Every offseason, MLB Network runs through a series of programming. One such show is about the Top 10 Right Now at each position. And as we have done in both 2018, 2019, and 2020, we will go over our Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
Just a quick note about this list, it is a personal list, and everyone will value different things from each position. So I encourage you to make your own list and see who makes the cut on your list.
10. Dinelson Lamet
Dinelson Lamet is a name that may not have been known prior to the 2020 campaign. In 2020, Lamet would pitch to the tune of an ERA of 2.09 and an ERA+ of 205. Now, this selection may seem like an early addition because Lamet has pitched less than 260 innings in the Major Leagues. But the talent and “stuff” is undeniably there for the young right-hander. Going into 2021, Dinelson Lamet will have a solid and stable group of veteran starting pitchers around him to help guide him. And that will only serve to raise his stock. Look for a big year from Dinelson Lamet.
9. Aaron Nola
We begin the list of the Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now with the Philadelphia Phillies, Aaron Nola. Aaron Nola is the dynamic young ace for the Phillies. And Nola, in my opinion, has barely scratched the surface of his potential. Prior to the shortened 2020 campaign, Nola would pitch over 200 innings in each of the previous two seasons. This kind of durability is a rare feat nowadays for pitchers, who are constantly on pitch limits. But the 27-year-old right-hander has proven that he is capable of taking the ball every five days. But it goes beyond durability and goes into effectiveness. Aaron Nola has pitched to an ERA+ of no less than 115 over the past four seasons. Now while 2020 was a short season, Nola would dominate the field, pitched to an ERA+ of 139, and would have an ERA of 3.28 and a FIP of 3.19. Add in the fact that Nola would strikeout 96 in only 71.1 innings of work. And you have one of the Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
8. Max Fried
The Atlanta Braves ace, Max Fried is next on the list. Max Fried would have a breakout campaign in the shortened 2020 season. But it would honestly be a continuation of his progression from his previous three seasons. During his 56 innings across 11 starts in 2020, Fried would produce an ERA+ of 212, an ERA of 2.25, a FIP of 3.10, and would garner the Gold Glove for NL Starting Pitchers. This heading into 2021, Max Fried should be looked upon as one of the favorites for NL Cy Young. And also as one of the Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
7. Luis Castillo
Luis Castillo is a hot name on the rumor market. The right-hander would produce an ERA+ of 148 and an ERA of 3.21. When looking at Luis Castillo’s last two seasons, the righty has continued to get better. And going into 2021, it’s a safe assumption that Castillo will be among the best Starting Pitchers in MLB.
6. Walker Buehler
The Ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers is no longer Clayton Kershaw, but it’s now Walker Buehler. Buehler is a dynamic arm and will likely command the front of the rotation with Kershaw in 2021. When examining Buehler’s numbers, you see that he keeps his team firmly in the game. During his 30 starts in 2019 and 182.1 innings Buehler would strike out 215 batters while pitching to the tune of an ERA/FIP of 3.26/3.01 and an ERA+ of 127. And as the 2021 season nears, the Dodgers will call on Walker Buehler’s name for a lot. And he will carry the load as expected as perform even better.
5. Hyun-Jin Ryu
Arguably the most underrated Top 10 Starting pitcher Right Now is Hyun-Jin Ryu. Over the past three seasons, Ryu has been consistently among the league’s best in ERA, including taking the ERA crown in 2019. Ryu is an intelligent pitcher that crafts a game plan for every hitter. But more importantly, Ryu executes that plan to perfection. And that garners Hyun-Jin Ryu a place on the Top 10 Starting pitchers Right Now.
4. Trevor Bauer
The charismatic enigma that is Trevor Bauer is number five on my list. When you examine the pitcher that Bauer is, you identify a man that never stops pushing. Bauer pushes the boundaries on everything, from pressure points on the baseball to a new arm grip, to even people’s ire on the internet. Trevor Bauer has undoubtedly made himself into one of the game’s Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
3. Jacob deGrom
There’s very little doubt that Jacob deGrom is among the upper echelon of premium starting pitchers. When looking at the numbers, you see the elite level that a pitcher like Jacob deGrom resides upon. Over the course of the last three seasons, Jacob deGrom has produced ERA+’s of 218, 169, and 178. (Remember that the league-average is 100.) Jacob deGrom is among the very best of the very best of the Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
2. Shane Bieber
The reigning American League pitching triple crown winner is number two on my list, Shane Bieber. Shane Bieber has been trending towards joining the elites of starting pitchers over the last few seasons. But in 2020. Bieber went next level. As previously stated, Shane would win the pitching triple crown, which is ERA, Strikeouts, and Wins. Bieber’s minuscule ERA of 1.63 and FIP of 2.07 was a league-best in 2020. Add in the fact that Bieber would strikeout 122 in just 77,1 innings of work, and you see the level of dominance. Shane Bieber has placed himself firmly in the pantheon on the Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.
1. Gerrit Cole
While any of the top three starting pitchers could have been number one. However, for me as a Yankee fan watching Gerrit Cole, every five days was something special. The $324 Million man began earning every one of his $36 Million a year, even in a shortened 2020 campaign. Across 73 innings of work, Cole would have an ERA of 2.84, an ERA+ of 151, and 94 strikeouts, just for good measure. And looking back at his 2019 season, he was even more dominant. So as 2021 is expected to be a full 162 game season, Gerrit is likely to take the ball for the Yankees 32 times, not including the postseason, and be dominant. Thus if I’m selecting a team, Gerrit Cole is at the top of my Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now.