The List 8/9: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 20

Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2021 - Week 20.

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 20 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.

 

  • Before you look at The List, there really weren’t major changes this week, but instead a few heavy shifts and a touch-up of tiers here and there. Nothing crazy.
  • There were three significant additions to The List in Chris Sale, Jack Flahertyand James Kaprielianwith all other new additions coming at the start of Tier 14. Yes, that means you have some innate red ranks for many.
  • I also had to remove Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery due to COVID, which means the Top 10 had a new addition (welcome Sean Manaea!) and help offset the Sale/Flaherty.

 

  • Speaking of that Top 10, I only shifted Yu Darvish into the first tier and pulled Lucas Giolito down a few spots. Nothing major and I think all of you will agree with the change given Darvish’s clear redemption start and Giolito’s struggles with his changeup.
  • That knocks out the first two tiers and I made a third with Chris Sale, Jack Flahertyand Luis Castillo as each of them could have the AGA label as soon as next week (Castillo got his this past week). Let’s hope Sale and Flaherty make it work in their returns.

 

  • The fourth tier saw two pitchers take a dive – Aaron Nola and Sandy Alcantara – and it should make plenty of sense. The other five pitchers have performed well to hold their spots and while their current ranks showcase how I believe in both down the stretch, I can’t ignore the anxiety they’ve given managers.
  • And don’t worry, I didn’t touch Joe Musgrove this week, I just like Nola and Alcantara slightly more.

 

  • Tier 5 had a pair of major shakeups. Trevor Rogers fell seven spots as he’s expected to return from personal leave this week, though he hasn’t gone six frames in seven starts and it’s unclear if he can perform the moment he returns.
  • Meanwhile, I was terrified by the innings restrictions given to Freddy Peralta over the last two weeks…until I saw him go 98 pitches last time out. I imagine his situation won’t be clear through the finish line but it’s clear I was wrong in my assessment of Peralta and I’m adjusting back. He’s still not Top 20 though given that some limitations are obviously coming.

 

  • Tier 6 is…the same? I elected to swap Carlos Carrasco and Zac Gallen since the former had his slider and will continue to get stretched out while the latter hasn’t found his changeup yet. I expect both to be solid for squads.
  • I know some are worried about Sonny Gray and rightfully so, I feel his history contains natural undulation for the feel of his breakers and he will sort it out over the final two months.

 

  • Tier 7 is short and mostly untouched. Each arm has legit upside while Adam Wainwright is still having himself a ridiculous season and it’s wonderful.
  • It was the calm before the storm as Tier 8 is where I began sorting pitchers based more on their skill sets (are they more ceiling or floor focused?) and here are the pitchers you feel confident starting based on their security.

 

  • I’m not exactly sure what to do with Hyun Jin RyuHe hasn’t had the full feel of his repertoire since the spring and I’m worried he’ll fail to grasp it before the curtains close on the season.
  • Kyle Hendricks isn’t my favorite pitcher for fantasy given his questionable arsenal that doesn’t suggest a major rise up the ranks, but he’s been stable over the last two months and deserved more love.

 

  • I’m not sure if Jameson Taillon will continue to have the same curveball we saw last week, but it was the best it’s been all season and could spell more time on his current run of excellence.
  • Is there a league where you’re not starting Wade Miley and Logan WebbBoth have helped provide ratio foundations for trusting managers and should continue to do so.

 

  • We head to Tier 9 where we have high ceilings and hopefully stable floors. Jon Gray and Nathan Eovaldi have each expressed strength despite some tough matchups, though there’s still plenty of doubt if they can be their best selves the rest of the way.
  • Yes, Blake Snell was ridiculous over the weekend and while I don’t trust it fully – he wasn’t as efficient and in control as I hoped – it does mark two starts of a fastball/slider focus and it clearly works. He’s taking steps in the right direction and hopefully our trust can grow with each performance.

 

  • I can’t deny that Austin Gomber has a gorgeous set of secondaries with a heater that does great things despite hovering 30% usage. It’s a fantastic approach and makes us often ignore the setting inside Colorado.
  • After watching Josiah Gray earn 20 whiffs, I’m feeling a bit better about his mechanics than I was a week ago and I’ve pushed him as my favorite of the recent rookie call-ups. You’ll likely be holding on through September.

 

  • Tier 10 is back to the boring but productive options in 12-teamers. A trio of Mets line the early 60s with Taijuan Walker taking the lead. His second-half seems to be the regression we expected after his explosive opening months, but his fastball is still good enough to make him worthy for your rotation.
  • Meanwhile, teammate Tylor Megill hasn’t been able to do as much with his changeup and breakers as of late, lowering the confidence of managers. I think he’s still very viable, just not ascending as we hoped.
  • Oh and Marcus Stroman is a glorified Toby and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

  • I wouldn’t say I believe strongly in Casey Mize’s fastball/slider/splitter mix, but the Tigers are allowing him to toss more frames these days and that should be worth your attention.
  • Joe Ross now has three starts under his belt after his return from the IL, with the latest earning him a King ColeIt’s safe to say he’ll help you down the stretch, especially in Quality Start leagues.

 

  • We’re back to the fun in Tier 11 and it’s the Bouncing Castle of fun. Daniel Lynch made his return to the majors two weeks ago and has looked like a pitcher much more in control, even earning 12 slider whiffs against the White Sox. There’s a boatload of potential here if that command sticks and I’d heavily consider the add even if he gets the Yankees next.
  • Luis Patiño took a tumble after his four-seamer/slider mix that stifled the Yankees was lackluster against the Mariners. He can still burst through the clouds in the final weeks, but the forecast is a bit hazy.

 

  • I’m worried about two things from Tarik Skubal1) His secondaries haven’t been sharp since the spring, summed up in 0/31 whiffs from sliders + changeups in his last start. 2) The Tigers are very likely to limit him in some way down the stretch. He can still be worthwhile, but this was the development year for Skubal, not the destined breakout.
  • It’s weird to see David Price jump eight spots despite not blowing us away in his last start. This rank is more due to the ever-shifting landscape than my belief in him as a rock-solid staple of your staff.

 

  • Jesús Luzardo has settled into the Marlins rotation and while I think the time on the major league bump will help, it’s unclear when he’ll unlock his upside once again – it could stay dormant until 2022.
  • When will Zach Plesac get his groove back? He’s not in a great place at the moment though I have to imagine he’ll put it together before season’s end. It’s up to you if you want to stash him for a week or two for your fantasy playoffs.

 

  • We’re back to the Toby considerations in Tier 12 with Madison Bumgarner impressing lately despite sitting ~90 mph on his heater. I wanted to see 91/92 mph instead, but I can’t deny this is a Vargas Rule many are taking.
  • Zach Thompson fell a bit as his cutter + curveball + command-focused fastball approach hasn’t been what we saw before the All-Star Break. He’s not a bad arm for your teams, just not that arm.

 

  • I gave some love to Steven Matz, Merrill Kellyand Cole Irvin as well in Tier 12. Kelly is as Toby as it gets (The Flenderson?) with a 4.00 ERA and 20% strikeout rate across nearly 140 innings, Irvin is safe to start against middling offenses, and Matz gives trusting managers a chance at a Win each time out.

 

  • Tier 13 is back to ceiling and I hope you already have all your 12-teamer roster spots occupied by now. I’m curious if Andrew Heaney can make a new tweak as a part of the Yankee rotation but we haven’t seen it yet and it’s not safe to assume he’ll improve.
  • At the back-end of the tier are two surprising names: Braxton Garrett and Cal QuantrillGarrett has punched out 16 batters in two starts for the Marlins and could continue to use his stellar command in his favor moving forward. Quantrill finally expressed a high ceiling last time out with 20 whiffs of his own, propelled by 10 whiffs on his 94 mph four-seamer and seven from his slider. It wasn’t anything close to what we’re used to from Cal, but that’s four Quality Starts in his last five. Something to heavily consider, at least as a Vargas Rule.

 

  • We’re back to the boring in Tier 14, though Ross Stripling could be considered for Tier 13 instead given his changeup earning eight whiffs in his previous start. I’ve been waiting for something to come alive in his secondaries for a while now and I hope he’s able to do so with consistency now.
  • Not much else to report in this tier, though, with the only large moving coming from JT Brubaker falling twelve spots. I love his slider when it’s on, but you just don’t know when he’ll be able to come through.

 

  • The final tier is the “100” tier – Alex Fast has made it a requirement to have an intriguing name at #100 each week and sometimes, it’s too difficult to choose. Here we have four names that could each take the spot.
  • First is Reid Detmerswho was the first-round pick of the Angels in 2020’s draft and has failed to produce in his first two big-league starts. Still, there’s plenty of potential in his curveball and slider and we didn’t expect him to come through against the Dodgers last time around. Keep an eye on him.

 

  • Eli Morgan has been a bit of a surprise lately, including a nine-strikeout performance when his fastball/changeup/slider all came together. He could be valuable in a spot start or two down the road.
  • Carlos Hernandez throws upwards of 100 mph and is stretching out as a starter for the Royals. That alone should have your attention and if he can get that slider in check, there’s something here.

 

  • Lastly, yes, there is Dylan BundyBecause why the h*ck not. Nothing stood out to me in his strong display last week but maybe it helped him gain the confidence he needed to be a legit arm once again.

 

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

3 responses to “The List 8/9: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2021 – Week 20”

  1. walt says:

    Can we PLEASE start calling Shane McClanahan “Shane O’Mac” already and making WWE jokes? here comes the money!

  2. ^_^ says:

    Seems like a mistake not to mention Chris Rodriguez

  3. WayneStatiX says:

    Is your Joe Ross supposed to be Joe Ryan?

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