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.
It’s the second week we’re doing this (and final as next week turns into individual Sit/Start tables for the final 14 days) and I hope it helps.
Yeah, it’s a lot to take in, but it’s what I think is the most helpful way of talking about the final three 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 could return this week from the COVID-IL, displacing Luke Weaver or Humberto Castellanos, though the only Arizona matchups we care for are their final weekend series against Rockie Road. Let’s hope Kelly can snag one of those.
There’s a chance Drew Smyly pushes his way back into the rotation, or h*ck, maybe Kyle Muller demands one more start before the end of the year. If it’s not a direct replacement of Touki, there could be some value there against the Diamondbacks at home, but otherwise I’d generally avoid either potential replacement.
This will likely shift around a decent amount with some young names getting chances, but let’s be honest. It doesn’t really matter. Sorry. At least John Means gets the Phillies and Rangers and that should help your squads.
It’s unclear when Chris Sale returns to the Red Sox rotation, and it could shift the expected matchups. The only series to consider avoiding for some is against the Yankees, so it could help Tanner Houck or Eduardo Rodriguez + hurt Nick Pivetta if they get shifted in/out of that three-game set.
It looks like Adrian Sampson is getting some time in this rotation, with Adbert Alzolay pitching out of the pen and the Cubs moving on from Keegan Thompson. Maybe we see some Cory Abott? It’s not much to consider. As for the regular crew, the Cubs have a light schedule and don’t get affected much if they tussle arround.
As of now, Reynaldo López is still in the ChiSox rotation, but there’s a chance this six-man turns into five with the big three of Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Ródon all healthy and pitching again.
This is pretty dang straightforward the rest of the way, though there may be a Hunter Greene sighting at some point (especially if Vladimir Gutiérrez struggles). Otherwise, the Reds are fighting for the second wild card and could feel great with their rotation to not fix what isn’t broken.
I wonder how this one will shape up through the final weeks. It’s a six-man with Logan Allen and Eli Morgan in contention for a possible five-man squeeze. There’s also a possible return of Shane Bieber to consider and it’s unclear if we’ll see him before the long winter.
The top four are clear to coast the rest of the way, while Ryan Feltner could be swapped out with any other young arm the Rockies see fit.
The Tigers are a bit weird with Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal each being limited to roughly 50 pitches in their starts. It does mean guys like José Ureña and Drew Hutchison could see some extra time as followers – or even start a game or two.
It’s a six-man rotation with Cristian Javier still getting innings out of the pen. We may see that change if Houston wants to hold back Luis Garcia or Lance McCullers as they push career-high marks in innings. Their lovely schedule does shift in the final week of the season, but a jostle of the rotation doesn’t change the expected production a whole lot.
With a six-man rotation + Brad Keller on the COVID-IL, there are a decent amount of mouths to feed down the stretch. Expect this one to change a decent amount in the next few weeks. I’d imagine one of Kris Bubic or Jackson Kowar are the ones to get ousted if Keller were to force his way back.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
It’s technically a six-man rotation if Reid Detmers makes his return from the COVID-IL, though it’s a major rough patch in the short term for the crew. Monitor these arms for the final ten days of the year – José Suarez, Jaime Barria, Alex Cobb, and the aforementioned Detmers could all produce against the Mariners and Texas.
There’s hope that we’ll see Pablo López make a return before October and it could turn this into a six-man rotation or a simple removal of Edward Cabrera. The other four should be set for the final three weeks.
Here we have an interesting situation. The Brewers are running away with the Central as Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes push career highs in innings. It’s possible they both get a breather, allowing Aaron Ashby to get a start, or make way for a possible return for Brett Anderson.
This is a five-man rotation save for the Cleveland doubleheader tomorrow and I’d be surprised if Andrew Albers forced his way in over any of the five above.
Hey y’all. I know what you’re thinking. Please tell me Jacob deGrom is going to start again this year. You know he’s not. There are three weeks left. He’d need at least one rehab start to get back and he’d have to do that ASAP to get back in time to start…and he wouldn’t be stretched out. It just makes no sense. Let it go. (I really hope he does make that start, though)
Anyway, as far as their rotation goes, it’s straightforward with what you see above. If something were to go wrong, Trevor Williams gets the empty spot and Noah Syndergaard should be expected for nada. I’m so curious to see what happens in free agency.
With Jameson Taillon dealing with an ankle injury and no clear timeline for his return, we may see the above five toughing it out through the end. There could be a hint of Clarke Schmidt or even a return of Domingo Germán at some point, but if I were a better man, it’s this quintet the rest of the way.
The only interruption we’ll see here is the potential return of Chris Bassitt, who may make a start or two in the final weeks. I’d expect him to displace Paul Blackburn, which will be more than welcome given his final two starts come against Houston.
With Zach Eflin out for the year and some of the 2022 season, it’s unclear who will carry the fifth rotation spot for the Phils. Expect some movement there, with some Matt Moore, some bullpen games, and other arms you want to avoid like an empty subway car. There’s a reason why it’s empty.
JT Brubaker – aka Coffee Cakes – sits on the IL with a shoulder injury and could earn a start or two by the end, pushing Dillon Peters out of the way. There’s also Steven Brault on the IL, who could make a late return as well, pushing out Max Kranick. Yes, this means Bryse Wilson, Wil Crowe, and Mitch Keller are safe.
With Blake Snell leaving his Sunday start with a groin injury, I’d expect him to hit the IL and miss some time, marking a path for Ryan Weathers or Reiss Knehr to get some innings. And who knows, maybe we’ll finally get an MLB look at MacKenzie Gore. Don’t hold your breath.
The Giants are missing both Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood at the moment, the latter sitting out due to COVID and could return next week for his pass in the rotation. In the meantime, we have Dominic Leone and likely a bullpen or Scott Kazmir taking the reins for a moment.
Yup. That’s the rotation for the Mariners down the stretch. I don’t see a whole shifting unless Justin Dunn is able to step forward enough in his rehab starts to make an appearance before the end.
I wouldn’t anticipate Jack Flaherty returning to the rotation before season’s end, though there is a chance he pitches in relief instead of taking the normal rehab route. Meanwhile, Jake Woodford has taken Kwang Hyun Kim’s spot in the rotation and we’ll likely see these five until the end.
The Rays rotation is a major question mark, with Shane McClanahan and Luis Patiño as the main names to focus on (Shane should return on Sunday + Chris Archer just hit the IL before publication. We’ll see how this shapes up). They could have some bullpen games or even give Shane Baz a look at the majors, but not a whole lot of relevance given their difficult schedule save for Miami and Detroit.
There isn’t much interest here, even if some of these names shift around in the final weeks (A.J. Alexy, Mike Foltynewicz, and Dane Dunning could all make starts). The matchups are poor and I’d come back to see who gets the starts in the final week – Glenn Otto could be a sneaky play against the Angels then.
I don’t see much movement here with their doubleheaders out of the way. The next up would be Ross Stripling, but it would take an injury for him to get innings and I wouldn’t trust a start from him against these teams.
It’s not the most exciting group, but four are set with Sean Nolin taking the current #5 spot. We could see some Josh Rogers in there as Nolin undergoes his suspension for throwing at Freddie Freeman, but that’s of little consequence for your fantasy squads.
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.
Great Schedules (at least three great matchups)
- Lucas Giolito (LAA, @DET, @CLE, DET)
- Vladimir Gutiérrez (@PIT, PIT, WSH, @PIT)
- Tyler Mahle (@PIT, PIT, WASH, @PIT)
- Daniel Lynch (SEA, @CLE, CLE)
- Trevor Rogers (@WSH, WSH, @NYM, PHI)
- Elieser Hernandez (PIT, WSH, @NYM, PHI)
- Jesús Luzardo (@WSH, WSH, @TBR, PHI)
- Sandy Alcantara (@WSH, PIT, @TBR, @NYM)
- Griffin Jax (CLE, @CHC, DET, @KCR)
- Joe Ryan (CLE, @CHC, TOR, @KCR)
- Frankie Montas (@KCR, @LAA, HOU, @SEA)
- Cole Irvin (@LAA, SEA, @SEA)
- James Kaprielian (@LAA, SEA, @SEA)
- Kyle Gibson (CHC, @NYM, PIT, @ATL)
- Ranger Suárez (CHC, BAL, PIT, @MIA)
- Zack Wheeler (@NYM, BAL, @ATL, @MIA)
- Jon Lester (@NYM, @MIL, @CHC, CHC)
Bad Schedules (at least three poor matchups)
- Zac Gallen (@LAD, @HOU, LAD, @SFG)
- Luke Weaver (@LAD, ATL, LAD, COL)
- Madison Bumgarner (@LAD, ATL, LAD)
- Humberto Castellanos (@HOU, ATL, @SFG, COL)
- Tyler Gilbert (@HOU, ATL, @SFG)
- Antonio Senzatela (@ATL, LAD, SFG, @ARI)
- Tyler Alexander (@TBR, CHW, @MIN, @CHW)
- Mitch Keller (CIN, @CIN, @PHI, CIN)
- Max Kranick (CIN, @CIN, @PHI, CIN)
- Chris Paddack (@SFG, SFG, @LAD, @SFG)
- Yu Darvish (@SFG, @STL, ATL, @LAD)
- Joe Musgrove (@SFG, SFG, ATL, @SFG)
- Jake Arrieta (@SFG, @STL, ATL, @SFG)
- Drew Rasmussen (@TOR, TOR, @HOU)
- Michael Wacha (@TOR, TOR, @HOU)
Photos by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire and Dirk DBQ (https://www.flickr.com/people/dirkhansen/) | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)