spot on The List. Vince Velasquez gets the Marlins twice and could be a streamer. David Peterson just fanned ten. Casey Mize could be considered as a streamer for his next starts. Drew Smyly has a decent schedule as well, and Logan Webbwell his changeup has arrived but he has to endure the Dodgers. Hey, maybe it works!
  • The final arm on The List may surprise you as it’s Sam Hentgeswho is being groomed to be the #5 starter for Cleveland with a solid mid-90s fastball and deceptive hook. There could be something here as his pitch count continues to climb.

 

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
1Gerrit ColeT1
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
2Shane Bieber
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
3Yu Darvish
T2
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
4Trevor Bauer
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
5Max Scherzer
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
6Brandon Woodruff
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+1
7Walker Buehler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-1
8Clayton Kershaw
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
9Corbin Burnes
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
10Aaron Nola
T3
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
11Jack Flaherty
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
12Lance Lynn
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
13Tyler Glasnow
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-
14Hyun Jin Ryu
T4
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
15Zack Wheeler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+4
16Julio Urias
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+4
17Kevin Gausman
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+4
18John Means
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+4
19Max Fried
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+7
20Trevor Rogers
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+3
21Sandy Alcantara
T5
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-3
22Lucas Giolito
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-8
23Zach Plesac
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
24Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+3
25Sonny Gray
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
-8
26Lance McCullers
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
+2
27Dylan Bundy
T6
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
-3
28Tyler Mahle
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
+2
29Blake Snell
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-
30Carlos Rodon
Ace Potential
Streaming Option
+2
31Ian Anderson
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+5
32Freddy Peralta
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+11
33Pablo Lopez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
34Robbie Ray
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+8
35Patrick Corbin
T7
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+32
36Charlie Morton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-3
37Jose Berrios
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
-3
38Aaron Civale
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
39Kyle Hendricks
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+29
40Corey Kluber
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-1
41Jameson Taillon
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
42Luis Castillo
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
-7
43Frankie Montas
T8
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+1
44Danny Duffy
Quality Starts
Toby
+2
45Marcus Stroman
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+2
46Shane McClanahan
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+11
47Yusei Kikuchi
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+17
48Kenta Maeda
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-8
49JT Brubaker
Toby
Ratio Focused
+13
50Kyle Gibson
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+11
51Alex Wood
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
-3
52Shohei Ohtani
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Stash Option
+4
53Domingo German
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+13
54Zach Eflin
Quality Starts
-2
55Andrew Heaney
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-6
56Zack Greinke
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
-11
57Madison Bumgarner
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+13
58Chris Paddack
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
-3
59Chris Bassitt
T9
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-6
60Cristian Javier
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-6
61Sean Manaea
Injury Risk
Toby
Ratio Focused
-11
62Adbert Alzolay
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+3
63Eduardo Rodriguez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-4
64Rich Hill
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+13
65Dylan Cease
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-2
66Jordan Montgomery
Strikeout Upside
Toby
Ratio Focused
+5
67Garrett Richards
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+2
68Michael Pineda
T10
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-8
69Anthony DeSclafani
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+3
70Taijuan Walker
Quality Starts
Toby
+3
71Matthew Boyd
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+5
72Griffin Canning
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+10
73Luis Garcia
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+10
74Logan Gilbert
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+UR
75Tyler Anderson
Toby
Streaming Option
+9
76Nathan Eovaldi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+2
77Brady Singer
T11
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-3
78James Kaprielian
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+UR
79Spencer Turnbull
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+UR
80Dane Dunning
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+6
81Steven Matz
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+15
82Tarik Skubal
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+8
83Ryan Weathers
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+UR
84Dinelson Lamet
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
-26
85Cole Irvin
Toby
Streaming Option
+3
86Adam Wainwright
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-6
87Wade Miley
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-8
88Dallas Keuchel
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-7
89Justin Dunn
T12
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
-4
90Vince Velasquez
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
91David Peterson
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+UR
92Triston McKenzie
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-17
93Casey Mize
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+UR
94Drew Smyly
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+UR
95German Marquez
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-8
96Jon Gray
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+3
97Logan Webb
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+UR
98Kwang Hyun Kim
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-1
99Nick Pivetta
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+1
100Sam Hentges
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+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 All-Pro Reels (https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeglo/) | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Nick Pollack

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

  • Avatar Joseph says:

    why is Trevor Rodgers a streaming option?

    • Avatar DB says:

      Probably because his offense and ballpark aren’t going to offer many W’s, thus cutting out one of the main categories… But these are the entirely subjective rankings of one guy, so if you like him more than the list does or disagree w/a tag, just ignore it.

      • Avatar Sticks says:

        I think it’s more likely that it’s a leftover tag from the start of the year bc I’m not sure leagues get shallow enough to where he’s truly anything close to a streamer. He’s top 20, that’s not a streamer.

  • Avatar Umpy70 says:

    Missing Urquidy?

  • Avatar Peter says:

    McClanahan is available in my league.
    Should I drop Domingo German or Kyle Gibson for him?

  • Avatar Jacob Rafferty says:

    I refuse to believe that Kevin Gausman is a top 20 starting pitcher in baseball. I will die on this island haha

  • Avatar lester says:

    Christian Javier has been solid this year but would you drop him for Charlie Morton?

  • The labels. I’m new and Have no idea what a “cherry bomb” or “Toby” is. can anyone help me here? And if you have time, “streaming option” would be helpful as well.

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