How to Collect: 2024 MLB Best Starting Pitchers

Top 20 Best Starting Pitchers in Baseball

Date: Mar 22, 2024
Topics: 2023 Topps Now, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Braves, gerrit cole, How To Collect, MLB, spencer strider, Starting Pitchers, Zack Wheeler
Length: 2884 Words
Reading Time: ~15 Minutes

As the 2024 MLB season begins, the spotlight shines on the starting pitchers as the chase to win the next World Series begins. As we gear up for Opening Day and beyond, join us in exploring the Topps guide to the 20 best MLB pitchers of 2024.

Top 20 Starting Pitchers of the 2024 MLB Season

Spencer Strider | Zack Wheeler | Gerrit Cole | Corbin Burnes | Pablo Lopez | Luis Castillo | Logan Webb | George Kirby | Kevin Gausman | Yoshinobu Yamamoto | Aaron Nola | Tyler Glasnow | Tarik Skubal | Blake Snell | Zac Gallen | Max Fried | Kyle Bradish | Freddy Peralta | Logan Gilbert | Zach Eflin

1. Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves

In the fiercely contested battle for the MLB’s best-starting pitcher, Atlanta Braves ace Spencer Strider emerges victorious, outperforming titans like Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, and Corbin Burnes. Strider racked up a staggering 281 strikeouts on the mound in 2023. His dominance was not just in sheer numbers; a 36.8% K rate distanced him from competitors, alongside enhancements in chase and whiff rates and a dwindling walk rate, all evidence of an elite, ascending pitching talent. Despite a noticeable uptick in ERA to 3.86 from a previous 2.67, attributed to an unusual spike in HR/FB rate, experts see this as an anomaly, not a trend. While 2024 projections hint at a slight dip in his strikeout and innings tally, Strider’s youth and evolving skill set a trajectory that’s anything but declining, marking him as a linchpin among the top MLB starting pitchers to watch.

2. Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies

Over four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, Zack Wheeler has crafted an impressive legacy, tallying a 43-25 win-loss record, maintaining a 3.06 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.06, hardly ever missing a start. In 2023 alone, he secured a 13-6 record, pitched 192 innings with a 3.61 ERA, and struck out batters at a rate of 9.9 per nine innings, complemented by a 3.15 FIP. His career highlights include being an All-Star, a Gold Glove award, strong finishes in Cy Young Award voting, and a dominant playoff performance featuring a record-setting 0.73 postseason WHIP across 10 starts in 11 appearances. Wheeler’s consistent excellence on the mound cements him as one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB. It positions him as a top contender for the 2024 Cy Young, underlining his pivotal role in the Phillies’ pitching rotation.

3. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Gerrit Cole, a standout since his 2017 debut with the Yankees, has proven his $324 million worth by never having less than 30 starts a season. In 2023, he notched a 15-4 record with a 2.63 ERA over 209 innings, striking out 9.6 batters per nine and posting a 3.16 FIP. However, 2024 poses a new hurdle: an injury threatens to halt this remarkable streak, sidelining him until the All-Star break. As Cole steps back, his absence looms large over the Yankees, underscoring the fragile balance between achieving peak performance and navigating the inherent risks of baseball, making his injury-to-starter-journey a defining story for the New York Yankees and the top 2024 MLB starting pitchers.

4. Corbin Burnes, Baltimore Orioles

Despite a slight dip from his electrifying 2021 Cy Young form, Corbin Burnes remains a formidable presence on the mound, a blend of durability and elite skill that’s rare in today’s game. His recent move to the Baltimore Orioles from the Milwaukee Brewers, in exchange for top prospects and a draft pick, speaks volumes of Baltimore’s conviction in him as the linchpin for their World Series aspirations. Since ascending to a full-time starting role in 2021, Burnes has impressively maintained a 2.94 ERA, consistently delivering over 200 strikeouts each season. His 2023 campaign, with a 10-8 record, a 3.39 ERA across 193 2/3 innings, and a 9.3 K/9 rate, further cemented his status among the MLB’s best starting pitchers, marking him as a key player to watch in the 2024 season.

5. Pablo Lopez, Minnesota Twins

Last year, with the fifth-best strikeout rate in MLB at 29.2%, Pablo López ascended to the top ranks of pitchers after his move from the Miami Marlins to the Minnesota Twins. This change saw him thrive against the less formidable lineups of the AL Central and help his team clinch the division title. His mastery of the sweeper, a new addition to his arsenal, played a key role, holding batters to a mere .173 average against it, alongside notable increases in strikeouts and velocity. Described as “the smartest pitcher in the game,” López’s strategic shift to more curveballs and the effective integration of his sweeper has positioned him for continued success into 2024. With an 11-8 record, a 3.66 ERA, 194 innings pitched, and an impressive 10.9 K/9 rate in 2023, expect López not only to sustain but also elevate his performance in his upcoming season with the Twins, affirming his status among the best starting pitchers in the MLB.

6. Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners

In the illustrious realm of Major League Baseball’s finest starting pitchers, Luis Castillo stands tall as a seasoned maestro amidst Seattle’s rotation talent pool, featuring the likes of George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, and Bryan Woo. With his explosive repertoire and unwavering reliability, Castillo embodies the epitome of consistency. He draws admiration from executives who laud his smooth delivery as the secret to his sustained health despite consistently firing upper 90s heat. As the Mariners strive for postseason glory, the 31-year-old veteran is poised to unleash his formidable prowess, building upon his stellar 2023 campaign, where he showcased his dominance with a 14-9 record and a stellar 3.34 ERA across 197 innings pitched. His impressive performance earned him accolades, including a fifth-place finish in the American League Cy Young voting, a testament to his status as one of the premier hurlers in the game.

7. Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants

In the realm of elite MLB pitchers, Logan Webb‘s approach stands out amidst the prevalent strikeout-centric culture, relying instead on inducing ground balls to stifle hitters. Over the past three seasons, Webb has consistently demonstrated his durability and reliability, notably leading the league in innings pitched last season with an impressive tally of 216. Despite a deceiving 11-13 record, Webb’s performance surpassed expectations, evidenced by his stellar 3.25 ERA. Notably, he boasted the lowest walk rate in the NL and excelled in limiting left-handed batters. However, challenges persist outside of Oracle Park—where his sinker struggles—are reflected in a 4.31 ERA. While his strikeout rate remains modest, Webb’s ability to thrive in specific contexts and maintain volume solidifies his status as one of the league’s premier starting pitchers, poised to continue making significant contributions in the 2024 season.

8. George Kirby, Seattle Mariners

Emerging as one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB, Kirby’s 2023 performance solidified his place among the top 2024 MLB starting pitchers. With an impressive 13-10 record, a 3.35 ERA, and 190 2/3 innings pitched, he showcased his ability to throw strikes and limit hard contact and led the majors with a 9.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Kirby’s command of the game, highlighted by the lowest walk rate (2.5%) in the MLB since 2014 and an elite chase rate, makes him a standout pitcher capable of delivering six-plus strong innings consistently. His remarkable stats and control on the mound have drawn comparisons to Greg Maddux and sparked predictions of a future Cy Young Award, underscoring his status as one of the best starting pitchers today.

9. Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays

Kevin Gausman has firmly established himself as one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB, particularly shining through his 2023 season with an impressive 12-9 record, a 3.16 ERA, and striking out batters at an impressive rate of 11.5 K/9 over 185 innings. His mastery over the fastball and splitter combination has made him the model for rising pitchers, leading to a remarkable mid-career surge and three consecutive seasons of at least 30 starts with a FIP of 3.00 or better—a feat unmatched by any other pitcher. Gausman’s strategic focus on a refined pitching arsenal has not only solidified his role as a top 2024 MLB starting pitcher but also as a bona fide ace within the competitive dynamics of the AL East, despite a brief struggle with an oblique issue in July. His trajectory and stats mark him as a cornerstone among the best starting pitchers, underlining his significant impact and the “reasonable” value of his contract with Toronto.

10. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Los Angeles Dodgers

Yamamoto’s transition from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to the Los Angeles Dodgers, backed by a substantial $325 million investment over 12 years, positions him as one of the most intriguing starting pitchers to watch in the MLB for 2024. Despite concerns about adapting to MLB’s unique challenges and a shaky performance in the Cactus League, his outstanding 2023 stats in Japan—boasting a 17-6 record, a minuscule 1.16 ERA, and striking out 9.3 batters per nine innings over 171 innings—highlight his potential as a top-tier pitcher. With a formidable arsenal that includes a 95-plus mph fastball and a devastating splitter, Yamamoto is set to make a significant impact. Under the mentorship of Shohei Ohtani and with the Dodgers customizing a six-man rotation to ease his transition, Yamamoto is tipped to quickly adjust and cement his status among the best starting pitchers in the MLB, making him a compelling wildcard for the 2024 season.

11. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

Aaron Nola‘s 2023 season, with a 12-9 record, a 4.46 ERA, and striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings across 193 2/3 innings, underscores his standing as one of the best starting pitchers heading into 2024. Despite concerns over his durability and the increasing challenge of facing hitters multiple times through the order, Nola’s remarkable consistency and ability to accumulate innings—comparable to the elite Gerrit Cole in terms of strikeouts and innings pitched over recent seasons—have cemented his value. The Philadelphia Phillies’ commitment to Nola with a seven-year, $172 million contract speaks to his crucial role in the team’s strategy and his potential for elite performance, as demonstrated in 2022. While acknowledging his vulnerabilities, Nola’s combination of elite control, a diverse pitch arsenal, and a track record of suppressing hard contact positions him among the top MLB starting pitchers, with his volume of work enhancing his appeal as a top-tier starter for 2024.

12. Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers

Tyler Glasnow‘s 2023 season, marked by a 10-7 record, a 3.53 ERA, and an outstanding 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings over 120 innings, showcases why he’s considered among the top 2024 MLB starting pitchers. Despite previous limitations in innings pitched, his performance prompted the Dodgers to secure his talent with a $110 million extension, a testament to his “elite” pitch arsenal, including a four-seam fastball averaging 97 mph, a 90 mph power slider, and an exceptional curveball. Glasnow’s unique 6-foot-8 stature and extended release point intensify his pitches and place him squarely among the best starting pitchers with significant upside. His track record and potential, underscored by his impressive FIP of 2.91, solidify his status as a number one pitcher “in every sense of the word,” making him a key figure to watch in the coming season.

13. Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers

Tarik Skubal‘s emergence in the second half of the 2023 season as one of the Detroit Tigers’ most promising pitchers, with a 7-3 record, a stellar 2.80 ERA, and an eye-catching 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings over 80 1/3 innings, underscores his potential as one of the top 2024 MLB starting pitchers. His remarkable performance, highlighted by a 2.00 FIP, offers hope for a Tigers franchise in desperate need of top-tier pitching and positions him as a potential Cy Young contender for 2024. Skubal’s ability to deliver fastballs that touch triple digits and his dominance in spring training further cement his status among the best starting pitchers. Despite previous injuries limiting his innings, a healthy Skubal in 2024 could be the X-factor the Tigers need to contend, showcasing the kind of elite talent that makes him one of the MLB’s most exciting pitchers to watch.

14. Blake Snell, San Francisco Giants

As the MLB offseason unfolded, Blake Snell‘s prolonged wait for a new team ended with his signing to a two-year, $62 million deal with the Giants, presenting exceptional value for San Francisco. Despite concerns over his delayed preparation, Snell’s prowess on the mound is underscored by his stellar 2023 campaign, where he showcased his dominance with a commendable 14-9 record and a remarkable 2.25 ERA across 180 innings pitched. With an impressive strikeout rate of 11.7 per nine innings, Snell proves his ability to command the game. While questions linger about his walk tendencies and early exits, his knack for stifling opponent slugging reaffirms his stature as one of the top starting pitchers in the league, poised to make a significant impact in the upcoming season.

15. Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks

Zac Gallen’s 2023 season was pivotal in Arizona’s unexpected World Series journey, highlighting his status among the top 2024 MLB starting pitchers and cementing his role as one of the best starting pitchers in the game. With a robust 17-9 record, a 3.47 ERA, and striking out 9.4 batters per nine across an imposing 210 innings during the regular season, Gallen showcased his endurance and skill. His remarkable effort extended through a grueling postseason, pushing his total innings to 243 2/3 and total pitches to 3,799, the most in baseball, reflecting a significant increase in workload. Despite the heavier load, Gallen’s performance, characterized by a K-BB percentage that rivals the elite tiers of the league, ensures his recognition as a critical asset to his team and a formidable force on the mound.

16. Max Fried, Atlanta Braves

Max Fried‘s 2023 season, marked by an impressive 8-1 record, a 2.55 ERA, and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings over just 77 2/3 innings pitched, underscores his standing as one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB despite injury setbacks. His year was hampered by a left forearm strain and blister issues, limiting him to 14 starts, but Fried’s performance when healthy remained elite, showcasing his capability to dominate hitters with both strikeouts and groundballs. As he approaches free agency post-2024 season, Fried’s resilience and skill set him apart, making him a pivotal figure in Atlanta’s rotation and a top contender among 2024 MLB starting pitchers. With no significant restrictions anticipated for the upcoming season and a proven track record of effective command and control, Fried is poised to reaffirm his SP1 status, making him a cornerstone for fantasy rosters and a critical asset for Atlanta’s championship aspirations.

17. Kyle Bradish, Baltimore Orioles

In 2023, Kyle Bradish emerged as a cornerstone of the Baltimore Orioles rotation, notching a 12-7 record with a standout 2.83 ERA and striking out 168 batters across 168 2/3 innings, which positioned him among the best starting pitchers in the MLB. Lauded as potentially the most underrated player in the league, his progression saw a marked decrease in walks alongside an increase in strikeouts, propelling the Orioles to an AL East title. Despite a spring setback due to a UCL concern, Bradish’s exceptional performance, characterized by a leading FIP of 3.27, the best walk rate and ground-ball rate of his career, and a dominant second half that included the postseason, solidifies his status as a top-tier pitcher for 2024. With his three-plus secondary pitches complementing a fast but effective fastball, Bradish stands out as a top-30 fantasy asset and a pitcher to watch in the upcoming season.

18. Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers

Freddy Peralta‘s 2023 performance redefined his trajectory in the MLB, affirming his place among the top 2024 starting pitchers with a record of 12-10, a 3.86 ERA, and striking out 11.4 batters per nine across 165 2/3 innings. The season marked a career-defining moment for Peralta, as he avoided injuries and set personal records in wins, quality starts, and strikeouts, amassing 210 Ks. His enhanced fastball velocity and a deadly slider and curveball played a pivotal role in his second-half surge, boasting a 2.81 ERA and a 36.3% strikeout rate. This performance, underscored by significant improvements and overcoming past command issues, solidifies Peralta’s status as a premier pitcher, poised for further success and cementing his role as a cornerstone for the Milwaukee Brewers.

19. Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners

Logan Gilbert, a cornerstone of Seattle’s revered homegrown pitching talent, emerged in 2023 with notable accomplishments, marking him as a pitcher to watch among the top 2024 MLB starting pitchers. Finishing the year with a 13-7 record, a 3.73 ERA, and striking out 8.9 batters per nine innings over 190 2/3 innings pitched, Gilbert demonstrated his evolving mastery on the mound, notably through the successful integration of a split-changeup into his arsenal. This new pitch, used 431 times and holding opponents to a .175 average, significantly contributed to his performance, alongside his impressive control that saw a walk rate of just 1.7 per nine innings. Despite challenges with home runs, especially at his home park, and a strikeout rate that suggests room for growth, Gilbert’s developments in 2023 and unwavering command position him as one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB, underlining his potential to climb further in the rankings with reduced home run susceptibility.

20. Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays

Zach Eflin’s 2023 season with Tampa Bay, featuring a 16-8 record, a 3.50 ERA, and an impressive 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings over 177 2/3 innings pitched, solidified his position among the best starting pitchers heading into 2024. His ability to consistently deliver six or more innings in 19 of his 31 starts not only reflected the Rays’ trust in him but also highlighted the success of a strategic shift in his pitching approach—less reliance on fastballs and sinkers in favor of cutters and curveballs aimed lower in the zone. This adjustment led to an increase in strikeouts, a reduction in walks, and more groundball outs. Despite past knee issues, Eflin’s performance last season was a testament to his durability and effectiveness, making Tampa Bay’s investment seem like a savvy move. With his ERA outperforming estimators and showing no signs of knee trouble, Eflin stands out as a potentially undervalued asset in fantasy and real-world terms, marking him as a top pitcher to watch in 2024.


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