Tier 1 and Tier 2 Starting Pitchers for 2021

NBC Sports EDGE Staff
·3 min read


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We're just two weeks away from MLB's Opening Day and we can't wait. As all of our favorite players are getting into form, fantasy baseball managers are doing the same. With a full season on deck this year, we here at NBC Sports EDGE are ready to provide all the knowledge and tools you need to dominate your league.

To celebrate both baseball's return and our continuously updated 2021 MLB Draft Guide, we're continuing to offer looks at what we've produced all the way up to Opening Day. With a loaded arsenal of content -- from positional rankings, ADP reports and season-long projections, to mock drafts, projected lineups and draft cheat sheets -- we are as proud as we've ever been of what we've put together and are eager to share it with you in the coming weeks. No matter the format or size of your league, we are confident we can deliver the tools you need to secure that championship hardware.

We've showed off rankings, positional showdowns, expert outliers and more for the upcoming season, and now we're diving into our player tiers. Tiers go one step further than rankings, allowing you to assess a player's outlook relative to other who offer similar value, but perhaps at a much lower draft cost. We're going to begin with some starting pitchers.

Check them out:

Tier 1

1) Jacob deGrom - NYM
2) Shane Bieber - CLE
3) Gerrit Cole - NYY

Because of the light workloads brought on by the pandemic-shortened schedule in 2020, teams will likely be wary of allowing any of their starters – even the established aces – go beyond 200 innings in 2021. But that’s something everyone will have to contend with across the board, and deGrom, Bieber and Cole will all still probably reach 250-plus strikeouts nonetheless. Bieber won the AL Cy Young Award last year with a stunning 1.63 ERA, 0.866 WHIP and 14.2 K/9.

Tier 2

4) Walker Buehler - LAD
5) Max Scherzer - WSH
6) Clayton Kershaw - LAD
7) Trevor Bauer - LAD
8) Luis Castillo - CIN
9) Jack Flaherty - STL

If you can’t land a top-tier ace, definitely try to get one from the second tier. Bauer had no trouble pitching at Cincinnati’s power-friendly Great American Ball Park in 2020 as he cruised to a 1.73 ERA, 0.795 WHIP and 100/17 K/BB ratio in 73 innings before claiming the first Cy Young Award in the long history of the Reds. He wound up signing with the Dodgers this offseason and could carry a much larger workload than most of their other starters given the opt-out laden nature of his contract.

To see all tiers at every position in addition to rankings, season-long projections, ADP reports, mock drafts and much more you can purchase EDGE+ Roto here for as low as $3.99 per month, which also includes access to NHL, NBA and NFL tools as well. And if you're into DFS and betting, be sure check out our EDGE+ Pro package that includes our DFS Tools, our EDGE+ Bet package with just our Betting Tools, both as low as $7.99 per month or get it all with EDGE+ Max for as low as $11.99 per month.