Pitchers and catcher have started reporting to camp and we are right around the corner from baseball season being back. Yesterday, I took a look at the top 10 American League starting pitchers and today I’m back with my top 10 National League starting pitchers.
10. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
2015 Stats: 11-7, 3.46 ERA, 127.1 IP, 155 K, 1.11 WHIP
2015 was an injury-riddled season for Strasburg, who looks to bounce back in a big way this upcoming season. Strasburg, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 MLB draft, has not had that huge breakout, dominant season we have all been waiting for. Could it be this year? Quite possibly as he will test the free agent market at seasons end.
9. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
2015 Stats: 6-1 (11 Starts), 2.92 ERA, 64.2 IP, 79 K, 1.16 WHIP
The young 23-year old pitcher missed most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2014. When healthy, this kid is lights out as he has struck out 336 batters in his short career thus far. He will be an asset for years to come for the Marlins, who need someone to be the backbone of a pitching staff. While he will be on an innings limit this season, that won’t stop him from showing why he could be baseball’s next great pitcher.
8. Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs
2015 Stats: 22-6, 1.77 ERA, 229 IP, 236 K, 0.86 WHIP
Arrieta won the NL Cy Young Award last season, yet he doesn’t rank too high on this list. Was last year a flash in the pan or was he able to find his groove? The jury is still out on that one. He only had two season where he reached double-digit wins. If he can build off the success of 2015, the Cubs will be even more of a threat than they are already hyped to be. While he might be good this season, don’t expect another 20-win season.
7. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Stats: 2-1, 1.61 ERA, 28 IP, 20 K, 1.04 WHIP
Wainwright missed the majority of the 2015 season with an Achilles injury, returning at the end of the season and in the postseason in relief duties. If his age (34) and health can withstand yet another 162-game season, Wainwright will have his name in the hat for Cy Young candidates. If he is able to put up his typical, non-injury numbers, the Cardinals window will still remain to be open.
6. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
2015 Stats: 14-12, 2.79 ERA, 228.2 IP, 276 K, 0.92 WHIP
Perfect game? Check. No-hitter? Check. Both in the same season? Check. Scherzer was able to throw both a perfect game and no-hitter last season, with the no-no narrowly missing another perfect game. His record wasn’t indicative, but his performances, which include four complete games, sure prove why he was worth all the money the Nationals gave him last offseason.
5. Matt Harvey – New York Mets
2015 Stats: 13-8, 2.71 ERA, 189.1 IP, 188 K, 1.02 WHIP
Harvey leads a young Mets pitching staff that is arguably the best in all of baseball. He is a guy who the Mets can count on night in and night out and provide them quality starts. Recently there has been talk on whether or not the Mets will sign Harvey long term to the tune of $100 million, but now isn’t the time to discuss that as he is under team control through the 2018 season.
4. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
2015 Stats: 18-9, 2.93 ERA, 218.1 IP, 234 K, 1.01 WHIP
Bumgarner is the ace in San Francisco and is 78-52 since 2011. Last season he posted 18 wins for the second season in a row. Not only does he get it done on the mound, but at the plate as well. Last season he batted .247 with five homeruns. The previous season he had 4 homeruns and 15 RBI.
3. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates
2015 Stats: 19-8, 2.60 ERA, 208 IP, 202 K, 1.09 WHIP
Cole is at the forefront of this Pirates pitching staff that has helped make this team a playoff contender the past few seasons. After years of sub .500 play, the Pirates have an Ace to lead them to bigger and brighter stages. Cole continues to progress after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
2. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks
2015 Stats: 19-8, 1.66 ERA, 222.2 IP, 200 K, 0.84 WHIP
Greinke left the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 11th hour and signed with Arizona this past offseason. He is one of the very best pitchers in baseball today and was a highly coveted free agent. He has double-digit wins in each of his last eight seasons, including a 66-20 record since 2012. He is the new ace of the Diamondbacks and he is the perfect fit for a team that is loaded offensively.
1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
2015 Stats: 16-7, 2.13 ERA, 232.2 IP, 302 K, 0.88 WHIP, .194 AVG
Kershaw is the benchmark for starting pitching across the MLB. He has been the ace of this Dodgers team for the past six seasons, posting at least 13 wins in each of those seasons. Not only is he the ace of the Dodgers, but quite possibly all of baseball.