Every year the MLB Network has a Top Ten Right Now series at every Position and here I will breakdown my top 10 at every position. Some you may agree with and some you might not everyone’s list would probably be different in some way shape or form and that’s the beauty of baseball always something to debate. Flame throwing dominators to location specialist here are my Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
#10 JOSE BERRIOS
Now I will come out and say this right now, this selection is as much predictive as it is biased. I believe that Jose Berrios has true “Ace” potential. His “Stuff” has real life and movement and with being able to increase his inning total, Berrios has the chance to increase his ability to take hold of the Ace role on the Minnesota Twins pitching staff.
#9 ROBBIE RAY
2017 was a breakout year for Robbie Ray and the Arizona Diamondbacks. With an ERA+ of 166 (according to BaseballReference) and an ERA of 2.89 along with 218 strikeouts in just 168 innings. Ray was able to really slot in amazingly in the Diamondbacks rotation. Look for more of the same in 2018.
#8 STEPHEN STRASBURG
Strasburg is a guy that could hold the #1 spot every year but injuries and innings limits have made Stephen struggle at times. 2017 was a season in which Strasburg really took a big leap forward and look for him to use 2018 to further establish himself as a true ace in the MLB.
#7 CARLOS CARRASCO
Carrasco had a season in which he didn’t receive his adequate just do, because of a teammate (I’ll get to later). But Carrasco hit 200 innings for the first time in his career and made 32 and won 18 games in 2017. 2018 should have a similar outcome for Carrasco and look for Carlos to help the Indians starting rotation again as they were number 1 in turns of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in 2017.
#6 JUSTIN VERLANDER
Now here is where the choices can be even more subjective on a list that is subjective to begin with. Verlander could be higher on any other list and I would argue with you. Especially given the run that Verlander went off on after the trade from Detroit to Houston, and even more from his Post Season. But again someone has to be in this spot, now as far as Verlander. In 2017 Verlander had a very good season, a stand out in most categories but it was his late season run that was truly remarkable. Now having a full season in Houston with their spectacular defense and his renewed emphasis on his curveball look for a return to MVP caliber Verlander in 2018.
#5 LUIS SEVERINO
Luis Severino had an awesome breakout season in 2017 as evidenced by his third place finish in the AL Cy Young voting. Sevvy after a rough beginning in 2016 and then being relegated to a bullpen role to finish that season wasn’t even a lock to be in the rotation in 2017. However, Severino had other plans and cemented himself as the Ace for the New York Yankees. In 2018 Luis Severino will try to add to his already impressive resume carrying the Yankees to the World Series.
#4 CHRIS SALE
Now it pains me as a Yankee fan to place Sale this high but Sale was dominate in 2017. Having amassed 308 strikeouts in 214 innings in 2017. Sale faded down the stretch or could have climbed this list even more. In 2018 look for the Red Sox new manager Alex Cora and his new staff to use Sale a bit differently to allow him to stay healthy and rested for a potential stretch run for a Wild Card spot.
#3 CLAYTON KERSHAW
The LA Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw has struggled with injuries over the past couple of seasons and thats the only reason he isn’t a top this list. Kershaw has been the greatest pitcher we have witnessed in some time. Comparisons to Sandy Koufax are striking but accurate. Kershaw will look to be healthy in 2018 and provide the Dodgers with over 200 innings again and reclaim his #1 pitcher in MLB status.
#2 COREY KLUBER
Earlier I discussed Carlos Carrasco being overshadowed, well it was by this man Corey Kluber. Kluber in 2017 walked away with the AL Cy Young, having struck out 265 in 203 innings even with having been injured for a short time mid season. Kluber posted an ERA of 2.25 and an ERA+ of 202 (100 is league average). Kluber was 102% better than league average, and his dominance is projected to continue in 2018.
#1 MAX SCHERZER
Max Scherzer is a fiery competitor that fire lead him to back to back NL Cy Young awards. Scherzer has the type of “Stuff” and ability that every time he pitches there is a potential no hitter or 20 strikeout game waiting in the wings. Scherzer is will look to dominate again in 2018 and possibly lead the Nationals to the first ever post season series win in 2018.