Top 20 Best Starting Pitchers for the 2024 MLB Season

The ace of the Yankees headlines the list, but who else sits among the best starting pitchers on the planet?

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 7: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium on September 7, 2023, in New York, New York. (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

Guess what?! It is officially that time of year again!

Spring training is right around the corner and that means that we are not that far away from Opening Day 2024. With that comes the Just Baseball teams official player rankings.

Everyone enjoys a good list! List are the basis of so many conversations surrounding sports. This however is not up for debate, in my completely unbiased opinion, the Just Baseball rankings are the best you will find. With that said, here are the 20 best pitchers for 2024.

The following rankings were made by our senior staff members at Just Baseball. Jack McMullen, Peter Appel, Aram Leighton, Ryan Finkelstein, Leo Morgenstern and Colby Olson, each created their top player lists at each position and we took the composite average score to set our 2024 rankings.

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Medically Disqualified: Jacob deGrom (TEX), Shane McClanahan (TB), Sandy Alcantara (MIA), Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Medically disqualified is fairly obvious. These are all guys that are likely in the top 20 if not for injury. They will all be missed, but we look forward to them returning soon.

Honorable Mentions: Walker Buehler (LAD), Aaron Nola (PHI)

Honorable mentions Walker Buehler and Aaron Nola just miss out on the top 20. In Buehler’s case, he is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and did not pitch last year. Before going down in 2022, Buehler put up an incredible 2021 season.

He finished with over 200 innings pitched and a 2.47 ERA, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting. If he looks like his old self this season, expect him to jump back into the top 20 next year.

Aaron Nola finds himself as an honorable mention due to his ability to be a work horse. Since 2017, only Gerrit Cole has more innings. The reason that he is an honorable mention however and not in the top 20 is he took a step back last season. Heading into last year he was number 13 but a dip in strikeouts, ERA, and walk rate find him outside the top 20 in 2024.

20. Kodai Senga (New York Mets)

Age: 31

2023 Stats: 29 GS, 166.1 IP, 12-7, 2.98 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 10.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 3.4 fWAR

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RANK: 20RANK: 25RANK: 17RANK: 16RANK: 16RANK: 24

Senga is coming off of a seventh place Cy Young finish and second place Rookie of the Year finish. After coming over from Japan, Senga was able to find pretty immediate success. Now having a full season under his belt, the only place he can go is up!

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 30:  Kodai Senga #34 of the New York Mets takes the field before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on May 30, 2023 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 30: Kodai Senga #34 of the New York Mets takes the field before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on May 30, 2023 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

19. Tyler Glasnow (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Age: 30

2023 Stats: 21 GS, 120.0 IP, 10-7, 3.53 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 12.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.2 fWAR


Glasnow is the most polarizing pitcher on this list. You can see he was ranked as low as 29th, and as high as seventh. As is the concern every year, Glasnow’s health is a very large question mark.

Last season was the first time he went over 100 innings since 2018. When healthy, Glasnow is one of the best pitchers in baseball.

18. Tarik Skubal (Detroit Tigers)

Age: 27

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2023 Stats: 15 GS, 80.1 IP, 7-3, 2.80 ERA, 2.00 FIP, 11.4 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 3.3 fWAR


Following flexor tendon surgery, Skubal was able to return to the Tigers and make 15 starts to close the year. As you can see above, he was incredible in those 15 starts. Skubal is still young and has a lot of potential indicating a bright future in Detroit.

17. Justin Steele (Chicago Cubs)

Age: 28

2023 Stats: 30 GS, 173.1 IP, 16-5, 3.06 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 9.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 4.9 fWAR


There is a new ace in Chicago! Steele was solid in 2022 and was able to improve upon that by playing lights out in 2023. He was good enough to finish fifth in Cy Young voting. If this is the version of Steele that we see moving forward, the Cubs will have a stud at the top of the rotation for years to come.

16. Sonny Gray (St. Louis Cardinals)

Age: 34

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2023 Stats: 32 GS, 184.0 IP, 2.79 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 5.3 fWAR

RANK: 18RANK: 16RANK: 16RANK: 17RANK: 20RANK: 23

Veteran Sonny Gray is coming off a career year in his age 33 season. Finishing second in the AL Cy Young race, Gray was nothing short of amazing for the Minnesota Twins. Now in St. Louis, he hopes to provide a much-needed boost to a rotation that was near the bottom of the league last season. We are going to find out just how much gas Gray has left in the tank. (Hint: I think its a lot)

15. George Kirby (Seattle Mariners)

Age: 26

2023 Stats: 31 GS, 190.2 IP, 3.35 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 0.9 BB/9, 4.4 fWAR


Next on our list in the 15 spot is one of the premier strike throwers in the league, George Kirby. What makes Kirby so special and a top 20 pitcher is his aversion to walks. He lives in the zone and is rarely punished for doing so. His ability to limit walks and keep the ball on the ground has been a recipe for success. Expect Kirby to appear on this list for years to come.

14. Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)

Age: 41

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2023 Stats: 27 GS, 162.1 IP, 13-8, 3.22 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 3.3 fWAR


At 41 years old, Justin Verlander continues to find success. While he is not the flame thrower that he once was, he has remained incredibly productive. Some numbers such as his barrel rate and ground ball rate should cause some concern but they didn’t seem to hamper him this year.

Father time may be undefeated, but Verlander continues to fight the good fight.

13. Framber Valdez (Houston Astros)

Age: 30

2023 Stats: 31 GS, 198.0 IP, 3.45 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 4.3 fWAR


Valdez has been a stud over the last three seasons. However, last season he saw his ground ball rate drop to a career low 54 percent. Inducing ground balls has been Valdez’s bread and butter his entire career. While there is some concern he is still good for 200 innings and always finds a way to be productive.

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12. Blake Snell (Free Agent)

Age: 31

2023 Stats: 32 GS, 180.0 IP, 14-9, 2.25 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 11.7 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, 4.1 fWAR


Another fairly polarizing pitcher is free agent Blake Snell. You can see that there is some disagreement on where Snell should be ranked which reflects his reception among the general public. Blake Snell does not qualify as a work horse, but he has thrown over 180 innings twice in his career. In each of those instances he led his respective league in ERA and won the Cy Young.

11. Pablo López (Minnesota Twins)

Age: 28

2023 Stats: 32 GS, 194.0 IP, 3.66 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 10.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 4.5 fWAR


Lopez really stepped up last season for the Twins. It earned him a big extension, established him as the Twins ace and as a Cy Young contender heading into 2024.

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An immaculate chase rate helped Lopez finish fourth in strikeouts in all of MLB. He is someone that could crack the top 10 next season.

10. Max Fried (Atlanta Braves)

Age: 30

2023 Stats: 14 GS, 77.2 IP, 8-1, 2.55 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.9 fWAR


We start the top 10 with a guy who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last four seasons. Very few pitchers in the sport can hang with Max Fried when he is on.

After missing the first half of the 2023 season, he picked up right where he left off in 2022. You can see the stats above that he was able to put up in his 14 starts.

Fried has developed a formula for success and it is one that bodes well as he pushes past 30 years old. For one, Fried throws a lot of strikes. He walked under six percent of batters last season. He also features one of the best ground ball rates in baseball falling just shy of 60 percent. Couple that with very low barrel and hard hit rates and you have one of the best pitchers in baseball.

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Fried gives up a fair amount of contact but it is almost always weak contact and on the ground. In his last full season he finished fifth in home runs allowed per nine innings pitched. Limiting walks and home runs is almost always going to lead to success.

As we head into 2024 the peripheral numbers look very good. If you look at his weighted on base average (wOBA) compared to his expected weighted on base average (xwOBA) last year, it suggest a little bit of bad luck. Fried is healthy and should return to a Cy Young candidate form.

9. Luis Castillo (Seattle Mariners)

Age: 31

2023 Stats: 33 GS, 197.0 IP, 14-9, 3.34 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 10.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.4 fWAR


Coming in at number nine, Luis Castillo was the ace of one of baseballs best rotations last season. Since trading for him in 2022, the Mariners have had the veteran leadership that they needed at the front of a particularly young rotation.

Throughout his career, Castillo has proven to be durable and consistent. He has made at least 30 starts in four of his five full seasons (excluding 2020 and his rookie season). We have seen how important it can be to just have a guy that you know you will get 30 starts out of.

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On top of that, he has posted a sub four ERA in every season except 2018. He did that playing most of his games in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball.

Entering his age 31 season, Castillo looks to continue building upon his success.

For someone who has been as durable and consistent as he has, he doesn’t have a lot of accolades to show for it. Last season was the first time he received Cy Young votes, finishing fifth. Castillo could be a sleeper to win the AL Cy Young this year.

8. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Age: 25

2023 Stats (NPB): 24 GS, 171.0 IP, 17-6, 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 1.5 BB/9


Yoshinobu Yamamoto is baseball’s newest $300 million dollar man. He has been a particularly hot topic when it comes to where he ranks right now among baseballs best pitchers. Having never pitched in Major League Baseball, it is really difficult to predict just how good he will be.

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Some think that he is already one of the five best pitchers in baseball and others would have him ranked behind Paul Skenes on the top prospects list. Here at Just Baseball, he lands at number eight.

Yamamoto was viewed by many as the best free agent pitcher available this offseason coming over from the NPB in Japan. His 12 year $325 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers would indicate that to be true.

Fangraphs ZiPS projections are a bit conservative when it comes to Yamamoto. They have his 2024 stat line projected at 171 innings with a 3.52 ERA and nine strikeouts per nine. We at Just Baseball expect him to out perform those projects and be in the Cy Young conversation at the end of the season.

7. Zac Gallen (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Age: 28

2023 Stats: 34 GS, 210.0 IP, 17-9, 3.47 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 5.2 fWAR


Zac Gallen has established himself as one of the ace’s of Major League Baseball much like many of the other players on this list. He was the best pitcher on a team that went to the World Series last season.

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While Gallen was excellent last season posting a 5.2 fWAR, there are a few concerns that prevent him from being higher on this list. For one, a 4.18 xERA is not great but he did have a 3.26 FIP and 3.49 xFIP which shows some discrepancy. His xERA in 2022 was a whole run lower, at 3.17 and there is a reason for that.

In 2023, Gallen saw his ground ball rate dip and his line drive rate come up. He also saw the percentage of soft contact he gave up fall by five percent and the amount of hard contact jump by over ten percent. His hard hit rate in 2023 was one of the worst in baseball but it didn’t appear to hurt him much.

Despite there being some cause for concern, there is no reason Gallen is not going to continue to find success in this league. He strikes out a lot of guys and doesn’t walk very many, he is one of those players that is always going to find a way.

6. Logan Webb (San Francisco Giants)

Age: 27

2023 Stats: 33 GS, 216.0 IP, 3.25 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 4.9 fWAR


Logan Webb has found himself to be one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball. Over the last three seasons he has posted an fWAR of at least four. He has started at least 26 games. He has thrown to at worst a 3.25 ERA.

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While I mentioned some concern for Gallen’s hard hit rate, Webb’s is almost identical. The difference is that Webb post one of the highest ground ball rates in all of baseball at over 60 percent. Webb has found a formula for success similar to that of other pitchers on this list such as Max Fried and Framber Valdez.

Webb’s walk rate of 3.6 percent last season was in the 99th percentile in all of baseball. He does not walk anyone. You couple that with his ground ball rate and he is going to find success. It doesn’t matter that he gives up hard contact when he limits baserunners and everything is hit into the ground.

Webb is starting to garner some recognition and rightfully so. He finished second in the Cy Young last season and at only 27 years old, I believe that there is one in his future.

5. Corbin Burnes (Baltimore Orioles)

Age: 29

2023 Stats: 32 GS, 193.2 IP, 3.39 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 3.4 fWAR


Corbin Burnes is a man who needs no introduction. He has been flat out dominant over the last three seasons. If you took a poll and asked people who they would want on the mound in a winner take all game, Corbin Burnes would have to be one of the top answers.

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In 2021 he put together one of the best pitching seasons we have seen in the last decade winning the Cy Young despite only throwing 167 innings. He followed that up with two seasons over 190 innings and top-10 Cy Young finishes.

Burnes finds his success in a different way than our number six pitcher Logan Webb. Burnes is going to walk some people, and that is okay because he is incredible at limiting hard contact. He has an average ground ball rate but he avoids barrels as well as anyone in baseball. His cutter is one of the best pitches in baseball and he compliments it nicely with with solid secondaries.

Burnes was traded to the Baltimore Orioles this offseason, giving him the opportunity to pitch for one of the best young teams in baseball in his contract year. With top-10 Cy Young finishes in each of the last four seasons (including a win), expect Burnes to be right back there even with the change to the American League.

4. Kevin Gausman (Toronto Blue Jays)

Age: 33

2023 Stats: 31 GS, 185.0 IP, 3.16 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 11.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 5.3 fWAR


Kevin Gausman has had quite the career. Entering his age-33 season this will be his third season with the Blue Jays who are the fifth team that he has played for in his 11 seasons. You will find that many of the players on this list found pretty early success and continued to build off of it.

However, that was not the case for Gausman.

Gausman really struggled to find consistency in his early years. Through his first five seasons in Baltimore, he had an ERA in the low fours and really just looked like a decent middle of the rotation arm. This trend continued for the next handful of seasons, even posting a 5.72 ERA in 2019.

Gausman started to find himself in the shortened 2020 season. This trend continued and he has seemed to have only gotten better since turning 30. Now at 33, Gausman finds himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Last season he led the AL in strikeouts with 237 in just 185 innings. He has two incredible pitches in his fastball and splitter, as a result he throws them almost exclusively (86% of the time last year). He has turned into a strikeout wizard and continues to defy father time.

3. Spencer Strider (Atlanta Braves)

Age: 25

2023 Stats: 32 GS, 186.2 IP, 20-5, 3.86 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 13.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 5.5 fWAR


Our number one pitcher for 2024 was nearly unanimous, but the other player to get a number one vote was this guy Spencer Strider. Since coming up in 2022, Strider has been the definition of a Bulldog.

I just talked about how Gausman has become one of the best strikeout artist in baseball, well Strider is on another planet. Strider is posting elite closer type of strikeout numbers as a starting pitcher. His strikeout rate last season sat right between Josh Hader and Devin Williams.

The chase, whiff, and strikeout rates that Strider posted last season are absolutely comical. The only other player to strikeout more than 250 batters in less than 200 innings since 2010 is the late Jose Fernandez. He could easily become the first pitcher to strikeout 300 in a season since Verlander and Gerrit Cole did it in 2019.

After his first season, there was concern that the number of strikeouts would hinder the number of innings he could throw. Well last year he threw 186 innings and quieted those doubts. The ERA going from 2.67 to 3.86 did cause a bit of a stir. It shouldn’t be something to worry that much about when he had an xERA of 3.09 and a FIP and xFIP under three.

2. Zack Wheeler (Philadelphia Phillies)

Age: 33

2023 Stats: 32 GS, 192.0 IP, 13-6, 3.61 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 5.9 fWAR


Since 2018, Zack Wheeler is fourth in innings pitched. He has established himself as one of the few workhorses that you see in Major League Baseball. One thing that Wheeler and our number one pitcher have in common is remarkable durability and consistency.

Wheeler has thrown over 180 innings in four of the last five full seasons. In over 1000 innings since 2018, he has thrown to a 3.28 ERA. This dude is a lock almost every year for 180 innings and a low three ERA, that couldn’t be more valuable.

Many of the players on this list have found a niche. A way in which they can exist by playing to their strengths and finding success. Whether that is by striking out a lot of batters, limiting hard contact, forcing ground balls, etc. Regardless of what it is, many of the games best pitchers are really good at one or two things. Wheeler on the other hand is really good at almost everything.

If you look at Wheeler’s 2023 season you will see just how good he is at everything. He limits hard contact, posting one of the lowest average exit velocities and a solid hard hit rate. He is able to rack up strikeouts with well above average whiff and chase rates. He had one of the lowest walk rates in all of baseball last season.

It is really hard to beat someone when they do that many things well. It is really hard to get to Wheeler and it shows. That is why he has earned his spot as the second-best pitcher in baseball.

1. Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees)

Age: 33

2023 Stats: 33 GS, 209.0 IP, 15-4, 2.63 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 9.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 5.2 fWAR


All of this has led us to number one, the best pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole.

As I mentioned earlier when talking about Strider, Cole was nearly unanimous only missing one first place vote. Last season Cole was number 10 on our list after a sub par season where he seemed to struggle with the long ball following the sticky stuff crackdown. He was able to bounce back in a way that everyone should have expected him too.

Since 2015, no pitcher has thrown as many innings as Gerrit Cole. He has posted a 3.12 ERA in that time frame which is the fifth-lowest (min. 1000 innings). He is also second only to Max Scherzer in strikeouts since 2015. He is the last player to eclipse 300 strikeouts in a season (2019) which also happened to be the highest total we have seen from a pitcher (326) since Randy Johnson struck out 334 in 2002.

Cole has seven top-10 Cy Young finishes in his career and in six of those were top-five finishes including one win. He has two AL ERA titles, two MLB strikeout titles, and is well on his way to joining the 3000 strikeout club. If Cole continues on the pace he is currently on he should one day join the elite in Cooperstown.