The List 7/19: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 17

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021 - Week 17.

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 17 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.

 

  • In the inverse of last week, we had plenty of pitchers returning this week from “IL Stints” (did they really need the rest or did they take advantage of the ASB?) + players returning from the minors after their respective teams wanted the extra bullpen at/utility bat in between their two starts.
  • That means the return of Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray, John Means, Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner (okay, those last three have been a while!), Aaron Nola (his was COVID), Kyle Muller, Logan Webb, Blake Snell, and Tanner HouckYeah, it’s an extensive list and means you see a ton of red in the second half of the ranks.

 

  • Also keep in mind that both Jacob deGrom (Sigh) and Pablo López (Sigh again) have been removed due to injury, granting a helpful +2 to everyone outside the Top 20, helping negate some of those returns to The List – Quick math = an innate -3 for all outside the Top 27.

 

  • With all of that out of the way, I took zero joy in determining the first tier of The List, which I felt had to extend down to Robbie Ray as all of these arms have been a pure delight.
  • In the end, after displaying dominance against the Astros and Red Sox, I felt Gerrit Cole was the best choice for the new #1 spot. We should be past the concerns of gloopgate and see him as a bonafide stud once again.

 

  • I know it doesn’t feel right, but I tossed Corbin Burnes, Trevor Rogersand Freddy Peralta into their own “innings limits” tier. Peralta likely should be farther down The List as his cap seems to be heavier than the others, but given we don’t know exactly how it’ll be done and the quality per inning is still a clear step above those in tier three.
  • There hasn’t been an official announcement on Burnes’ limitations, but the Brewers are moving to six-man and the general expectation has been ~150-160 frames. Given that the Brewers also have a comfortable lead in the NL Central, it’s safe to say some kind of restraint is coming at some point in the next two months.

 

  • The third tier kicks off with Lance McCullerswho has done everything right as of late. It’s a tier filled with arms eager to get the AGA label and while Lance could earn it shortly, I’m a little hesitant to elevate McCullers as he has a track record of inconsistency, both on the field and being forced off.
  • I gave a small dip to Julio Urías as his stuff is wonderful, but he hasn’t quite gotten into the groove of it all. Still a definite start each time out, just not as exceptional as the early tiers.

 

  • I’ve given some love to Luis Castillo as he’s come into form with his slider. I’ve been waiting for his changeup to regain its elite marks from previous years, but Castillo has found his slider to take its place and cruised across the last month. If the slider stays, there is a higher ceiling than ever when the changeup feel returns.
  • Yes, I’m a little worried about Sandy Alcántaratoo, though this is a process. Over time, I have faith in Sandy turning into a legit top-10 contender and it’s difficult to grasp when he’ll have full command of his arsenal. He has taken steps forward each year, after all.

 

  • Tier 4 has all the fun names that need to develop consistency with their raw stuff to take the leap. John Means, for example, is returning from the IL and can quickly become top-20 if he performs like he did in the spring.
  • Meanwhile, I gave a drop to Joe Musgrove as he’s having troubles with his approach. I personally think he needs to incorporate more heaters into his 80% secondary approach and I’m hoping he makes the right adjustments in the coming months.

 

  • Welcome back to Zac Gallen and Sonny GrayI’ll be watching Gallen to see if he can get back to 93/94 mph while earning tons of whiffs with changeups. For Gray, it’s all about earning strikes with curveballs and sliders and I’m allowing both starters a pass in their Still ILL outings over the weekend, even if Gallen’s was far from a failure.
  • The “drop” from Tyler Mahle is nothing – just the innate -3 from everyone else getting added. He’s still the undulating arm of production you’ve known all year, sitting mid 3s ERA and a decent WHIP with an exceptional strikeout rate.

 

  • Again, all the red you see in Tier 5 has nothing to do with the pitchers, just the players being added.
  • Germán Márquez doesn’t have any red, though, he has all the green as I’ve recognized he needed more love than I gave him last week. He’s become a must-start during his stretch and that’s just how it is. That slider and curveball are simply too good right now.

 

  • Over the weekend, Hyun Jin Ryu had his changeup of old and plowed through seven frames against the Rangers. It’s a start and he could continue his redemption tour this week.
  • Chris Bassitt has continued his incredible 2021 campaign and all we can do is lean back and watch at this point.

 

  • It’s been wonderful watching Frankie Montas dominate with his splitter and slider working across his last few starts. Don’t forget, he was incredible in the first half of 2019 and we may be seeing that excellence return for the next few months.
  • We haven’t gotten official confirmation yet, but there is a sense that Tarik Skubal will have his starts limited in the near future. It’s too bad, really, as he’s gone 90+ pitches across each of his last twelve starts.

 

  • I gave a large drop to both Framber Valdez and Yusei Kikuchi in tier six. Valdez’s sinker has been a liability that he was able to mask in 2020, but has struggled to do so across the last month. I’m not ruling out a possible bounce back moving forward, but he’s not on the same level as others as he figures it out.
  • As for Kikuchi, I rewarded him for sitting 96 mph and featuring strong secondaries in his cutter and slider. However, I’m scared now as he’s been below 95 mph in his last two starts and the poor results have followed. Something could be wrong here.

 

  • I also gave a drop to Dylan Cease as it’s been a difficult back-and-forth across the past month, with just one start of six frames over his last seven starts.
  • I also want to note that Luis Garcia is unlikely to keep his spot in the rotation through the end of the year, make me give him a small dip with the expectation of diminished production.

 

  • It’s more red in Tier 7 – don’t worry about the red! Seriously! – but Logan Gilbert managed to turn green as he was gorgeous for the second straight start against the Angels. His slider has become a legit #2 offering to pair with an excellent heater and my confidence in him grows with each start. Now if only he could get consistent with that changeup or curveball as well…
  • I had to hold back my excitement for Jon Gray as much as I could, but seeing him still sit 95/96 and have no problem taking down the Dodgers in Coors makes me excited for what could come in August and September if he’s pitching for a different club. It’s something to consider.

 

  • I hadn’t been giving enough love to Nathan Eovaldiso I pushed him just outside of Tier 8, the tier where the cliff begins to hit in 12-teamers.
  • With Wade Miley and Kwang Hyun Kim at the top, Tier 8 is where you’re still barely holding onto these arms instead of chasing lottery tickets instead. Marcus Stroman is currently dangling off the edge but still retains his “hold” status, while Eduardo Rodriguez‘s fastball command has helped him continue to be productive for fantasy managers.

 

  • Tier 9 is where the exciting arms begin to appear. Kyle Muller and Tanner Houck were recalled by their respective teams and could provide legit production in the coming months. Be careful this week, though – Muller gets the Padres and Houck gets the Jays. Bummer.
  • Logan Webb and Blake Snell returned from their IL stints and regain a spot on The List. Webb seems a bit more secure with his ability to help now, while Snell is the ultimate stash. He’s a PEAS and we can only hope it clicks in the near future.

 

  • David Price soars up The List this week as he continues to get stretched out for the Dodgers. He tossed 66 over the weekend and will likely be between 75-80 against Rockie Road this week and I’m all for starting him there and seeing where it goes.
  • His teammate Tony Gonsolin is far from a bad play as well and given that he’s already above the 80 pitch count, I’m all for starting him as well. I do wonder how much the Dodgers will hold him back over time, though, especially as they eye adding a starter or two via trade at the deadline.

 

  • I gave a fall to Triston McKenzie simply because he’s facing the Astros this week and I wouldn’t take the gamble there. It’s a volatile situation where we don’t know if the velocity will stick, either, while guys like Muller and Houck have a bit more of a believable ceiling to hit.
  • I gave a drop to Jake Odorizzi as he was inside this “hovering the cliff” tier last week as well. He just got bruised by the ChiSox, but should help you against the Rangers and it’s up to you if that’s worth your time over chasing higher ceiling pitchers in the same tier.

 

  • Some likely want Zach Eflin in Tier 9, though he’s proven less reliable than we’d like this season. I wouldn’t worry about moving onto other options from the wire instead of holding Eflin the rest of the way.
  • Speaking of Tier 10, Madison Bumgarner returned and performed well against the Cubs…but it came with an 89/90 mph heater. Remember, he was sitting 91/92 mph before injury. I’d have my eye on his next start in hopes the velocity returns.

 

  • I’m liking how Jameson Taillon is making changes to his approach, though I can’t quite jump back on board until I see his slider and curveball do more damage. For now, he’s a solid streamer and not someone to hold through the tough matchups.
  • It’s strange to see Domingo Germán get such a harsh drop despite not pitching since the last edition of The List, but keep in mind of the five new additions on top of the innate -3, and David Price‘s acceleration up the ranks. Nothing has changed.

 

  • Tier 11 is where you have streamers who carry more upside than those in tier 12. Guys like JT Brubaker, Chris Paddack, and Ross Stripling could each make a tweak to pull them out of the depths of The List and become stable members of your rotation.
  • Among those names is Patrick Corbinwho was shellacked by the Padres…but also sat 93 mph on his fastball. I can’t help but wonder if he’s closer than the results suggest to being a legit arm for rotations again.

 

  • Tier 12 equates to the stream for a day and move on options, including Tyler Anderson, Alec Millsand Merrill KellyNothing too exciting here but if you’re in need, one of these could work against the right opponent.
  • Caleb Smith is the most interesting one to me as a day could arrive where he shows the signs of success he had in previous years. He’s the one in this tier to keep an acute eye on.

 

  • In the final tier, Jeff Hoffman and Touki Toussaint squeeze in at the end. Hoffman returns from the IL for the reds and has shown spurts of success, it’s possible it could work out. As for Touki, we don’t know how he’ll be used and if he’s in a good place with his stuff. Someone to take note of but not jump for now.
  • And yeah, Wily Peralta has been stupid over his last five starts, allowing just one earned run. It’s a product of a sub .100 BABIP and you know better than to put yourself in harm’s way.

 

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
1Gerrit ColeT1
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
2Yu Darvish
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+UR
3Max Scherzer
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
4Zack Wheeler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
5Brandon Woodruff
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
6Lance Lynn
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
7Lucas Giolito
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
8Kevin Gausman
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
9Carlos Rodon
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
10Walker Buehler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
11Robbie Ray
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
12Corbin Burnes
T2
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-1
13Trevor Rogers
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
14Freddy Peralta
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
15Lance McCullers
T3
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+4
16Sandy Alcantara
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
17Aaron Nola
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+UR
18Julio Urias
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-3
19Charlie Morton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
20Sean Manaea
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Ratio Focused
+1
21Max Fried
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+4
22Luis Castillo
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+9
23John Means
T4
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+UR
24Zac Gallen
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+UR
25Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-7
26Tyler Mahle
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-3
27Sonny Gray
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+UR
28Shohei Ohtani
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-2
29Chris Bassitt
T5
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-1
30Kyle Gibson
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-3
31German Marquez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+10
32Shane McClanahan
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-2
33Hyun Jin Ryu
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+4
34Zach Plesac
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
35Anthony DeSclafani
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-2
36Frankie Montas
T6
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+8
37Taijuan Walker
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-8
38Framber Valdez
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-14
39Yusei Kikuchi
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-17
40Jose Berrios
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
-4
41Kenta Maeda
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-1
42Tarik Skubal
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
-7
43Luis Garcia
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-5
44Alex Wood
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
-2
45Dylan Cease
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-11
46Adam Wainwright
T7
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
-7
47Alek Manoah
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-4
48Jon Gray
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-3
49Logan Gilbert
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+1
50Patrick Sandoval
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-4
51Zack Greinke
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-4
52Kyle Hendricks
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-4
53Nathan Eovaldi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+3
54Wade Miley
T8
Injury Risk
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
55Kwang Hyun Kim
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+8
56James Kaprielian
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Toby
Streaming Option
-4
57Marcus Stroman
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-8
58Eduardo Rodriguez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-1
59Adbert Alzolay
T9
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-8
60Tony Gonsolin
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+1
61Kyle Muller
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+UR
62Logan Webb
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+UR
63Zach Thompson
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-4
64Tanner Houck
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+UR
65Triston McKenzie
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-12
66David Price
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+34
67Jake Odorizzi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
-12
68Blake Snell
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Stash Option
+UR
69Tylor Megill
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-
70Zach Eflin
T10
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-12
71Madison Bumgarner
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
72Jameson Taillon
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-1
73Domingo German
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-13
74Jordan Montgomery
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Ratio Focused
-10
75Alex Cobb
T11
Streaming Option
-3
76Chris Flexen
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-3
77Nick Pivetta
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-7
78Cole Irvin
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-12
79Patrick Corbin
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
-12
80Andrew Heaney
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-4
81Chris Paddack
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
-19
82Ross Stripling
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-17
83Steven Matz
Injury Risk
Cherry Bomb
-5
84Michael Pineda
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
-5
85JT Brubaker
Toby
Ratio Focused
-17
86Merrill Kelly
T12
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-12
87Dallas Keuchel
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-10
88Johnny Cueto
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-4
89Drew Smyly
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-3
90Alec Mills
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-9
91Tyler Anderson
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-9
92Ryan Yarbrough
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
-12
93Vladimir Gutierrez
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-10
94Caleb Smith
Streaming Option
-7
95Chad Kuhl
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-5
96Wily Peralta
T13
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+3
97Bailey Ober
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-22
98Brad Keller
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-2
99Jeff Hoffman
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Streaming Option
+UR
100Touki Toussaint
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
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 Larry Placido/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.

Account / Login
>