What is happening!
It’s that time of the year where we shift from the traditional Top 100 ranking of The List to a stupid long article outlining every single expected Starting Pitcher start and ranking them all together in one smattering that kinda makes sense and should help your team.
Yeah, it’s a lot to take in, but it’s what I think is the most helpful way of talking about the final four weeks of the season and it’s what you see before you.
First thing’s first, I want to thank James Schiano for creating the offensive hitter tiers below and creating the individual team tables. I then went in, added notes to each team, then created a table of nearly 160 pitchers and ranking them + added highlights to great and terrible schedules at the very bottom.
These schedules are going to change. Heck, the daily streaming pitchers article I write often changes and that’s published just hours before game time. Use this article as a guide to understand the flow of rotations and move the respective pitchers around as needed.
Alright, I hope you enjoy this giant piece. Don’t forget to hang out on Twitch next week and hang out with me as I craft it next Monday from 12-4 EST.
Let’s begin with James’ offensive tiers:
Now let’s jump to the expected schedules for each team. Please note:
(OFF) means the team was off the day before
(DH) means that those games are part of a double-header
Keep in mind, Merrill Kelly will return from the COVID list at some point and likely oust Humberto Castellanos from his spot. If Taylor Widener somehow returns to the rotation, it’s far from a lock that he’s productive enough to demand your attention.
It’s too bad Kyle Muller isn’t part of the current equation for September, but there is a possibility we see a glimpse of him down the stretch.
Drew Smyly is currently pitching out of the pen and we’ll see if he squeezes in for a start or two down the stretch. I’d generally avoid him if he does – even disregarding the questionable ability, he would likely be on a pitch count.
Okay. This rotation is kind of a mess and it could easily be a six-man rotation with Zac Lowther involved. The biggest name is John Means and a six-man could mean he gets the Phillies instead of Boston. I think we’d all appreciate that one.
Keep in mind, they just called up Mike Baumann, who could be of intrigue if he lines up with the Phillies or Texas – I wouldn’t start him before then if he gets the opportunity. Let’s see how he does first.
Boston Red Sox
With Nick Pivetta on the COVID IL, that first start could be Kutter Crawford against the White Sox instead of Pivetta, but in all honestly, it doesn’t quite matter as you wouldn’t start either against Chicago.
With Adbert Alzolay in the bullpen the rest of the way, there really is much to report on here for the Cubs. Mills and Hendricks are your best bets for production, but I wouldn’t like relying on them much at all.
Chicago White Sox
The Reds have one of the best schedules out there and should remain with these five until further notice. There’s a chance Hunter Greene makes a stop at some point during the month, but there’s not much else to talk about here. Start them all.
With Aaron Civale returning, Shane Bieber is next to make us wonder when he returns, if at all. It’s unclear who he’d push out of the rotation (Eli Morgan?) and keep that in mind in future weeks, especially if you’re aiming for Morgan’s final start against Texas.
We don’t have any arms forcing their way into the Rockies rotation, sadly. What you see above is close to what we’ll get, assuming good health n all.
It’s difficult to discern how the Tigers will move forward with their rotation, especially with the innings limits applying to Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal. Let’s hope they both can take advantage of their starts against Kansas City…if there isn’t some weird shuffling before then.
With Zack Greinke returning from the COVID list at some point, this clear rotation will get a bit muddy. Does Luis Garcia get shut down or do they move to a six-man rotation? Keep that in mind, but a change of matchups does little to affect the value of these pitchers – the Astros have a fantastic schedule through September.
Kansas City Royals
Maybe Brad Keller or Jakob Junis could return and disrupt this rotation, ruining the excitement of “Let The Kids Play” as Kris Bubic would likely be the one taking the short straw. Monitor it as it could shift around who faces Oakland and Minnesota.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oh dear. We really don’t know how the Angels are going to deal with their rotation save for Ohtani, Suárez, and Barria. Monitor it as it could close doors for streams for the latter two arms.
It could be Reid Detmers or Alex Cobb filling in those two open spots, and keep tabs on those options for their potential starts against Texas.
Los Angeles Dodgers
We could see Tony Gonsolin, Danny Duffy, or Clayton Kershaw each snag a start or two before this is done, and keep that in mind for Mitch White, who has shown some value as a bulk innings guy.
There’s plenty of haze surrounding Pablo López and a possible return from the IL before the end of the year. It could spell a six-man rotation, or possibly one of their arms taking a rest as the Marlins are out of playoff contention. Keep it in mind.
Hey, where’s Aaron Ashby?! With talks still swirling of Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff getting limited in some way before the season’s end, we may see him slide in for a start here and there. Keep him in mind as a possible stream as the stuff is real. There’s also Brett Anderson in the mix as well, as he sits on the IL after taking a liner to the shoulder.
I expect Michael Pineda to slide back in the rotation in place of Andrew Albers, alleviating Bailey Ober to go more than four frames in his future starts. Don’t overlook Joe Ryan’s cushy schedule – that could pay off well in a shallow waiver pool.
New York Mets
Is Jacob deGrom going to start again this year? I’d wager no – if he were to make a start at the end of the year, he’d have to begin his rehab assignment next week and signs are not pointing to the stud arm tossing again in 2021. There’s also Noah Syndergaard, who was delayed due to COVID and has a slim shot of getting his work done in time by the end of the season. If there’s a start needed, it’s Trevor Williams and y’all don’t want to do that.
New York Yankees
We’ve been holding out hope for Luis Severino to make a return and we’ve likely run out of time to see him in the regular season. Domingo German is in a similar situation, but has a bit more hope to make an appearance before October.
Luis Gil is also in the mix and is expected to start instead of Cortes Jr. against Toronto on Wednesday…which already shakes up this schedule. It may just push everyone back one day or it could mean it’s a six-man rotation, so take these matchups with a grain of salt.
No signs of this one changing any time soon. Thanks for being steady, Oakland.
Zach Eflin is likely missing the rest of the season, which means Matt Moore could have that rotation spot for the rest of the season. Vince Velasquez is still making rehab starts and could sneak back in the rotation soon, though.
JT Brubaker was placed on the IL with a shoulder injury, opening the door for Dillon Peters to start on Tuesday and possibly hold onto the rotation spot. Either way, this rotation inspires little excitement and should generally be avoided…save for a possible run from Bryse Wilson or maybe even Mitch Keller. Be skeptical, of course.
San Diego Padres
Unless we suddenly see MacKenzie Gore show up after hearing nothing all year, this is what we’re likely to get through the end of the season. Poor Chris Paddack, that’s as rough of a schedule as you’ll find.
San Francisco Giants
I expect Alex Wood to come off the COVID list soon, and with the off day, the Giants could skip his spot and embrace his return next week. It means Scott Kazmir does get a start in the place of Johnny Cueto and we’ll see how that unfolds the rest of the year. We may see some more José Quintana along the way, too.
The Mariners have few options left to turn to, making this a pretty stable crew moving forward. Stable in expected every five games, of course.
St. Louis Cardinals
It’s looking less and less like we’re going to see Jack Flaherty return this season, making this rotation seem rather locked in place for the time being. Maybe we get a glimpse of Johan Oviedo or Jake Woodford along the way.
Tampa Bay Rays
Amazingly, we have a six-man rotation in Tampa Bay despite having just one pitcher that you’d trust in Shane McClanahan. Speaking of McShane, his four-game schedule is not fair. The man deserves the world!
We’ve all wanted to get a chance to see Shane Baz make an appearance in September, we’ll see if that comes to pass, likely at the expense of Rasmussen in the rotation.
The Rangers have brought up a bevy of arms in the past two weeks and it’s unclear if they’ll all stay or go when Dane Dunning and Mike Foltynewicz returned from their stays on the COVID IL.
Toronto Blue Jays
These five look solid for the rest of the season, with a hint of Ross Stripling if he’s able to recover quick enough from his oblique injury (there’s even a chance he makes that double-header start instead of Thomas Hatch). If Strip returns, who knows if this is six-man or not.
The last one out here looks to be Sean Nolin, but there isn’t much banging on the door to remove him from his stay. I’d expect the other four to pitch all the way through to the end.
The List Based on ROS Schedules
Phew. With all the team schedules outlined above (HUGE thanks to James Schiano for putting the tables together! Give him a follow on Twitter), I went forward and made a GIANT table featuring every starter listed above, ranking them in six different tiers to get a sense of who to target and avoid down the stretch.
Before we get to that, I need to address a few things:
- This is stupid hard and I’m so sorry. Please forgive me for this atrocity below.
- It’s incredibly difficult to weigh # of expected starts vs. expected performance vs. opponent faced vs. the actual ability of the pitcher. There’s plenty of room for interpretation here.
- I elected to go the Tier route, where the individual ranking doesn’t matter nearly as much as the tier they reside in.
- I also know y’all love number ranks, so I added that column too. I got you, just realize it’s a loose ranking inside the tiers.
- Let me outline the definitions of each tier:
- Auto-Start: You’re pretty much starting them for each outing they have ahead of them, regardless of opponent. Maybe one or two considerations, but you’re likely still starting them.
- Likely Start: You trust them against weak teams and there may be one or two games that give you some hesitation, or they have a great schedule but their ability is somewhat in question, unlike the fantastic guys in the top tier.
- Questionable: These are going to be guys with a heavy swing of good and poor matchups, mixed with pitchers whose abilities we inherently question
- Unlikely: These pitchers have maybe one or two starts we’d consider them for as a stream, but overall are unlikely to go on a solid stretch through September.
- Do Not Start: It’s certainly possible they pull off a good outing here and there, but you really don’t want to bet on it.
- DO NOT: For real, don’t start these guys.
- These matchups are likely to change plenty between now and the end of the season and take the time to look into who maybe shift around and who may not (e.g. The Yankees rotation)
- Again, please don’t hate me, this took forever.
Alright, let’s get to it. Here’s the giant table containing The List: The Top 150 Starting Pitchers Based on Expected ROS Schedule.
I considered many different ways to discuss the rankings above and instead of talking about each tier and dozens and dozens of players, I figured the most helpful thing to do would be to quickly highlight the great and terrible schedules ahead for everyone to plan accordingly.
- Wade Miley – @CHC, @PIT, LAD, WSH, @PIT
- Tyler Mahle – @STL, @PIT, PIT, WSH, @PIT
- Luis Garcia – LAA, @TEX, @LAA, @OAK, OAK
- Trevor Rogers – @ATL, @WSH, WSH, @NYM, PHI
- Jesús Luzardo – NYM, @WSH, WSH, @TBR, PHI
- Aaron Nola – @MIL, COL, @NYM, PIT, @ATL
- Jake Odorizzi – SEA, @TEX, ARI, @LAA, TBR
- Ranger Suárez – COL, CHC, BAL, PIT, @MIA
- Reynaldo López – @OAK, LAA, @DET, @CLE, DET
- Keep in mind, Carlos Rodón and Lucas Giolito could return to the squad and push ReyLó out of the rotation. I do wonder if Dallas Keuchel goes first given his woes, though.
- Daniel Lynch – @MIN, SEA, @CLE, CLE
- Vladimir Gutiérrez – @CHC, @PIT, PIT, WSH, @PIT
- Kyle Gibson – @MIL, CHC, @NYM, PIT, @ATL
- Joe Ryan – @CLE, CLE, @CHC, DET
- Brady Singer – @MIN, SEA, @DET, MIN
- Rich Hill – @MIA, STL, PHI, @MIL, @ATL
- Max Scherzer – SDP, @CIN, @COL, SDP
- Logan Webb – @COL, SDP, ATL, @COL, ARI
- Shane McClanahan – @BOS, @TOR, TOR, @HOU
- Drew Rasmussen – @BOS, @TOR, TOR, @HOU
- Chris Paddack – @LAD, @SFG, SFG, @LAD, @SFG
- Joe Musgrove – @LAD, @SFG, SFG, ATL, @SFG
- Zac Gallen – TEX, @LAD, @HOU, LAD, @SFG
- Casey Mize – TBR, @TBR, KCR, @CHW
- Matthew Boyd – TBR, @TBR, KCR, @CHW
Photos by Icon Sportswire / Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)
Thanks for putting this all together! It is very helpful when trying to make judgments about pitchers over the next few weeks.
One point I’d make is that some team offenses vary widely based on whether the pitcher is a righty or lefty. For instance, the Twins have been a solid offense overall, but they’ve been pretty bad against lefties, especially since Nelson Cruz’s departure. This means a lefty like Matz, who has two projected remaining starts against the Twins, might have a more favorable schedule than it first appears. But it might make this already comprehensive chart too cumbersome to incorporate LHP/RHP splits.