One of the most pivotal positions on the diamond is the starting pitcher. The starting pitcher sets the tone for the game and can either give a team energy or completely take it away. On my list of the top 5 starting pitchers, we start here at number 5 with a guy who has been injury prone throughout his career but is finally hitting his stride in the league. Keep in mind the guys on this list have won 5 of the last 8 Cy Young awards and all finished in the top 3 last season.
5. Stephen Strasburg – WSH Nationals
When Strasburg was selected as the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, he was looked at as a future superstar. Throughout his eight years in the big leagues, he has most definitely shown signs of that stardom. However, he has struggled to stay on the field, as shown by his seven different stints on the DL. Whether it be his back, shoulder, or elbow, Strasburg has been through a lot and proven he is a warrior. He has well earned his spot on this list.
Now lets get into why he’s really on this list. His pure talent. Last year, Strasburg was an absolute stud on the bump finishing the season 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 175.1 innings while coming in third in the NL Cy Young voting. The 29-year-old is set to compete for his third straight All Star Game bid. The Nationals are one of few teams where he would not be the ace, as he is number two to a man that follows later in this list, Max Scherzer. The 2018 season is looking bright for this stud.
4. Chris Sale – BOS Red Sox
Coming in at number four is the funky lefty, Chris Sale. For the past six seasons, Sale has been able to call himself an All Star and a top six finisher in the AL Cy Young voting. The 28-year-old Florida Gulf Coast product has one of the nastiest sliders from the left side since the Big Unit himself, Randy Johnson. Last season, Sale came up just short of the AL Cy Young after finishing second to Corey Kluber. What got this sidearm slinger to that level was his 17-8 record, a 2.90 ERA, and nearly 13 strikeouts per 9 inning, the best such stat since 2001. Sale’s greatest has been masked by sub-par White Sox teams, until last season when a trade sent him to Boston. Coming into his second season wearing the red and white, I predict another run at the Cy Young.
3. Corey Kluber – CLE Indians
Number three on this list is the reigning AL Cy Young, Corey Kluber. Kluber had a slow start to his professional career, making his MLB debut at the age of 25, but has come a long way since then. His official “rookie year” was not until a year later in 2012 where he went 2-5 with a 5.14 ERA in 12 starts. Since then he has gone 74-43 while winning two Cy Young awards. For the past four years, he has been at the helm of one of the best staffs in the league. Last season, he led the team to an AL Central Division title before surprisingly blowing up in the ALDS against the Yankees. The Stetson University product, yes I said Stetson University, has been an underdog since he entered college but has put in all the work and it most certainly has paid off.
2. Max Scherzer – WSH Nationals
The 2-time defending NL Cy Young winner enters my list at number two. Scherzer is yet another guy who had a slow start to his Major League career. In his first five season in the bigs, Scherzer went 52-42 with a 3.88 ERA. Since, and including, the 2013 season, he has gone 89-33 with a 2.87 ERA and has finished in the top five in CY Young voting each of those season, capturing three of them. The right-handed stud has come into his own as arguably the best pitcher in the league. Some people do believe that but it is hard to be the guy that is number one on this list. Scherzer is looking to three-peat with the NL Cy Young but with two other guys on this list playing in the NL, he is going to have a tough road to travel. I expect yet another big season from this guy.
1. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers
My number one starting pitcher in the MLB is an absolute stud. Clayton Kershaw has been nothing but phenomenal as he has finished only one of his ten seasons with an ERA over 3.00, which was his rookie season. Kershaw has made the All-Star team every year since 2011 while also finishing in the top 5 in Cy Young voting, winning 3 of them, and also added a MVP and a Gold Glove. Kershaw is coming into his own as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game. He will enter this season at the age of 30 and is more than ready to finally capture that beloved World Series Championship and start to build up his Hall of Fame resume.
As he is preparing to enter the second half of his career, Kershaw does not plan on putting on the breaks anytime soon. However, he has been battling a back injury the last two seasons and it has cost him to miss close to 100 innings. The Claw has a lot on the line this season as he is able to opt out of the remainder of his contract if he pleases. I think that the result of the season will have a big impact on whether he stays in LA or travels elsewhere. Kershaw isn’t getting any younger and he wants to win. Now.
Alright guys there you have it, my top 5 pitchers entering the 2018 MLB season. I don’t know about you guys but this has me pumped for some baseball! Check out the rest of our season previews here at Guys Being Dudes.