Just Baseball’s Top 10 Pitcher Power Rankings: May 2024

It's time for the inaugural edition of Just Baseball's Pitcher Power Rankings. Who cracked the top 10 for the month of May?

J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ranger Suarez #55 embrace after the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Rockies 5-0.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ranger Suarez #55 embrace after the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Rockies 5-0. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

There is nothing better in baseball than watching a pitcher dominant a lineup through seven strong innings, raking up punchouts on the way to leading their team to a W. Only a quarter of the way through the season, we have already seen countless gems from the game’s best aces, as pitching is at a premium right now.

Each month moving forward, we are going to give you an updated look at the top 10 pitchers and top 10 hitters in the game with our power rankings. Today, we will be looking at the 10 pitchers who have been the most dominant and have provided the most value to their teams at this point in the season.

Prior to the 2024 season, Just Baseball released our rankings of the top 20 starting pitchers in the game. Now here we are two and a half months later, and only three of those pitchers who cracked our preseason top 20 are featured in the current top 10 based on what we have seen so far.

Honorable Mention: Reynaldo López, Atlanta Braves

2024 Stats: 2-1, 1.34 ERA, 2.99 FIP and 1.0 fWAR over 40 1/3 innings pitched

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One of the reasons that the Braves have been able to overcome the loss of Spencer Strider for the season — along with slow starts from Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson — has been the emergence of López.

Signed to a three-year, $30 million deal this past offseason, López is starting full-time for the first time since the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. And he’s thriving while doing so, as López is second in baseball with a 1.34 ERA.

What hurts him here is that he’s thrown less innings, by a decent amount, than anyone else on this list. Trying to manage López’s workload so that A) the Braves make the playoffs and B) he’s available to pitch in October will be a difficult balance for manager Brian Snitker this season.

10. Jon Gray, Texas Rangers

2024 Stats: 2-1, 2.08 ERA, 2.42 FIP and 1.7 fWAR over 52 innings pitched

Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle have yet to throw a pitch for the Rangers this season. They are currently joined on the injured list by Nathan Eovaldi, Dane Dunning and Cody Bradford, as the Rangers pitching staff has been crushed by injuries.

Still, the defending World Series Champions have remained afloat, in part because of the re-emergence of Gray. After being relegated to the bullpen last postseason, Gray has taken advantage of the amount of injuries Rangers pitchers have had, posting a 2.35 FIP over nine games, eight of which have been starts.

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Even if Gray comes back down to Earth at some point, he’s helped to tide the Rangers over at a time when they have so many other injured starting pitchers, which manager Bruce Bochy is surely thankful for.

9. Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies

2024 Stats: 4-3, 2.53 ERA, 2.72 FIP and 1.6 fWAR over 53 1/3 innings pitched

Since Zack Wheeler joined the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020, he’s been arguably the second-best pitcher in baseball, behind only Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees. And in the early going of the 2024 season, he’s looked like a man on a mission to win what’s been an elusive National League Cy Young Award.

That quest hit a bit of a snag on Mother’s Day, as Wheeler gave up six hits and six earned runs in a start at loanDepot Park against the lowly Miami Marlins.

If not for the disappointing outing, Wheeler would have found himself in the top half of the list, if not at the very top. Still, Wheeler has a 2.53 ERA, 2.75 FIP and 1.6 fWAR over 53 1/3 innings pitched. The guess here is that Wheeler will march back up this list in the no-so-distant future, and make a serious run at the NL Cy Young Award.

8. Dylan Cease, San Diego Padres

2024 Stats: 5-3, 2.45 ERA, 2.33 FIP and 1.8 fWAR over 55 innings pitched

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Cease wasn’t traded to the Padres until mid-March, but he hasn’t skipped a beat, displaying the form that made him the runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award while pitching with the Chicago White Sox in 2022.

Among all pitchers, Cease is in the top five in FIP (2.27), H/9 (3.8) and fWAR (1.7).

In addition to reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, the Padres also saw Seth Lugo — more on him in a minute — and Michael Wacha depart from their starting rotation a year ago.

With Joe Musgrove now on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, the Padres still may not have enough starting pitching to be a playoff team in 2024. But imagine where they would be without the last-minute addition of Cease.

7. Seth Lugo, Kansas City Royals

2024 Stats: 6-1, 1.66 ERA, 3.27 FIP and 1.3 fWAR over 59 2/3 innings pitched

Lugo was so good as a reliever with the New York Mets earlier in his career that it may have kept him from getting an extended chance to show what he could do as a starter. But he pitched extremely well for the Padres in 2023, earning a three-year, $45 million free-agent deal with the Royals that so far looks very team-friendly.

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At the time of publication, Lugo leads MLB in innings pitched at 59 2/3. His 1.66 ERA and 247 ERA+ are both the top marks among AL pitchers.

Cole Ragans still appears to be the No. 1 starter in Kansas City, as he narrowly missed making this list. But if Lugo continues to pitch like an ace himself, perhaps the Royals could go from 56 wins in 2023, to the postseason in 2024.

6. Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers

2024 Stats: 6-1, 2.53 ERA, 2.51 FIP and 1.7 fWAR over 57 innings pitched

Glasnow set a new career-high in innings pitched last year with the Tampa Bay Rays at just 120. Evidently, the Dodgers believe they’ve found a way to get the dominant stretches that Glasnow showed in Tampa Bay, while keeping him healthy. And it’s hard to argue with the early results.

For a team that has had a ton of talented pitchers on the injured list, Glasnow has been a dominant workhorse. He leads baseball with 73 strikeouts. He’s also third among all starters in innings pitched at 57.

Perhaps the Dodgers were comfortable pushing Glasnow early in the season, knowing that Walker Buehler just returned to the MLB level and Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller could rejoin the rotation later in the year.

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But if they have changed something mechanically and/or with Glasnow’s training regimen that will allow him to pitch more than 150 innings a season, that’s a massive development.

5. Kutter Crawford, Boston Red Sox

2024 Stats: 2-2, 2.24 ERA, 2.68 FIP and 1.8 fWAR over 52 1/3 innings pitched

A 16th-round pick by the Red Sox in the 2017 MLB Draft, Crawford was pretty effective over 129 1/3 innings last year, posting a 4.04 ERA and 3.83 FIP. However, no one predicted he would be pitching at an ace level coming into the season.

But that’s exactly what has happened, as Crawford is fourth in the league with a 0.34 HR/9, while being tied for the top fWAR in baseball at 1.8. And there’s a legitimate argument to be made that Crawford hasn’t even been the best pitcher on his own staff…

4. Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox

2024 Stats: 3-5, 2.17 ERA, 2.20 FIP and 1.9 fWAR over 58 innings pitched

For as surprising as Crawford’s dominance has been, Houck is probably even more of a shock.

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A year after posting a 5.01 ERA and 4.43 FIP over 106 innings, Houck has been one of the best starters the sport has to offer so far in 2024. He’s thrown a complete-game shutout, and has managed to allow only one home run over the course of his first eight starts this season.

It’s still fair to question whether Houck can pitch anywhere near this level all season, but it’s been a shot in the arm for Alex Cora’s squad, who came into the year looking like they would have a pretty weak starting rotation.

3. Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers

2024 Stats: 5-0, 2.02 ERA, 2.04 FIP and 1.8 fWAR over 49 innings pitched

Skubal was arguably the best pitcher in baseball after the Fourth of July a year ago, and he’s picked up where he’s left off in 2024. His 2.04 FIP is the best mark among all qualified starters, while his 1.8 fWAR is tied with the aforementioned Houck and Crawford as the top mark among all pitchers in baseball.

The biggest question for Skubal will be whether he can sustain it. His career-high in innings (149 1/3) came in 2021, and he pitched just under 200 innings between the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Assuming health, he’s going to pitch close to 100 more frames than the 80 1/3 he pitched at the MLB level last season.

There’s no doubt, though, that when Skubal is on the mound, he’s one of the best pitchers that the sport has to offer.

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2. Shota Imanaga, Chicago Cubs

2024 Stats: 5-0, 0.96 ERA, 2.30 FIP and 1.6 fWAR over 46 2/3 innings pitched

Though Imanaga is 30 years old, he’s an MLB rookie after the Cubs lured him over from Japan with a complicated four-year contract this past offseason. Not only is he the early favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, but he’s put himself in the picture for the NL Cy Young Award.

While he hasn’t been as much of a workhorse as some of the other names mentioned on this list, Imanaga has a 0.96 ERA to show for his first eight MLB starts, with no one else below 1.34. He also has a staggering 432 ERA+, also the best mark among all starting pitchers.

Even if Imanaga just settles into being a No. 2 starter now that Justin Steele is back, the Cubs appear to have uncovered a gem in signing the Japanese lefty.

1. Ranger Suárez, Philadelphia Phillies

2024 Stats: 8-0, 1.37 ERA, 2.69 FIP and 1.8 fWAR over 59 innings pitched

Suárez has been an excellent Swiss-Army knife for the Phillies the last few seasons, serving both as an effective No. 3 starter and someone that’s pitched some high-leverage innings out of the bullpen, particularly in the playoffs.

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However, he’s stepped out of the shadows of Wheeler and Aaron Nola with his incredible start in 2024. Suárez already has a complete-game shutout on his resume this season, and his 0.722 WHIP is the best mark in baseball. He also continues to be a tremendous fielder at his position, with two defensive runs saved.

Even on a team with a ton of other candidates, Suárez looks like a pretty sure bet to be an All-Star for the first time in 2024.