Ranking All 30 MLB Ace Pitchers
Ranking All 30 MLB Ace Pitchers
Every winning MLB team is built in some way around a pitching staff. Every pitching staff has one starting pitcher who is the ace of the staff. Your favorite team has one and by now you’ve already thought of who that pitcher is. Which team has the best ace starter and which team’s ace is leaving them wanting for more performance?
The ace of a pitching staff means everything. This is the pitcher that can stop a losing streak before it reaches five games. The man your team wants on the mound when facing one of the top pitchers in baseball. If your team gets to the postseason you’ll hang hopes of at least two and maybe three games on this pitcher alone in a seven game series.
He might or might not be the highest paid member of the team but if he is the ace and is not one of the highest paid, he will be soon. This is the kind of guy that you don’t mind signing a big contract though. Actually as a fan you’re pumped when your GM inks the big starter to a long term deal because you know that you know it will lead to a win every fifth day most of the time.
Do you have him picked out? Who is the best of the best? We’ll look at the current ace for each team and rank them from number 30 all the way to number one. It should be mentioned that even the last ranked starter on this list would be more than welcome to join any other staff in the majors. That’s simply how good these guys are. The top ten pitchers are definitely some of the most impactful names MLB has seen in the last few decades.
30 – Kevin Correia – Minnesota Twins
Because of the additions of Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, it could be a debate who is the for-sure ace. It really wouldn’t matter much going into the season. The staff should be greatly improved over last season and Correia is likely to be pushed to a better season than his 4.18 ERA in 2013 by the company he will keep this year.
29 – R.A. Dickey – Toronto Blue Jays
It is very possible that the former Cy-Young winner Dickey will improve greatly on his 4.21 season from 2013. Because he has never really had as much success in the A.L. as he did in the N.L., it’s just not something that would be considered a guarantee. Still Dickey brought home 14 wins for the Blue Jays in 2013 so that counts for something.
28 – Jorge De La Rosa – Colorado Rockies
De La Rosa has potential to rise up this list. He is exactly the kind of ace that the Rockies need but his WHIP of 1.38 will need to come down if he is to do so. If the Rockies are going to go somewhere big this season, De La Rosa is going to need to repeat the success he found in 2013.
27 – Jarrod Parker – Oakland Athletics
The departure of Bartolo Colon leaves vacancy at the top of the A’s rotation. Right now it looks like Parker will be the man to start the season. He’ll be good for an ERA under 4 and upwards of 13 to 15 wins. It is possible that Sonny Gray could emerge as the ace of the staff with a great season but that remains to be confirmed.
26 – Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox
Lester is one of those pitchers who might continue to prove priceless in the postseason but not quite as awesome over the stretch of the season. Having said that, being able to pencil in 15 or so wins and an ERA under 4 is most definitely deserving of being called an ace. Lester can match pitch for pitch with any other ace on this list at any time.
25 – Scott Feldman – Houston Astros
Some might think Feldman is a little high on this list compared to the ones he is above but the numbers say something different. His 1.18 WHIP will continue to play well to an ERA under 4 if he keeps consistent this season. He might not be the ace in 2015 but for now Feldman is a great choice for this team as the leader of a young pitching staff.
24 – Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees
Technically some still consider C.C. Sebathia the ace of the Yankees but I think we all know the intention of the Yankees is for Tanaka to mow over the competition. His numbers were awesome before coming to MLB and they might well be just as dominant in MLB. His past and his potential alone put him this high. We’ll see if the truth takes him up the list or off of it completely.
23 – Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants
Cain’s ERA last season is higher than some ace starters at 4.00 but his WHIP was still decent at 1.18. That and his past lifted him to this point on the list. He still has a lot of good years left as the ace of this staff and that counts for a great deal.
22 – Kyle Lohse – Milwaukee Brewers
Even though the signing of Matt Garza puts a little bit of a question in Lohse being considered the ace, the fact that he was with the team last year and is a tad more consistent puts him here. Also 11 wins and a 3.35 ERA most definitely count for a lot of ranking points. Lohse can be as good as the best when he is on and isn’t terrible on an off day.
21 – Johnny Cueto – Cincinnati Reds
Cueto looked to be heading for a normally great season last year and could well be headed towards dominance this year. A 2.82 ERA is not going to be anywhere near this far down the list except for the special case of Cueto. Simply put, his issues with being injury prone of late cast a shadow of doubt on how reliable he is as the ace of the staff. Other than that he’s as good as the best in the game most of the time.
20 – Andrew Cashner – San Diego Padres
Cashner pulled in 15 wins, a 3.35 ERA and a1.23 WHIP last year for the Padres. That is more than respectable to say the least. If he is able to pitch as well as he did at the end of the season all 2014, he’ll compete for Cy-Young votes in the N.L.
19 – Ubaldo Jimenez – Baltimore Orioles
The gamble the Orioles are taking on Jimenez is a good one. No team in baseball needed a solid, young ace-level starter like they did. Instantly Jimenez looks like the ace of this staff if he can continue his level of play from the later part of 2013. Look for him to be a season-changer for this team and that is exactly what an ace starter is supposed to be.
18 – Travis Wood – Chicago Cubs
If you plucked Wood off of the Cubs and placed him on the New York Yankees he would suddenly be a big-name star in baseball. His ERA of 3.11 and WHIP of 1.15 rank among the best in all of MLB. They shouldn’t let him go though because with the prospects on the way, Wood’s win total is bound to go from 9 to at least 15 in the next few years.
17 – Patrick Corbin – Arizona Diamondbacks
With 14 wins, 3.41 ERA and 1.17 WHIP you can easily understand why Corbin is this high on this list. Imagine how high he would be if his second half of 2013 had been every bit as the first half. Without a doubt he would be in the top 10 and might well be after 2014 if he proves consistent throughout the season.
16 – Mike Minor – Atlanta Braves
The Braves are in a very unique situation. Minor certainly could be considered their ace but then so could Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran. By the same token if Brandon Beachy returns healthy all season long he might be the ace. At this point they are all very good but no one has solidified himself as the absolute ace. It is something the Braves need to happen between now and the postseason if they hope to go and win. Minor certainly belongs with these gentlemen mid-way through the pack.
15 – Jared Weaver – Los Angeles Angels
Sometimes how good a starter is can be lost in the hassle of a bad season. That is the case with Weaver. His 3.27 ERA and 1.14 WHIP speak for themselves from last season but his track record proves he’ll be the man for the Angels once again in 2014. If the team plays better behind him he might well win more than 11 games.
14 – Justin Masterson – Cleveland Indians
There is a reason that the Indians panicked when Masterson went down with an injury last season. This guy was all they had for most of the year. He was the best and emerged as the ace of their staff beyond any doubt. Sure the other guys lifted themselves up late in the season but Masterson is the ace and he is potentially one of the very best in baseball if he stays healthy.
13 – David Price – Tampa Bay Rays
In 2013 Price had a bit of a down season with an ERA way up around 3.33 and a huge WHIP at 1.10. Yes I am being sarcastic but the fact that this is viewed as not his best effort or season speaks to how good and consistent Price is. He’s highly asked about by other teams because he is that good. He’s an ace and a season changer for sure.
12 – Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
That bit about a good season by the ace getting lost in the mess of a bad season is truer for Sale than anyone. It didn’t matter how bad the White Sox were playing last season, if Sale was on the mound the Sox had a chance to win. To pull down 11 wins for the White Sox last year proves how great he is. If that isn’t enough just look to his 3.07 ERA and then you should be satisfied.
11 – Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
Strasburg had offseason surgery and is said to feel so much better he’s like a new man. That’s great news for the Nats because now he might be able to do something about that huge 3.00 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. This poor guy could pitch three shutouts in a row and some media outlets would be on him about them not having been no-hitters. He is great and young and will continue to be this season as well. Health alone kept him from the top 10.
10 – Francisco Liriano – Pittsburgh Pirates
The loss of A.J. Burnett hurts the Pirates in 2014 but not a ton. Liriano is one of the big reasons why. Burnett wasn’t the ace of the staff; he was the veteran leader of the staff. Liriano is veteran enough for that role and certain can be a great leader with the numbers he flashed in 2013. Look for much of the same from him this season.
9 – James Shields – Kansas City Royals
Shields was one of the top pitchers in all of MLB when he was with the Rays and he still is now that he is wearing Royals blue. His 3.15 ERA and 1.238 WHIP are the highest of the top 10 but his presence as the ace of the staff puts him this high. Shields changed the entire feel of this team just by putting on the uniform and if that’s not an ace, you tell me what is.
8 – Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
Hernandez wasn’t even the best pitcher on the Mariners last season which is amazing considering his 3.04 ERA. While Hisashi Iwakuma is outstanding, he is not the ace of the Mariners. You know who will toe the rubber on Opening Day and who the M’s would count on in any big game situation first and it’s “King” Felix.
7 – Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
There isn’t one pitcher on here from one through 30 that doesn’t up their game when facing Cliff Lee. He has always been one of the top few pitchers in baseball and he remains so going into 2014. His recent loyalty to the Phillies, wanting to stay there no matter what, speaks to his status as one of the more respected aces of MLB as well. When anyone in baseball is able to defeat Lee, they know they’ve done something outstanding.
6 – Bartolo Colon – New York Mets
The Mets really made a great move bringing in Colon. Their young ace Matt Harvey is definitely someone who would be on this list if he weren’t injured for the season. Still they were able to bring in a guy who is defying time itself by his performance. Colon should do every bit as well in the N.L. as he did in the A.L. for at least one more season.
5 – Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
Many thought Darvish could have or even should have won the A.L. Cy Young award in 2013. Their right he well could have with the show he put on. You have to wonder if he would have had a couple of no-hitters or perfect game like he almost had if the voting would have shifted. No matter that, he will compete for the same this year and is likely to threaten more history at least once. Only a slight faltering at the end of last year leads to a tiny drop to 5.
4 – Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
Fernandez nearly could have won both Rookie of the Year and the Cy-Young award if a couple of other guys didn’t blow the year away in 2013. Going into 2014 no one can question that this man is a phenom. He walked in the door and became the ace of the staff within a few starts. This season expect him to take to the N.L. once again.
3 – Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
Everyone in this top group is like this but when Wainwright is on, no one can touch him unless another great ace matches his zeroes and the game turns to the bullpen. The best thing about Waino is that he is such a great personality, enjoys the game and is a fighter when he’s on the mound. He is as likely to shut you out on an off night as he is a night when all is going his way. He’ll be there at the end this year too.
2 – Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
Scherzer has the distinction of being the man that officially bumped Justin Verlander off of this list. To be sure the Tigers are one of the teams that could be considered as having two aces but Scherzer is the number one man and proved it over the postseason after the Cy-Young winning season. It’s likely to be a few years before Scherzer has another bad season.
1 – Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
I would bet 95 percent of the readers of this article knew Kershaw was going to be number one. His ERA is a full run lower than everyone on this list except Jose Fernandez of the Marlins. Without a doubt Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game. Over the course of the season to have an ERA of 1.83 is utterly ridiculous. Yet he is expected by everyone and especially himself to go out and do the same thing this season. Only the incredible number of innings on his arm these few awesome seasons makes you worry about him. Other than that the Dodgers can bank on having a chance to beat anyone in baseball every fifth day. It’s as close to a guarantee as anything in the game.