The List 6/21: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 13

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021 - Week 13.

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 12’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!

Have questions? My “office hours” are on Twitch 9:00am – 11:00am EST Monday – Friday + the aforementioned stream for The List.

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 y’all, it’s me. The guy reminding you that I had to remove both Shane Bieber and Tyler Glasnow from The List this week, which means 90% of The List got an innate +2. Please understand as you look at the number ranks.
  • Speaking of which, also keep in mind that Zac Gallen has suddenly returned and tossed 58 pitches against the Giants. He’s back at #29 on The List and will steadily climb as long as that pitch count continues rising…which means it’s just an innate +1 (not +2) for those outside the Top 30. Carry on.

 

  • The biggest move in the Top 10 is Lucas Giolito rising above Clayton KershawSome may have hesitation after his rough four-start tumble a month ago, but Giolito has returned to the man we trusted at the beginning of the season, even raising his spin rates in his last start as he looks to be a 180+ IP arm through the year.
  • I’ve also elected to dip Corbin Burnes a bit for two reasons: He should innately be dropping as the season continues given the innings cap (~150-160 frames) + his spin rates dropped significantly as he was a bit lost in his last start. There is some concern here, but he’s still Top 15.

 

  • Framber Valdez gets the jump we all know he deserves into the third tier after spinning yet another seven-inning gem. While it will come to a halt at some point, he’s earned his AGA label.
  • In the fourth tier, nothing has changed save for Hyun Jin Ryu falling to the #22 spot. It may seem shocking – he had three rough outings before recovering in his last start! – but I didn’t like what I saw in his changeup. Ryu has thrived with the pitch in his career and Ryu struggled to locate the slowball down as we’ve seen in the past. I’m worried we’re not quite out of the woods yet.

 

  • In the fifth tier, joining Gallen is Dinelson Lamet’s ascension as he went five strong against the Reds over the weekend. He’s hinting 80 pitches now sure looks like the man we fell for last year, even if it’s a tick lower than last season. We haven’t reached the peak yet.
  • It’s been tough to say no to Sean Manaeawho fanned 11 over the weekend without turning to his breaker as he pumped 93 mph gas. Remember, he was hovering 90 mph last season.

 

  • I don’t have anything against Ian Andersonplease trust me. I just can’t hold back the improvements of Yusei Kikuchi and the stretching out of Lance McCullersKeep starting Anderson, of course.
  • Charlie Morton had a stumble and a recovery lately and I’m all for it moving forward. He’s getting a good feel for his cutter as his fastball/curveball combination continues to work.

 

  • The biggest move of The List is not a shocking one – it’s Aaron Nola falling twenty spots as his moment of turning it around came to a screeching halt against the Giants. While I do believe he’s not destined toward a drop in your 12-teamers (there’s over half the season left!), the anxiety and haze surrounding his future starts warrant the fall to Tier 6.
  • About the sixth tier – Nola sticks out like a sore thumb as Kyle Gibson, Taijuan Walkerand Chris Bassitt each carry the same story: we don’t collectively buy their current production for the next 3+ months, but we can’t deny how well they’re doing right now (yes, including Walker and his 4 ER romp). Keep starting them and let’s hope they make me look dumb by September.

 

  • Tier 7 is a fun and terrifying tier. You have exciting names like Shane McClanahan and Tarik Skubal who are itching to climb up the ranks, while Dylan Cease, Luis Castilloand Blake Snell all make us wonder what’s around the corner. Cease lost his slider in his start against Houston, Snell can’t get into a rhythm with his arsenal, and Castillo’s fastball was a bit too hittable + couldn’t work in his changeup to its fullest on Sunday. All three could be Top 30 guys, we just don’t if they’ll take the step.
  • There’s also Zack Greinke and Frankie Montaswho have turned into stable arms for any rotation. I think there’s another level for Montas to hit with his slider and splitter approach, we’ll just wait and see if he finds the groove.

 

  • Chris Paddack also gets a jump after continuing his improvements with his changeup via an 11-strikeout performance. His fastball was a bit slower, but he needs the changeup effectiveness more than the extra velocity.
  • The upside-chasing of Tier 7 carries over a bit into Tier 8 with Kyle Hendricks and Aaron CivaleThe latter had one of the more significant drops as he didn’t build off his 11-strikeout game, returning to an arm reminiscent of a TobyMeanwhile, Hendricks is doing his best to be more than the dreaded label and deserved a bit more love after finally giving us an upside-laden outing.

 

  • I had to give more credit to Adam Wainwrightwho is acting more like a Cherry Bomb than a Toby these days. He just cruised through Atlanta on Sunday and has become an easy start against all but the top offenses for many managers. I question if his curveball and cutter approach can stick through the year (we saw the cutter fall out for a bit across the last month!) but for now, he’s a must-hold.
  • Also to note is Anthony DeSclafani who has been a consistently strong play when not facing a Top 10 offense. So essentially 67% of the time to put it incredibly rough.

 

  • Tier 9 is where the true fun begins, featuring many arms you picked up off the wire. Patrick Sandoval and Jake Odorizzi each get sizeable jumps and for different reasons. Sandoval has come into his own with his changeup and has the potential to go off once again if his slider or curveball earns strikes. Pair that with a great schedule, and Sandoval is a wonderful addition to your squads.
  • Odorizzi is doing Odorizzi things with his four-seamer up in the zone and now has a comfortable role in the Houston rotation as their schedule eases through the All-Star break. This has all the makings of a sneaky good pickup.

 

  • I know, you’re shocked Kenta Maeda dropped five points – He just had a productive two-start week! – Keep in mind, I’m waiting for his slider and changeup to both return in a given start, while placing heaters on the edges. That is the Maeda we’re waiting for. Instead, we got one start with a solid slider, the other with a solid splitter, and neither with a great heater. He benefited from facing weak teams and I’m not as confident in him as, say, Tony Disco start-to-start at the moment.
  • I heavily debated Alek Manoah or Maeda and I gave the tie-breaker to Manoah who is still missing his changeup over the last few starts. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he has a shorter track record of being out of rhythm.

 

  • Adbert Alzolay is coming back from his IL stint with a blister today and while I wouldn’t activate him for this start, let’s not forget that he was a Top 50 arm before the injury. Give him one start to see if he’s comfortable with his slider again before letting him loose – I have a touch of concern that the blister could re-appear.
  • The other major move of Tier 9 was Alex Wood falling 10 spots as he’s still missing his slider. Wood’s increased velocity and overall improved slider have been the two facets of his 2021 success and without the sweeper, he’ll likely continue to struggle.

 

  • Tier 10 is a long one and is a mix of exciting arms and disappointments. Ross Stripling gets the biggest jump of the week as his secondary pitches were finally firing on all cylinders. Now with a luscious schedule ahead of him, it’s time to take the dive.
  • On the other side of the coin, Rich Hill hasn’t quite looked the same as of late and makes for a tough decision against the Red Sox. He could still be valuable for your squads (he’s at #65, after all), but the confidence is waning.

 

  • Logan Gilbert had a moment with strong sliders and changeups that didn’t stick in his weekend outing. The ceiling is apparent now, and hopefully he can jump high enough to reach it constantly.
  • Tier 11 doesn’t contain a whole lot of excitement, though I have to give some props to Patrick Corbin as he had a pair of productive outings for trusting managers. It’s not quite the Corbin we wanted as his slider wasn’t the decimating sweeper we’ve seen in the past, but he’s throwing 92/93 mph and that will help keep the floor decently high.

 

  • I was sad to see Tony Gonsolin not only be limited to sub 50 pitches in his second start (he’s dealing with shoulder soreness), but also feature a shadow of his former slider. He still has the #5 spot for the Dodgers, but it’s unclear when or even if he returns to his former self.
  • Yes, Dylan Bundy falls once again as he failed to prosper against a stumbling Tigers offense. It’s the point where the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze. Consider other options.

 

  • In Tier 12, we’re jumping into the land of desperate streamers and Cole Irvin + Joe Ross have certainly proven worthy of your consideration.  Throw in Sam Long there as well as his curveball tallied a wonderful 42% CSW over the weekend across six frames. I don’t love his changeup and fastball, but there could be something there.
  • Matt Manning’s MLB debut was far from what we anticipated two years ago, but maybe there’s more out of his secondaries that we’ll see in future starts. Can’t rule out the ceiling quite yet.

 

  • It seems odd to be this favorable toward Zach Thompsonwho may not get another start for Miami, but he’s someone else to consider if you need the help. His command allows him to set up batters and the cutter has proven itself as a strong weapon to batters on both sides of the plate.
  • Brad Keller was throwing 95 mph in his last outing and that deserves your eyebrow raise, no?

 

  • At the end of the tier is Johan Oviedo who just went seven strong against the Marlins and now has a cozy two-start week ahead. It wasn’t a start filled with the most trustable skills, but his stuff is better than many other lackluster options on the wire. It could work.
  • In the final tier, we have Brady Singer falling 13 spots as he’s been limited by his own team for his shoulder soreness. He’s still pitching and it could be gone by his next outing, but I’d prefer not to hold and chase something else.

 

  • They aren’t the most exciting names, but we have seven new names at the end of The List. Johnny Cueto has a near 15% SwStr on his four-seamer this year, Cody Poteet returns and could be a decent stream, Martin Perez has two solid matchups ahead, Drew Smyly has proven…okay, Carlos Martinez just allowed 8 ER over the weekend but could put that in the past and go six strong in the future, and Kwang Hyun Kimdespite tossing fewer than 50 pitches over the weekend, may act as a solid Toby this week or next.
  • Then there’s Caleb Smithwho had his velocity back over the weekend, but didn’t have his secondaries working. Fingers crossed that his slider and/or changeup can show up this week and get us all amped.

 

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:

 

YOU SHOULD READ THE NOTES

 

RankPitcherBadgesChange
1Jacob deGromT1
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
2Gerrit Cole
T2
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
3Yu Darvish
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
4Max Scherzer
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
5Brandon Woodruff
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
6Zack Wheeler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
7Lucas Giolito
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
8Clayton Kershaw
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
9Lance Lynn
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
10Walker Buehler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+1
11Carlos Rodon
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
12Kevin Gausman
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
13Trevor Bauer
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
14Corbin Burnes
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-1
15Trevor Rogers
T3
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
16Freddy Peralta
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+3
17Framber Valdez
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+9
18Max Fried
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
19Robbie Ray
T4
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
20Julio Urias
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+3
21Sandy Alcantara
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
22Hyun Jin Ryu
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
23Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+2
24Pablo Lopez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
25Marcus Stroman
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+3
26Tyler Mahle
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
27Sean Manaea
T5
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Ratio Focused
+5
28Dinelson Lamet
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+14
29Zac Gallen
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+UR
30Yusei Kikuchi
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
31Lance McCullers
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+3
32Ian Anderson
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
-2
33Shohei Ohtani
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+3
34Charlie Morton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+9
35Jose Berrios
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+2
36Kyle Gibson
T6
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
37Aaron Nola
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-20
38Taijuan Walker
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
39Chris Bassitt
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+2
40Dylan Cease
T7
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-5
41Shane McClanahan
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+10
42Chris Paddack
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
+6
43Blake Snell
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-5
44Zack Greinke
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
45Tarik Skubal
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
-
46Frankie Montas
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+1
47Luis Castillo
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Stash Option
+7
48Aaron Civale
T8
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-17
49Jose Urquidy
Injury Risk
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+3
50Luis Garcia
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+3
51Kyle Hendricks
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+6
52Anthony DeSclafani
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+4
53Adam Wainwright
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+17
54Alek Manoah
T9
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+1
55Kenta Maeda
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-5
56Alex Wood
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
-10
57Wade Miley
Injury Risk
Toby
Ratio Focused
+2
58Patrick Sandoval
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+13
59Jake Odorizzi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
+13
60Adbert Alzolay
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+UR
61Casey Mize
T10
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-
62Ross Stripling
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+37
63JT Brubaker
Toby
Ratio Focused
+6
64Andrew Heaney
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+2
65Rich Hill
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-16
66Domingo German
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-6
67Zach Eflin
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-9
68Jordan Montgomery
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Ratio Focused
-4
69Logan Gilbert
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
-6
70Patrick Corbin
T11
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
+13
71Tony Gonsolin
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-9
72Nathan Eovaldi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+1
73Dallas Keuchel
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-6
74James Kaprielian
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-
75Marco Gonzales
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+4
76German Marquez
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+4
77Jameson Taillon
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-
78Alex Cobb
Streaming Option
+14
79Griffin Canning
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+2
80Dylan Bundy
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
-15
81Eduardo Rodriguez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-3
82Cole Irvin
T12
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+2
83Joe Ross
Strikeout Upside
Toby
Streaming Option
+4
84Sam Long
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+5
85Matt Manning
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+UR
86Mike Minor
Streaming Option
+2
87Ryan Yarbrough
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
-11
88Zach Thompson
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+12
89Brad Keller
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+7
90Johan Oviedo
Streaming Option
+UR
91Nick Pivetta
T13
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+2
92Johnny Cueto
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
93Cody Poteet
Streaming Option
+UR
94Martin Perez
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
95Drew Smyly
Streaming Option
+UR
96Dane Dunning
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-2
97Carlos Martinez
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
98Brady Singer
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-13
99Kwang Hyun Kim
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
100Caleb Smith
Streaming Option
Stash 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 Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire | 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 Mike Honcho says:

    Last 3 starts, R.Ray and the Irish Panda are essentially the same guy stat-wise.
    Who’d a thunk…

  • Avatar Bbhhi says:

    Nick,

    What are your expectations for remainder of year for Luzardo ?

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Tier 3 is terrible value. Its not a legit tier.

    “While it will come to a halt at some point, he’s earned his AGA label.” this is when you know you are being way too generous with the label.

  • Avatar DB says:

    I like Manoah and all, I started him in all his starts through the last one on the strength of his stuff alone and the fact that this fantasy season is more about fun and less about competition after the plague and before the CBA…

    I’m a DYNASTY/KEEPER believer in the guy. I backed him up after the second-start bomb, but the guy gave up FOUR HR in 3.1 IP in his last start vs BALTIMORE as a righty! He gave up 4ER vs MIAMI in 3.1 IP! Two implosions against bad teams in 6 total MLB starts after only 3 AAA starts this year, and that’s after only SIX starts in short-season low-A ball in 2019 definitely deserves some kind of warning label. That’s nine… NINE(!!!) total pro starts TOTAL before hitting the bigs.

    Sure, the K’s are there, the stuff is great, but that kind of volatility with a minuscule pro record definitely deserves a cherry bomb tag, just so people know what they’re getting into.

  • Avatar Ron Mexico says:

    Fried sp18?

    • Avatar Dave says:

      Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense considering so many of his stats are worse than league average (K/9, H/9, WHIP, ERA) while averaging 5.24 IPs/game with a 4-4 W-L record in 11 starts.

  • Avatar Jayson says:

    It’s nice to see the fall of Nola in The List because I think more and more readers were seriously wondering if The List still meant something useful…

    After Nola, maybe now it’s time to do the same with Max Fried, no? How long this masquerade will last? Fried an AGA and ranking so high with such stats and such an awful WHIP? It just doesn’t make any sense!

    Max Fried isn’t an AGA! Like with Nola, who the joke lasted for almost half of the season, it’s time to judge Fried on what he’s doing and the stats he’s supporting rather than pre-season predictions and the ace potential he carries because if Fried is an AGA who laughably is always a member of the “auto-start”, then there are over 10 guys ranking lower than Fried and without the AGA label who are AGA!

    Well, as I said it’s nice to see The List doing some moves to look more accurate but it’s still a full of non-sense ranking for too many pitchers. At the end I think I’m just a week left before to eventually definitely consider The List as a simple personal fanboy ranking… Next week I think it will probably my last time reading The List, sorry.

    • Avatar Michael McLaughlin says:

      I think the List is meant to be a prediction of future success based on talent level, rather than a simple compilation based on season performance. If that’s what you want, just look up the leaders for xFIP or XWOBA on Fangraphs. Nick tries to evaluate each pitcher’s true talent level, through a more qualitative, contextual approach. That’s why Max Fried can still be a top 20 pitcher on the List – that’s still where his talent level places him, and his recent starts suggest he is on the cusp of returning to his 2020 form.

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