Fantasy Baseball

2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Pitching Planner: First Impressions


Ah, first impressions – you are either great or awful at them.

Everyone remembers when they were trying to impress on a first date or set the tone for an interview. Those can be nerve-wracking times.

As nervous as you think your situation is, imagine having your first impression be in front of thousands of fans on the first weekend of a baseball season. Now THAT is skin-curling stuff right there. It is understandable for some players to get the ‘wiggles’ in their first appearance of the year.

With this in mind, don’t freak out too much over the first start of your pitching rotation in fantasy. Similar to Spring Training performances, people sometimes put too much stock into the wrong things. Be confident in your drafting skills and stick to the guys you expect to perform.

Addendum – I sort of mailed this introduction in for Easter weekend. My apologies! However, for as bad as that intro was, I spent just as much positive effort on the meat of this article. I will be back in full force next week! For now, enjoy this piece and happy Easter everyone!

2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Pitching Planner

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

Chris SaleRed Sox@MIA
Max ScherzerNationals@ATL
Corey KluberIndians@LAA
Clayton KershawDodgers@ARI


  • No one has been promoted to this tier yet. I can’t be like Oprah Winfrey out here and just hand out promotions. You gotta EARN IT.


  • No one out of the big four has been relegated either. All four had stellar performances in their first starts of the season. This is to be expected.


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 SyndergaardMetsPHI
Stephen StrasburgNationalsNYM
Luis SeverinoYankeesTB
Carlos CarrascoIndiansKC
Aaron NolaPhillies@NYMMIA
Zack GreinkeDodgers@STL
Jacob deGromMets@WAS
James PaxtonMariners@MIN
Alex WoodDodgers@ARI
Lance McCullersAstrosSD
Rich HillDodgers@SF
Robbie RayDiamondbacks@STL
Masahiro TanakaYankeesBAL
Yu DarvishCubs@MIL
Dallas KeuchelAstrosBAL
Chris ArcherRays@NYY
Carlos MartinezCardinals@MIL
Justin VerlanderAstrosBAL


  • If you read this enough or remember any of my work from last year, you know I have a man-crush on Aaron Nola. Dude’s just so freaking good. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will probably need to learn that about his ace moving forward, as their bullpen absolutely blew up in his first start.
  • While it wasn’t a great first impression, there’s no real reason to worry about James Paxton. He got roughed up in the first inning against a strong Indians offense, capitalized by a grand slam from Yonder Alonso. After that, he settled in, but the damage was already done. Positively, there was no injury-related performance issue here, which is always a scare for Pax.

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  • If you have any doubt regarding the stuff from Lance McCullers, you are likely a hater or a Dodgers fan still bitter about, well, you know… McCullers was disgusting in his initial outing, punching out 10 Rangers batters in six innings. He’s never been known to go deep into a game, but a quality start backed by a stellar bullpen is more than enough for me.
  • Alright, so I’m not the biggest Carlos Martinez fan – sue me. He will be bouncing around tiers for me while I feel like most sites have him firmly in top 20 discussions. I can be proven wrong, but it wasn’t a convincing Opening Day showing.

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 RichardsAngelsCLE
Luis CastilloReds@PIT
Luke WeaverCardinalsARI
Charlie MortonAstrosBALSD
Zack GodleyDiamondbacksLAD
Jon GrayRockies@SD
Gerrit ColeAstrosSD
Kenta MaedaDodgers@SF
Chase AndersonBrewersSTL
Jose QuintanaCubs@MIL
J.A. HappBlue JaysCWS
Shohei OhtaniAngelsOAK
Jon LesterCubs@CIN
Danny DuffyRoyals@DET
Kyle HendricksCubs@MIL
Johnny CuetoGiants
Gio GonzalezNationalsNYM
Marcus StromanBlue Jays@TEX
Mike ClevingerIndians@LAAKC
Trevor BauerIndiansKC
Michael WachaCardinalsARI
Sonny GrayYankeesBAL
Jordan MontgomeryYankeesTBBAL
Michael FulmerTigers@CWS
David PriceRed SoxTB
Jose BerriosTwinsSEA
Brent SuterBrewersCHC
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacksLAD
Tanner RoarkNationals@ATLNYM
Jameson TaillonPiratesMINCIN
Rick PorcelloRed SoxTB
Trevor WilliamsPiratesCIN
Lucas GiolitoWhite SoxDET
Mike LeakeMariners@MIN
Tyler AndersonRockies@SD
Seth LugoMetsPHI
CC SabathiaYankeesBAL
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgers@ARI@SF
Jaime GarciaBlue JaysCWS@TEX
Lance LynnTwins@PITSEA
Felix HernandezMariners@SF
Jhoulys ChacinBrewersSTL
Ivan NovaPiratesMIN
Taijuan WalkerDiamondbacksLAD@STL
Marco EstradaBlue Jays@TEX
Sean ManaeaAthleticsTEX
Jakob JunisRoyals@DET@CLE
Zach DaviesBrewersSTLCHC
Brandon WoodruffBrewersSTLCHC


  • So much for the humidor at Chase Field – am I right, Jon Gray?  It’s been an offensive explosion in Arizona and Gray was the first victim. As bad as the line was, it could have been worse as he left the bullpen with a bases-loaded situation with no outs. They got out of the jam for the lucky son of a gun. This start will be much more telling and I wouldn’t bail on him based on his first game.
  • On the other hand, how many 1-0 games can we stand between the Dodgers and Giants? Kenta Maeda is an author favorite who can continue this trend of low-scoring rivalry games. Also, my preseason notion of the Giants offense being overrated is coming to fruition. I mean, come on, Joe Panik is carrying them right now. THAT, my friends, is not a good sign.

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  • After watching his Opening Day start, I’m excited to say that Felix Hernandez is BACK. Okay, let’s slow down a touch – he looked extremely good against the Indians. Fastball location, curveball bend, and changeup deception were all present. It was very encouraging to see and I look forward to watching his next start.
  • My Stream of the Week for Week 1 goes to Seth Lugo, who is an interesting arm to watch this season. He initially was going to be used as a swingman, but, as the world turns, Mets starters get injured. Lugo showed out in Spring Training and could vie for consistent rotation starts throughout the season if he starts off right in April. Against the Phillies here, I’m thinking a quality start is more than reachable with potential for better.

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.

Brandon McCarthyBraves@COL
Jake FariaRays@BOS
German MarquezRockiesATL
Josh TomlinIndians@LAA
Daniel MengdenAthleticsTEX
Miles MikolasCardinals@MILARI
Mike MinorRangersTOR
Clayton RichardPadresCOL
Dylan BundyOrioles@HOU@NYY
Kevin GausmanOrioles@NYY
Doug FisterRangers@OAK
Brian JohnsonRed Sox@MIA
Sal RomanoReds@PIT
Blake SnellRays@BOS
Matt BoydTigersKC@CWS
Chad KuhlPiratesCIN
Kyle FreelandRockies@SDATL
Tyler SkaggsAngelsCLE
Chad BettisRockies@SDATL
Andrew TriggsAngels@LAA
Jason HammelRoyals@CLE
Ben LivelyPhillies@NYMMIA
Nick PivettaPhillies@NYM
Joey LucchesiPadresCOL
Jake OdorizziTwins@PIT
Mike FoltynewiczBravesWAS
Matt ShoemakerAngelsOAK
Julio TeheranBravesWAS@COL
JC RamirezAngelsCLE
Luis PerdomoPadres@HOU
Cole HamelsRangers@OAK
Sean NewcombBravesWAS@COL
Chris StrattonGiantsLAD
Kyle GibsonTwinsSEA
Kendall GravemanAthleticsTEX@LAA
Daniel NorrisTigersKC
Tyler ChatwoodCubs@CIN@MIL
Ty BlachGiantsSEALAD
Vince VelasquezPhilliesMIA
Matt MooreRangersTOR
Steven MatzMets@WAS
Reynaldo LopezWhite SoxDET
Dillon PetersMarlins@PHI
A.J. ColeNationals@ATL
Jose UrenaMarlinsBOS
Tyler MahleRedsCHC@PIT
Francisco LirianoTigers@CWS
Martin PerezRangers@OAK
James ShieldsWhite Sox@TOR
Miguel GonzalezWhite Sox@TORDET
Ian KennedyRoyals@CLE
Jack FlahertyCardinals@MIL


  • The Cardinals rotation is going to be incredibly intriguing in 2018. In between all of that intrigue is Miles Mikolas, a free agent signing from the Japan professional league. Everyone seems quick to write him off and put Alex Reyes in his place, but let’s give him a chance here. We’ve seen multiple stories now of players going overseas to hone down their skills and come back firing (a la Eric Thames). I’ll be watching intently.
  • Another interesting development is that of Mike Minor who, after dominating in the Royals bullpen last year, will test the starter waters in 2018 for Texas. In his history as a starter with the Braves, there were mixed results with more good than bad. Injuries have hampered his potential, but perhaps he could bounce back. Again, as always in fantasy sports, don’t ever just completely write people off without reason. You can be skeptical without being close-minded.

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  • This week’s version of Tyler’s Simplistic Scouting Spotlight will cover a lesser-known southpaw from San Diego – Joey Lucchesi. He turned heads in Spring Training and acquired the spot of Dinelson Lamet after an injury. This is sort of ironic for me considering that Lamet was in this situation last year before becoming a popular sleeper candidate this year. When you think of crazy left-handed deliveries, Alex Wood comes to mind first, right? Lucchesi has a very similar movement in his upper body and a similar repertoire. I hope the Padres continue to stick with him even when Lamet returns because he certainly has upside.
  • Dillon Peters is another weird-delivery southpaw that I’m monitoring in the early going. I don’t have much else to say here, so I will avoid the rambling.

Arms Amending

This is usually where I put the players that are on the disabled list or making rehab appearances. I had an excuse the first weekend, plus this was Easter weekend. Please tune in to the Week 2 Pitching Planner for this table – I PROMISE THIS TIME!

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.

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