Welcome to The List, where I rank the Top 100 SP for Fantasy Baseball every single Monday of the year.
Want an earlier update to The List? Join me on Mondays at 1:00pm ET as I live-stream its creation each week!
Have questions? My “office hours” are on Twitch 9:00 am – 11:00 am ET Monday – Friday + the aforementioned stream of The List.
For each edition of The List, I have a set of rules to outline my thought process and how to best use these rankings. Please take note:
- This is 5×5, 12-teamer, H2H format focused. It generally is the same as roto as well, but make sure you adjust accordingly.
- We have two tables to review before the notes and rankings. First is an injury table that outlines where players would be relatively ranked if fully healthy. It’s the best way to tackle how to value players on the IL.
- If a player is on the IL or not confirmed inside the rotation, they aren’t on the List. That includes injuries and guys in the minors, but there are exceptions for players who are expected to be in the rotation but are being skipped this week.
- Second is a table of pitchers outside the Top 100 I considered. Please read this if you can’t find your guy.
- Since this is a 12-teamer, I heavily weigh upside in the back-half of the rankings. Tier 10 is likely going to underperform those in Tier 11 across a full season, but it’s in your best interest to chase Tier 10’s ceiling vs. settling for Tier 11’s floor.
- I’ve made a decision to remove all the labels that I struggle to maintain through the season to instead give each player just one label at a time. It streamlines the process much better and hopefully gives you a more targeted understanding of the player.
- The notes outline oh-so-much to help your team. Please read the notes if you can instead of just scrolling to the bottom.
Let’s get to the tables. First are all of our injured compatriots:
I made a decision this year: I’ve removed the “Preseason tiers” and changed “tiers” to “Relative Rank” as it’ll be more consistent week-to-week — Tiers change while their relative rank does not.
Please understand that “70-80” does not guarantee the player will be exactly in that range when they return. Rankings are 100% relative to the landscape and while this table reflects where they would sit in a vacuum, it’s a fluid creature. Sometimes there are oh-so-many options, sometimes I want to see them healthy and stretched out again, and others we’re starving for pitchers and they jump higher than “70-80”. It’s a loose reference point and why it’s called “relative ranking.” I hope it helps!
One last point about that – often times pitchers need an extra week or two to ramp up once they do return to the majors. It’s why Still ILL exists and the “relative rank” you see is when those guys have shaken off their rust. Will they be back to normal in their first start or will they need a few? I have no idea! Those ranks are to show what I’d expect once they are fully back to normal.
Now let’s take a look at the pitchers I considered for the Top 100 but didn’t quite make the cut:
Other Pitchers I Considered (Not Ranked In Order)
Lastly, I heavily recommend you follow my daily SP Roundup that outlines all pitcher performances through the season, or if you want a primer on most of these pitchers, you can check out my 40,000 words from the pre-season via my Top 224 Starting Pitchers for 2022 from February. Both will help you get a grasp of my general thoughts on most of these guys (especially the roundup!) as I simply can’t detail everything about 100 pitchers in these notes each week.
- 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.
- The top tier remains the same this week as these pitchers are dope and make us feel dope.
- With Joe Musgrove hitting the COVID-IL, there’s an innate +1 for Tier 2 guys, though I elected to move Kevin Gausman between Carlos Rodón and Alek Manoah this week. He’s been a little bit of a funk and Rodón looks back to his normal dominant ways.
- In the third tier, I decided to group all the AGA arms into one tier before Tier 4 hits. Welcome back Aaron Nola, Shane Bieber, and Luis Severino, we missed you.
- I moved Clayton Kershaw up as he’s another start removed from his IL stint and showing signs of the man we want him to be.
- Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito and Max Fried take a small dip. Nothing new from Fried – this is a product of Bieber and Nola rising – while Giolito was a conscious pulldown. His changeup has been far different than we’ve seen in previous seasons and while I’m betting it does return to form, the haze pulls down this week’s rank.
- It’s time to raise Shohei Ohtani to the third tier given his consistency on the hill now that we’ve had over 60 games pass this year. Props to him.
- Leading the fourth tier is Julio Urías, who is boasting a remarkable 2.56 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, and I’m tempted to push him into Tier 3, but his low 5.4 innings per start mixed with a low 22% strikeout rate holds him in Tier 4.
- I’m glad Chris Bassitt is seemingly past his May struggles and I’ve given him a raise back to the Top 20. Volume is important and Bassitt will continue to be a workhorse for the full year.
- Some names had to get pulled down for others to rise. Frankie Montas has been volatile and hints at a Cherry Bomb with his splitter inconsistency. Nestor Cortes has been a bit more pedestrian the last few weeks and while he’s still a strong play, his ascension seems to be on pause.
- I also gave a drop to Tarik Skubal as his slider wasn’t nearly as polished as we’ve seen in his last outing. The changeup looked great, but even when Skubal was cruising, it was more of a “welp, I have to raise him” and this start showcased the floor we didn’t want to see.
- I should mention that Robbie Ray has transformed himself across the last three starts, first introducing a sinker, then making it his primary fastball for the last two starts…which led to 14 frames of one earned and 14 strikeouts. I feel weird embracing a sinker-first approach, but it clearly has worked and I hope it sticks.
- And hey, Logan Webb just earned 20 whiffs, showing life that he could be more than a 24% strikeout arm. Let’s hope he replicates it.
- Tier 5 expands a bit this week, welcoming in Shane Baz, Tony Gonsolin, and Charlie Morton. Baz recovered from his struggles in the stretch to overwhelm the Orioles, Gonsolin has yet to stumble as a starter for the Dodgers, and Morton had multiple Golden Goal outings across his last three starts.
- Oh, and for those who want Tony Gonsolin to be higher (he hasn’t allowed more than 2 ER in a single game this year!), I want to note this is a list for the future, not about ranking how players have performed thus far. He has a one-star HOTEL – 89% LOB rate, .182 BABIP, and 5.7% HR/FB rate – creating a 3.73 SIERA. It’s unlikely to last.
- Hey, it’s Jack Flaherty! I wrestled with where to place him (does he actually belong at the end of the tier? Tier 5? Or is he ready to jump behind Zac Gallen?), especially after he made his first start with diminished velocity. It’s not abnormal to see that during a Still ILL outing and Flaherty has legit potential for a Top 15 spot on The List as the season continues. Keep that in mind with this ranking.
- Did you know José Berríos has a 3.58 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 26% strikeout rate across his last six starts? The Great Undulater never fails.
- We’re off to Tier 6 now and Sean Manaea returns with a weak smile and wave…and yet this is less about him and more about Joe Ryan and Logan Gilbert + those mentioned above in Tier 5 deserving more love.
- I gave a small dip to Patrick Sandoval as well since the gains he made on his changeup disappeared in his last outing. I want to latch onto that slow ball so badly and he’s not giving us the chance.
- Welcome back Mike Clevinger for the nth time this year as he had a stint on the COVID-IL. The fact remains that he possesses Top 15 SP talent and with enough time on the bump, you have to believe he flirts with it.
- Luis Garcia got a little bump as well this week as he continued to perform well, even if it wasn’t with his slider (nor carrying 95 mph heaters) as I was hoping for. He deserves the love.
- We have a small tier seven with mostly young arms. Spencer Strider gets a ton of love after his eleven-strikeout affair but we can’t lose sight of his volatile control. He’s incredibly fun and exciting, but there is a rough floor there when he struggles to earn strikes.
- I gave a dip to MacKenzie Gore that I may be regretting later this week. Yes, it was a start in Coors and it’s hard to judge a man fiercely for it, though Gore hasn’t locked into a consistent approach in starts that makes me a bit hesitant to believe he’ll hold Top 40 SP value the rest of the way.
- We’ve waited since late April to see the return of Andrew Heaney and the start we saw was…okay. The line was great, but his slider command was a far cry from the precision he carried across his first two starts. It makes me a little weary that Heaney’s wavering command of old hasn’t been ironed out. It could also be as simple as it being his first start off the IL, and hopefully the slider returns to form shortly.
- I haven’t seen the strides I want to see from George Kirby’s secondaries, but his four-seamer has held the fort, making him a solid play in 12-teamers.
- It’s no fun dropping Eric Lauer further, but his heater has fallen to 92.5 mph after sitting 94 mph in April and early May. His cutter has been less effective as well, and the breakers inconsistent. That said, it’s been about three outings of diminished stuff and it’s not a death sentence – this could just be a valley with recovery coming around the corner. It’s a bit of a gamble, and if there’s a swap to make that raises the floor, you should consider it.
- I’m digging Nick Pivetta’s current run and while I don’t see him holding onto this value through the full year, you have to chase what he’s doing wherever you can.
- I did a thing this week – I promoted the “strong” Tobys into the next tier, as Tyler Anderson, Carlos Carrasco, Martín Pérez, and Adam Wainwright each took jumps forward. It’s hard to keep them down with a fair amount of uncertainty in this tier.
- I wish I could be more excited about Cristian Javier but he’s a bit of a Cherry Bomb with his fastball locations and ability to get his breakers over the plate.
- Tier 9. Oh boy, Tier 9. This tier mostly looks like Jake Odorizzi’s top third of the zone with all the red as it carries the drops of four upside pitchers. The main one is Blake Snell, who simply doesn’t have the fastball/slider command we saw in the late summer of 2021. I’m not giving up hope for a renaissance, but he’s a tough start each time he goes at the moment.
- It’s wonderful to see Tyler Mahle accrue 22 strikeouts in two games, but he capitalized in two starts against the Diamondbacks. He’s due for a rough game at home against the Dodgers this week and it meant I can’t raise him. If he pulls this one off, you can expect a jump akin to Tier 7 next week.
- Leading off the ninth tier, Roansy Contreras is someone to roster as we cross our fingers he can improve moving forward. He has yet to get fully comfortable in the bigs and I hope he’s well inside the Top 50 before long.
- As for Hunter Greene, I really didn’t want to drop him this much and it’s more of a product of the other names rising as he continues to be a Cherry Bomb. He deserved better in his last start given his quality of pitching.
- Tier 10 is essentially a Toby tier. You’ve got your Jameson Taillon, Miles Mikolas, Noah Syndergaard, and Merrill Kelly, step on down and take your pick.
- We just saw the peak of Taijuan Walker with a 94/95 mph fastball and whiff-heavy splitter, followed by…not that. The result was great and I’m perplexed that he was able to whip out a fantastic slider with a worse fastball and splitter. It makes me wonder if I should buy into his adaptability or if Walker’s sub 3.00 ERA is a mirage. Regardless, you’re rostering him for now as he claims a Top 70 spot.
- It’s the return of Alex Cobb, again, after he tossed 60 pitches over the weekend. He’ll get the Reds this week as he likely pushes it to 75 and let’s hope he gets into a rhythm that bursts through the wall to visit his wonderful expected stats.
- I really hope Ian Anderson is able to find consistent control of his trio of pitches. It’s wavered across each outing, sadly, making him a Cherry Bomb and a hope for something more.
- Mixed with a grouping of Tobys (hey Corey Kluber, way to be consistent with your secondaries) are some fascinating arms who could turn it around. First is the fall of Alex Wood after he struggled against the Pirates. The reason for the drop is simple – his rational ceiling isn’t worth chasing through a tough start against Atlanta this week. Not that I’d drop him everywhere, but I’d explore what else is out there instead of enduring that outing.
- There’s also Trevor Rogers, who I’m sure is the bane of many managers reading these notes (Thank you so much for reading the notes! My thanks to you – A free month of PL+ (or $10 off yearly) with promo code IREADTHENOTES). I was planning on dropping him further, but he earned 24 whiffs against the Mets today, 15 coming from his changeup and slider. I haven’t seen it all year and boy does it make me wonder if he’s turned a corner. Ahhhh why can’t I quit you.
- Don’t go nuts about Kyle Gibson’s rise of sixteen spots, that’s just the back-half of The List being it’s naturally volatile self since we’re in the territory of “burn and churn”. He’s been decent so far and gets a lovely two-start week against the Rangers and Padres.
- Let’s welcome back Anthony Desclafani to The List. A normal and healthy Tony Disco is a Toby who could reach the heights of Carrasco or Taillon. Keep him in mind, but you may be best waiting a start or two before jumping in.
- The twelve tier once again is the tier of Frozen Banana types who could take the step forward soon, and it leads with Daniel Lynch who just earned 23 whiffs over the weekend and his slider and four-seamer combo was wicked. We’ve seen moments of bliss from Lynch in the past, so I’m not willing to say it’s the beginning of a proper trend, but keep your eye on this.
- Garrett Whitlock is set to return from the IL this week as we hope his sinker and slider perform better than before his hip injury.
- I’ve added Ryan Feltner to The List this week as he replaces Austin Gomber in the rotation. Feltner increased his velocity last time out and now gets the Marlins on the road on Tuesday. Something to monitor, even if you release him for his home starts in Coors.
- I wish Graham Ashcraft and Mitch Keller had approaches I could buy into. Ashcraft has lost his sinker command and a cutter/slider combo just doesn’t do enough. Meanwhile, Keller is struggling to get breaker whiffs as he has become sinker-first with his heaters. That’s not the journey to success I’m looking for.
- As for Josiah Gray, he does have a nice two-start week ahead, but I don’t buy he can continue to get by with his four-seamer, while his overall command is too shaky to trust in a proper emergence in Washington.
- The final tier is a mish-mash of other options if you need them, starting with Cole Irvin as he’s been a solid streaming option throughout the year. Keep him in the Rolodex moving forward.
- It’s great to see Aaron Civale returning from the IL this week. He was beginning to lean heavily on a cutter + curveball approach (sweet!) before he hit the IL and I’m hopeful it’ll be intact as he returns…just don’t start him against the Twins and Sawx this week.
- Fine, maybe Johnny Cueto is actually something of note moving forward. I find it hard to trust, but if you need a gamble, why not Cueto?
- I know Caleb Kilian just walked five batters without a single punchout in his last start, but his ability is far better than that day and he gets the Pirates next. His potential could shine through there.
- Meanwhile, Matt Swarmer hasn’t performed well but still holds a fantastic slider in his arsenal that could thrive against Pittsburgh.
- I’ve elected to add both Michael Wacha and Zack Greinke to The List this week as possible streaming options if you need it. Greinke gets the Athletics while Wacha faces the Tigers and both could come out on top. That said, I don’t think either one brings enough to the table to consider holding past these starts.
- And at #100 this week is Keegan Thompson who shocked me this week with a brilliant start featuring nine strikeouts and 18 whiffs. I’m willing to bet it was more of a Dennis than a real indication of a turned corner, but there’s a chance the whiffs earned off his four-seamer and cutter are here to stay.
YOU SHOULD READ THE NOTES
Aces Gonna Ace
Playing Time Question
Photo by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)