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Micah Henry’s 2021 Rest of Season Tiered Starting Pitcher Rankings

Baseball is back and with it, my first official tiered top-125 starting pitcher rankings. I’ve done some consensus starting pitcher rankings, but I’ve never put together my own personal rankings, until now. However, as aforementioned, these are tiered rankings. Some starting pitchers are ranked over others for a reason, but for the most part, the pitchers are numbered for organizational purposes.

I try to stick to tiered rankings, mainly because it helps me better visualize the differences in values between certain players. More than that, I believe tiered rankings help make the task of gauging a player’s trade value simpler. In total, there are eight tiers containing 125 SP eligible players in this piece. Each tier listing is accompanied by a brief breakdown that explains why those starting pitchers are in the tier that they are in. Questions, comments and concerns are always welcome, all I ask is that you keep them at a respectful level. Without further ado, my first ever official tiered starting pitching rankings, enjoy!

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Tiered Starting Pitcher Rankings

* = currently on IL/suspended/in minors

Tier 1: The Elite

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. *Jacob deGrom
  3. Max Scherzer
  4. Brandon Woodruff
  5. *Yu Darvish
  6. Corbin Burnes

These are my bonafide aces for the rest of the season. I would have moved Darvish to Tier 2 if I was confident that this left hip inflammation was going to keep him out for a while. The reports state he’ll be starting July 19th against Atlanta, so he’s sticking in Tier 1. All in all, having any one of these pitchers on your fantasy roster gives your staff someone you can truly rely on every time. 

Tier 2: The Almost-Elite

  1. Walker Buehler
  2. Zack Wheeler
  3. Kevin Gausman
  4. Lucas Giolito
  5. *Aaron Nola
  6. Lance Lynn
  7. *Clayton Kershaw 
  8. Carlos Rodon

All eight of these pitchers are very close to being elite options, and one could make a legitimate argument for a handful of them being elite options right now. Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw if their durability was more trustworthy, and I can go on. Speaking of Kershaw, the reports indicate the forearm injury might not be too serious, so I’m comfortable keeping him in this tier for now. As a whole, all of these pitchers should continue to help fantasy rotations everywhere. 

Tier 3: The High-End Options

  1. Luis Castillo
  2. Freddy Peralta
  3. *Shane Bieber 
  4. Zac Gallen
  5. Sonny Gray
  6. Julio Urías
  7. Joe Musgrove
  8. Sandy Alcántara 
  9. Charlie Morton
  10. Jose Berrios
  11. Shohei Ohtani 
  12. Trevor Rogers
  13. Robbie Ray
  14. Hyun-jin Ryu
  15. Kyle Hendricks
  16. *Jack Flaherty

This is my favorite tier. Shane Bieber is only here because he’s hurt, but all of these arms should provide high-end value for the rest of the 2021 season. Luis Castillo could easily be moved up to Tier 2 soon, but until his changeup starts to induce whiffs like it did in the past, he’ll be here. More than that, Trevor Rogers just missed my top-25 because of the possibility of his innings being limited down the stretch. If he’s truly being limited by August/September, he’ll likely be moved down to Tier 4. This is the last tier that includes a pitcher that could potentially anchor your fantasy rotation. 

Tier 4: The Rock Solid Options

  1. Kenta Maeda
  2. Zack Greinke 
  3. Lance McCullers Jr.
  4. Ian Anderson 
  5. Tyler Mahle
  6. Framber Valdez
  7. Chris Bassit 
  8. Max Fried
  9. *Blake Snell
  10. Eduardo Rodriguez
  11. Sean Manaea
  12. *John Means
  13. Germán Márquez

We’re now approaching the ‘depth tiers’. None of these pitchers will be anchoring the typical fantasy rotation, but they’re capable of performing like a SP1in any given start. More than that, some of these names could graduate to Tier 3 with a strong run. Having two or more of these arms on your fantasy roster would surely give your staff some stability. 

Tier 5: The Very Useful Options

  1. Zach Plesac
  2. Jameson Taillon 
  3. Dylan Cease
  4. Frankie Montas
  5. Marcus Stroman
  6. Alek Manoah
  7. Yusei Kikuchi
  8. Logan Gilbert
  9. Chris Paddack
  10. Zach Eflin
  11. Shane McClanahan
  12. Taijuan Walker
  13. *Pablo López

This feels like the ‘next big thing’ tier. A lot of youth here and all of these starting pitchers have flashed SP2/3 potential at some point this season, and for most, that’s likely around their ceiling for the rest of the 2021 season. Zach Plesac could easily graduate to Tier 4, or higher, if he can begin to regain the strong form he showcased in the 2020 sample size. Interestingly enough, there are a handful of arms in this tier that I’m confident will be regulars in the higher tiers at some point in their careers. All in all, all of these pitchers are capable of providing strong pitching depth to any fantasy roster. 

Tier 6: The Useful Options

  1. Triston McKenzie
  2. Alex Wood
  3. Tarik Skubal
  4. Kyle Gibson
  5. Anthony DeSclafani 
  6. Casey Mize 
  7. Nathan Eovaldi 
  8. Jordan Montgomery
  9. Andrew Heaney
  10. Logan Webb
  11. Rich Hill 
  12. Tony Gonsolin
  13. Luis Garcia
  14. Alex Cobb

All of these pitchers provide much needed depth for fantasy rosters. Triston McKenzie could graduate to as high as Tier 4 rather quickly, he just needs to show some consistency. It’s possible I’m higher on Logan Webb than others, but I believe in the growth that he’s already shown this season. As the tier title states, all of these pitchers are useful fantasy options. However, I can see several of them graduating to higher tiers in time. 

Tier 7: The Fallback Options

  1. *Tyler Glasnow
  2. *Aaron Civale
  3. *Chris Sale
  4. *José Urquidy
  5. *Carlos Carrasco
  6. Cristian Javier 
  7. Michael Kopech
  8. Patrick Corbin
  9. Adam Wainwright 
  10. Adbert Alzolay
  11. Dallas Keuchel 
  12. Jake Odorizzi
  13. Marco Gonzales
  14. Danny Duffy
  15. Michael Pineda
  16. Wade Miley
  17. Domingo German
  18. Brady Singer
  19. James Kaprielian
  20. Steven Matz
  21. Patrick Sandoval
  22. Ryan Yarbrough
  23. Nick Pivetta
  24. Chris Flexen
  25. Jon Gray
  26. Zach Thompson
  27. Kyle Muller
  28. Cole Irvin
  29. Tylor Megill
  30. David Price
  31. Alec Mills
  32. *Madison Bumgarner

We are now in the tier that holds several players who you might hesitate to grab off the waiver wire. This is a diverse, and large, group that includes veterans who are pitching well but have low ceilings, veterans slowly returning from injuries and a good amount of speculative waiver wire adds. Cristian Javier would be in the last tier if Zack Greinke wasn’t dealing with right shoulder soreness. However, if Javier does rejoin the rotation and begins to perform well, he’ll quickly find himself in Tier 6, maybe even Tier 5. I’m confident that a handful of these players will prove they belong in higher tiers over the next few weeks.

Tier 8: The Roster Fillers

  1. Dane Dunning
  2. Kwang-hyun Kim
  3. *Joe Ross
  4. Mike Minor
  5. Ross Stripling
  6. Zach Davies
  7. Merrill Kelly
  8. Johnny Cueto
  9. *Corey Kluber
  10. *Jesús Luzardo
  11. *Austin Gomber
  12. *Dinelson Lamet
  13. Tanner Houck
  14. Drew Smyly
  15. *Matthew Boyd
  16. *Huascar Ynoa
  17. J.A. Happ
  18. JT Brubaker
  19. *Luis Severino
  20. *Spencer Turnbull
  21. *Noah Syndergaard
  22. *Sammy Long
  23. *Stephen Strasburg

We’ve made it to the end. These pitchers are the worst of the worst, they all hold absolutely no…

Just kidding. While it is true that this is the last tier of my starting pitcher rankings, this is another diverse group of arms who are capable of providing fantasy value. Whether that is through streaming or using them in deeper leagues, they can help you when used correctly. Additionally, there are also a handful of pitchers in this tier who would surely be in a higher tier if they were healthy. As a whole, these are some of your last resort options and should be treated as such in your fantasy leagues. 

For more help on the pitching front, check out Mike Carter’s look at the top Two-Start Pitchers for the coming week.

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1 Comment
  1. Jackie says

    Please list 130 pitchers next time. 125 is too short of a list. Also the top 5 should have photos too, preferably shirtless.

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