Top 400 Starting Pitchers For Fantasy Baseball 2024: 1-20 SPs

SP Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball: 1-20 Starting Pitchers

Welcome to the Top 400 Starting Pitchers For 2024 Fantasy Baseball. This is an update to my Top 200 Starting Pitchers For 2024 from October last year.

After shoving all my strategies and write-ups of all 400 players + something close to 300 videos into one article, I quickly found out it crashed phones and browsers, and I felt like an idiot. I’m so sorry everyone, I really should have just done these individually spliced articles first.

Here’s what we’ve done:

  • All ranks are now spliced into groups of 20, 25, and 50
  • Rankings Philosophy article to read separately
  • Left the main up for those who can handle it

Please read the Rankings Philosophy article before reading the rankings. I cannot express enough how it outlines my thoughts on drafting in 12-teamers and why I have ranked these players as I have.

Thanks for your passion and enthusiasm for this article – it pushes me more every year, and I already have new ideas for next year to make this easier a better presentation for all of you.



Tier 1 – Ace Workhorse

If I’m going to spend on an SP this early, give me those who have a track record, high expected volume, and expected elite marks.


1. Spencer Strider (ATL, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Y’all know he’s dope and going to be dope. Probably. I have no issue with anyone who lists Strider as their SP #1 given the high Win potential and favorite to lead the league in strikeouts. I have a small worry about a few things. First, it’s a two-pitch mix where his command is not as pristine as others, making for times when batters can sit on the heater when the slider doesn’t find the zone, and the four-seamer isn’t perfectly placed upstairs. I actually wonder if he can move to a Fosh changeup grip that may be the nullifier he’s been searching for in addition to being another option to keep batter’s honest off the four-seamer.

The other issue is contact. He misses more bats than any in the league at a 20%+ SwStr rate – a mark I haven’t seen outside of the short 2020 season or Jacob deGrom – but his ICR? 27th percentile at 41%. He forces batters to guess 50/50 on what’s coming, which can be manipulated to take advantage of hitters, though it makes contact do more harm than other stud arms, especially with the higher velocity.

It’s a major reason why Strider had a 3.86 ERA last year. But his FIP is 2.85! That assumes all balls in play are equal and I just told you that it’s not for Strider. Ohhhhh. That doesn’t mean he should be avoided – of course not – it just means I don’t expect him to lead the league in ERA. The four-seamer and slider are still going to be filthy and rack up all the strikeouts, the WHIP could improve from 1.09 if he has fewer innings without the loss of command, and the Wins will be there. It’s not the same historical floor as Cole but that’s fine, right?


2. Gerrit Cole (NYY, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Can I just write “he’s the most consistent SP in baseball and don’t overthink this”? Because I’m overthinking this right now and I’m kinda scared…? I often wave aside Cole in fantasy analysis since it’s such an early pick and your time is better spent elsewhere, but there are actually weird things happening and I need to tell y’all about it.

Cole’s pitches were demonstrably worse in 2023 and yet he had his Cy Young year with his best ratios since sticky stuff. Cole’s VAA and iVB marks, merged with 97/98 mph velocity, have made his four-seamer elite since his arrival, yet they all fell last year. His VAA went from elite to above-average, he lost almost a full inch of iVB since last year, and he lost over a tick of velocity. Sure, but the pitch still dominates! Did it? It’s awfully weird to see Cole hold ~9% SwStr rates against RHBs across the years with his four-seamer (I DON’T GET IT), but its 27% called strike rate fell to just 18% last year, returning a 28% CSW overall, preventing him from earning a single King Cole last year. You know, the term he coined for his elite CSW marks.

The pitch also took a step back against LHBs. Cole racks up the whiffs with his four-seamer against LHBs, but the pitch has gone from a 21% to 18% to now 13% SwStr rate across the last three seasons. That’s still good. It is, but it’s not “the greatest four-seamer in baseball” good.

I’m worried about that heater and hope he can regain it, while there’s an equal concern with his slider. Cole has routinely held 33%+ CSW marks on the pitch against LHB,s yet it fell to just 28% last year as it dropped six points in SwStr to 18%. It’s still solid, but he failed to land it under the “Nitro Zone” of LHBs consistently last season, bringing its O-Swing to a pedestrian 33% clip. This is COLE we’re talking about here, he’s not supposed to flirt with plebs.

His cutter has helped him find some extra strikes and navigate lineups better, but hot dang, I want the old Cole back. I’m not sure I can trust his HR/9 to sit comfortably below 1.00 again, especially after the demonstrative 1.48 clip he featured in 2022. He’s obviously going to be an ace for your squad, but hot dang, are we starting to see mortality from the SP king of fantasy baseball?


3. Corbin Burnes (BAL, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


I have so many thoughts and I’ll try to keep it succinct (Spoiler Alert: I don’t). In short, I’m not concerned about Burnes as his 2023 “down” year can be condensed to “hey, he struggled against right-handers with all his pitches, but I’m still the dopest against left-handers.” Considering Burnes is still a ratio stud with 200 strikeouts (and just 10 Wins…), I’m encouraged about a better 2024 season ahead. But how will he improve against right-handers? I’m glad you asked.

One stat I’ve been using incessantly this off-season is ICR – a stat that best outlines “when a pitcher allows a ball in play, is it good or bad for them?” Allowing higher than a 40% ICR on a fastball is poor (35% for a secondary pitch) and sub 35% for a fastball is excellent (sub 30% for a secondary with the rare 25% ICR being legendary). Why bring this up? All four of Burnes’ major offerings held a 35%+ ICR against right-handers, while his major three against left-handers were all below 32%. Again, he’s really good at taking down left-handers with back-door cutters, a filthy changeup, and his big hook.

ANSWER MY QUESTION, NICK. Right, right. The cool thing about Burnes is how each of his four pitches against right-handers – cutter, slider, curve, sinker – can be feasibly better. First, his bread-and-butter, a cutter that earns all the strikes. Its 70% strike rate last year against RHB was stupid high because none of his other pitches held a 60%+ rate. It messed with its locations, which moved the pitch from its fantastic down-and-away spot to more centralized, where it was clobbered more often than usual. Reclaim that focus away, and better results should follow.

The breakers are a different story. I’ve been an old man shouting at a cloud for years watching Burnes neglect his slider, featuring it sub 20% of the time to right-handers (just 8% overall last year!) despite absurd SwStr numbers to die for. I truly believe Burnes needs to lean on it more, which may help him remove its mistakes over the plate. After all, you throw it more, you generally get more comfortable with a pitch. The curve is a different story. Its putaway rate was cut in half last year as he simply threw too many mistakes in the dirt with it. I think this may be more of a sequencing/feel situation and it shouldn’t be living in the 54% strike depths once again. This is more of a “believe me, bro” than any here, but, um, Believe me Bro.

Oh, and there’s also a sinker in the mix that he doesn’t command high enough, nor does it have a vicious horizontal break to be a massive difference-maker at the moment. If he can get the pitch to be more inside-up or inside-middle instead of down, it could be another strike-earner he desperately needs against right-handers.

I have to mention that the move to Baltimore should only help Burnes. I initially had Burnes and #4 and moved him to #3 with the move as the increased Wins, pitching for a WS contender, and moving away from Miller Park to Walltimore are solid tiebreakers over Wheeler. It’s going to be fun watching Baltimore rally around the Orange Burnes.

Hi. We made it to the end. Burnes has areas to improve, but at the end of the day, he’s one of the best mitigators of hard contact in the bigs. His overall ICR was 92nd percentile last year while still earning a 13%+ SwStr rate. This will keep the ERA and WHIP down, especially with the walk rate falling as he earns more strikes to right-handers. As one of the workhorses around with sparkling ratios and 200+ strikeout potential, he’s a clear stud for the year ahead.


4. Zack Wheeler (PHI, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Wheeler’s fastballs are incredible and keep his production floor as high as any. Righties suffer to the whim of his four-seamer’s 20% SwStr rate and 41% CSW  against them, mixed with an elite sinker that barrels into the handle of the bat 75% of the time for a 30% ICR and fantastic results. Those two pitches deflating the ambitions of RHBs is the cause of Wheeler’s incessant appearances in the seventh inning, even if the absurdity doesn’t carry over to LHBs to the same degree – Wheeler’s signature heater is only a 36% ICR there with an 11% SwStr rate. How dare he.

You may be surprised to know that Wheeler’s four-seamer doesn’t have great iVB at a pedestrian 14.1 mark. It’s his elite extension, VAA, 95/96 mph velocity, and high locations that make the pitch so dang difficult to deal with. It’s the full package, not just iVB, y’all.

The rest of the arsenal has always been a work in progress, and their lack of electricity illuminates the dominance of his fastballs. RHBs were served mostly sweepers to counteract the heater and despite having all the favor of batters focused on the fastball, Wheeler’s sweeper vastly underperformed, returning just a 53% strike rate across 22% usage. The pitch had reasonable success in two-strike counts, though finding a rhythm as a strike pitch in and out of the zone will help Wheeler distance himself from the occasional clunker.

With the introduction of the sweeper, Savant has classified last year’s slider into this year’s cutter, which was reserved for lefties to take the place of his sinker, which only appeared as a surprise front-hip offering in two-strike counts. It’s another area for growth as the cutter allowed a mediocre 43% ICR, though it fared far better in 2022 and could return next season. For a proper off-speed look, Wheeler leans on his curveball, which he gets down incredibly often, but doesn’t see the results you’d want – 59% strike rate, high ICR rate, and a shockingly low 25% CSW.

A belief in Wheeler is a belief in his heaters dominating for another season. There’s still room for upside with the mediocrity of his secondaries, and figuring just one of them out transforms him into another level of dominance, especially with his workhorse resume. There are few safer than Wheeler to target in drafts.


Tier 2 – Aces With Small Flaws

It’s weird to talk about flaws at #5, though each of these pitchers have a hole or two that may reveal themselves in season. That said, all have Top #5 SP ability and are expected to carry every week of the year.


5. Pablo López (MIN, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


After living in Miami and trying to figure out a proper #3 pitch to complement his deadly changeup and well-commanded four-seamer, López was a new man in Minnesota. Pablo went to Driveline last off-season, and he returned not only with a new sweeper that earned a 32% CSW and minuscule ICR% against RHBs but also with two extra ticks on his four-seamer, transforming it from an 11% SwStr rate pitch to 17% SwStr in 2023. Whoa. Just a cool 98th percentile SwStr four-seamer that destroyed RHBs for a 22% SwStr and won the hearts of many. I still have some small concerns about that four-seamer as it can find the zone a little too much at times, resulting in a high 44% ICR, though its near 40% CSW and 78% strike rate absolutely make up for it (maybe there’s a small adjustment of not giving in as much with the pitch?).

His gains didn’t stop there. Having a strong breaker against RHBs opened the door for the curve and change to dominate in two-strike counts, each returning 20% SwStr marks of their own. And the sinker? Pablo uses it perfectly. He utilizes it 90% of the time early in counts or when behind to surprise batters inside to earn quick outs. We’re talking an elite 42% O-Swing and 27% ICR against RHBs. Pure bliss.

Unfortunately, there’s still a touch of work to be done against LHBs. Sweepers are not nearly as effective when breaking into batters, while four-seamers generally perform worse against opposite-handed batters and López is no exception. The fastball misses far fewer bats, and without the sinker’s ability to earn quick outs, nor the sweeper acting as a proper weapon, López often finds himself going between his changeup and curve alone. That changeup is excellent (you’ll hear him say in this 90-minute interview I had with him how he tells himself “The Change Is Always There”), but it can make mistakes over the plate, while the curve isn’t the destroyer of worlds we want it to be. Imagine if López develops a cutter at Driveline…

In the end, López is a command pitcher with clear workhorse ability for a winning club with a boatload of strikeouts expected to return next season. I see his 3.66 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a raised eyebrow of skepticism as both should be lower across another season with his skill set. There’s even more upside if he can find a better attack to LHBs, though there is concern that his former injury history catches up to him. I’m less concerned than others after two seasons of consistency and his new skills look like they’re here to stay. He’s safe with the ceiling you want. Get him.


6. Luis Castillo (SEA, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


His four-seamer is a weird one. Despite having terrible vertical break and extension, the pitch is so often located upstairs with elite VAA that it became one of the best pitches in the majors. He gets a 20% SwStr rate to right-handers with only a small dip to lefties while earning plenty of strikes and great ICR rates. It may also be amplified by his sinker usage, a pitch he effectively gets inside to right-handers with a phenomenal 37% O-Swing rate, opening the door for his four-seamer to surprise with straighter action. Y’all know I love a good same-handed inside sinker.

The biggest change over the years is arguably his move away from the changeup toward sliders, which destroy right-handers but has some polish left to add against lefties. Castillo, please get the pitch away from the danger zone, where left-handers drop the barrel and easily crush the pitch. It’s why lefties returned a 40%+ ICR on sliders this year and if Castillo can avoid those mistakes on the breaker, he’ll soar even further.

His slowball isn’t completely gone, though. It finds its way against left-handers a decent amount of the time, but it’s more of a lateral break than dip these days, making it harder to pair with the four-seamer, diving outside moreso than the ideal location under the zone. It’s still effective, just not like that of Pablo López, whose mantra is “the change is always there“.

Repertoire aside, he has health and a solid situation in his favor as the ace of the Mariners. Expect another 30+ starts with contention for six frames consistently and a boatload of Wins as he piles on the strikeouts for yet another season. There will be days where the command isn’t quite there, but hot dang, he’s one of the sturdiest workhorses around. Security in early picks is everything.


7. George Kirby (SEA, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Kirby makes all the sense and none of them. Wait. His four-seamer is the prime example. It carried a 22% SwStr rate to right-handers, but also allowed a whopping 54% ICR to them as well – batters swung plenty and while they missed a ton, the mistakes were demolished. It was the opposite on the other side of the plate, however. Left-handers whiffed just 13% of the time to the four-seamer, but held a far smaller 36% ICR. It’s awfully weird.

Even stranger are the pitch’s characteristics. Kirby’s four-seamer features poor extension, poor iVB, and middling VAA, and yet its SwStr rate was 99th percentile. Location, location, location. And, you know, 96 mph heat. I actually think there’s another step here for Kirby’s approach with too many heaters falling middle-away to right-handers, while also finding the zone a little too much. His elite 42% O-Swing on four-seamers could be exploited more if he just pulls up everything just a touch more. And this is Kirby we’re talking about, one of the best command artists out there. He can do it.

The Mariners as a system seem to have a philosophy of pairing sinkers with four-seamers against same-handed batters and Kirby is no exception. The sinker appears just as often as the premier four-seamer when facing right-handers, and I’m massively impressed by its ability to generate outs and weak contact. There’s something to that philosophy and it’s a major reason for Kirby’s low walk rate and efficiency to go deeper into games. Its 39% O-Swing is bliss.

The breakers are where the true growth can be found. Kirby’s slider came along this year to jump nearly ten points in strike rate as it earned far more swings out of the zone, and I think there’s more in the future as his slider jumped to a 15% SwStr (not 10/11%!) in the second half of the season. It’ll get there.

The curve is fine. It’s a big hook that earns strikes early in the count and helps him save his fastballs as surprise pitches. I don’t anticipate a ton of growth here, but it helps, just like the splitter that had its moments and was introduced to help against left-handers. But ultimately, I don’t believe the curve should be leaned upon as a major option he’ll rely on consistently.

On that topic, Kirby suffers the same problem as his brethren: He struggles against left-handers as he’s without a proper changeup and lacks the skills to dominate gloveside with his full arsenal. It makes me wonder if a Kirby will experiment with a cutter to jam up-and-in, which would tunnel so well with his four-seamer upstairs. H*ck, we saw moments where his slider was THE FILTH and if he can pull the deGrom of landing that pitch down and inside consistently, the pitch will jump massively from its current sub 10% SwStr rate. If any pitcher can figure that out, it’s Kirby.

The low WHIP should return with his low walk rate and general skill of inhibiting hard contact, which could improve with a four-seamer adjustment next season + likely growth in his slider/nullifier to left-handers. That 23% strikeout rate has the potential for 30% if the slider jumps massively, though a 25/26% rate is more likely as he piles on the innings once again. Draft him with confidence – the floor is so dang high.


8. Kevin Gausman (TOR, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Gausman is going to allow plenty of hits and that alone makes him outside the Top 5 for me. Excuse me?! I understand why I’ve seen Gausman as the third SP off the board – 31+ starts in three straight seasons, averaging about 185 IP in each season, low-3s ERA marks, and 200+ strikeouts each year as well. The problem? A 1.24 WHIP and 1.18 WHIP the last two years and I don’t think it’s going away. Gausman is a simple man – he throws a four-seamer well into the zone for 70%+ strike rates and relies on his filthy splitter to fall out of it and demoralize batters everywhere.

That heater gets crushed, though. Left-handers boasted an ICR near 55% (Gasp!) on the pitch last year, while the 45% mark for RHBs was still a weight the splitter had to counteract. This issue isn’t going to disappear – it has haunted Gausman for a long time and catalyzes his poor BABIP marks each year. Yes, that splitter is filthy and keeps Gausman very much an ace, but Gausman needs another pitch to earn strikes as its sub 60% strike rates make it difficult for Gausman to keep pitches off barrels.

A small wrinkle is 2023’s stellar 31% strikeout rate that should fall with his four-seamer’s putaway rate climbing to a peak 24%+ clip last year (95th percentile!) despite similar CSW and SwStr rates. With his walk rate regressing after its astounding 4% rate in 2022, fewer strikeouts will translate to more walks and hits as well, compounding the issue.

I ask a simple question. What is the difference between Kevin Gausman and Aaron NolaNola’s ERA is much worse! But Gausman’s WHIP is much worse. Oh snap. They’ll both have double-digit Wins and over 200 strikeouts. Is the gap between Nola and Gausman’s ERA more important than their WHIP difference? Sit with that and let Gausman go to someone else.


9. Zac Gallen (ARI, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Gallen’s entire approach stems from an unusual four-seamer. With its above-average vertical break mixed with a touch of cut action, the four-seamer thrives down in the zone as Gallen can place the pitch at the knees with ease, even surprising batters as the pitch slides back over the arm-side edge for frozen strikeouts. His consistency extends to all four of his secondaries, which have specific roles and stick to them. Both the changeup and curveball feature elite loLoc rates as they tunnel well with his fastball, creating havoc for hitters failing to recognize if the pitch will stay afloat in the zone or dive into the dirt. His slider and cutter are routinely gloveside with few errors, though there is room to grow (especially with the slider) to incorporate them frequently in each start. What does it mean for fantasy? That Gallen has the toolset to go 6-7 frames every game with a strikeout-per-inning and upside for more if at least one secondary is cooking. He’ll have stretches of both highs and lows, but with the Arizona defense supporting him and a history of high volume, Gallen should be an all-around producer once again. He’s safe without the “#1 fantasy pitcher” ceiling others inside the Top 15 carry.


10. Logan Webb (SFG, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Webb is the best version of a sinker/changeup guy you’ll find. What about Hendricks?! What about having more velocity, a changeup that moves more, and a decent slider? OKAY FINE. The slowball gets all the attention, though the sinker is what makes it so great. Webb earned 30+% called strikes with the pitch against both LHBs and RHBs, living glove-side and mostly down, as the pitch looks exactly like his changeup out of the hand. With his elite extension, batters can’t decide between the 92 mph heater or 87 mph changeup, resulting in a ton of stolen strikes and a whopping 50% O-Swing on his changeup to both sides of the plate. It’s stupid good.

Now that Webb has embraced that changeup to the levels of 50%+ usage (we saw multiple games where threw over 60 changeups and they hold a special place in my heart), Webb is earning more swings out of the zone, raising its strike rate to massive 70%+ marks and effectively bringing his walk rate to a minuscule sub 4% clip.

It was brilliant though he still had some warts. Webb’s hit rate is still high at 8.4 H/9 as his BABIP is destined to hover around .300 with his massive groundball tendencies. If you’re like me and believe his changeup and sinker won’t perform quite at this level, then expect the walk rate to rise as the hits keep coming like 90’s radio. Meanwhile, there’s still concern about his slider turning into a sweeper last year as he’s lost the gyro pitch of 2021. I hope Webb can find a slider that works well against righties and at least decent against lefties, though I’m not sure we’ll see it.

Workhorses are hard to come by and Webb looks destined to go 200 IP again, health permitting (can we say he’s out of the woodwork there?), making his low strikeout rate manageable given how deep he goes into games – he did earn 194 strikeouts last year, even if it took 216 innings to eclipse 190. That changeup and sinker will make Webb a high-floor option but sadly without the ceiling of the elites as he lacks a third pitch to help him miss bats. Given the slew of concerns across the Top 25 starters, Webb has risen up slowly in my ranks due to this high floor. Get the assured production.


11. Aaron Nola (PHI, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


We should expect Nola to be better than his 4.46 ERA and 1.15 WHIP last season, though I’m a bit conflicted on how much. You could point to his career-high 1.49 HR/9 and call it a day, but there was much more going on than a handful of longballs ruining his day. Nola’s strikeout rate dropped from routine flirtations with 30% to ~25%, while he allowed hits at a higher rate and saw his SwStr rate fall below 13% for the first time since 2019. There’s some stuff to discuss.

I loved watching Nola feature sinkers inside plenty more to right-handers (jumping from a sub 20% rate to 40%+) as he increased its usage, helping him keep batters off his four-seamers, a pitch that jumped from a 40% ICR to 53% last year. There’s yer problem. Sure, the four-seamer allowed more extra-base hits and was punished more often, but that may have been a product of his curve, cutter, and change all degrading as well. The curve lost horizontal bite and featured an average CSW after years of being the poster child of CSW success, his cutter was used more in two-strike counts, but struggled to earn punchouts, and his changeup was pummeled in its rare appearances.

The weirdest part of Nola? He insists on keeping his four-seamers away from batters on both sides of the plate, yet he features elite extension and elite VAA marks on the pitch. He could elevate it with success. Sure, the iVB isn’t what you want it to be, but like Wheeler and even without the same velocity, I’m surprised Nola settles from the called strike game outside so often – it’s not a shock he allowed so much poor contact with those locations.

I should clarify, this tactic worked against lefties with a sub 35% ICR that paired nicely with a curveball that had batters fishing out of the zone over half the time. Changeups are still a weak spot, but it’s clear right-handers were the problem and that four-seamer adjustment upstairs paired with sinkers inside (and out, sure) and cutters + curves away should do the trick.

I’m not confident we’ll see that version of Nola, though, and with his changeup still fighting for relevancy merged with that cutter failing to be the solution to his problems, I have some worries about Nola. That said, he’s another workhorse destined to flash 200 strikeouts again with double-digit Wins and a productive WHIP, and there are few pitchers with that security. Draft him as your SP #2 and be prepared to endure passing headaches. He’ll balance it out, don’t worry.


Tier 3 – The Risky Aces

This tier and the next are all about what you’re looking for. I generally want to favor the safer floors of Tier 4 when chasing SP early in drafts, however these arms all have stronger paths to finishing comfortably inside the Top 10 SP, or at least are expected to have a higher level of quality per inning and can pair with a replacement arm off the wire if they fall to injury.


12. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (LAD, RHP)



It’s hard for me to write about Yamamoto since I don’t have the same data to refer to, nor have I had the chance to watch him nearly as much as everyone else inside these ranks. From what I gather, Yamamoto sports a great 95+ mph four-seamer, a legit slider, curve, and splitter, excellent command, and at the ripe age of 24 years old, he’s in his prime to excel over the course of the season. Throw in a fantastic situation with the Dodgers and you have yourself a relatively safe arm who can carry a 25%+ strikeout rate with strong ratios and a bucketload of Wins. The biggest problem is his volume: The Dodgers are sure to implement a six-man rotation as much as possible to give Yamamoto rest and likely limit him to roughly 150 frames (remember, they signed him to a ten-year deal and Japanese players are used to longer rest). The capped volume is my biggest concern about Yamamoto as he’ll have to be 33% better than another pitcher tossing nearly 200 frames to match the value. Considering that we’ll likely see some growing pains in the transition as well, I’m likely a little tepid on Yamamoto relative to the market, but it’s clear he’ll help your fantasy teams plenty in the year ahead.


13. Bobby Miller (LAD, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


One of my tenets for finding value starting pitchers is finding a pitcher who does three things: 1) Has a strong floor where you know you won’t drop them during the year 2) Has a ceiling they haven’t reached yet to make them a top tier SP, and 3) Is primed to go six-innings per start, every five days. Miller ticks all of these boxes…except for the “every five days” part, though that may change as the season develops. After all, six-man rotations are like The Fellowship of the Ring – it starts with a large crew with idealistic ambitions, and by the end, it’s just two guys barely surviving.

I absolutely adore Miller’s floor. He pumps a pair of 99 mph heaters with a trio of secondary offerings that could potentially expand to four if he distinctly separates his gyro slider from a low 90s cutter, in addition to a legit curve and developing changeup. That’s a six-pitch mix where each weapon could improve in a second season. The Dodgers have this whole thing with preventing their pitchers from throwing their four-seamers upstairs, even when they come with all the pitch shape marks that would indicate success upstairs. Miller has it – velocity (duh), elite extension, above-average iVB, and above-average VAA – and yet his hiLoc% to RHBs was under 40%. WHY. Because the slugging percentage of his lower fastballs was better than his high fastballs. I DON’T CARE. Miller should be throwing high heat, leaning on the sinker to continue earning 40% O-Swing inside to RHBs, then focusing on refining his slider down-and-glove-side.

Ah right, the slider. It’s a pitch that was shockingly pedestrian last season despite absurd Stuff+ and PLV marks (5.45 PLV vs RHBs, 5.77 vs. LHBs yet neither held a 15%+ SwStr) and as a gyro slider, Miller can go the Gerrit Cole approach to LHBs while also sporting a better curve and changeup to support it. Hot DANG. Just get the slider a little more tempting under the zone than inside and you’ve got yourself a strikeout stew.

Against RHBs, Miller constantly tugged the pitch away and failed to get into a proper rhythm to devastate batters. I wonder if making a specific distinction between the pitch as a cutter for strikes and the gyro for whiffs may help him here, and with Miller’s arsenal and ability to throw a ton of strikes, the ceiling is sky high.

I didn’t even mention the curve, the pitch Miller turned to most often as his ole reliable when keeping guys off his heater. He kept it low about 70% of the time and it helped plenty, though I think the slider has more potential as a debilitating offering. In fact, making the slider the main breaker would amplify the effect of the curve as well, and hooooo boy there’s so much potential here.

Against LHBs, there is a heavy serving of changeups as well, a pitch that can have great results, though Miller does struggle to earn enough strikes with it to truly take down batters. Miller could simply be elite if he’s able to raise its 57% strike rate close to 65% while chucking it closer to 25-30% of the time as its sub 20% ICR was dastardly to LHBs. It makes sense – his heaters came in 11-12 mph harder and batters weren’t prepared for the slowball.

There’s so much to like about Bobby and I can’t help but rank him higher than others given the wide range of pitches and the massive potential in his sophomore season. The true ding is the expected volume, though he threw 140 frames last year (including minors and postseason) and the Dodgers may be looking to Miller to become the “every five days” workhorse during the year when injuries arise. I’m going for it and not looking back.


14. Cole Ragans (KCR, LHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Swoon. How I adore you. Ragans is The Unicorn to me with five different pitches that all excel when executed effectively, and it allows him to take a repertoire filled with sub 5.00 PLV pitches (and a glorious 5.46 on his slider) and get more out of them as he intertwines them across at-bats. The 10%+ walk rate is the most common gripe against Ragans and it should be – walks are bad, obviously – though it’s not as much of a product of volatility than it is Ragans’ desire to nibble around the zone instead of firing pitches inside the zone with reckless abandon.

That said, Ragans is missing polish on his command that would take him to the next level. His four-seamer’s sub-65% strike rate got him into more holes than ideal, while the curveball needs to find the zone a little more often. The safe bet is that we see more of the same here, though given Ragans’ absurd growth last year (velocity bump and new slider in July and NOT because of the Royals), these tweaks may come from more work with Tread Athletics this off-season.

I implore you to watch this video covering his breakout start against the Red Sox. You’ll see the cutter dancing inside, surprise changeups in unorthodox counts, elevated upper-90s heaters, backdoor curves, and that vicious slider. It’s so dang fun.

But the health! And the Royals! Ah, yes. Health is weird as the “two TJS” isn’t quite right – he underwent Tommy John surgery, they screwed it up, so he did it a second time – and he’s been healthy otherwise. I’m not quite sure I’d ding him more than others just for that.

But the Royals…that’s a legit point. The defense isn’t the problem – they ranked fourth in Outs Above Average as a crew last season – and, to be frank, Ragans was unfortunate last year with some plays in the field that made some of his starts linger. Linger…ah! Like the managers letting him pitch too long! RIGHT. It’s weird for me to give a negative connotation to a long leash, but the Royals ruined many Ragans starts by keeping him in games far longer than he should and it’s maddening. You have to hope that gets corrected…right?

And lastly, I have zero faith in the Royals as a crew to help fix Ragans in-season when things go awry. It’s possible Tread Athletics can still be in his ear and make those tweaks with him, but it’s a big unknown at the moment. In the end, Ragans carries more risk than others in the same range, though his ceiling of an SP #1 is very real if he’s able to iron out some command kinks. It was a small 66.2 IP sample of Ragans as a comfortable starter and armed with his new slider, but a 2.70 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and 32% strikeout rate should give you a proper glimpse of what could be. Sigh, make sure to get your rAGAns shirt before his first start and join the fun.


15. Grayson Rodriguez (BAL, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Those who want to talk about Grayson and his 2023 as a whole are not going to jive with me. If you recall, Grayson got the call in the spring, struggled immensely, then was brilliant after he returned on July 17th, including his shaky first game back: 2.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 24% strikeout rate across 76.2 IP and 13 starts. I’m not saying those numbers are what we should expect, but the floor of spring can easily be handwaved and understood as jitters and getting acclimated to the bigs. Use the second-half Grayson as your baseline.

That version of Grayson has all the weapons, and I’m simply not sure how he’ll use them. His four-seamer passes the eye test with elite velocity (occasionally above 100 mph) and elite extension + great VAA, though I worry about his approach and mediocre iVB, which made the pitch return a sub-12% SwStr during his hot stretch, even with an average 98 mph velocity. I was a bit surprised to see Grayson utilize the pitch over half the time, while also turning away from a pure hiLoc approach, though when he did eclipse 60%+ high locations, whiffs came with it.

Meanwhile, his changeup is so dang good and could be even better. It has a 14+ mph difference from the fastball at just 84 mph, and when he was able to get the dang thing in the lower third or below, the pitch thrived. Its 23% usage isn’t justified to me when it carries a 48% O-Swing and near 70% strike rate with an elite 23% ICR. That’s stupid. It needs to be thrown more, which will also help the heater as batters become more threatened by the slower velocity.

And yes, I’m going to add a fourth paragraph for Grayson because there’s too much to discuss. There’s even one more area of growth: his breakers. I’m shocked to report he went slider just 14% of the time in those thirteen starts, with 9% curves as well. A combined 23% breaking ball usage for a power-arm when both pitches express legit whiffability (and higher than 60% strike rates!) is baffling, to say the least. It all makes for a pitcher who is growing in the major leagues and has another ceiling to hit, as long as he can make the right adjustments with both approach and locations to take full advantage of his repertoire. My biggest concern lies in that heater, though. If we see Grayson continue to rely on it over half the time, it makes for a bit of worry as it didn’t miss bats at an elite level (and, you know, was tagged quite often). Believe in the sophomore improvements for young, promising arms and you’ll generally succeed, especially when those adjustments are more tangible than “throw harder” or “learn a new pitch.” I’m going for it.


16. Tyler Glasnow (LAD, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


Glasnow is legit and we all know it. Even with immense cut action, his four-seamer still misses bats when elevated…which shockingly happens less than 40% of the time (remember when he was the poster boy for “I want to throw high fastballs”?). His slider is the real winner of the arsenal, saving Glasnow from the heater/curve days of inconsistency with not only a 65%+ strike rate, but also a 20% SwStr rate. His curve gets a lot of discussion with its minuscule BAA, but it’s a product of its usage. Used over 60% of the time in two-strike counts, it returns far more strikeouts than balls in play, especially with it bouncing in the dirt for a ball nearly half the time. In the end, the strikeouts and low WHIP will be there, and it’s a matter of not losing his fastball and slider command start-to-start, opening the door for punishment – despite the whiffability, his pitches have middling ICR rates. That is, when batters actually make contact, they fare well against Glasnow, and it’s irritating.

Of course, the real discussion is volume. Glasnow’s 120 frames in 2023 was the peak of his career, with much more than his TJS holding him back over the years. With the Dodgers known for being careful with taxing their arms, it would be unwise to expect 150 frames in the year ahead. And yet, he tallied 162 punchouts in those limited 2023 innings, making the floor (paired with the arm you get off the wire!) a much more palatable experience than most. I wrestled with placing Glasnow up at #12 or down here at #16 with the former argument being that in 12-teamers, the replacement level is high enough to justify the time he spends on the IL. However, I prefer the higher ceiling of innings from the young arms about, while each sport 30% strikeout potential as well. Please trust your own gut here and don’t listen to me if you believe I’m overthinking the injury risk on Glasnow. Gosh dang I hate predicting injury risk & volume in the preseason. IT’S NO FUN Y’ALL. Like rostering Glasnow in August when he’s on the IL? Ayyyyyyy yoooo.


Tier 4 – Savings Accounts

I’m likely going to live in this tier a bit as I see plenty of safety in ability where I’d be shocked if I felt as if I didn’t get value from them in 2024.


17. Kyle Bradish (BAL, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table



Update: Kyle Bradish has been diagnosed with a partially torn UCL and will start the season on the IL. It’s unknown how long he will be out for, though there is more optimism in camp that he’s avoided major injury to force TJS. My “reading the tea leaves” guess is that Bradish will be out until May/June, forcing him to fall deep in my drafts closer to the #60/70 Ranks, after I’ve already solidified my rotation.

Bradish can be better and it’s been swirling in my mind all off-season. Think peak Kluber and you have something close to Bradish with a 90 mph slider that is disgusting as one of the best pitches in the game and a curveball that should be thrown far more than it is now. What shocks me is the low strike rate on his slider, hovering 62% instead of 65-70% like his curveball. Up the usage on both (curves are more used for LHB, sliders for RHB, and all I ask is ¿por qué no los dos?) and feature that slide piece for strikes and you’ll have yourself a glorious time.

Meanwhile, his four-seamer shouldn’t be called as such. It’s a cutter dangit, and I really hope Bradish begins to realize he should be treating it like one. His current gameplan is to backdoor it against left-handers (which is fine, but he can really soar like Mariano’s if he finds the skills to bust batters inside and saw off bats), while right-handers see the pitch far less often, and it normally reside upstairs…the place a pitch like Bradish’s shouldn’t live. Instead, why not go down-and-away to set up the breakers or get the end of the bat? The sinker is used more for right-handers, and it lands upstairs more often than you’d want and instead needs to sit inside and off the plate more.

I should mention, this entire discussion is post-May Bradish, where he realized Oh dang, I should stop leaning so hard on my four-seamer and was brilliant thereafter (Starting June 8th: 2.31 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 27% strikeout rate across 120.2 IP in 20 starts. Yeah.). Change is clearly possible, especially for a fella still early in his MLB career. Throw in a winning club and a blank check to go as long as he wants each start, well you’ve got yourself a nice stew brewing. There is 30% strikeout upside if he leans more on those breakers and adds that last lick of polish while figuring out the proper way to utilize the odd attributes of that four-seamer cutter.


18. Zach Eflin (TBR, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


I went back and forth on Eflin writing this blurb. On one hand, it was a true peak season with his 31 starts equating his previous seasons combined, while his WHIP fell to a glistening 1.02 and he boasted a 26%+ strikeout for just the second time in his career. The Rays certainly helped his case – 16 Wins, improved defense, a new cutter, and reliable pitching development – but the question remains: Is this a lookout point on a plateau or a precarious hike? I’m beginning to lean into the former. Eflin’s command is clearly there with a phenomenal 4% walk rate mixed with an ability to mitigate hard contact. In fact, there are few pitchers in the majors who can boast an 80th+ percentile ICR and 95th percentile strike rate.

The arsenal is as refined as we’ve ever seen from Eflin. He flounders right-handers with a flurry of weapons: sinkers busted inside, an elite cutter and elite curveball, and a wise choice to take his poor four-seamer and save it just for surprise two-strike elevated heaters, returning a 92nd percentile putaway rate on the pitch. Left-handers give me a little more concern:  Cutters are dastardly up-and-in, but the rest of the arsenal doesn’t cast fear. The hook does a fine job, but the sinker is questionable and without a strong changeup, left-handers can lean pull against Eflin and fight off more pitches than ideal.

What I see is a command arm who has found ways to put away batters better than ever. I imagine he’s quality as long as he’s on the bump, though his WHIP and strikeout tallies are likely taking a small hit in 2024, making room for his 3.50 ERA to climb closer to 4.00 with some worse luck. Throw in a history of questionable health (who doesn’t at this point?) and Eflin is a solid arm but not a “must-have” for the year ahead.


19. Joe Musgrove (SDP, RHP)

2023 Stats Table
Pitch Repertoire Table


What a weird year for Musgrove. Odd injuries prevented him from gathering a groove and limited him to under 100 frames, making his issues with his slider early in the year last longer than ideal, while finding strikes with his curve became a season-long task that he never quite wrangled. It forced a dramatic upswing of cutter strikes, an attack that worked against LHBs (small sample?) but was granted few favors against RHBs.

His fastballs are a curious bunch, too. Musgrove does exactly what you should do with your sinker – throw it exclusively to RHBs and only inside/off the plate – and was gifted a brilliant 19% ICR across 66% strike with it as a result. I adore this, even at just 10% usage. It’s such a valuable weapon, especially when you have Musgrove’s four-seamer, a pitch with atrocious pitch shape. When uncovering its abysmal iVB, extension, and VAA, I expected to find demolition against right-handers and I was correct: 50%+ ICR rates in 2021 and 2022. And yet, that mark fell to 29% ICR in 2023. WHAT. Yeah, I know. Weird.

Musgrove’s secret was his command and utilization of it. He saved the four-seamer for two-strike counts often and did a fabulous job elevating it as a surprise offering, tunneling exceptionally well off the common cutter and his two breakers to squeeze more from the pitch than anyone could imagine. Against lefties, the pitch painted the inside edge and above the zone elegantly, boasting a magnificent 33% ICR – a rate any starter would dream of for their four-seamer against off-handed batters. I’m not ready to expect this level of performance across a full 180 IP season in 2024, but I believe that Musgrove is finding a way to use his four-seamer better to prevent another 50%+ ICR season. H*ck, I’d take a 40% ICR with his other pitches picking up the slack.

I paint Musgrove as a safe pitcher in 2024, even if he endured an array of injuries from shoulder soreness to elbow bursitis – I see that as more of a result of his wonky throwing schedule that forced his body to do more than usual. His slider should be a solid offering once again, his changeup + curve will do work against left-handers, and his cutter + fastballs earn all the strikes to keep the walk rate low and, hopefully, hold a sub 8.0 hits-per-nine like he had the previous three seasons.  It may be too much to ask for 180 IP given the bombardment of injuries last year, but 160 IP, a strikeout per inning, and solid ratios as he’s healthy and good to go for Opening Day seems right to me. Just nibble a little better with the cutter and get that curve back in the zone, okay?


20. Framber Valdez (HOU, LHP)

2023 Stats Tables
Pitch Repertoire Table


Valdez is relatively safe. His situation is ideal as the ace of an Astros crew that will back him up both with the glove and the bat, while getting as long of a leash as any to go deep into games consistently as one of the true workhorses in the majors. I just wish I could be more enamored by his arsenal, which is powered by a sinker that consumes LHBs with ease, but took a large step back against RHBs in 2023 as the pitch lost a significant amount of sink in favor of horizontal ride. It resulted in far fewer grounders, a leap to a 42%+ ICR, and swapped many singles for doubles.

That concern would be nullified if his curveball, changeup, or cutter took steps forward, but none of them particularly excite me. The big hook still holds an impressive 20% SwStr rate, but a 60% strike rate with a 35-40% ICR isn’t the elite breaker we want it to be. It’s a solid #2 pitch, just not the offering that Framber needs to elevate him into Top 10 SP territory.

Meanwhile, the cutter has its moments acting as a back-foot slider, though he made mistakes with it that turned him away from the pitch in the second half. I’d absolutely love it if Framber developed a proper Miley-esque cutter to get inside to right-handers, then use the more gyro-slider version to earn whiffs to both lefties and righties (for what it’s worth, Framber did have two distinctly different cutters last year as you can tell by the massive range of vertical movement here).

His changeup may improve as well. He upped its usage to near 18% against right-handers and while it needs to land under the zone more often, it was a solid offering to add to the mix.

Put together, Valdez has little issue against left-handers (even if his cutter should earn more strikes) and can run into stretches during the year when he can’t land his secondaries resulting in right-handers lacing sinker after sinker. As a whole, Framber will go through highs and lows and likely hover in the 1.15 – 1.20 WHIP range with his groundball tendencies + unreliable secondary pitch to carry a 65%+ strike rate. He’s safe and there’s always room for safety.

Top 400 Starting Pitcher Rankings For 2024

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

Leave a Reply

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

Account / Login