Ranking the Top 10 Starting Pitchers Before the 2024 MLB Season

MLB starting pitchers - Spencer Strider

This represents the continuation of a series ranking the top players at each position for the 2024 season. Next up, we take a look at MLB starting pitchers.

Given that this is a forward-thinking projection, please remember: if a younger player is on the rise, I will project them to be better. If an older player is on the decline, I will project them to be worse. If a player had a freak awful 2023 season after being on the rise, I will project them to be better as long as there are no off-the-field issues.

This was hands down the hardest positional list to make. First of all, this year’s top 10 looks completely different from last year’s. Expect fluctuation and variation. Additionally, last year was a season where the gap between ERA and the advanced stats was bigger than ever. Blake Snell won the Cy Young award because of his ERA, but almost every other advanced metric suggested that he was not a top-10 pitcher. Spencer Strider finished with a modest ERA, but all of the advanced stats suggested that he was one of the more unlucky pitchers in the league.

Nevertheless, let’s dive in and explore Chris’ top 10 starting pitchers for the 2024 MLB season. Click here for an archive of other positions.

Major Stats Glossary

ERA: Earned Run Average
xERA: Expected ERA
FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching
xFIP: Expected FIP
WAR: Wins Above Replacement


10. Blake Snell

The two-time Cy Young just makes the list. Snell was terrific at preventing runs last season, but most other metrics suggest that he had a ton of help. He finished outside the top 20 in WHIP, as well as outside the top 10 in WAR, xERA, FIP, and xFIP. People may scoff at these stats, but they correlate to results more often than not.


In addition, Snell has never been a big innings eater, which ends up hurting his team in the long run if they make the postseason. With this being said, when you find a way to minimize runs better than everyone else, you should at least be considered for the top 10.

9. Pablo Lopez

Minnesota’s ace comes in at No. 9. Despite being 23rd in ERA last year, he was still pretty consistent. He finished in the top 10 in WAR and xFIP, as well as first in xERA. Lopez just turned 28 and is entering his second season in Minnesota. I expect him to be even more comfortable this year and finish with a better ERA.

8. Zac Gallen

Up next, we have the Diamondbacks’ ace. Similar to Lopez, Gallen’s ERA suggests that he was far worse than what he showed in 2023. He finished among the top 10 in FIP and xFIP, and he was sixth in WAR. He also threw the second-most innings last year. Pitcher health has become exponentially more valuable through the years given how few innings most starters throw nowadays. Gallen is only 28 years old, so do not be surprised if you see him produce like this for at least a few more years.


7. Sonny Gray

Up next, we have St. Louis’s new ace. Despite being on the injured list due to a hamstring injury, I still expect Gray to have a great season. In his 11th season, he pitched better than ever, ranking among the top 10 in the aforementioned major statistical categories, excluding xFIP. He finished third in ERA, first in FIP, and fourth in WAR. This is all quite impressive, especially when you factor in that he turned 34 over the offseason. Gray has a new home this year, so it will be interesting to see if he capitalizes.

6. Justin Steele

Now, we have the ace from the Chicago Cubs. Steele was easily one of the most underrated pitchers in the league last year. He is one of only two pitchers to have finished in the top 10 in all of the main stats referenced. What keeps him lower on this list is that he only finished 33rd in innings pitched. This is significantly lower than anyone else on this list, including Snell. Nevertheless, Steele will be 29 in July and I expect him to only get better.

5. Kevin Gausman

Speaking of underrated pitchers, Kevin Gausman just sneaks into the top five. Gausman finished in the top seven in every major stat except for xERA, including the top three in WAR. He also finished among the top three starters in strikeouts per nine innings, and he was fifth in strikeout rate. Gausman just turned 33 in January, so while some may think he peaked last year, do not be surprised if he is one of the main reasons the Blue Jays make a big run in 2024.

4. Spencer Strider

Those who do not enjoy looking at the advanced stats would laugh at these rankings. Outside of ERA, Strider finished in the top two in all major metrics. He also ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout rate. Furthermore, the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 in strikeout rate was bigger than the gap between No. 2 and No. 17. All of this information leads me to believe that Strider will perform much better in 2024.

3. Corbin Burnes

The 2021 NL Cy Young comes in at No. 3. Burnes was easily the hardest player to rank here. He was not a top-10 pitcher last year, but when he is at his best, he is arguably the best or second-best pitcher in the league. He finished sixth in xERA last year, so that is one sign he was slightly unlucky. I am expecting him to bounce back in a big way this year.

2. Logan Webb

The Giants’ ace sneaks into the top two. Webb is one of my favorite pitchers in the league. He was the other pitcher (joining Steele) to finish in the top five in all five major stats. In addition, he also threw the most innings and was third in walk rate. When someone plays a lot of baseball at such a high level, they deserve to be recognized as one of the top pitchers in the league.

1. Zack Wheeler

This one may surprise people. It even surprised me at first. Despite being 20th in ERA last year, Wheeler finished first in WAR, fourth in xERA, and sixth in FIP. He was quite well-rounded throughout the season, and the fact that many people viewed his result as a disappointment only suggests that the bar for Wheeler is as high as anyone else in the league. Not only would I not be surprised if Wheeler won Cy Young this year, but I would be surprised if he finished outside the top three in voting. 

Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images


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