All things being equal the top 60 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball is around the 150th overall range to about 225th overall. This is your number three to fourth starters. Of course it could be your first starter and you’ve punted everything accidentally by oversleeping your draft. Wipe that sweat off your brow and grab the Streamonator! Here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Also, you can get Rudy’s downloadable War Room by subscribing early to the Razzball Tools. As always, where I see tiers starting and stopping are included with my projections. Anyway, here’s the top 60 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball:
NOTE: All 2021 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games. Also, it’s based on the DH not being used in the NL, and will be until we hear different.
NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. Also, we’re giving away spots in the RazzSlam to ten Patreons.
NOTE III: Free agents outside the top 100 are not yet written up or projected. They are approximately ranked, obviously subject to change.
41. Chris Bassitt – This tier started in the top 40 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball. This tiers ends at Alcantara. I called this tier, “Sideways bosom.” As for Bassitt, already gave you my Chris Bassitt sleeper. It was written while trying to touch my toes. 2021 Projections: 12-8/3.49/1.18/156 in 162 IP
42. Sandy Alcantara – We (I) have a real problem. I (we) love Marlins starters. When did they get so sexy? Not to answer but to quietly hold my hand–Figuratively! Get off my hand! Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Sixto Sanchez–Shoot, give me Elieser Hernandez in all leagues and let’s boogie like we’ve never boogied before, which involves a chair and three midget clowns in Altuve jerseys. Like real sick twisted mind, David Lynch shizz! Oh, and Trevor Rogers might be the one with the most upside, but easily has the most downside, and I’m not sure if he’s going to stay in the rotation for 80 IP. I did an exploration of self thinking about Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer, but maybe I’ll leave those for late-round picks in deep leagues, and my top 100 starters. So, therefore, ergo, vis-a-vis, Sandy Alcantara, who sounds like an Italian singer my grandfather would’ve loved. Yes, past tense. He passed away last year. My grandfather lived a good life to almost 93, so…*through sobs* I’m…*honks nose with Kleenex*…okay. Last year, the Italian impresario, Sandy Alcantara went 42 IP, putting up 8.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 4.04 xFIP. If that were his ceiling, he wouldn’t be here. But it’s not. Sandy Alcantara hasn’t connected fully yet, but I love pitchers entering their third full year in the majors, and that should be 2021, if last year was his second, and not his third, because it was only a partial year, and he had one of those previously, sandwiching a 197 1/3 IP season. In his 197 1/3 IP season, it was a 6.9 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 5.17 xFIP smoke show, and I don’t think I’m using smoke show correctly. Alcantara works off a 97 MPH fastball, and it was the 13th best in the majors last year, generating 27.9% K%. The 12 guys above him were all great, except J.A. Happ, who was surprising passable last year. I couldn’t generate enough enthusiasm to write a sleeper for Alcantara, but I can generate it to draft him around here. 2021 Projections: 9-11/3.63/1.18/170 in 182 IP
43. Tyler Mahle – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Eovaldi. I call this tier, “Got tix for your team’s home opener.” This tier is you being optimistic. This tier is you chasing bliss, but there’s a chance you’ll never get there. If the last tier was mostly 7-8 K/9 guys who didn’t feel that risky. This tier is slightly different. They’re potentially higher strikeout guys, but with a higher level of risk. In other words, the safety of the bosom doesn’t feel as strong with them. They’re friends of the bosom. Call ’em Bosom Buddies. In general terms, these guys are risky number threes, high number fours. As for Mahle, already gave you my Tyler Mahle sleeper. It had too much to eat and felt uncomfortable enough to keep telling everyone for almost two hours after dinner how stuffed it was. 2021 Projections: 9-11/3.89/1.27/174 in 151 IP
Pirates, “You don’t want to be a part of what we started here?”
Musgrove, “What did you start here?”
“A tax write-off.”
So, here we Joe again. I can’t stop nomnomnom’ing his peripherals. Last year, he upped his curveball usage to 20% from 9%. Maybe it was due to the short season, and feeling like it wouldn’t cause his arm to fall off, but MAYBE — yes, caps — it was him figuring out the pitch mix for the best results. Since he exceeded all expectations last year as far as Ks and xFIP, and easily had his best “season,” I’m back in with all the usual Musgrovings. Also, Coolwhip gave you his Joe Musgrove fantasy. I concur fully. 2021 Projections: 11-9/3.81/1.23/161 in 152 IP
46. Marco Gonzales – Marco…Gonzo! Could be a future Kyle Hendricks or will look like a terrible draft pick by this time next year. Meaning: There’s no upside here. The best outcome is a safe number three. The down side is, well, how much time you got? If he loses too much of his impeccable control, he could be very difficult to own. If he maintains it, I can’t see an ERA much north of 4.00, and likely much lower than that. I originally had him in the above tier, but when the Mariners announced they would go with a six-man rotation, I took 30 IP off Marco’s line, and bumped him down to this tier, so he doesn’t quite fit with the other guys in this tier having potentially higher strikeout numbers, but you’ll get over it. 2021 Projections: 9-8/3.56/1.10/126 in 149 IP
48. Zack Greinke – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until German. I call this tier, “Ordering blood pudding for dessert.”
“Sometimes referred to as black pudding.”
“Hey, I was a goth in high school, I’ll have that.”
The waiter brings over a sausage.
“Whoa, a dessert sausage. How cool.” Takes a bite, “Um, what is this?”
Vomits for twenty-five minutes then, “Check please.”
That’s this tier. As for Greinke, I haven’t wanted to draft him for the last five or so years, which backfired more than it paid off, but hey, throw enough crappy projections of Greinke against the wall, and eventually you’re right. Greinke makes me as mad as Chipotle raising guacamole prices thirty cents upsets him. 2021 Projections: 10-10/4.21/1.10/163 in 177 IP
49. Frankie Montas – Do I like Frankie Montas? Yes, no, maybe. I don’t know. Can you repeat the question? *insert shot of Frankie Montas getting punched by his brother Reese, then a PEDs shot into his butt* So, question this year prolly same as last year, is the juice discount worth the squeeze? Yes, no, maybe. I don’t know. Can you repeat the question? Thinking Frankie Montas wasn’t right at any point last year. He suffered from back tightness, and he pitched miserably after that. Velocity was off, and he got hit around for six straight starts. How’sever, he also has only one outstanding 96 IP stretch in the majors, where he was on the juice, so again…Yes, no, maybe. I don’t know. Can you repeat the question? 2021 Projections: 9-11/3.91/1.21/148 in 142 IP
50. David Price – As of this moment…right now this one moment…this here moment…this…moment–Okay, I’m trying to stall long enough to see if we get news on whether David Price will actually pitch this year. My guess is he will, but who knows and I wouldn’t draft him anyway. No matter the price, David or otherwise. 2021 Projections: 9-7/4.02/1.26/131 in 128 IP
51. Mike Soroka – Had an unfortunate injury last year to his Achilles, but is fully healed and now Achilles is on the phone with his trainer, “Hey, Achilles here…Yeah, the guy from the Trojan War…So, what was Soroka’s secret?” I wish Soroka well, and might be back in on him in 2022, but, yeah, that’s a woof from me dawg for this year. 2021 Projections: 11-9/4.07/1.23/126 in 156 IP
52. German Marquez – The Nazi in Exile remains in exile for me for all his remaining days on the Rockies. Trade him to the Padres and watch as my vulture wings expand like an accordion being played by Weird Al as I swoop down on him. You want German, watch Dark on Netflix. You want German Marquez, I don’t understand how you could not have enough angst in your life that you need more. 2021 Projections: 9-10/4.12/1.29/184 in 181 IP
53. Charlie Morton – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Elieser. I call this tier, “Dorf on Golf Presents: Fore!” This tier is filled with fourth starters who could go way wide of their intended target. I’m drafting them, but there’s a reason these guys aren’t number twos or threes. As for Morton, here’s what I said this offseason, “Signed with the Braves. Dude and five lady dudes, the Braves are just making smart move after smart move for real baseball. You can never have too much “easy innings from veteran arms.” For fantasy, well…Last year, Morton had a 10 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and .401 xFIP in 38 IP, but his velocity was down, and he had a shoulder injury that wrecked havoc on his numbers. But, Part II: Deeper Into The But, it was a weird year. But, Part III: Can You Believe They Made A Third But?, he’s 37 years old. If the price is fair, I could see drafting Morton again, but I have less faith in him now than last year. The shoulder issue is a concern.” And that’s me quoting me! 2021 Projections: 9-6/3.84/1.16/128 in 118 IP
54. Aaron Civale – Ya know how no one has ever been inside The Old Spaghetti Factory but somehow it stays in business? Well, I recently donned a t-shirt that read, “Berlusconi was framed,” and added an “a” to the end of all my words as I ventured inside. I said to the host, “I-a need-a table-a, mama mia,” and as I held the menu up, I peered around the side to see in the back kitchen of The Old Spaghetti Factory they were actually assembling starting pitchers for Cleveland. It’s not The Old Spaghetti Factory at all, it’s The Cleveland Starting Pitcher Factory. Breaking this news here, because PBS’s Frontline won’t return my calls. Since Aaron-a Civale was assembled in The Cleveland Starting Pitcher Factory, I’ve ranked him in a favorable tier, and would draft him if he were still around this late, but he might not be, and that’s okay. His 7.5 K/9, solid command, low-4 xFIP has too many meatballs left in his repertoire from the Factory’s previous owners. 2021 Projections: 8-10/4.03/1.17/131 in 152 IP
55. Marcus Stroman – I’ve never done this before, but last year was unlike any year before, so I want you to read my Marcus Stroman sleeper from last year and say with me, “Same, same, same, same, but different year, and a tad different projections because he missed last year.” Ah, tut-tut-tut, I didn’t say Simon says, it’s what I says about Stroman. “I says” because now I’m obviously at The Foghorn Leghorn Factory. 2021 Projections: 10-9/3.77/1.28/148 in 152 IP
56. Jordan Montgomery – I’ve seen him drafted higher, and, while I like him, I couldn’t move him up. He’s thrown roughly 75 IP in the last three years. No fault of his own, of course. But I’m not docking him for fault. I’m docking him because how is he going to throw 160+ IP this year? Because he came close in 2017? That’s a reach, like Altuve getting down the cereal. I’d love to see Montgomery get 130 IP, and that would be as glorious as someone feeding me grape-flavored apples from a vine. Why do we care? He’s a near-60 grade command guy who could be a 9 K/9. 9 K/9 plus 1.75 BB/9 or lower is the most butter you’re getting. Yo, are you Bieber? Shane, not the other one. Wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a great first half, then the Yankees trade for someone and Jo-Mo is no mo’ for 2021, as they throttle his innings. 2021 Projections: 9-6/3.56/1.21/128 in 131 IP
57. Ryan Yarbrough – As much as Kyle Hendricks is such a third starter that his picture should be next to it in the dictionary, Yarbrough is that for fourth starters. He doesn’t get the same love for whatever reason, and even I’m guilty of it, since he prolly should’ve led off this tier vs. batting in the five hole. A 7.3 K/9, 1-something BB/9 is a 4th starter. I get it, you have concerns about the Opener. I have concerns if there’s no Opener. Give me Yarbrough from the 2nd thru 6th inning every fifth day and I’m more than happy. This is another case where I’d watch his ADP closely, because you may not need to draft Yarbrough for another ten or twenty starters. Also, Coolwhip reaffirms my reaffirming with his Ryan Yarbrough fantasy. 2021 Projections: 10-9/3.71/1.08/128 in 152 IP
58. Elieser Hernandez – Love me some Elieser, and, again, can I draft all Marlins starters? Are there rules in my league against that? There is? Then I want a new league. Only thing stopping me from ranking Elieser even higher is he threw 25 2/3 IP last year. Almost a full season of innings! Only thing worse than drafting starters for 2021 is going to be drafting starters for 2022, when a few of these guys are going to go from a 30 IP season to a 140 IP season back to “I woke up and lost feeling in my arm, then I saw my arm had fallen into my dog’s water bowl, which explains why I peed the bed.” Elieser had a 11.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 3.54 xFIP last year, which, even as a fan, I have to admit is goofy. The command should be there to a lesser degree. Not awful, not 1.8. He’s a 91 MPH fastball guy who relies on his slider. Basically, a two-pitch pitcher, which means so much less than a lot of fantasy ‘perts pretend it does. Use logic: If one of the pitches is great, then he throws that pitch. Pitchers are only throwing one pitch at a time. Look at Sean Manaea, he added two pitches, and had a terrible year. Give me a guy who throws one pitch 40% of the time and gets a .114 BAA, and I’ll take it as my four starter all day and twice on Muesday, that magical day between Monday and Tuesday. Can Elieser be an ace? Maybe here and there, but I’m not asking that of him. I don’t ask anything of my boo-baes, I just let them hang with me. 2021 Projections: 7-9/3.64/1.22/127 in 124 IP
59. Dallas Keuchel – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until the top 80 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball. I call this tier, “Flavor town.” This isn’t Flavor Town, the home town of Guy Frieri, but this is an instruction to flavor a town, because the town is too bland. That’s these guys. Too bland, and I have no interest. As for Keuchel, people are seriously drafting this schmohawk or am I looking at last year’s ADP? I think I know what’s going on. Everyone’s bored and wants to travel, but can’t so you’re just drafting city names. “Hey, look I’m in Dallas.” No, you’re drafting a guy with that name. This is fantasy baseball, but you’ve lost grip with reality. 2021 Projections: 11-9/4.14/1.30/136 in 184 IP
60. Andrew Heaney – I ain’t got time for bird sex and I ain’t got time for 29-year-old pitchers who have promise and a career 4.44 ERA in 504 2/3 IP innings. Sorry, I now there’s a lot of Heaney stans, or Stangels, and just dismissing him feels shortsighted, but think about how we all would’ve done the last seven years of his career if we just dismissed him. Nice peripherals and five dollars doesn’t walk the dog, take out the trash or shut the lights off when someone comes to the door so we can pretend no one’s home. 2021 Projections: 8-9/4.07/1.26/141 in 138 IP