Ranking the Top 10 MLB Pitchers Under 26
Top Ten MLB Pitchers Under 26
Right now in the MLB, there is a ton of young pitching talent. Teams are doing an outstanding job of drafting the right pitchers, progressing them through the minor leagues and turning them in to successful big league pitchers. I do not think that we have had this much young pitching depth in baseball for a very long time. Aside from guys like Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez, most of the top pitchers this season are 26-years-old or younger.
This is a very exciting thing for baseball. We are coming off of an era where the home run was king. While it was fun to see roided out stars like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire constantly hitting moonshots, I prefer a well played ball game. I think the young pitching talent that we see in majors right now will help continue to bring scores down and take baseball back to its fundamental roots. Do not get me wrong, I love the home runs just like anyone else, but I also love the little things about the game. Obviously, better pitching will bring the scores down and make the little things much more important.
When putting together this list, there was one thing in particular that I realized. There is more elite left-handed starting pitching than ever before. I was shocked by how many left-handed pitchers that I put on this list. Obviously, there will always be more right-handers, but when it comes to elite pitching, it is almost a 50/50 split.
These guys will probably be aces of their respective pitching staffs for the next 10-15 years. Certainly, injury is always a huge risk-factor when it comes to pitching, but on pure talent alone, each one of these guys should have a very long and successful big-league career. Here it is, the Top Ten MLB Pitchers under the age of 26.
10. Mike Minor, 25
Atlanta Braves' lefty Mike Minor has really turned into a great pitcher this season. He is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA. He is pitching much better than in years past. Minor has been outstanding this season and I think he has really turned a corner in his career.
9. Patrick Corbin, 23
Patrick Corbin is dominating batters this season. He currently has a perfect 8-0 record with an amazing 1.71 ERA. Corbin never got the attention of the other young pitching prospects of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he has always been well thought of. I see a very bright future ahead for Corbin, who is another lefty on the list.
8. Mat Latos, 25
I was surprised to see that Mat Latos was eligible for the list. I feel like this guy has been pitching in the big leagues forever. The Cincinnati Reds' right-hander is putting up another very good season. He is currently 5-0 with a 3.01 ERA. Barring injury, it is hard for me to see Latos not pitching another 10+ years in the big leagues. The guy is solid as a rock.
7. Aroldis Chapman, 25
Aroldis Chapman is the only relief pitcher on the list. The Reds tried to turn him in to a starter this offseason, but eventually sent him back to the bullpen. I think there is still a chance he makes it in the rotation some day. There is no denying his talent. He has a fastball that consistently reaches triple-digits and an awesome slider. Control is a bit of an issue, but his variety of pitches usually over-matches that problem.
6. Shelby Miller, 22
Shelby Miller has been a top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization for many years. Last season, some people started to sour on Miller because he struggled mightily at AAA. Look at him now. Through 10 starts, Miller has 5-3 record with a 2.02 ERA. He is striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings. Simply put, Miller has been dominant and has placed himself as one of the top young pitchers in baseball.
5. Matt Moore, 23
In his second full season in the big leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays, Matt Moore has really stepped up and is starting to reach that potential that we all knew he had. He has an 8-0 record with a 2.21 ERA in 10 starts this season. There is no doubt that the stuff is there for Moore to be the ace of the Rays' pitching staff for years to come.
4. Matt Harvey, 24
Matt Harvey has really burst on to the scene this season. The New York Mets' ace has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball so far this season. He is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA. I considered putting Harvey higher on the list and I would not argue with anybody that would do so, but it does sort of worry me that he never put up these kinds of numbers in the minor leagues. I think that Harvey has the potential to be great, but I think you have to expect his numbers to come back to earth a little bit.
3. Chris Sale, 24
Chris Sale was a very fast mover through the minors, only appearing in 11 minor league games. In his first two years in the big leagues, Sale was a dominant bullpen pitcher. Last season, the Chicago White Sox decided to make Sale a starter. He did not disappoint, going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA and establishing himself as one of the best young pitchers in the game. He has continued his greatness this season with a 2.53 ERA and a 2.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
2. Stephen Strasburg, 24
I considered moving Stephen Strasburg down the list a spot or two, but his pure stuff is so intriguing that it is hard to put anybody ahead of him. He has been great since reaching the majors four seasons ago at the age of 21. Strasburg has a career record of 24-15 and a 2.84 career ERA. His stuff is arguably the best in baseball. The concern with Strasburg, and the reason I could not put him No. 1 is his health. He had to have Tommy John Surgery on his throwing elbow a couple seasons ago. He has returned nicely but his injury history is still concerning.
1. Clayton Kershaw, 25
Honestly, the No. 1 MLB pitcher under 26 was a pretty easy decision for me. Clayton Kershaw is currently in his 6th season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that span he has had a 66-40 record with a 2.71 ERA. He has a career average of 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He is simply one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. With little-to-no injury history, there is little doubt in my mind that Kershaw will be dominating batters for a long time.