Fantasy Baseball

2018 Fantasy Baseball Opening Weekend Pitching Planner: A Prelude


“Welcome to the 2018 fantasy baseball season.” “We’ve been waiting all winter and spring for this day to come.” “Can March just end already? Injuries are piling up.”

Blah, blah, blah.

Get ready to see the exact same introduction from writers across all platforms for Opening Weekend articles. Despite my general bitterness over this, I end up reading every damn one. So, in the spirit of Opening Weekend, how should I spend my time and effort in this introduction?

Perhaps I could tell you about the first baseball game I ever attended. It was a warm summer day as I donned the purple Boys & Girls Club jersey with my childhood nickname ‘T-Man’ on my back where normally the last name would go. As I approached the park, jitters entered my body as I grabbed a bat and headed for the tee. That’s right mother bleepers: tee-ball.

Okay, that was a waste of time. Maybe instead I could speak for a moment where I felt poetry in baseball. I once accidentally gave a member of the Blue Jays the ‘bird’ while impersonating a Johnny Cash poster at a Rangers game.

Nope, that’s a lie.

Alright, so I don’t want to share my baseball stories. Why are you still reading this then? I suppose the least I can do is explain what I try to do in the Pitching Planner.

My overall goal is to provide enough start-worthy options in a 12-team mixed league to field a weekly lineup. Now, given the abbreviated nature of Opening Weekend, I shrunk the field quite a bit. For those in weekly leagues, I’m expecting a combination of Week 1 and Week 2 to be your first matchup. I don’t want to exhaust streamers in half a week just to say I did – we are missing about 25% of the starter pool.

In regards to how I perform my rankings, it involves a few different factors:

  1. Pitcher skill level: This is obvious and, as the season wears on and stats become dependable, we will have a clearer picture of the hierarchy.
  2. Matchup: Here will be everything from opposing offense versus the handedness of the pitcher, park factors, and designated hitter presence.
  3. Consistency: The deciding factor, consistency can help me determine if a player can be trusted to move up tiers. If a pitcher is super streaky, it will be difficult for me when to guess a blow-up start.

The formatting of the article will be explained as you go along. If you have any suggestions for tweaking my format, keep it to yourself. JOKING! Please holler at me in the comments. In fact, just comment with questions, trolling, or whatever your little heart desires. I’m generally an even-keel fella so I can take your criticism or answer your streaming questions!

Let’s freakin’ do this thing, Opening Weekend. For despite the corny reminiscing and such, there is no happier time.

Be sure to check out the Hitting Planner from my homeboy Jonathan Chan. Also, be on the lookout for the Week 2 Pitching Planner in the coming days.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Opening Weekend Pitching Planner

Get customized Fantasy Baseball advice for your team using MyPlaybook from FantasyPros.


The Auto-Start tier strictly includes pitchers that should be started every week regardless of league size and matchup.

Clayton KershawDodgersSF
Corey KluberIndians@SEA
Chris SaleRed Sox@TB
Max ScherzerNationals@CIN


  • Here, I will note starters who get promoted to this tier as the season progresses. Right now, there are no pitchers more comfortable than the ‘Big Four’ at the top. I will be curious to see if anyone joins them in the coming weeks.


  • On the flip side, I will discuss starters that dropped out of this tier in this section. This is rather self-explanatory – if someone in this tier has lost that automatic trust that got them here, then it’s time to relegate them to the next group down. (As a standard for this article, I try not to move a pitcher up or down more than one tier in a given week.)


This tier consists of pitchers who don’t quite reach the trust level of the Auto-Starts. However, due to matchup or recent performance, they are capable of having elite level production in a given week.

Noah SyndergaardMetsSTL
Stephen StrasburgNationals@CIN
Luis SeverinoYankees@TOR
Carlos CarrascoIndians@SEA
Zack GreinkeDodgersCOL
James PaxtonMarinersCLE
Jacob deGromMetsSTL
Justin VerlanderAstros@TEX
Alex WoodDodgersSF
Aaron NolaPhillies@ATL
Robbie RayDiamondbacksCOL
Yu DarvishCubs@MIA
Rich HillDodgersSF
Dallas KeuchelAstros@TEX
Lance McCullersAstros@TEX
Masahiro TanakaYankees@TOR
Chris ArcherRaysBOS


  • Here’s where I like to talk about notable players and test out jokes on my audience. I will do this in each of the following sections.
  • Of all the starters in this group, Noah Syndergaard is easily the best candidate to be promoted in my eyes. He was being drafted as the second pitcher off the board in 2017 drafts for a reason and, as long as he remains healthy, he’s an elite starter. I just want to see how the first couple of starts go for Thor – is that too much to ask?
  • Unmistakingly, I have placed Rich Hill and Alex Wood in this tier. Similar to Julio Jones in fantasy football, if they are uninjured and on the bump, you gotta start them.

Embed from Getty Images

  • Masahiro Tanaka was the guy I was most worried about putting in this group. He had a mediocre spring after a mediocre 2017 season. Not to be deterred, I will allow a long-ish leash for Tanaka in the early going. However, it is important to remember how slow he started off last season after elbow concerns.
  • Alright, Chris Archer, it’s time to prove all of these haters wrong. All preseason I have been hearing how Archer only has two pitches and won’t get any wins for the Rays. This author may also have the same concerns, BUT it doesn’t mean that I can’t root for the guy. He’s got all the intangibles of an elite pitcher and I have a fear of missing out (FOMO for the regular fantasy weirdos) on a career year.

Dream Stream

The Dream Stream group more closely reflects the pitchers that you are contemplating starting or sitting. These are all worthy starters in a typical 12-team mixed league.

Garrett RichardsAngels@OAK
Luke WeaverCardinals@NYM
Luis CastilloRedsWAS
Jon GrayRockies@ARI
Chase AndersonBrewers@SD
Kyle HendricksCubs@MIA
Jose QuintanaCubs@MIA
Kenta MaedaDodgersSF
Carlos MartinezCardinals@NYM
Brent SuterBrewers@SD
Shohei OhtaniAngels@OAK
Gerrit ColeAstros@TEX
Danny DuffyRoyalsCWS
Jon LesterCubs@MIA
David PriceRed Sox@TB
Johnny CuetoGiants@LAD
Lucas GiolitoWhite Sox@KC
Gio GonzalezNationals@CIN
Brandon McCarthyBravesPHI
Michael WachaCardinals@NYM
Sonny GrayYankees@TOR
Marcus StromanBlue JaysNYY
J.A. HappBlue JaysNYY
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacksCOL
Michael FulmerTigersPIT
Jose BerriosTwins@BAL
Trevor BauerIndians@SEA
Trevor WilliamsPirates@DET
Jake FariaRaysBOS
Ivan NovaPirates@DET
CC SabathiaYankees@TOR
Rick PorcelloRed Sox@TB
Jhoulys ChacinBrewers@SD


  • Fantasy heartthrobs Luke Weaver and Luis Castillo headline the first Dream Stream of the season. You bought these guys at their ceiling in drafts, so you better be treating them like Auto-Stream pitchers early on. To be honest, I’m mostly implying negativity here because I didn’t pay up for them in any of my own drafts. Sigh.
  • A slew of Cubs prowl in this group and I’m expecting big things in their matchup with the Marlins. Furthermore, I could see myself moving any of these guys up a tier with a few good starts. Jose Quintana certainly has my attention as one of the most stable arms in the business. Kyle Hendricks has already shown us what an elite year looks like from him. Lastly, workhorse Jon Lester isn’t done yet.

Embed from Getty Images

  • My first Stream of the Week goes to Brent Suter, who I was surprised to see rate so highly in my statistical breakdown. Although under the radar, Suter actually had a very impressive rookie season for the Brew Crew. Additionally, his numbers as a starter (0.298 wOBA against) impressed me more than his relief stats (0.326 wOBA). Against a Padres lineup that is subpar (although improved from 2017), Suter should provide a quality start. Stream accordingly.
  • Before I attain my first keyboard killers of the year, I want to say that I felt badly ranking Jose Berrios so low. However, as stated previously, I am largely going off 2017 stats and Berrios wasn’t that great. While we are fairly expecting the next step forward this year, I am going to play it safe in the early going. Now, if he starts slinging it like he did last April and May, Berrios becomes an obvious promotion candidate.

Buyer Beware

These pitchers are better left on your bench for the week if not the waiver wire. Guys closer to the top could be on the brink of being promoted in the right matchup or with a continued hot streak. If a player is not listed in any tiers, that should be the cue to drop the said player.

Daniel MengdenAthleticsLAA
Tyler AndersonRockies@ARI
Dylan BundyOriolesMIN
Mike LeakeMarinersCLE
German MarquezRockies@ARI
Felix HernandezMarinersCLE
Tyler SkaggsAngels@OAK
Clayton RichardPadresMIL
Nate EovaldiRaysBOS
Kevin GausmanOriolesMIN
Mike MinorRangersHOU
Blake SnellRaysBOS
Sean ManaeaAthleticsLAA
Andrew TriggsAngels@OAK
Marco EstradaBlue JaysNYY
Chad KuhlPirates@DET
Matt ShoemakerAngels@OAK
Doug FisterRangersHOU
Julio TeheranBravesPHI
Mike FoltynewiczBravesPHI
Luis PerdomoPadresMIL
Nick PivettaPhillies@ATL
Chris StrattonGiants@LAD
Jake OdorizziTwins@BAL
Reynaldo LopezWhite Sox@KC
Kendall GravemanAthleticsLAA
Steven MatzMetsSTL
Cole HamelsRangersHOU
James ShieldsWhite Sox@KC
Kyle GibsonTwins@BAL
Tyler MahleRedsWAS
Ty BlachGiants@LAD
Vince VelasquezPhillies@ATL
Ian KennedyRoyalsCWS
Jose UrenaMarlinsCHC


  • Upon first glance, the matchups appear daunting for German Marquez and Tyler Anderson. However, with the humidor intact at Chase Field, perhaps we are underestimating how well they can do. If you are feeling lucky, I would prefer Marquez to Anderson for this weekend based on the handedness of their opponent.
  • Although it pains me to throw Blake Snell in the avoid group, it must be done against the Red Sox. I’m very optimistic on Snell for the long haul, but there’s no comfort provided in that matchup. Better days are ahead for the southpaw.

Embed from Getty Images


  • Well, it’s an even year, which means it’s time for Julio Teheran to dominate again. That’s the only trend I can recognize when analyzing his past few seasons as a Braves fan. Well, that plus a disdain for SunTrust Park for right-handed pitchers. The Chophouse in right field will anxiously be awaiting some homers allowed by Teheran this weekend against the Phillies.
  • Every week, I will provide an installment of Tyler’s Simplistic Scouting Spotlight to discuss a recent call-up or rookie pitcher. This weekend has limited options, so I will start with someone that is familiar to the average fantasy baseball player – Reynaldo Lopez. He works primarily with the fastball-changeup combo while mixing in a meatball curveball. The changeup has great movement, but the pitch value numbers say it was horrible last year. Also, his command is insanely bad as seen by his Spring Training performance. Yes, his stuff looks electric, but, without location, he will continue to go five innings or less in starts. That’s not useful.

Arms Amending

This is usually where I put the players that are on the disabled list or making rehab appearances. I stayed up late doing this article just for you, so I hope that you can cut me some slack here for skipping Opening Weekend. There are too many injuries to cover as thoroughly as I would like. Please tune in to the Week 1 Pitching Planner for all the latest injury news regarding starters!

Check out the rest of our great 2018 Fantasy Baseball content.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

Recommended for you


  1. Pingback: Thursday, March 29, 2018 - Fantasy Baseball Links -

  2. Nate

    March 29, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Big fan of this column. Thanks for the hard work.

    But, I think you forgot Mike Clevinger. Where would you have him?

    • Tyler Thompson

      March 29, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Gracias, Nate!

      Re: Clevinger – I had him as the starter for Monday. Kluber, Carrasco, and Bauer should be going this weekend. If that is incorrect, I’m certainly fine with rolling Clevinger out toward the middle of the ‘Dream Stream’ section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.