Six Pitchers Making a Name for Themselves in 2024

Ronel Blanco, Garrett Crochet, and Tanner Houck are just a few of the pitchers turning heads with their early-season performances.

Ronel Blanco of the Houston Astros pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 01: Ronel Blanco #56 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on April 01, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

At this point in the season, each team has been through the rotation at least a few times, and the sample sizes are growing large enough to be taken somewhat seriously. Here are six pitchers who came into the year under the radar but have broken out to start 2024.

Ronel Blanco

When thinking about pitchers who have gone from relative anonymity to the national spotlight, the first name that comes to mind is Ronel Blanco; throwing a no-hitter has a tendency to do that.

After winning a rotation spot out of camp (a spot that opened up due to injuries), Blanco has dazzled to the tune of a remarkable 1.33 ERA and an otherworldly 0.85 WHIP over 27 innings.

The 30-year-old’s Baseball Savant page is a sea of red, with his offspeed and breaking pitch run values ranking in the top 15% of the league. His hard-hit percentage, expected ERA, expected slugging percentage, and expected batting average all rank within the top 10%.  

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This jump could be attributed to an alteration in his pitch mix. He dropped his slider usage from 48.6% last year to 25.6% this season, with a corresponding increase in his changeup usage, which has jumped from 9% in 2023 to 31.3% in 2024. The change has made both pitches more effective; the BAA on his slider has dropped 56 points, while the BAA on his changeup has dropped an incredible 134 points.

Although there will certainly be a regression to the mean for Blanco as the season progresses, he has all but guaranteed a spot in the rotation for this season – and possibly years to come.

Garrett Crochet

Another pitcher that has broken out this season is Garrett Crochet. He has been one of very few bright spots amidst an otherwise abysmal start to the season on the South Side of Chicago for the White Sox.

The 25-year-old is leading the American League in strikeouts per nine innings with 34 Ks spread across 25.2 innings through five starts. His FIP is significantly better than his ERA, and his xFIP and xERA are significantly lower than his FIP, indicating that he has suffered some bad luck to start the year.

His underlying numbers are not a fluke. The lefty’s fastball is dominant, ranking second among qualified pitchers in PitchingBot Stuff and 11th in Stuff+. His heater has helped Crochet enter the top 12% of the league (per Baseball Savant) in both whiff percentage and, unsurprisingly, strikeout percentage.

If having a fastball that sits in the upper 90s wasn’t enough, Crochet also has a devastating slider, which has a stunning .143 expected BAA.

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Crochet provides White Sox fans with hope for better days to come. He will be a reason to tune in all season long.

Cody Bradford

For a team that just won the World Series, the Texas Rangers had a lot of questions surrounding their pitching staff entering 2024. Thankfully, Cody Bradford has provided the reigning champions with a lot of answers. The 26-year-old has started the season 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA and an MLB-leading 0.62 WHIP (min. 15 IP). 

Like Crochet, Bradford relies on a devastating fastball that ranks in the 97th percentile in run value. The pitch has a BAA of .100 and creates havoc for hitters when paired with his curveball. And although it’s only his third-most-used pitch, Bradford’s curveball may be his best, with a .128 wOBA and a .141 expected wOBA.

Given his limited major league experience, time will tell how sustainable Bradford’s success truly is. He is currently on the 15-day IL nursing back soreness.

Reid Detmers

I have, admittedly, been a Reid Detmers fan for the past several years thanks to fantasy baseball, and I am glad to see him finally getting some of the national recognition he deserves. At just 24 years old, Detmers is leading baseball in FIP with a 1.62 mark and is yet to allow a home run this year. He has also struck out 30 over 22.2 innings through his first three starts for an impressive 11.91 K/9.

Detmers’ overall pitching run value sits in the top 4% of baseball. Unlike other pitchers we have looked at who rely on one dominant pitch, Detmers ranks above average in offspeed, fastball, and breaking ball run value.

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His fastball usage is up on the season, and there has been a corresponding drop in his slider usage. This has essentially taken Detmers from being a two-pitch pitcher, with his fastball and slider featured over 70% of the time, to a four-pitch pitcher. He is using all three of his non-fastball offerings about the same amount. This has made him much more difficult to game plan against, and hitters can no longer sit slider when they are in non-fastball counts.

Like Crochet, Detmers is a bright spot for a struggling squad. He could anchor the Angels rotation for years to come.

Tanner Houck

Tanner Houck bounced back from his one “bad” start of the season with what may have been the best start of his career: a complete game shutout against the Angels. This was a major victory for Houck, who showed that his early success was not just a fluke. He improved his season numbers to a 1.35 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP to go along with 28 strikeouts over 26.2 innings.

In a rotation ravaged by injuries, Houck has been a savior for the Red Sox.

His best pitch has been his slider, which has landed his breaking pitch run value in the top 2% of baseball; when it is on, it is one of the best pitches in the league. Houck has also greatly improved his command, with his 1.9 BB% landing him in the top 2% of the league.

Like many in the Boston rotation, Houck has essentially eliminated his four-seam fastball. Instead, he is featuring a sinker 32% of the time and has increased his splitter usage as well. The slider and splitter have both been devastating, with a .163 and .192 BAA, respectively. If Houck can continue to stay around the plate, his stuff is good enough for him to be one of the elite right-handed pitchers in the game.

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MacKenzie Gore

The fact that MacKenzie Gore was part of the return package for Juan Soto shows that the Nationals believed they would one day get this kind of production from the former top prospect. Through his first four starts this year, Gore has struck out 27 over just 20 innings pitched and has impressed with a 1.35 WHIP. His 2.36 FIP also indicates that he has thrown better than his already impressive numbers (3.60 ERA) suggest.

Gore has demonstrated above-average swing-and-miss stuff, with his K% landing him in the top 13% of the league. In addition to missing bats, Gore has induced his fair share of weak contact, with an average exit velocity well above league average.

Like Detmers, Gore also mixes his pitches well, throwing all three of his non-fastball offerings between 12% and 20% of the time. His changeup has been particularly effective, playing well off his high-90s fastball.

If he is able to continue to grow and develop to his full potential, Gore figures to be a dominant force in the Nationals rotation moving forward.