The List 8/23: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 22

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021 - Week 22.

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 22 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.

 

  • Would you look at this. I’ve changed nothing – NOTHING! – inside the first two tiers. Crazy, I know, and maybe Walker Buehler deserves the top spot, but I feel Max Scherzer hasn’t done anything wrong to get it removed + Buehler may be a little more limited in September. #Dodgeritis still exists, you know.
  • I was tempted to move Lance Lynn and Chris Sale further down, but elected to stand pat. Be a little cautious of Sale’s dip in velocity, though, and make sure to monitor it moving forward. He should be sitting 94/95 mph, not 92 mph.

 

  • So let’s get to the third tier then. Yu Darvish makes his return to The List as he’s starting against the Dodgers at some point this week. He has been far from the phenomenal ace across the last eight weeks and let’s see him get comfortable again before elevating him up the ranks.
  • I gave massive bumps to both Adam Wainwright and Logan Webbboth of whom have been on fire and deserve your love with each start. I don’t trust them for 2022, but who cares, this is a redraft league.

 

  • In the fourth tier, Alek Manoah and Luis Garcia each took a small tumble. Alek just got jumped for six runs against the Nationals as his slider failed to return a single whiff. I imagine it was just a small blip, but I can’t ignore the slight cause for concern. With Garcia, his slider and cutter are still excellent, but he’s leaning on his fastballs a bit too much as of late, causing a rough patch. I imagine his stuff will propel him forward in September…if the Astros continue to push his innings total higher – don’t overlook a possible shutdown.
  • Don’t think much about José Berríos’ tumble, that’s because of Webb + Waino moving up + Darvish returning.

 

  • For tiers 5-7, I did what I did last week: I made tier 6 into the “Kinda Toby but better” tier and then asked if I’d rather chase the ceiling of others and stuck them in Tier 5 and placed all other in tier seven or lower. I felt Zac Gallen, Sonny Gray, Blake Snell and Josiah Gray each have done enough to warrant the risk in their favor with their last outings, granting them a spot in Tier 5.
  • Gallen still needs to get his cutter and changeup working, but he’s dominated with his four-seamer + his curveball has been effective. Gray had a breaker come back in his last outing, Snell is leaning into the four-seamer/slider approach, and Josiah’s curveball currently holds a 45% CSW. It’s bonkers.

 

  • In the aforementioned Tier 6, I’ve been impressed with Marcus Stroman over his last few starts. His slider has looked plenty better and the splitter has come along as well. Now with the Mets’ tough schedule behind them, he could excel in the final month of the year.
  • Hyun Jin Ryu finally got his changeup back last start against the Tigers and I’m hoping it’s a proper corner turn instead of a moment of bliss.

 

  • Kyle Hendricks shot back up The List again as I felt he belonged inside the “yeah, he’s not exciting but I’m starting him most of the time” tier. Nothing more than that.
  • Right after Hendricks is Kenta Maedawho would be higher if not for leaving his last start with a forearm injury. We’re in the dark about his status moving forward, leading to a sizeable fall.

 

  • Continuing with the seventh tier is John Meanswho is back to 93 mph, but hasn’t been locked in with his fastball + changeup command. It’s good to see him attack the zone with breakers, though, and once he finds that groove, he can soar up the ranks.
  • I was shocked to see Taijuan Walker sit over 95 mph and if he can keep that velocity, he’ll return favorable starts through September, even if the Mets are…doing what they do.

 

  • Cleveland teammates Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill keep driving higher each week. McKenzie is embracing the BSB with fastballs up and a massively improved curveball, while Quantrill’s slider and four-seamer combination has fueled a surge a production over the last month. I believe in Triston’s approach a bit more for the future, but don’t hesitate from starting either one right now.
  • Another massive riser is Vladimir Gutiérrezwho has a gorgeous schedule ahead and has already begun taking advantage of his matchups. The command is legit and he could make a large impact for your playoffs.

 

  • Joining The List this week is Edward Cabrerawho makes his MLB debut on Wednesday. It looks like a staggeringly high rank for someone who has never made a start in the bigs, though the state of the SP Landscape pushes you to take the chance on a guy like Cabrera – those below him don’t have a large enough gap between them and the waiver wire to justify the hold (save for a few in Tier 8, but we’ll talk about that soon). He sports a high-velocity fastball, a sweeping slider, and a developing changeup, with the biggest question coming in his command. Three of his last four minor starts came with 10+ strikeouts and his pitch counts have been comfortably over 85 pitches. Take the chance against the Nationals.

 

  • Keep your eye on Carlos Hernándezwho rises 21 spots after dominating the Cubs over the weekend. His mid-to-high 90s heaters are cruising through lineups, though I worry about their consistency + his breakers aren’t as precise as we’d like to see to rely on constant production. Still, it’s a decent schedule ahead and I’d take the chance where I can.
  • I’ve elected to drop Jon Gray a decent amount as he hasn’t been as overwhelming as his July self over the past few weeks. Now we’re playing the game of matchups and that’s not a position we want to be in with Gray.

 

  • In tier 8, we have another set of Toby arms, leading with Madison Bumgarner as he’s in the midst of a Vargas RuleI’m not sure how long this will last with his 90 mph velocity, but I’d be starting him now with the Pirates and Phillies ahead of him.
  • It’s hard to make out what to do with Eduardo Rodriguez as his four-seamer has been as good as we’ve seen, but his changeup + breaker has not. Will he recover from a wounding against the Rangers? Or will he continue to search for his changeup in September?

 

  • They’re far from exciting, but Marco Gonzales and Zach Thompson are serviceable options for 12-teamers. Gonzo has been on a fantastic run and continues with dates against the A’s, Royals, and Sneks next, while Thompson regained his cutter in his last start and could replicate his June/July.
  • And then there’s James Kaprielianwho I’m not sure what to make of. His overall season numbers are excellent, but he hasn’t been as solid with his fastball/slider lately. Let’s hope the Mariners + Tigers can get him back on track.

 

  • In Tier 9, I had to give massive drops to both Yusei Kikuchi and Carlos CarrascoKikuchi has a pair of starts against Houston in his next three games and is not startable for either, while Carrasco has yet to find his slider and changeup inside a start. They both carry a wonderful ceiling, but be cautious.
  • I imagine many are surprised to see a six-point drop for Touki Toussaintand there are a couple of reasons for the dip. First, his recent outings came with a diminished emphasis on his curveball – his far-and-away best pitch. I question if it’s an approach that can sustain this level of production. Second, the schedule isn’t pretty ahead (Giants + Coors). Third, Touki may be out of the rotation altogether as Ian Anderson eyes a return this week or next. I think it’s best just to get ahead of this and abandon ship now.

 

  • Surging ahead seventeen points is Nestor Corteswho has been a bright spot in the Yankee rotation and looks to be safe for a turn or two (unless Luis Severino or Corey Kluber make their returns). I’d trust him against Oakland and hope he gets one more against the Angels, though I don’t see this as a long-term play.
  • Also making the rise to the ninth tier is Patrick Corbinwho finally got the results we expected with his improved stuff. He sat 94 mph (not 91/92) and earned plenty of slider whiffs, and now sits pretty with the Marlins in his sights. Grab him where you can for that game.

 

  • I elected to push Zach Plesac down a ton as our patience is wearing thin after a poor performance against the Twins. He does get the Rangers and Royals ahead, keeping him still relevant in our eyes, but if he can’t get his slider and changeup back against these teams, I have little faith he’ll find them before season’s end.

 

  • Tier 10 is another Toby tier including the return of Miles MikolasIt was a rather pedestrian season debut, but he’ll get the Pirates as second time and may provide dividends to trusting managers.
  • I can’t say this week shifted my views on Cole Irvin, Tyler Andersonand Jake Odorizzi a whole lot. They’re decent and play the matchups. That’s about it.

 

  • I stuck the fun but not rosterable arms in Tier 11 as a way for y’all to see who could jump up The List in future weeks. My favorite right now is Daniel Lynchwho has to endure yet another poor set of matchups in the Astros + White Sox across the next week, but has a decent September lined up. His new fastball command and whiff-heavy slider could make him a wonderful surprise down the road.
  • Luis Patiño had himself a decent start last time out, though I find it hard to trust him without his slider earning a single whiff. Is the fastball command good enough to make this work without the sweeper? I have my doubts.

 

  • Two surprising names are Kris Bubic and Kyle Freelandwho both had remarkable outings that may hint at strong days ahead. Bubic’s heater came in two ticks harder and if his changeup keeps developing, there may be something there. Freeland leaned on his curveball more than any pitch and returned a 50%+ CSW with the hook. Monitor this.
  • Eli Morgan is plenty more volatile than I’d like, but I won’t ignore his strikeout upside as of late. If his fastball command is there, he can take advantage of weak opponents.

 

  • I was sad to see Reid Detmers fail to bring back his excellent curveball in his previous start, but I won’t overlook that it can happen again. We haven’t seen a whole lot of the 22-year-old and the wild card notion of his ability is one to take note of. Look out for high called strike totals on his yacker moving forward.
  • Hey Logan Gilbertcan you please find your slider? I won’t judge your final line against Houston, just have that slider return to its former form. K, thx.

 

  • In the final tier, I led with Chris Flexen who is as fringe in a 12-teamer as you’ll find. He was a Vargas Rule earlier in the year as he went on a run and now he’s a possible start when the matchups align. Feel free to hold him above those in Tier 11, though I’d prefer not to roster any outside the Top 80 in 12-teamers – I’d prefer to just go the streamer route instead if I had the open spot. Given the rostership rates across leagues (Carlos Hernández was sub 20% on Sunday!), that shouldn’t be hard to do.
  • Brad Keller has leaned heavily on his slider and had some success against poor lineups because of it. Make sure he’s on your list of streaming options.

 

  • The same goes for José Suarezthough he has a bit more concern regarding his pitch counts. Not my favorite streamer, but someone to consider.
  • Casey Mize and Andrew Heaney both dropped this week as they sit in the final tier. Mize simply isn’t performing like his June self, while Heaney hasn’t changed anything in his approach to suggest he can be more Cherry than Bomb.

 

  • At the very bottom of The List, there’s Ryan Yarbrough and Jesús Luzardo. While “The Fratty Pirate” is not much to write home about, he can be a sneaky option for Wins and should be in some consideration for those in SP/RP leagues.
  • Luzardo has done little to nothing to earn your trust at this point, but as the #100 slot demands, he still carries intrigue. We’re all waiting for that one start where it all clicks and his mid-90s heater + whiffable slider & changeup blossom into legitimacy.

 

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

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 Allan Dranberg/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 BB says:

    Expected a much bigger drop for Mahle following the come-to-Jesus rhetoric in last Thursday’s SP Roundup. Guess old habits die hard ;)

  • Avatar DB says:

    Always appreciate everything that you guys do. I know that you’ve mentioned in the Podcast that you’re a little bias towards upside, but do you think that affects your ROS rankings too much sometimes? Like Josiah Gray at #39 just seems wild to me. His stuff is great and I love his future outlook, but he’s also only thrown 30 MLB innings with a 6.70 FIP. Why would you trust rolling him out there over guys like Stroman or Greinke?

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