Finding a dependable starting pitcher nowadays can be more difficult than finding a legitimate music festival for rich kids in the Bahamas. But fear not, here we’ve gathered the ten most consistently dominant aces in baseball so that you don’t have to…
One on the way in…
A 6’7 lefty who consistently hits 98 mph with his fastball? Safe to say I’m pissing my pants just thinking about stepping in the box. The closest thing Seattle has had to Randy Johnson since Randy Johnson is the late-blooming James Paxton. He’s off to a torrid start in 2017 and is our sleeper Cy Young candidate in the AL.
One on the way out…
It looks like the enormous workloads of seasons past are finally catching up to Mr. Price. Only one year into the massive contract he signed with the Red Sox, Price is yet to throw a pitch in 2017 due to arm soreness. Coming on the heels of his worst season from a statistical standpoint, it’s safe to say that David is trending in the wrong direction. Good thing he’s getting $31 million a year ’til 2022!
One on the fringe…
After stringing together back-to-back phenomenal seasons from 2014-15, Archer took a step backward in 2016. While he’s always been effectively erratic, he found far too much of the middle of the plate, leading to a whopping 30 homers given up and a league-leading 19 losses. He seems to be back on track in the early-going of this season and with his flash on the field and his poise off of it, we’re rooting for a full resurgence from the game’s premier bow-slinger.
10. Dallas Keuchel
2016 was not kind to Keuchel, which is why we’re choosing to ignore it completely. After struggling last season, Dallas looks better than he did during his Cy Young-winning 2015. Equipped with a Duck Dynasty beard and the most deceptive changeup in baseball, Keuchel has reemerged as one of the American League’s most dominant arms.
9. Noah Syndergaard
Unlike the position player realm, the starting pitching hierarchy is dominated by veterans. In Syndergaard, we find the only under-25er on our list. While his recent lat injury will significantly alter this season, the fact remains that Thor is an absolute monster. Standing at 6’6, 240 lbs, and boasting a fastball that touches 100 more than a rapper in a strip club, Syndergaard is well on his way to becoming the most dominant arm we’ve ever seen out of Asgard.
8. Justin Verlander
Between his $220 million contract, supermodel fiancée, and ability to rock the tightest pants in baseball, it’s safe to say that life for Justin Verlander is pretty awesome. But you don’t get to be where Justin is without some downright nasty stuff. He can hit 97 with his heater, drop in one of the game’s last true 12-to-6 curves, and keep lefties off-balance with a dirty change. Yup, life ain’t bad at all for the pride of Goochland, Virginia.
7. Johnny Cueto
He doesn’t do it with the flash of some of the others on this list, but make no mistake, Johnny Cueto is as dependable a starter as you’re gonna find. With his deliberate motion and eclectic assortment of pitches, Cueto is the epitome of crafty. If there’s a way to get you out, he’ll find it. And his dreads are dope.
6. Jon Lester
200+ IP eight of the last nine seasons? Check. Three World Series rings? Check. Cancer survivor? Check. Ability to throw the ball to first base? Ehh, let’s just talk about the other things. Despite his mind-boggling shortcomings when it comes to throwing to first, Jon Lester is damn-near a perfect pitcher. He’s a team-first gamer who is seemingly always good for a quality start. On top of that, he’s a great guy to have fried chicken and a beer with…in the clubhouse…during a game.
5. Corey Kluber
If you haven’t noticed Corey Kluber’s meteoric rise from fringe-prospect to bona fide ace, it’s probably because he planned it that way. Nicknamed the Klubot for his steely demeanor on and off the field, the Indians front-man couldn’t avoid the spotlight during last year’s postseason. How did he respond to his moment in the sun? 34 masterful innings and a 1.83 ERA that nearly culminated with a World Series ring.
4. Madison Bumgarner
Dirt-biking skills aside, you can’t question MadBum’s talents on the mound. His gaudy regular season numbers are rivaled only by his postseason accomplishments, which have helped him and the Giants gather three rings in the last seven years. He’s a lotta bit country and little bit rock ‘n roll and while it’s hard to like him if you’re from outside of San Francisco, there’s no denying that the lefty is among the game’s best.
3. Chris Sale
Nobody better exemplifies the irrelevance of the Win stat better than Chris Sale. While his peripherals are outstanding, he’s yet to win a Cy Young in large part due to the terrible run-support issues that have followed him to Boston. Make no mistake, this lanky lefty with more deception in his motion than a season of 24 is far from finished and will have some hardware to show for it in the near future.
2. Max Scherzer
The whacky-eyed, freaky-motioned filth monster that is Max Scherzer has been systematically mowing batters down like a flame-throwing John Deere his entire career. Since 2012, Mad Max has won two Cy Young awards (one AL, one NL), delivered a stellar 3.08 ERA, and had strikeout totals ranging from 231 to 284. He’s done it all while staying healthy and maintaining his ultra-high level of competitiveness.
1. Clayton Kershaw
Much like position players, there’s no surprise to be had here. With accuracy so pinpoint he could hit the outside corner of a round plate, Kershaw is a model of consistency. If he can maintain his dominance and shake the playoff bugaboo that’s haunted him thus far in his career, he will cement himself as one of the greatest players ever to toe the rubber.