The List 8/16: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 21

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021 - Week 21.

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 21 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 9:00 am – 11:00 am EST Monday – Friday + the aforementioned stream for The List.

As always, make sure to read the notes as many changes 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 2:00 pm 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.

 

 

  • With Gerrit Cole returning, I made it a five-man top tier with Lance Lynn falling to the second. I think we can all agree that while Lynn has been strong, he’s not quite on the same level as Buehler, Scherzer, Woodruff, Cole, and Wheeler.
  • The second tier welcomes Chris Sale as he made his debut against the Orioles. It wasn’t the premier southpaw of the past (fastball was around 93/94, not 95/96) and his slider wasn’t Mr. DOMINATION, but he was still great for fantasy teams and could get even better with more time on the bump. It’s so good to have The BOAT back.

 

  • In Tier 3, Lucas Giolito falls a few spots after tossing over 100 pitches to complete just four frames. His volatility has been frustrating through the year and while his strikeouts, volume, WHIP, and Wins make him an elite arm, that ERA is unlikely to land under 3.50. It’s what we’ve come to expect with Giolito failing to carry the same slider and changeup from start to start.
  • Charlie Morton deserves the love of Tier 3 as he’s been a consistent producer for many fantasy teams this season after his disastrous April. Let’s hope he can stay healthy through to the end.

 

  • I elected to make a monstrous Tier 4 as it’s filled with high upside arms galore, most of whom let us speculate if they can earn the AGA label before season’s end. Freddy Peralta jumps back into the Top 20 as the Brewers have let him fly comfortably in his last two starts, as I continue to throw my hands up in frustration. I’m thrilled to see him pitch more and good luck predicting how the Brewers will use him in the final seven weeks.
  • Look at that thirteen-point jump for Alek ManoahWe’ve fallen for his slider this season but he blew me away with 19 whiffs on his four-seamer alone in his start against the Angels. Brett Anderson hasn’t earned that many fastball whiffs all season (Okay that’s not true).

 

  • Sandy Alcantara’s rank sticks out a bit as he fell a few spots. It’s more that I felt confident with those above him against stronger opponents, as the taste of Alcantara’s Coors and Dodgers games are still fresh. I’d still start him with confidence.
  • Welcome to the Top 25 Chris BassittThis was incredibly tough as he’s certainly deserved the love, but he has a gauntlet of a schedule ahead with the ChiSox, Giants, Yankees, and Jays ahead. Good. Luck.

 

  • Tier 5 is a little shaky. These guys should be in Tier 4 but all have their questions. Aaron Nola is still struggling with his command, Joe Musgrove didn’t have his elite slider, Alex Wood has the skills but it hasn’t returned the results we expected, and Tyler Mahle is the new José Berríos in his perpetual undulation.
  • Then there’s Sean Manaeawho falls a massive twenty spots and lost his AGA label with his third straight outing of disappointment. I’m worried the magic is wearing off as Manaea’s heater has dropped a full tick + his command has fallen with it. I’m not jumping off completely yet and there’s still plenty of time to recover, but it isn’t looking pretty at the moment.

 

  • It’s about dang time I moved Adam Wainwright to the Top 35. He’s been absurdly good with a 3.27 ERA and 1.04 WHIP this year, on the back of the most underrated curveball in the game – 35% usage and a 37% CSW with just a .178 BAA. It’s a force with no signs of slowing down.
  • Logan Webb also received a substantial bump this week as he’s been a must-start for managers everywhere for the past month. I’m a bit skeptical his fastball command is this good for the long haul, but he’s had a feel for his slider or changeup each night and could carry it through September on a winning ballclub.

 

  • This tier also has a few names returning to The List. It took months, but Huascar Ynoa has recovered from his fractured hand and will return from the IL on Tuesday to face the Marlins. I’d let him fly as he threw over 80 pitches in his final rehab start + it’s Miami. Look for his slider command and get hyped if its command is elite as we saw in May.
  • Tanner Houck has officially returned from Triple-A to snag a rotation spot for the Red Sox and I’d be stoked to have him in my twelve teamers. This may seem like an aggressive ranking given the low IPS of his starts thus far, but now that he’s stretched out and with a comfortable spot in the rotation, Houck should blossom into a strong arm for any rotation, with hints of double-digit strikeouts on each night he pitches.

 

  • Tier 7 is the Spider-Man tier as all of these arms are vying for the title. I wouldn’t call them awfully exciting but they are stable and help your teams. Nod at them in recognition and move on.
  • Anthony DeSclafani has returned from the IL and returns to the Top 45. The Giants have a great schedule ahead and I’m excited to see how he performs in the weeks ahead.

 

  • Tier 8. Oh Tier 8. I elected to shove all the major names who have underperformed into one grouping as we heavily debate whether or not they are worth our time vs. an upside arm like Josiah Gray or Triston McKenzieFor example, I’m terrified that Yusei Kikuchi will likely face the Astros thrice over his next four starts. It’s not fair.
  • I believe in Zac Gallen getting back into form with more starts as he’s not quite executing his secondaries as well as we saw in 2020. It’s the classic “underperforming or new standard?” question where all I can do is shrug and hope for the best.

 

  • Yes, that includes John Means and Carlos Carrasco as well. Carrasco hasn’t had both his slider and changeup working while Means’ fastball dropped over a full tick in his last start, though, and I’m scared it may indicate something larger. We’ll see.
  • Sonny Gray had a fantastic start against Atlanta, but did it through his heaters instead of his curveball + didn’t show up against the Mets last time out. Heaters aren’t his ticket for success and what we saw in his last start was a step back in fastball ability and…his curveball & slider fail to improve. I imagine at some point Sonny will get those breakers back, but who knows when.

 

  • Tier 9 is a small but intriguing crew. Jon Gray hasn’t been as dominant as his early July self, but still should be a solid play. Josiah Gray has a comfortable schedule with the Nationals and could coast to the finish line, helping managers along the way.
  • It didn’t look like Blake Snell did a whole lot to replicate his 25 whiff night as he reverted to curveballs instead of sticking with the “Robbie Ray” approach of fastballs heavily in the zone + sliders to complement them. Still, he’s certainly looking a step up and that massive ceiling could return.

 

  • Tier 10 has a mix of considerable options to pad the backend of your rotation + a few risers who may make a major impact in September. I elected to drop James Kaprielian a bit as his early-season rhythm has been interrupted a touch and he’s looking more like a glorified Toby than a replica of Anthony DeSclafani’s fantastic campaign.
  • I also dropped Kyle Hendricks significantly after his atrocity against the Brewers. No, I don’t believe Hendricks is destined for it, but after pushing him up the ranks a good amount, it was a humbling reminder of the risk we take having Hendricks in our lineups. He should obviously still be on your roster and starting the majority of the time.

 

  • The major risers include Tarik Skubal, Zach Plesacand Triston McKenzieI’m a bit shocked I’ve given Skubal this much of a raise and it’s more of a product of how the landscape settled instead of my sudden enthusiasm for the southpaw. He still needs to regain the whiffability of his slider and changeup to fuel my excitement.
  • As for the Cleveland starters, Plesac returned one of his better outings of the year, though his fastball did more work than we expected. I’d be a little cautious of his sudden success, though his pedigree suggests there could be a strong September ahead.

 

  • Triston McKenzie tossed nearly eight perfect frames against the Tigers with a near BSB approach, however his command still leaves a bit to be desired and I question if he can replicate the approach moving forward.
  • It’s nice to see Jordan Montgomery return from COVID as he gets a game of the Yankees/Red Sox doubleheader tomorrow. I don’t believe we’ve seen The Bear peak yet this season and I hope he can squeeze the most out of his excellent curveball and cutter across the final weeks.

 

  • The story of Touki Toussaint is pretty simple: He has a great curveball and if that pitch is working, he just needs his heater and splitter to not get crushed. I think that’s a decent bet to make on any given night, though you should play it safe and avoid the tougher opponents.
  • Elieser Hernandez returned to the Marlins over the weekend and we’re all thrilled he’s back. His strength is a fantastic slider, which wasn’t at its best and will need to recover if Elieser is to help your ratios down the stretch.

 

  • It’s a Vargas Rule for both Madison Bumgarner and Cal Quantrill right now. I don’t buy this for your playoffs in September, but hey, I could be completely wrong here. Bumgarner is still hovering 90 mph on his fastball + Quantrill’s stuff is pretty mediocre. These runs shouldn’t last.
  • Luis Gil looks to have a shot at the #5 spot for the Yankees after a pair of impressive outings to kick off his career. It’s a tough matchup against the Red Sox on Tuesday, but if he dominates there with his mid-to-upper 90s heater and a better-than-expected slider, we may be looking at a Top 60 arm soon.

 

  • I’m glad to hear that the Tigers will be letting Casey Mize pitch consistently through the end of the year with one start a week. However, the jury is still out if those starts will be a major help for your squads, turning Mize into the first pitcher of Tier 12, the moment “the cliff” hits. Welcome to the potential waiver wire.
  • It’s been well discussed how the Mets have a tough schedule ahead and Tylor Megill isn’t in a place where I feel A) He can pull it off and B) His production after facing the Giants + Dodgers is worth the stash for two weeks. Consider other options.

 

  • I gave a significant bump to Vladimir Gutiérrez as he’ll be a benefactor of a wonderful schedule for the Reds. This may be your last shot to get a boring, yet stable arm for your rotation if you’re searching for a Toby these days.
  • Also consider Tyler Anderson and Marco Gonzales as they have some solid matchups across the next few weeks. They have the ability to produce a Win or QS along the way.

 

  • I’ve brought Jake Odorizzi back to The List as the Astros have one of the loveliest schedules ahead. Odorizzi was able to take advantage of Rockie Road and could prosper against the Royals, Mariners (twice), and Rangers across his next four starts.
  • I was tempted to slot Carlos Hernández into Tier 12 as well after he’s survived the ChiSox x2 + NYY in his last two outings. His success seems a bit too BABIP friendly, though, and I’d be a bit cautious.

 

  • Continuing with Tier 12, Reid Detmers was able to survive Houston by featuring his curveball a ton, including 10 called strikes to get ahead. I have my doubts that Detmers will come into his own this early in his career after his early adversity, but who knows, maybe the kid has it in him.
  • Am I a giant Chris Flexen fan? Not exactly, but he could be helpful in the short term against the Rangers and Athletics.

 

  • After the top three names in Tier 13 are a six-pack of “high risk, high reward” arms who I’d watch from afar. Daniel Lynch has looked much better in his return to the majors but has an atrocious schedule that I’d avoid unless he dominates regardless. Logan Gilbert hasn’t found his slider and gets the Astros three times in four starts. Luis Patiño had one good outing and hasn’t had his fastball/slider approach working since.
  • And who could forget Jesús Luzardowho is the ultimate PEAS and needs a bit more time to nail down his electric stuff.

 

  • The final two tiers are far from interesting. Tier 14 is the more exciting of the pair with a few names who had shocking success this past week – Nestor Cortes, Bailey Oberand Griffin Jax – but I don’t anticipate a full-on breakout. They’re here since we should take note if they can perform a second time.
  • I want to like Braxton Garrett more, but his sub 90 mph stuff didn’t hold up well against a strong opponent in the Padres and I’m concerned he can do well against Atlanta. It’s that simple.

 

  • In the final tier, Alec Mills and J.A. Happ return to The List as possible streaming options when you’re looking for a start. Do I recommend chasing their outings? Absolutely not, but hey, you can do worse.
  • And at the coveted #100 slot, who else but Tyler Gilbert after he tossed a no-hitter in his first MLB start over the weekend despite sitting below 90 mph. I compared it to Max Kranick’s five no-hit innings from earlier this year in that it’s a situation where the results don’t quite match up with the repertoire. Proceed with caution.

 

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
1Max ScherzerT1
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
2Walker Buehler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-
3Gerrit Cole
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+UR
4Zack Wheeler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
5Brandon Woodruff
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-1
6Robbie Ray
T2
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
7Lance Lynn
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
8Corbin Burnes
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
+3
9Chris Sale
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+4
10Kevin Gausman
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
11Lucas Giolito
T3
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
12Luis Castillo
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+2
13Jack Flaherty
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+2
14Charlie Morton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
15Lance McCullers Jr.
T4
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+2
16Frankie Montas
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+3
17Freddy Peralta
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
+13
18Shohei Ohtani
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+5
19Max Fried
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+5
20Alek Manoah
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+13
21Luis García
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+5
22Sandy Alcantara
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
23Patrick Sandoval
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+2
24José Berríos
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+4
25Chris Bassitt
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+9
26Shane McClanahan
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+1
27Aaron Nola
T5
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-6
28Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
-6
29Alex Wood
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+2
30Sean Manaea
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Ratio Focused
-20
31Tyler Mahle
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
32Adam Wainwright
T6
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+11
33Logan Webb
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+13
34Kenta Maeda
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+4
35Germán Márquez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+4
36Framber Valdez
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+6
37Huascar Ynoa
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+UR
38Dylan Cease
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
+6
39Nathan Eovaldi
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+14
40Tanner Houck
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+UR
41Wade Miley
T7
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+4
42Anthony DeSclafani
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+UR
43Jameson Taillon
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+5
44Hyun Jin Ryu
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+5
45Zack Greinke
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+6
46Yusei Kikuchi
T8
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Stash Option
-5
47Zac Gallen
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
-11
48Carlos Carrasco
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
-13
49John Means
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Stash Option
-12
50Sonny Gray
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
-10
51Jon Gray
T9
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+1
52Josiah Gray
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
+3
53Blake Snell
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Stash Option
+1
54Eduardo Rodriguez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+10
55James Kaprielian
T10
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-5
56Taijuan Walker
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+5
57Tarik Skubal
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
+12
58Zach Plesac
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Stash Option
+15
59Triston McKenzie
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+23
60Jordan Montgomery
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+UR
61Kyle Hendricks
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-14
62Marcus Stroman
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+1
63Touki Toussaint
T11
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+11
64David Price
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
+7
65Elieser Hernandez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+UR
66Steven Matz
Injury Risk
Cherry Bomb
Toby
+9
67Austin Gomber
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-10
68Madison Bumgarner
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Streaming Option
+8
69Cal Quantrill
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+11
70Kyle Gibson
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-12
71Luis Gil
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
72Casey Mize
T12
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
-12
73Tylor Megill
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-11
74Vladimir Gutierrez
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+19
75Nick Pivetta
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+6
76Jake Odorizzi
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
77Tyler Anderson
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+13
78Marco Gonzales
Toby
Ratio Focused
+13
79Zach Thompson
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-2
80Cole Irvin
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-2
81Carlos Hernández
T13
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
+18
82
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+15
83Chris Flexen
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Ratio Focused
+13
84Daniel Lynch
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-17
85Logan Gilbert
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-29
86Luis Patiño
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-18
87Andrew Heaney
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-4
88Jesús Luzardo
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Stash Option
-16
89Patrick Corbin
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Stash Option
-4
90Mike Minor
T14
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-1
91Nestor Cortes
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
92Bailey Ober
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+UR
93Braxton Garrett
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-7
94Griffin Jax
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Streaming Option
+UR
95Eli Morgan
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+3
96JT Brubaker
T15
Toby
Ratio Focused
-4
97Dallas Keuchel
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-3
98Alec Mills
Low Ips
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
99J.A. Happ
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+UR
100Tyler Gilbert
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
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 Mark LoMoglio/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 college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

One response to “The List 8/16: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 21”

  1. Kris says:

    Nestor Cortez, Matz or Mikolas rest of season. Need wins, Ks amd good ratios??

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