Week 4 Quick Grades (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Greetings, friends, and welcome to another instance of the Fantasy Baseball Quick Grades series. We’ve seen some familiar names earning top grades over the first few weeks, but we’ve had a ton of new and unexpected faces. Since these grades focus only on recent performance and upcoming matchups and not a particular player’s reputation, that should be a familiar theme. We only care about the numbers and what they might mean for our fantasy lineups.
I went over how the grades for this series are calculated in Week 1, and I’ll link to that breakdown every week rather than filling this space with a lengthy explanation every time. If you’re interested in knowing my process or just want to talk baseball, feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher. I reply to Tweets, and my DMs are open. Here’s a link to the Week 1 piece with the full Quick Grades breakdown:
This week, the top grades for recent performance and upcoming matchups go to Shohei Ohtani (94.80), Ronald Acuna (93.21), the legend of Jazz Chisholm (92.05), Mark Canha (91.50), Bryce Harper (90.50), and Trent Grisham (90.40). Most of those players are already rostered everywhere, though Chisholm is still available in more than 30% of leagues even after grading out at 91.30 last week. Ohtani earns top honors for the second straight week, though he is scheduled to pitch on Monday and may not be in the lineup as a hitter. With the Angels scheduled to play six games this week, that could make Ohtani a five-matchup hitter for Week 4.
Let’s get to the grades.
Note: This table is three pages (see the button on the top right) and is sortable and searchable, so feel free to look around!
Week 4 Hitter Grades
The top team stream for this week because of matchups is the Los Angeles Angels. They’re playing six games, with all six games on the road, but they are facing the Rangers and Mariners. That means matchups against the likes of Jordan Lyles, Mike Foltynewicz, Dane Dunning, Chris Flexen, Nick Margevicius, and Justus Sheffield. Justin Upton, who is available in more than 75% of leagues, is a name that comes to mind.
Other teams to target for streaming hitters are the Rockies, Yankees, Rays, and Rangers. The Rockies play seven games, with all seven of them on the road. But don’t let the lack of Coors Field scare you away. Just take a look at those matchups. The Yankees play four games at Camden Yards and then three games at home against the Detroit Tigers, and none of their matchups are particularly intimidating. And the Rays and Rangers each play seven games at home in Week 4. Adolis Garcia is still barely owned anywhere, but that will change this week. Go get him and ride the wave while he’s hot and playing.
Fades of the Week
The Mets, Pirates, Padres, Blue Jays, and Nationals all only play five games this week. It’s fine to start most of your studs on those squads, but those aren’t the teams you should be targeting for streamers in Week 4. And the Blue Jays, in particular, are lined up to face Max Scherzer, Charlie Morton, and Ian Anderson and three of their five games.
The Cleveland Indians are scheduled to play six games this week, but they have the lowest matchup grade for Week 4. In their six games, they’re currently lined up to face Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, a version of J.A. Happ that is pitching well, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Rodon. Don’t look to Cleveland for streamers in Week 4.
Week 4 Pitcher Grades
Below, you’ll see a grid of probable starters, their matchups, and their grades. The grade is on a scale of 0-100, and here’s what those numbers mean.
These grades assume you are in 10 leagues of varying size and format, with a good mix of shallow, deeper, scoring, and roster/lineup sizes. The score for all of these players corresponds to how many leagues I would start a pitcher in if I had him in every league. So, a pitcher with a score of 100 means I would start him in all 10 leagues. A pitcher with a score of 50 means I would start him in five leagues. Zero, zero leagues. Got it? Great.
Note: The starters below are grouped alphabetically by team and schedule, and the table is two pages to keep the length manageable (you can click to see the second page on the top right).
Do you dare stream Matt Harvey as a two-start pitcher this week for his matchups against the Yankees and A’s? Only if you’re desperate. You’re better off looking at Cristian Javier for his matchups against the Mariners and Rays. He’s available in more than 35% of leagues even though he has allowed zero earned runs while striking out 16 batters over his last 10 innings. Other options that may be available include Spencer Turnbull, Jose Urquidy, and Anthony DeSclafani. For a full breakdown of Week 4’s two-start pitchers, check out Brendan Tuma’s Two-Start Pitchers piece.
The Dodgers pitchers earned 100s across the board this week, and those weren’t particularly difficult grades. Julio Urias looked excellent in his last start, and his two-start status makes him a must-start in all formats. Walker Buehler was already going to be a 100, but his two-start status makes him that much more of a lock. Of Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, and Dustin May, the only one I even considered putting under 100 was May. But let’s be honest. If you have May right now in any format, you’re starting him unless your pitching staff is incredibly deep and your lineup is smaller than the average. Their matchups against the Reds and Brewers aren’t ideal, but these pitchers are matchup-proof right now.
Lucky or Good?
Now that we’re a few weeks into the season and have at least four starts on which to judge most starting pitchers, I pulled some of the early data to see who was outperforming their expected numbers. Below is a table of the Top 25 luckiest starting pitchers according to xERA minus ERA, with FIP and FIP minus ERA numbers for reference. Some of these pitchers, like Marcus Stroman and Carlos Rodon, have been so good that their expected numbers almost have to be worse than their real numbers. Others, like Kohei Arihara, Taylor Widener, Jeff Hoffman, and Michael Wacha, point to some expected negative regression.
Consider these numbers when the pitchers and grades above, but note that even regression and is widely expected can often be gradual. So it’s sometimes OK to stream pitchers for a week or two while knowing full well that their success is going to be short-lived.
That’s it for this week. Again, if you have any questions, feedback, or requests, hit me up on Twitter!
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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.