Weekly Starter Rankings: Opening Weekend

For the 60-game season, I’m going to rank the starters each week by their probable matchup(s). This will be different than my standard longer-term rankings as it will be hyper-focused on the week ahead. As such a solid two-start arm (of which there are none this time around since I’m focusing solely on the upcoming Thursday-Sunday run) with good matchups will slot above a superstar ace in a one-start week, though you’ll likely not be pressed to choose between the two. The decisions will likely wind up on the fringes when you’re deciding between your last starter and another reliever. Talent will still matter, but matchups can create some separation in the short term.

Here’s what I’ve got based on the probable SP lists and notes I’ve gone over thus far. Let me know if someone I have listed is for sure not starting this weekend.

The notes will always be sporadic throughout the chart as I won’t always have something to say about every single arm.

Opening Week SP Rankings
PITCHER TEAM OPP(s) NOTE
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD SF Owns SF in career w/a 1.74 career ERA in 342.3 IP (2.37 last yr)
2 Justin Verlander HOU SEA
3 Mike Clevinger CLE KC ClevDog is 9-0 in 12 career starts v. KC
4 Luis Castillo CIN DET Great matchup boosts Castillo & Gray for this wknd
5 Sonny Gray CIN DET
6 Shane Bieber CLE KC
7 Gerrit Cole NYY at WAS Tough first gm but obviously an auto-start
8 Jack Flaherty STL PIT Allowed 1 ER in 15 IP w/18 K v. PIT last yr
9 Jacob deGrom NYM ATL Back soreness said to be fine after side work on Tues.
10 Max Scherzer WAS NYY Tough matchup but Scherzer & Stras are still mega-stud autostarts
11 Stephen Strasburg WAS NYY
12 Aaron Nola PHI MIA Likely to open MIA, at NYY, at MIA
13 Zack Greinke HOU SEA Should be fully ramped up for the weekend
14 Trevor Bauer CIN DET I’m lower on him than most, but he opens w/DET twice
15 Charlie Morton TB TOR
16 Carlos Carrasco CLE KC Looking healthy & ready to go w/a cushy first matchup
17 Jose Berrios MIN at CWS
18 Yu Darvish CHC MIL 5 ER in final tuneup could net a draft day discount this wk
19 Blake Snell TB TOR Could wind up on Monday v. ATL, stay tuned
20 Frankie Montas OAK LAA Opens w/3 straight home starts (LAA, COL, TEX)
21 Lucas Giolito CWS MIN Big first matchup in his follow up to last year’s elite breakout
22 Kyle Hendricks CHC MIL
23 Lance McCullers Jr. HOU SEA Capable of being an ace on a per-inning basis
24 Shohei Ohtani LAA at OAK Sundays are his day so an easy start in the short week
25 Corey Kluber TEX COL Up to 98 pitches in latest tuneup
26 Zack Wheeler PHI MIA Some uncertainty around his season, but use him while he’s here
27 Chris Paddack SD ARI
28 Brandon Woodruff MIL at CHC MIL ace will max out on starts pitching from the 1-spot
29 Lance Lynn TEX COL
30 Ross Stripling LAD SF Ramped up and ready to go at six innings
31 James Paxton NYY at WAS
32 Hyun Jin Ryu 류현진 TOR at TB Boost in home park if they do make PNC their temporary home
33 Julio Urías LAD SF Threw 5 IP in final tuneup, should be ready to go as a normal SP
34 Alex Wood LAD SF Also looks ready to go after 89-pitch final tuneup
35 Joe Musgrove PIT at STL
36 Kenta Maeda MIN at CWS Not easy matchup, but the Sox aren’t an avoid lineup for good arms
37 Zac Gallen ARI at SD
38 Mike Soroka ATL at NYM Dominated on road last yr: 1.55 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in 98.7 IP
39 Robbie Ray ARI at SD
40 Madison Bumgarner ARI at SD
41 Max Fried ATL at NYM Rumors of piggybacking seem to have died on the vine
42 Mike Minor TEX COL
43 Garrett Richards SD ARI Has at COL at v. LAD after opening week start
44 Germán Márquez COL at TEX Opens w/2 road starts before a pair at home v. SD & SF
45 Jake Odorizzi MIN at CWS Monitor mild back stiffness in the lead up to lineup lock
46 Nathan Eovaldi BOS BAL Has top spot in BOS rotation w/Sale inj. & E-Rod COVID
47 Mitch Keller PIT at STL
48 Corbin Burnes MIL at CHC B.Anderson blister guarantees early spot for Burnes
49 Matthew Boyd DET at CIN HR pitcher in a HR park could be trouble v. this strong lineup
50 Jon Gray COL at TEX Weirdly always been better at home, but I’d still start him here
51 Ryan Yarbrough TB TOR Hit 87 pitches in final start, should have 5-6 IP in arm for debut
52 Andrew Heaney LAA at OAK
53 Marcus Stroman NYM ATL
54 Dylan Bundy LAA at OAK Maybe a week 2 sit w/HOU on the docket
55 Sandy Alcantara MIA at PHI Gets at BAL and v. PHI after this open; solid short-term investment
56 Sean Manaea OAK LAA
57 Caleb Smith MIA at PHI See also: Alcantara comment
58 Dinelson Lamet SD ARI Could face 7 lefties/switchies here (221-pt OPS platoon split)
59 Dallas Keuchel CWS MIN Crafty vet who I think might be too slept on
60 Danny Duffy KC at CLE
61 Freddy Peralta MIL at CHC Could be Lindblom in this spot, stay tuned before starting either
62 Dakota Hudson STL PIT Solid matchup, but don’t trust last yr’s 3.35 ERA at all
63 Spencer Turnbull DET at CIN Love the talent but at CIN, v. CIN, at STL to start is tooouuugghhh
64 Reynaldo López CWS MIN Still love the talent, but this is a brutal opener
65 Matt Shoemaker TOR at TB Brutal trio to open the yr: at TB, v. WAS, at ATL
66 Mike Montgomery KC at CLE
67 Adam Wainwright STL PIT Had 3.41 ERA and 1.28 WHIP v. PIT in 5 starts last yr
68 Martín Pérez BOS BAL Solid last pick in deep lgs specifically for this start
69 Brady Singer KC at CLE Eager to see the rookie debut, but can’t start him in fantasy just yet
70 Jake Arrieta PHI MIA Don’t sleep on MIA as a moderately tough matchup
71 Jeff Samardzija SF at LAD
72 Johnny Cueto SF at LAD
73 Sean Newcomb ATL at NYM IP likely to be managed for at least first few starts
74 Marco Gonzales SEA at HOU I like all 3 SEA SPs a bit, but not w/a trip to HOU
75 Taijuan Walker SEA at HOU
76 Yusei Kikuchi SEA at HOU
77 Tanner Roark TOR at TB Likely going 4 IP on Saturday
78 Kyle Freeland COL at TEX
79 Mike Fiers OAK LAA Always good for a handful of gems, but timing them is hard
80 Kevin Gausman SF at LAD Nervous to trust him as an SP again
81 Trevor Williams PIT at STL
82 Michael King NYY at WAS Could be the opener for Loaisiga, who I like a lot
83 Drew Smyly SF at LAD
84 José Ureña MIA at PHI
85 Ryan Weber BOS BAL Maybe an AL-only play if you’re desperate
86 Rick Porcello NYM ATL
87 Tyler Chatwood CHC MIL
88 Alex Cobb BAL at BOS
89 Tommy Milone BAL at BOS
90 Wade LeBlanc BAL at BOS
91 Iván Nova DET at CIN

We hoped you liked reading Weekly Starter Rankings: Opening Weekend by Paul Sporer!

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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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Ross
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Ross

Nice list. Carlos Martinez ?