May Starting Pitcher Rankings Update

Wow, I can’t believe we’re already a month into the season! A quick refresher on how I put these together. This is a narrower focus than just “rest of season” as I’ll be updating these every month. Pitching is just too volatile to have confidence in a single ranking set for more than 4-6 weeks at a time. The tiers are more important than the numerical ranking as they’ll guide the start/sit decisions more accurately.

I want to be clear that the Must-Starts aren’t automatically the best pitchers, but rather the guys that you can’t sit with any confidence. Do I really think that (spoiler alert!) Sean Manaea is the 27th-best starter for the rest of the season? I have hard time saying that, but there is no circumstance where I’d bench him right now.

Please leave your questions and comments below!

The tiers are as follows:

Must Start – Should be pretty obvious, but these are the guys who always start. Again, it isn’t just the very best guys. There are second and third tier arms in terms of market value that I’d start every time out. They don’t have an obvious split or weakness that would give you a better chance at picking off their poor starts. Some of them are “No Coors Field”-types, but it’s predominantly set it and forget it.

Usually Start – If “No Coors Field” is 30% with the MS group, it’s more like 60-70% with this group. You need to find a reason to sit them right now in most formats. You might feel like you can spot them properly, but we’re just not that precise in identifying when a solid arm will falter. These guys are good enough to thwart any opponent even on something less than their best day or they could get smacked by a weaker opponent. If you’re rostering them, you should probably be starting them.

Spot Start – Flawed talents. A lot of these guys are on the cusp of or have been in the Usually Start tier, but currently you’re looking to curate their starts a bit where you can. These guys might also be US tier arms here temporarily. Pay very close attention to gamelogs of pitchers, get a feel for how they arrived at their bottom line numbers. Not all ERAs are created equally and that’s why it’s not a gauge for future production, especially in small samples.

Could Start – I know many of you are dealing with some brutal pitching staff conditions right now after drafting a rotation you thought would be a strength, so you might find yourself in this tier a little more than you’d like. There is some talent to be plucked and the right two-start week could really set you up. This is essentially the Spot Star tier for single leagues or super-deep mixers (16+ teams).

Don’t Start – You don’t want to be here. This is when you start looking at middle relievers as the better option. You’ll see what I mean.

Injured – I find it hard/worthless to rank injured guys. I just think the outlook on injured players varies so much person-to-person that you can’t really use an injured player’s ranking for anything. I will identify the tier I’d put the injured guy in when healthy, though.

Minors – These guys aren’t in the majors. You needed that explanation, didn’t you?


May SP Update
1 Max Scherzer MS NL WAS
2 Clayton Kershaw MS NL LAD
3 Chris Sale MS AL BOS
4 Corey Kluber MS AL CLE
5 Justin Verlander MS AL HOU
6 Noah Syndergaard MS NL NYM
7 Jacob deGrom MS NL NYM
8 Gerrit Cole MS AL HOU
9 Luis Severino MS AL NYY
10 Stephen Strasburg MS NL WAS
11 Carlos Martinez MS NL STL
12 Aaron Nola MS NL PHI
13 James Paxton MS AL SEA
14 Carlos Carrasco MS AL CLE
15 Zack Greinke MS NL ARI
16 Charlie Morton MS AL HOU
17 Patrick Corbin MS NL ARI
18 Jose Berrios MS AL MIN
19 Zack Godley MS NL ARI
20 Yu Darvish MS NL CHC
21 Lance McCullers MS AL HOU
22 Dylan Bundy MS AL BAL
23 Trevor Bauer MS AL CLE
24 Masahiro Tanaka MS AL NYY
25 Jose Quintana MS NL CHC
26 J.A. Happ MS AL TOR
27 Sean Manaea MS AL OAK
28 David Price MS AL BOS
29 Blake Snell MS AL TB
30 Chris Archer MS AL TB
31 Rick Porcello MS AL BOS
32 Dallas Keuchel MS AL HOU
33 Tyson Ross MS NL SD
34 Shohei Ohtani US AL LAA
35 Garrett Richards US AL LAA
36 Nick Pivetta US NL PHI
37 Michael Fulmer US AL DET
38 Eduardo Rodriguez US AL BOS
39 Luis Castillo US NL CIN
40 Jake Arrieta US NL PHI
41 Mike Clevinger US AL CLE
42 Miles Mikolas US NL STL
43 Tanner Roark US NL WAS
44 Jameson Taillon US NL PIT
45 Jon Lester US NL CHC
46 Luke Weaver US NL STL
47 Alex Wood US NL LAD
48 Kenta Maeda US NL LAD
49 Kyle Hendricks US NL CHC
50 Gio Gonzalez US NL WAS
51 Tyler Skaggs SS AL LAA
52 Jeff Samardzija SS NL SF
53 Aaron Sanchez SS AL TOR
54 Mike Minor SS AL TEX
55 Jon Gray SS NL COL
56 Jake Faria SS AL TB
57 Joey Lucchesi SS NL SD
58 Kevin Gausman SS AL BAL
59 Marcus Stroman SS AL TOR
60 Marco Estrada SS AL TOR
61 Kyle Gibson SS AL MIN
62 Sonny Gray SS AL NYY
63 Drew Pomeranz SS AL BOS
64 Julio Teheran SS NL ATL
65 Michael Wacha SS NL STL
66 Chase Anderson SS NL MIL
67 Jakob Junis SS AL KC
68 Mike Soroka SS NL ATL
69 Nick Kingham SS NL PIT
70 German Marquez SS NL COL
71 Zack Wheeler SS NL NYM
72 Walker Buehler SS NL LAD
73 Trevor Cahill SS AL OAK
74 Cole Hamels SS AL TEX
75 Sean Newcomb SS NL ATL
76 Tyler Mahle SS NL CIN
77 Mike Foltynewicz SS NL ATL
78 Tyler Chatwood SS NL CHC
79 Junior Guerra SS NL MIL
80 Yonny Chirinos SS AL TB
81 Tyler Anderson SS NL COL
82 Reynaldo Lopez SS AL CWS
83 Vince Velasquez SS NL PHI
84 Danny Duffy SS AL KC
85 Chris Stratton SS NL SF
86 Dan Straily SS NL MIA
87 Jose Urena SS NL MIA
88 CC Sabathia SS AL NYY
89 Kyle Freeland SS NL COL
90 Ian Kennedy SS AL KC
92 Caleb Smith SS NL MIA
93 Felix Hernandez SS AL SEA
94 Ivan Nova SS NL PIT
95 Andrew Heaney SS AL LAA
96 Daniel Mengden SS AL OAK
97 Bartolo Colon SS AL TEX
98 Jarlin Garcia SS NL MIA
99 Brandon McCarthy SS NL ATL
100 Steven Matz SS NL NYM
101 Fernando Romero SS AL MIN
102 Jake Odorizzi CS AL MIN
103 Lance Lynn CS AL MIN
104 Andrew Triggs CS AL OAK
105 Mike Leake CS AL SEA
106 Ross Stripling CS NL LAD
107 Chad Bettis CS NL COL
108 Chad Kuhl CS NL PIT
109 Andrew Cashner CS AL BAL
110 Zach Davies CS NL MIL
111 Francisco Liriano CS AL DET
112 Jordan Zimmermann CS AL DET
113 Jaime Garcia CS AL TOR
114 Derek Holland CS NL SF
115 Doug Fister CS AL TEX
116 Marco Gonzales CS AL SEA
117 Jason Hammel CS AL KC
118 Eric Lauer CS NL SD
119 Jhoulys Chacin CS NL MIL
120 Matt Boyd CS AL DET
121 Lucas Giolito CS AL CWS
122 Mike Fiers CS AL DET
123 Wei-Yin Chen CS NL MIA
124 Hector Santiago CS AL CWS
125 Erasmo Ramirez CS AL SEA
126 Jason Vargas CS NL NYM
127 Brent Suter CS NL MIL
128 Trevor Williams CS NL PIT
129 Matt Koch CS NL ARI
130 Ty Blach CS NL SF
NR Madison Bumgarner IN/MS NL SF
NR Johnny Cueto IN/MS NL SF
NR Danny Salazar IN/MS AL CLE
NR Robbie Ray IN/MS NL ARI
NR Ervin Santana IN/MS AL MIN
NR Jimmy Nelson IN/MS NL MIL
NR Matt Shoemaker IN/US AL LAA
NR Jordan Montgomery IN/US AL NYY
NR Hyun Jin Ryu IN/US NL LAD
NR Nick Tropeano IN/US AL LAA
NR Alex Reyes IN/SS NL STL
NR Joe Musgrove IN/SS NL PIT
NR Steven Wright IN/SS AL BOS
NR Adam Wainwright IN/SS NL STL
NR Miguel Gonzalez IN/CS AL CWS
NR Martin Perez IN/CS AL TEX
NR Chris Tillman DS AL BAL
NR Alex Cobb DS AL BAL
NR Carson Fulmer DS AL CWS
NR James Shields DS AL CWS
NR Josh Tomlin DS AL CLE
NR Eric Skoglund DS AL KC
NR Phil Hughes DS AL MIN
NR Kendall Graveman DS AL OAK
NR Matt Moore DS AL TEX
NR Dillon Peters DS NL MIA
NR Zach Eflin DS NL PHI
NR Jeremy Hellickson DS NL WAS
NR Kris Medlen DS NL ARI
NR Homer Bailey DS NL CIN
NR Sal Romano DS NL CIN
NR Brandon Finnegan DS NL CIN
NR Clayton Richard DS NL SD
NR Bryan Mitchell DS NL SD
NR Jack Flaherty RK NL STL
NR Michael Kopech RK AL BOS
NR Mitch Keller RK NL PIT
NR Luiz Gohara RK NL ATL
NR Anthony Banda RK AL TB
NR Matt Wisler RK NL ATL
NR Max Fried RK NL ATL
NR Jalen Beeks RK AL BOS
NR Shane Bieber RK AL CLE
NR Justus Sheffield RK AL NYY
NR Dillon Tate RK AL NYY
NR Austin Voth RK NL WAS

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Trey Baughn

Gotta bump Price out of that MS group, no?
Alex Wood seems criminally underrated, always…