Welcome to the first in-season edition of The List, where I rank the Top 100 SP for Fantasy Baseball every single Monday of the year. It’s the List the site is named after.
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.
- 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.
- I’ve also made the decision to not mention Trevor Bauer. There’s too much of a headache for many reasons. Just don’t do it.
- 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 week: 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.
Now let’s take a look at the pitchers I considered for the Top 100 but didn’t quite make the cut:
Other Starting Pitchers I Considered
Lastly, I heavily recommend you read my 40,000 words on all the Top 224 Starting Pitchers for 2022 that I released in February for more info about these players or just follow my daily SP Roundup that outlines all pitcher performances through the season. About 95% of it still applies and will do so much to help you understand the skill sets of everyone ranked here. Seriously, it will answer all your questions and it took months of work to put together. Read it.
- 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.
- I know what I said before. Nick, you promised us the early rankings wouldn’t change! I know, I know. But would any one of you trade away Max Scherzer for Brandon Woodruff or Walker Buehler right now? Didn’t think so.
- On that topic, I’m not as worried about Buehler and Woodruff as a few other underwhelming studs, but I can see them falling in future weeks if they don’t get their fastballs in order.
- In the second tier…hey wait a second. This doesn’t look similar at all. Sandy Alcantara and Robbie Ray stuck around (I’m willing to wait another start or two in actual normal weather before reacting harshly to Ray’s velocity drop), but Shane Bieber and Julio Urías have glaring issues I couldn’t ignore any longer.
- That means Joe Musgrove, Logan Webb, and Kevin Gausman – pitchers who have each looked like their 2021 selves – enter the Top 10. Welcome fellas.
- With Shane Bieber, not only does he feature two ticks of velocity drop, his curveball’s RPM dropped over 400 in each of his first two starts – not just the cold and muggy opening day outing. Considering his questionable fastball command in the first half of last year and the velocity drop when he returned (that hasn’t been rectified), it’s hard to hold and stay confident above those now in Tier 2.
- As for Julio Urías, he’s sat 92 mph for three straight outings including the spring and I’m terrified. It may be a product of his 200+ frames between the regular season and playoffs from 2021, but if he’s not coming back close to his 95 mph heaters, we have a major problem on our hands. We can only wait so long for it to come back.
- Jumping into Tier 3 with Bieber and Urías is Carlos Rodón, who is the only pitcher with an “AGA” label and not inside the Top 2 tiers. It’s really hard to know what to do with Rodón given his incredibly clear dominance paired with what seems like an inevitable injury later in the season. So here he is, dominating for fantasy teams now as we hold our breath.
- Meanwhile, Justin Verlander and Alek Manoah are itching to get their labels and could do so by the start of May. It’s hard to argue against how well each has looked out of the gate.
- Tier 4 is a mish-mash of disappointments and potential excitement. Freddy Peralta, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Trevor Rogers have seen better days than April, though it’s too soon to write them all off completely. Wheeler was served the largest drop as his velocity is down nearly three full ticks. I’m concerned there’s something larger at play here, but I have faith he’ll find his way to productivity before June.
- On the other side, Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt, and Shane McClanahan are looking solid and make us feel wonderful for drafting them, especially Bassitt’s new emphasis on cutters, which have allowed him to soar in the early weeks. And hey, let’s all be thrilled the initial struggles from Montas were just a weird day.
- We kick off Tier 5 with TATIAGA who has yet to allow a baserunner this year (sorry for jinxing it, I’m sure he allows a hit/walk to his first batter now). If you watched it, you would have noticed his command being way off in the later innings, but hey, he’s looking great among some other question marks. And okay, I lied about the whole “Rodón being the only AGA outside the Top 10” – Kershaw deserves it, but it’s not as incredible of a ceiling + it’s a major injury risk.
- Luis Severino has looked phenomenal with his deep repertoire of seems to me like three different breakers (cutter, slider, slower slider/curve) and a changeup to go along with 97+ mph velocity. Sign. Me. UP.
- Now we’re beginning the Super Fun TimeTM tier with #6. Not a whole lot of movement here, but I did have to remove John Means and Sonny Gray with their respective injuries, while I did want to move down a few other names, pushing up a sea of green.
- I’m still on the Michael Kopech train, though I will note his fastball command isn’t quite what we want it to be, especially at 95 mph instead of the 97+ we’ve seen before. That can easily get better in season, though.
- Oh and also HIS NAME IS TYLORD MEGILL.
- Tier 7 is the second level of the super fun time, but just with fewer balloons n whatnot. That doesn’t mean I’m not a huge fan of Jesús Luzardo and Andrew Heaney, but I’m not as sold that their skillsets will last the entire season than those in Tier 6. It sure is exciting to see, though.
- I was thrilled to watch massive rebounds from both Tarik Skubal and Ian Anderson this week as both took a major step forward with one of their secondaries. Skubal’s slider was filthy and found the zone constantly with high called strikes and low whiffs. Anderson’s slow ball was as well-commanded as I’ve ever seen it, spotted down-and-away from lefties whenever he wanted. I would be absolutely ecstatic if we kept seeing both excel with these secondaries moving forward.
- I really struggled with where to place Framber Valdez. In a tier of excitement that comes with hesitation, Valdez is simply good. He likely isn’t going to go on a monster run ala 2020, but I don’t see him taking down your squad. He’s cool.
- What’s also cool is Hunter Greene tossing over 30 100+ mph pitches against the Dodgers. I still have some concerns about the hittability of his fastball, his overall command, and if the slider will always show up, but hey, you gotta pick him up if you can. (I still believe Nick Lodolo is the better long term play, FWIW)
- Tier 8 is looking longingly toward Framber Valdez and wondering why they aren’t there with him in the Top 50. Eduardo Rodriguez has had a rough schedule to kick off the year, but if his ability matched our expectations, it wouldn’t matter. I had to knock him down, but I anticipate him to rebound through the year as a stable option.
- The same goes for Marcus Stroman and Adam Wainwright, who have each been a little shaky but should be stuck on your team through the year.
- In Tier 9, we have another wave of guys that should be rostered in your leagues. It starts with a power pair of Nestor Cortes and Kyle Wright, who make significant jumps this week. Cortes looked dominant against the Orioles as he command heaters and cutters comfortably along the edges (featuring an immaculate inning!), while Wright’s breakers and fastballs have done well in his first two outings.
- Let’s welcome back Jon Gray and Aaron Ashby to The List – Gray returns from his blister injury while Ashby has taken the sixth spot in the Brewers rotation. We’re still waiting for both to showcase their best personas but I wouldn’t be surprised if they both wow us by the end of the month.
- I gave a dip to both Tanner Houck and Reid Detmers this week – moreso for the short-term than long. With plenty of arms you need to grab off the wire, Houck and Detmers reveal themselves as potential liabilities in April. That said, I adore what they can do and would want to hold them close on all my 12-teamers. They could be the talk of the town before the summer starts.
- I wanted to give some love to Merrill Kelly as he performed well in his second start of the season. It wasn’t spectacular as his changeup didn’t earn as many whiffs and his fastball velocity slightly dipped, but he’s looking like a dependable arm who could improve with more frames.
- The 10th tier is the “Holly” tier – i.e. They are a step above Toby where they can go six frames and carry some strikeout upside. I haven’t been incredibly impressed with what we’ve seen from Ranger Suárez thus far, but I recognize his potential and hope to see come through as he gets settled into the year.
- Carlos Carrasco and Michael Lorenzen each have done well in April thus far and could be sneaky adds for the season. Carrasco’s changeup whiffed many on Saturday (though his slider wasn’t as impressive) while Lorezen’s full repertoire came through against an oddly competitive Marlins club.
- I want to shine a light on Eric Lauer and Nick Martinez this week. Lauer has only made one start and while the complete line wasn’t impressive, I adore the fact he sat 94/95 mph on his fastball – two ticks above his 2021 mark. I’m excited to see what happens against the Pirates on Monday (tonight!) as it could be the next big arm to come off the wire.
- As for Martinez, he wasn’t as sharp against Atlanta and now has the Dodgers next on the docket. I think he’s ultimately very similar to Merrill Kelly (if not carrying more potential) and after that L.A. start, I’d consider snatching him back up.
- I shouldn’t continue without mentioning the pair of Astros pitchers who fell dramatically this week. It may be harsh to let Luis Garcia fall 27 spots this week, but it’s simply because I see many others stepping forward as dependable options while 1) Garcia only tossed four frames and B) He needs some time to get his stuff back – his primo cutter was far from stellar and his slider was nowhere to be found.
- Then there’s José Urquidy, who just got shelled over the weekend. His stuff was rough and it made me wonder if I was overweighing his “stability” given we don’t anticipate legit Top 25 SP upside from him. This could be one of the larger moves next week, but he’s in a tier of guys where I’d want to roster all of them if I could. That’s just the current SP landscape.
- Moving to Tier 11, we have some intriguing names that are on the other side of the cliff – I’d feel shaky trusting all of them at the moment. Huascar Ynoa came out of the gate with a poor slider and now with the Dodgers on the horizon, I’d rather chase the other arms instead. That said, pay attention – if his slider is earning whiffs galore and his fastball is decently spotted, he could be a legit snag off the wire.
- It’s weird adding someone to The List with a heavy belief they’ll be off it next week, but you have to take the chance with MacKenzie Gore as he sits at #76. With Clevinger and Snell possibly returning in the next pass, Gore could have just one more start left to go against the Reds. Still, his ceiling is massive, and he deserved to be on here.
- I liked what I saw from Elieser Hernandez over the weekend as he cruised through six frames against the Phillies. It’s not an easy road ahead with Atlanta up next and I’ll be watching him closely as a possible add in future weeks.
- I should have remembered my own “Kyle Hendricks rule” from years past – just because a guy has one great start doesn’t mean he’s the greatest thing in the world. I trusted Hendricks had returned after his opening day start and got burned for it. Whoops.
- I’d be careful trusting Aaron Civale right now – he sat two ticks down across the board over the weekend and doesn’t do quite enough to warrant the spot over a good streaming option.
- Sadly, Zach Eflin was walloped by the Marlins and now heads to Coors. That’s not a combination you want for your squads.
- I made some moves at the bottom of The List as Tier 12 is a large one – it’s just for guys I’d consider in the short term and not a whole lot more. Paul Blackburn and Justin Steele come to mind as guys who have performed well so far, but I don’t ultimately trust them for the year. We’re just hoping for a Vargas Rule for both. The same goes for Brad Keller’s ridiculous start to the season.
- David Peterson took over for the injured Taijuan Walker and displayed an extra tick of velocity across nearly five frames against the Diamondbacks. He gets them a second time this week and hey, that could work.
- Unlike my excitement in March 2021, I’m not really buying into Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon right now. Kluber is sitting under 90 mph at the moment, while Taillon is still struggling to earn whiffs on his secondary pitches. It’s not quite there for either arm.
- Welcome back Marco Gonzales, all it took was dominance against the strong Astros lineup. Do I think he’s destined for a strong run now? Nah, but I won’t rule it out completely.
- Some final adds to The List – Miles Mikolas showed up with seven strikeouts and could take full advantage of his St. Louis defense moving forward, Madison Bumgarner is at 91+ mph and had success at that velocity last year, and Michael Pineda makes his first start over the weekend. If he has his slider working, that could spell success.
- At #100, I like to select a fun name and for this week it’s Joan Adon from the Nationals. Adon’s next two starts are against the Diamondbacks and Marlins and with his mid-90s heater & solid slider, there’s a chance he provides value in both. The floor is awfully low, though, so be careful.
YOU SHOULD READ THE NOTES
Aces Gonna Ace
Playing Time Question
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)