Weekly Pitcher Rankings: Kicking Off the 2017 Season

Weekly Pitcher Rankings: Kicking Off the 2017 Season

This article is part of our Weekly Pitcher Rankings series.

Welcome to the inaugural 2017 edition of the Weekly Pitching Rankings. For the next 25 weeks, we'll rank the probable starting pitchers in terms of how much they'll help your rotisserie team. Since most leagues wrap opening day Sunday into the first scoring period, we're doing the same here.

One of the hardest aspects of managing a pitching staff is deciding between a two-start, lesser option and a better arm with just one game. Later in the season, the choice could be driven by needs: wins and whiffs versus ratios. Early on, you're likely looking for the candidate with the better across-the-board potential. These rankings are designed to facilitate that process.

We start with a baseline based on the hurlers rest-of-season projection. This is adjusted for matchup, considering the opponent, home versus away and the venue. Much like what is done for daily DFS projections, a per game projection is generated for each start, based on the specific opponent. Pitchers with two starts have the components summed, yielding their expected projection for the week.

Most leagues use rotisserie scoring, so the pitchers are ranked rotisserie style, using the standard 5x5 categories, less saves. Wins are projected in terms of decimals. If a pitcher is projected with a 47 percent chance of winning, his win projection is .47. If he has a second start with a 39 percent chance, his win projection for the week is .86. This is done for strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.

The ratios are tricky since their

Welcome to the inaugural 2017 edition of the Weekly Pitching Rankings. For the next 25 weeks, we'll rank the probable starting pitchers in terms of how much they'll help your rotisserie team. Since most leagues wrap opening day Sunday into the first scoring period, we're doing the same here.

One of the hardest aspects of managing a pitching staff is deciding between a two-start, lesser option and a better arm with just one game. Later in the season, the choice could be driven by needs: wins and whiffs versus ratios. Early on, you're likely looking for the candidate with the better across-the-board potential. These rankings are designed to facilitate that process.

We start with a baseline based on the hurlers rest-of-season projection. This is adjusted for matchup, considering the opponent, home versus away and the venue. Much like what is done for daily DFS projections, a per game projection is generated for each start, based on the specific opponent. Pitchers with two starts have the components summed, yielding their expected projection for the week.

Most leagues use rotisserie scoring, so the pitchers are ranked rotisserie style, using the standard 5x5 categories, less saves. Wins are projected in terms of decimals. If a pitcher is projected with a 47 percent chance of winning, his win projection is .47. If he has a second start with a 39 percent chance, his win projection for the week is .86. This is done for strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.

The ratios are tricky since their impact is in accordance with the number of projected innings for the week. To account for this, ERA and WHIP are converted to counting stats in the same manner that's utilized in conventional valuation. The pitcher's projected ratio is subtracted from a baseline ratio. This is then multiplied by the number of projected innings for the week. The baseline is the league average ratio. As an example, using a 3.80 ERA as the baseline, a starter projected for a 3.00 ERA over six innings is awarded 4.8 points. The difference in ERA is .80, which is multiplied by six. By converting the ratio to a counting stat, the effect of the innings can be quantified.

We now have a projection for the four categories. All that's left is assigning points, rotisserie style. This week there are 145 scheduled starting pitchers. The one projected with the highest total in each category gets 145 points, working down to one point for the lowest. The points are summed and the pitchers ranked.

Some play in points leagues or formats with non-standard categories. Obviously, we can't cater to every possibility. However, I'm happy to answer league-specific questions in the comments.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

RANK PITCHER TEAM OPPONENT COMMENT
1 Corey Kluber CLE at TEX, at ARI Couple of tough road venues
2 Chris Archer TB NYY, TOR Two home starts nice way to kick off rebound campaign
3 Masahiro Tanaka NYY at TB, at BAL Ace at a torn UCL discount
4 Yu Darvish TEX CLE, OAK We sure love our whiffs
5 Jose Quintana CWS DET, MIN Auditioning for a deal?
6 Danny Duffy KC at MIN, at HOU Popular breakout candidate
7 Justin Verlander DET at CWS, BOS Kate was right
8 Rick Porcello BOS PIT, at DET You shouldn't have won the Cy Young
9 Jake Odorizzi TB NYY, TOR Tough foes, but at home
10 Matt Shoemaker LAA at OAK, SEA Will he maintain the strikeout gains?
11 Kevin Gausman BAL TOR, NYY No easy starts in the AL East
12 Marco Estrada TOR at BAL, at TB Can he continue to sport low BABIP?
13 Dallas Keuchel HOU SEA, KC Looking to put 2016 behind
14 Lance McCullers HOU SEA, KC Sick stuff, all about health
15 Sean Manaea OAK LAA, at TEX Stud in the making
16 Ervin Santana MIN KC, at CWS Sneaky strong play in Week 1
17 Chris Sale BOS PIT Too early in the season to wear throwback unis
18 Felix Hernandez SEA at HOU, at LAA Don't write The King off just yet
19 Ricky Nolasco LAA at OAK, SEA
20 Cole Hamels TEX CLE
21 Danny Salazar CLE at TEX
22 Garrett Richards LAA at OAK
23 Carlos Carrasco CLE at TEX Ranking dropped due to limited inning expectation
24 Drew Pomeranz BOS at DET
25 Marcus Stroman TOR at TB
26 Jharel Cotton OAK LAA
27 Joe Musgrove HOU SEA
28 Michael Pineda NYY at TB
29 Hisashi Iwakuma SEA at HOU, at LAA
30 Ian Kennedy KC at MIN
31 Steven Wright BOS at DET
32 Jason Hammel KC at MIN
33 Andrew Triggs OAK LAA
34 Matt Andriese TB TOR
35 Martin Perez TEX CLE, OAK
36 Michael Fulmer DET BOS
37 Blake Snell TB TOR
38 Josh Tomlin CLE at ARI
39 Francisco Liriano TOR at TB
40 Jordan Zimmermann DET at CWS
41 Miguel Gonzalez CWS MIN
42 Alex Cobb TB NYY
43 CC Sabathia NYY at TB, at BAL
44 James Paxton SEA at HOU
45 Kendall Graveman OAK LAA, at TEX
46 Drew Smyly SEA at HOU
47 Dylan Covey CWS MIN
48 Eduardo Rodriguez BOS PIT
49 Trevor Bauer CLE at ARI
50 Dylan Bundy BAL TOR
51 J.A. Happ TOR at BAL
52 Daniel Norris DET at CWS
53 Charlie Morton HOU SEA
54 Luis Severino NYY at BAL
55 Nathan Karns KC at HOU
56 Tyler Skaggs LAA at OAK Improved defense a big help
57 Matt Boyd DET BOS
58 Jason Vargas KC at HOU
59 Phil Hughes MIN at CWS
60 Ubaldo Jimenez BAL NYY
61 James Shields CWS DET
62 Derek Holland CWS DET
63 Jesse Chavez LAA SEA
64 A.J. Griffin TEX OAK
65 Yovani Gallardo SEA at LAA
66 Tyler Duffey MIN at CWS
67 Mike Fiers HOU KC
68 Wade Miley BAL NYY
69 Hector Santiago MIN KC
70 Kyle Gibson MIN KC
71 Raul Alcantara OAK at TEX


NATIONAL LEAGUE

Rank Pitcher TEAM Opponent(s) Comments
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD SD, at COL Nice to balance a Coors start with one at home
2 Noah Syndergaard NYM ATL, MIA Set up for a great opening week
3 Madison Bumgarner SF at ARI, at SD Mr. Reliable
4 Stephen Strasburg WAS MIA, at PHI Is this the year he stays healthy?
5 Jon Lester CHC at MIL, at STL Look for Brewers to run wild
6 Johnny Cueto SF at ARI, at SD Steady as they come
7 Carlos Martinez STL CHC, CIN A pair at home in what should be a big year
8 Julio Teheran ATL at NYM, at PIT Take the over on last year's seven wins
9 Zack Greinke ARI SF, CLE Needs to get off to a strong start
10 Max Scherzer WAS MIA May not get two starts until Week 3
11 Zach Davies MIL COL, CHC Pounds the zone
12 Rich Hill LAD SD A blisterless spring!
13 Gerrit Cole PIT at BOS, ATL Spring velocity promising, will be tested right away
14 Jacob deGrom NYM ATL Strong spring has Mets fans optimistic
15 Jake Arrieta CHC at STL Needs to get back to pinpoint control
16 Kyle Hendricks CHC at MIL Wants to work deeper into games. We'll see.
17 Jeremy Hellickson PHI at CIN, WAS
18 Kenta Maeda LAD SD, at COL
19 Joe Ross WAS at PHI
20 Tyler Anderson COL at MIL, LAD
21 Tanner Roark WAS MIA
22 Junior Guerra MIL COL, CHC
23 Tyler Chatwood COL at MIL
24 John Lackey CHC at STL
25 Matt Harvey NYM ATL
26 Jon Gray COL at MIL, LAD
27 Robert Gsellman NYM MIA
28 Michael Wacha STL CIN Can he stay healthy?
29 Robbie Ray ARI SF, CLE
30 Vince Velasquez PHI WAS
31 Lance Lynn STL CHC
32 Brandon Finnegan CIN PHI
33 Edinson Volquez MIA at WAS, at NYM
34 Gio Gonzalez WAS at PHI
35 Scott Feldman CIN PHI, at STL
36 Ivan Nova PIT ATL
37 Clay Buchholz PHI at CIN
38 Aaron Nola PHI WAS
39 Jhoulys Chacin SD at LAD, SF
40 Chad Kuhl PIT at BOS
41 Jered Weaver SD at LAD, SF Lowest rated two-start option
42 Wei-Yin Chen MIA at NYM
43 Tyler Glasnow PIT ATL
44 Jerad Eickhoff PHI at CIN
45 Taijuan Walker ARI SF
46 Jeff Samardzija SF at ARI
47 Zack Wheeler NYM MIA
48 Mike Leake STL CIN
49 Jaime Garcia ATL at NYM
50 Shelby Miller ARI CLE
51 Matt Moore SF at ARI
52 Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD at COL Good news is you made the rotation, bad news is Coors
53 Bartolo Colon ATL at NYM Let's hope he goes to the right dugout
54 Mike Foltynewicz ATL at PIT
55 Brett Anderson CHC at MIL
56 Jameson Taillon PIT at BOS
57 Brandon McCarthy LAD SD
58 Adam Wainwright STL CHC
59 Adam Conley MIA at NYM
60 Trevor Cahill SD at LAD
61 Jimmy Nelson MIL CHC
62 R.A. Dickey ATL at PIT
63 Chase Anderson MIL COL
64 Rookie Davis CIN PHI
65 Patrick Corbin ARI SF
66 Wily Peralta MIL COL
67 Matt Cain SF at SD
68 Dan Straily MIA at WAS
69 Clayton Richard SD at LAD
70 Bronson Arroyo CIN at STL
71 Amir Garrett CIN at STL
72 Tom Koehler MIA at WAS
73 Antonio Senzatela COL at MIL Impressive spring, can he do it when it counts?
74 Luis Perdomo SD SF
75 Kyle Freeland COL at MIL


MLB TOP 100

RANK PITCHER TEAM OPPONENT COMMENT
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD SD, at COL Nice to balance a Coors start with one at home
2 Noah Syndergaard NYM ATL, MIA Set up for a great opening week
3 Madison Bumgarner SF at ARI, at SD Mr. Reliable
4 Stephen Strasburg WAS MIA, at PHI Is this the year he stays healthy?
5 Jon Lester CHC at MIL, at STL Look for Brewers to run wild
6 Corey Kluber CLE at TEX, at ARI Couple of tough road venues
7 Johnny Cueto SF at ARI, at SD Steady as they come
8 Chris Archer TB NYY, TOR Two home starts nice way to kick off rebound campaign
9 Masahiro Tanaka NYY at TB, at BAL Ace at a torn UCL discount
10 Yu Darvish TEX CLE, OAK We sure love our whiffs
11 Carlos Martinez STL CHC, CIN A pair at home in what should be a big year
12 Jose Quintana CWS DET, MIN Auditioning for a deal?
13 Danny Duffy KC at MIN, at HOU Popular breakout candidate
14 Justin Verlander DET at CWS, BOS Kate was right
15 Rick Porcello BOS PIT, at DET You shouldn't have won the Cy Young
16 Jake Odorizzi TB NYY, TOR Tough foes, but at home
17 Julio Teheran ATL at NYM, at PIT Take the over on last year's seven wins
18 Matt Shoemaker LAA at OAK, SEA Will he maintain the strikeout gains?
19 Kevin Gausman BAL TOR, NYY No easy starts in the AL East
20 Marco Estrada TOR at BAL, at TB Can he continue to sport low BABIP?
21 Zack Greinke ARI SF, CLE Needs to get off to a strong start
22 Max Scherzer WAS MIA May not get two starts until Week 3
23 Zach Davies MIL COL, CHC Pounds the zone
24 Dallas Keuchel HOU SEA, KC Looking to put 2016 behind
25 Lance McCullers HOU SEA, KC Sick stuff, all about health
26 Rich Hill LAD SD A blisterless spring!
27 Gerrit Cole PIT at BOS, ATL Spring velocity promising, will be tested right away
28 Jacob deGrom NYM ATL Strong spring has Mets fans optimistic
29 Sean Manaea OAK LAA, at TEX Stud in the making
30 Ervin Santana MIN KC, at CWS Sneaky strong play in Week 1
31 Jake Arrieta CHC at STL Needs to get back to pinpoint control
32 Chris Sale BOS PIT Too early in the season to wear throwback unis
33 Felix Hernandez SEA at HOU, at LAA Don't write The King off just yet
34 Kyle Hendricks CHC at MIL Wants to work deeper into games. We'll see.
35 Jeremy Hellickson PHI at CIN, WAS
36 Ricky Nolasco LAA at OAK, SEA
37 Kenta Maeda LAD SD, at COL
38 Joe Ross WAS at PHI
39 Tyler Anderson COL at MIL, LAD
40 Cole Hamels TEX CLE
41 Danny Salazar CLE at TEX
42 Garrett Richards LAA at OAK
43 Tanner Roark WAS MIA
44 Carlos Carrasco CLE at TEX Ranking dropped due to limited inning expectation
45 Drew Pomeranz BOS at DET
46 Junior Guerra MIL COL, CHC
47 Marcus Stroman TOR at TB
48 Jharel Cotton OAK LAA
49 Joe Musgrove HOU SEA
50 Michael Pineda NYY at TB
51 Tyler Chatwood COL at MIL
52 John Lackey CHC at STL
53 Hisashi Iwakuma SEA at HOU, at LAA
54 Matt Harvey NYM ATL
55 Jon Gray COL at MIL, LAD
56 Robert Gsellman NYM MIA
57 Ian Kennedy KC at MIN
58 Michael Wacha STL CIN Can he stay healthy?
59 Robbie Ray ARI SF, CLE
60 Steven Wright BOS at DET
61 Jason Hammel KC at MIN
62 Vince Velasquez PHI WAS
63 Andrew Triggs OAK LAA
64 Lance Lynn STL CHC
65 Brandon Finnegan CIN PHI
66 Edinson Volquez MIA at WAS, at NYM
67 Matt Andriese TB TOR
68 Martin Perez TEX CLE, OAK
69 Michael Fulmer DET BOS
70 Blake Snell TB TOR
71 Josh Tomlin CLE at ARI
72 Francisco Liriano TOR at TB
73 Jordan Zimmermann DET at CWS
74 Gio Gonzalez WAS at PHI
75 Miguel Gonzalez CWS MIN
76 Alex Cobb TB NYY
77 CC Sabathia NYY at TB, at BAL
78 Scott Feldman CIN PHI, at STL
79 James Paxton SEA at HOU
80 Kendall Graveman OAK LAA, at TEX
81 Ivan Nova PIT ATL
82 Clay Buchholz PHI at CIN
83 Aaron Nola PHI WAS
84 Jhoulys Chacin SD at LAD, SF
85 Chad Kuhl PIT at BOS
85 Drew Smyly SEA at HOU
86 Dylan Covey CWS MIN
87 Jered Weaver SD at LAD, SF Lowest rated two-start option
88 Wei-Yin Chen MIA at NYM
89 Tyler Glasnow PIT ATL
90 Jerad Eickhoff PHI at CIN
91 Eduardo Rodriguez BOS PIT
92 Trevor Bauer CLE at ARI
93 Taijuan Walker ARI SF
94 Dylan Bundy BAL TOR
96 Jeff Samardzija SF at ARI
97 J.A. Happ TOR at BAL
98 Zack Wheeler NYM MIA
99 Mike Leake STL CIN
100 Daniel Norris DET at CWS
101 Charlie Morton HOU SEA
102 Jaime Garcia ATL at NYM
103 Shelby Miller ARI CLE
104 Luis Severino NYY at BAL
105 Matt Moore SF at ARI
106 Nathan Karns KC at HOU
107 Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD at COL Good news is you made the rotation, bad news is Coors
108 Tyler Skaggs LAA at OAK Improved defense a big help
109 Matt Boyd DET BOS
110 Jason Vargas KC at HOU
111 Phil Hughes MIN at CWS
112 Ubaldo Jimenez BAL NYY
113 James Shields CWS DET
114 Bartolo Colon ATL at NYM Let's hope he goes to the right dugout
115 Derek Holland CWS DET
116 Mike Foltynewicz ATL at PIT
117 Brett Anderson CHC at MIL
118 Jameson Taillon PIT at BOS
119 Jesse Chavez LAA SEA
120 A.J. Griffin TEX OAK
121 Brandon McCarthy LAD SD
122 Yovani Gallardo SEA at LAA
123 Adam Wainwright STL CHC
124 Tyler Duffey MIN at CWS
125 Adam Conley MIA at NYM
126 Trevor Cahill SD at LAD
127 Jimmy Nelson MIL CHC
128 Mike Fiers HOU KC
129 R.A. Dickey ATL at PIT
130 Chase Anderson MIL COL
131 Rookie Davis CIN PHI
132 Wade Miley BAL NYY
133 Hector Santiago MIN KC
134 Patrick Corbin ARI SF
135 Kyle Gibson MIN KC
136 Wily Peralta MIL COL
137 Matt Cain SF at SD
138 Dan Straily MIA at WAS
139 Clayton Richard SD at LAD
140 Bronson Arroyo CIN at STL
141 Raul Alcantara OAK at TEX
142 Amir Garrett CIN at STL
143 Tom Koehler MIA at WAS
144 Antonio Senzatela COL at MIL Impressive spring, can he do it when it counts?
145 Luis Perdomo SD SF
146 Kyle Freeland COL at MIL

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
Four Clear Trends From EARTH ADP
Four Clear Trends From EARTH ADP
Spring Training Job Battles: AL Central
Spring Training Job Battles: AL Central
Five Starting Pitchers Who Are Confusing Projection Systems
Five Starting Pitchers Who Are Confusing Projection Systems
College Baseball Betting: Expert Picks for Sunday, February 25
College Baseball Betting: Expert Picks for Sunday, February 25