Let me get this out of the way: some of these starts below might not even happen. Half of the Marlins are on IVs right now, COVID is about to spread like wildfire through the Cardinals locker room, the Nationals, Blue Jays, Phillies, and Brewers have also had some COVID scares themselves. 

Looking over these pitchers there’s a bunch of quality pitchers who had rough opening starts (Yu Darvish, Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Martinez) that I’m willing to overlook. Some of them already bounced back in their second starts — but I’m treating these early starts as extended spring training. I know there’s a lot of anxiety and pressure since this is a short season, but just be patient with your pitchers.  

This week I’m ranking these tiers by Animal Crossing villager popularity. (Ask your kids about this one.) 

 

Tier 1: Raymond 

Everyone adores this little cat with heterochromia. There’s an entire black market built around purchasing him for your village. 

 

Rank Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
1 Jacob deGrom NYM @ATL MIA
2 Walker Buehler LAD @SD SF
3 Charlie Morton TBR BOS NYY
4 Lucas Giolito CHW @MIL CLE
5 Luis Castillo CIN Cle @MIL

 

  • Walker Buehler is going to be slowly stretched out so by the time he faces the Giants he could be looking at 6 to 7 shutout innings. 
  • Morton looked a little better in his second start (5 IP, 2 ER, 7 Ks) as compared to his 4 inning, 6 ER game against the Blue Jays in their opener. I’m going to wipe away that first game as just an extra spring training game. He is my AL Cy Young pick after all. 
  • I didn’t make Luis Castillo my official NL Cy Young pick, but his first start against the Tigers made him look the part (6 IP, 7 baserunners, 11 Ks) but tonight he got whipped on by those same Tigers (6 IP, 5 ER.) It’s early, but the Cleveland Baseball team has the 23rd ranked OPS and the Brewers have the 25th. If their offenses are still waking up — he could have two solid starts. 

 

Tier 2: Marina 

An adorable, sweet, pink octopus. What’s not to love?

 

Rank Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
6 Chris Paddack SDP LAD ARI
7 Yu Darvish CHC KC @STL
8 Sonny Gray CIN CLE @MIL
9 Frankie Montas OAK TEX HOU
10 Jose Berrios MIN PIT @KC
11 Mike Soroka ATL NYM @PHI
12 Madison Bumgarner ARI HOU @SD
13 Matthew Boyd DET STL @PIT
14 Kyle Hendricks CHC @KC @STL
15 Max Fried ATL TOR @PHI

 

  • Maybe Paddack belongs in the top tier — but let’s see how he handles the Dodgers before I anoint him as such. However, the Diamondbacks have the second-worst OPS after the first week so that could be an easy start for him at home. 
  • Sonny Gray is your NL Cy Young so far in my book. 12.2 IP, 20 Ks, 1 ER? Money. Only allowed 2 base runners in his last 6 and ? inning start against the Cubs
  • Jose Berrios dares the easiest schedule of anyone on this list — the Pirates have a .171(!) team batting average through 6 games the Royals have been better than that (duh — Pirates are ranked dead last) — but still have a .228 team batting average. Huge week incoming. 
  • This is a great week for Matthew Boyd to get back on track. He faces the same Pirates I mentioned for Berrios, but he also gets the St. Louis Cardinals who’ve only scored 18 runs through 5 games. 

 

Tier 3: Butch. 

He’s fine — a run-of-the-mill grumpy brown dog. Wait — I think just described myself…

 

Rank Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
16 Joe Musgrove PIT @MIN DET
17 Rich Hill MIN PIT @KC
18 German Marquez COL SF @SEA
19 Andrew Heaney LAA @SEA @TEX
20 Nate Pearson TOR @ATL @BOS
21 Zach Plesac CLE @CIN @CWS
22 Carlos Martinez STL @DET CHC
23 Brady Singer KC @CHC MIN

 

  • There’s a true test this week for Nate Pearson who I know prospect-humpers want me to automatically elevate to top tier status. Let’s let him earn that against the Braves this week. 
  • Plesac should climb these rankings if he keeps up the performance he had against the White Sox on July 29th: 8 IP, 0 ER, 11 Ks. Nicholas Castellanos and the Reds have the 4th best OPS in the league, plus they’re playing in the Great American Ballpark. If he can still dominate in those conditions it’s him and teammate Shane Bieber as the AL Cy Young front runners. 
  • Carlos Martinez lit up by the Twins (many average pitchers will) so it’s good for him to get a bounceback game against the Tigers. His second game against the Cubs could be a tough one — they have the best slugging percentage among teams that have played over 5 games so far and that’s not some fluke number like how the Tigers have the most HRs in the league so far. Wait, what?!

 

Tier 4: Paula. 

She’s bland, she’s boring, yet has the audacity to be mean? Where do you get off Paula?!

 

Rank Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
24 Kyle Gibson TEX @OAK LAA
25 Josh Lindblom MIL CWS CIN
26 Justus Sheffield SEA @OAK COL
27 Zach Eflin PHI @MIA ATL
28 Pablo Lopez MIA PHI @NYM
29 Framber Valdez HOU @ARI @OAK
30 Carlos Rodon CHW @MIL CLE
31 Johnny Cueto SFG @COL @LAD
32 Kevin Gausman SFG @COL @LAD

 

  • Gibson had a solid first start (5 IP, 8 baserunners, 0 ER, 4 Ks) and now gets the Athletics (4th worst OPS so far) in the Oakland Coliseum (4th best pitcher park in 2019) and the Angels who should be without Mike Trout after the birth of his child (mazel tov!) 
  • Sheffield had a less than optimal first start against the Angels (3 IP, 4 ER,) but he now gets those same Athletics from above in the Oakland Coliseum and Rockies (5th worst OPS) in T-Mobile Park (10th best pitcher park.) 
  • Framber Valdez also gets those same Athletics in the Coliseum as Gibson & Sheffield — and he also gets the Diamondbacks (2nd worst OPS so far.) 
  • I want no part of Cueto and Gausman at Coors Field and away against the Dodgers. Bench them for both starts. 

 

Tier 5: Pietro 

So let me get this straight Nintendo. You took the animal kids are told to count in their sleep and made him a terrifying clown? What are you trying to do to these kids? 

 

Rank Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
33 Danny Duffy KC @CHC MIN
34 Daniel Mengden OAK SEA HOU
35 Ivan Nova DET STL @PIT
36 Derek Holland PIT @MIN DET
36 Justin Dunn SEA LAA COL

 

  • If you’re cherry-picking starts here I like Ivan Nova in Pittsburgh for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned — they’re dead last in team batting average, team OBP and team slugging percentage. 
  • I also like the guy he’s facing that day — Derek Holland (remember him?!) He had a respectable first game against the Brewers (5.2 IP, 5 base runners, 2 ER, 5 Ks.) His 0.5% ownership will also be even lower after he gets mollywhopped by the Twins in his first game of the week. 
 

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