20 Best Starting Pitchers In MLB In 2017

The 20 best starters in baseball in 2017.

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With the 2017 regular season now in the books and the playoffs ramping up, we can start to look back and see who the best of the 2017 were. The 2017 season will go down in history books as home runs flew out of parks everywhere and offense came back with a vengeance. Still, no team can win it all without an ace, and there are plenty to go around. Here are the best starting pitchers from the 2017 season.

20. Sonny Gray, New York Yankees
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Gray might not have had a winning record, finishing 10-12 on the year, but he was much better than that. He finished with a 3.55 ERA, good for 21st in baseball, a 1.21 WHIP, which was 18th in baseball, and was the victim of no run support on many starts. With the Yankees he received one run or less of support in five of his 11 starts. He has never really been a strikeout pitcher, but still had 153 strikeouts in 162.1 innings. His numbers might not wow anyone, but he is one of the steadiest pitchers in the game when healthy.

19. Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs
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This was an off year for Arrieta though he still had a good year overall. He finished 18th in the Majors in ERA among starting pitcher qualifiers. He posted a 1.218 WHIP, 14-10 record, 4.16 FIP and struck out 163 in 168.1 innings. His 2017 was significantly different from his 2015 and 2016 seasons, which make 2017 look like a disappointing year by his standards. But he is still a frontline starter on a playoff team who bulldozed his way through the season and still gave his team a chance to win every time out. Were the 2015-16 seasons the aberration, or was 2017? Either way, he was good enough to make this list.

18. Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers
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Wood went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 1.057 WHIP and struck out 151 in 152.1 innings while making his first All-Star team. He was the Dodgers’ second-best starter behind Kershaw and one of the best in the game this season. His only real detractor this season was his only making 25 starts. The 2017 season was a good sign for him moving forward, and, if he can stay healthy, the Dodgers might very well have another top rotation in 2018.

17. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
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The Phillies had a tough year, but there is hope for the future. Nola is a big part of it. He posted a 12-11 record, 1.208 WHIP, 3.54 ERA, 3.27 FIP and 9.9 K/9. He has the makings of an ace and, at 24-years-old, is one of the brightest young pitchers in the game. He threw only 168 innings this year across 27 starts, but should be ready for a bigger workload next season, which is good news for the Phillies who may well be the surprise team of 2018.

16. Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers
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One year after leading the NL in losses, Nelson was ace-like for the Brewers this season. He posted a 12-6 mark with a 3.49 ERA, 3.05 FIP, averaged 10.2 K/9, finished 10th in strikeouts in baseball with 199, and went from leading the Majors in walks in 2016 with 86 to walking just 48 batters this season. It was a huge step forward and a large reason why the Brewers found themselves in contention this year. The only scary thing for him and the Brewers is that he will miss a part of 2018 after shoulder surgery for a torn labrum after getting injured diving back to first base.

15. Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins
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Santana finished 11th in the Majors in ERA and was a steady influence at the top of the rotation for the Twins. He also led the Majors in complete games with five and shutouts with three. He has never truly been a big strikeout pitcher, but he still averaged a 7.1 K/9 ratio this year, in line with his career K/9 of 7.2. His FIP wasn’t great at 4.46, but he had a healthy WHIP of 1.126 and seemed to always keep the Twins in it when he was on the mound. He also turned in his second All-Star game appearance of his career.

14. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
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Martinez led the NL in complete games and shutouts with two each. His record wasn’t stellar at 12-11, but we all know records don’t mean everything. A 3.91 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9 show he was much better than his record. Still just 25, he was named to his second All-Star team and seems to be coming into his own as a pitcher which is good news for the Cardinals. If Martinez had any issues, it was his 71 walks and 1.2 HR/9 ratio. However, his 217 strikeouts, good for tenth in baseball, was a positive sign. He needs to limit the free passes and get his HR/9 ratio back in line with his career rate of 0.8, but he should be even better next year.

13. Jacob DeGrom, New York Mets
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DeGrom was the only consistent thing in the Mets’ turbulent 2017 season. He went 15-10 with a 3.53 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 3.50 FIP, struck out 239, and averaged 10.7 K/9 in 201.1 innings. There is no doubt that DeGrom was the Mets’ ace this season, and he gave the team a chance to win every time he stood on the mound. There is still a lot of reasons for Mets’ fans to be somewhat optimistic for the future, and knowing DeGrom is taking the ball every fifth day is one big reason.

12. Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
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Carrasco’s year is kind of overshadowed in the national media by Kluber’s big year, but he had the best year of his career. He tied for the MLB lead with 18 wins, posted a 3.29 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 1.095 WHIP, and struck out 226 in 200 innings. Carrasco was a beast on the road for the Indians, posting an 11-2 mark with 2.65 ERA and 0.997 WHIP and allowing 5 fewer homers on the road despite pitching more innings on the road. He is a major reason why the Indians are a World Series favorite heading into the playoffs.

11. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
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Verlander was having a good year with the Detroit Tigers, going 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.279 WHIP and striking out 176 in 172 innings. Once he was traded to the Astros, however, he seemed like a new pitcher. In five starts, he struck out 43, went 5-0, and had a 2.69 FIP / 1.06 ERA / 0.647 WHIP in 34 innings. He seemed to wind the clock back. There is life in his arm yet, and he could be just what the Astros need to win a World Series.

10. Gio Gonazlez, Washington Nationals
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Gonzalez finished third in the Majors in WAR for pitchers at 6.6, second in the NL to teammate Max Scherzer. His 2.96 ERA was his lowest since 2012, as was his 15 wins. The only knock on Gonzalez was his league-high 79 walks, but even with those walks he managed to post a 1.179 WHIP and struck out 188 in 201 innings. He might not be an ace, but Nationals fans would have signed up for this kind of season from him in a heartbeat.

9. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
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He only made 23 starts this year, but he bounced back from a bad 2016 to show he still has ace material. He went 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA, 1.119 WHIP and 3.79 FIP. He has never been a huge strikeout guy, but still managed 125 in his 145.2 innings, a 7.7 K/9 ratio, above his career mark of 7.2 K/9. If he had been healthy, he might have been in the conversation for the Cy Young, though it would be hard to imagine him beating Corey Kluber. Still, his return to form was a huge deal for him, and the Astros and when healthy is one of the best in the game.

8. Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Greinke finally became the pitcher the Diamondbacks thought they were getting when they signed him prior to the 2016 season. He wasn’t quite the pitcher of 2013 through 2015, but he was finally the ace they needed him to be. His ERA decreased by over a run from 2016 to 3.20, he went 17-7, had a 3.31 FIP, 1.072 WHIP, struck out 215 in 202.1 innings, and helped get the Diamondbacks to the playoffs. He teamed with Robbie Ray to form an outstanding 1-2 punch. More importantly, he was able to bounce back after a terrible year and give new life and hope to his career.

7. Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Ray finally had the breakout season many were waiting for, and it helped turn the Diamondbacks into a playoff team. Ray posted a 15-5 record with 2.89 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.154 WHIP, and struck out 218 in 162 innings while leading the NL with a 12.1 SO/9 ratio. He is just 25 and seems to finally be putting it all together. He has now posted back-to-back 218 strikeout seasons, and this year he hit that mark in 14 fewer innings.

6. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
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Strasburg turned in his best season yet, even if there were injuries holding him to only 28 starts this season. He went 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA, led the NL with a 2.72 FIP, posted a 1.05 WHIP, led MLB with a 0.7 HR/9 ratio, and struck out 204 across 175.1 innings. He also finished fourth in the Majors in WAR for pitchers with at 6.5. There is no doubt that — when healthy — Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in the game and one of the major reasons the Nationals are playoff contenders every year. He and Scherzer might be the best 1-2 combination in baseball right now.

5. Luis Severino, New York Yankees
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Severino emerged as the ace of the Yankees’ staff this season and was a huge reason the team saw such quick returns in their rebuild year. He struck out 230, won 14 games, posted a 2.98 ERA, 152 ERA+, 1.04 WHIP, and struck out 10.7 per nine. He was a beast. The only knock on his game this season was his habit of giving up a home run. He averaged 1 home run per nine. He also led the Majors in velocity with an average of 97.5 MPH, according to Fangraphs. He was only 23 this year, so there is a lot of reason to be hopeful in the Bronx.

4. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
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For the second year in a row, Scherzer led the National League in strikeouts (268) and WHIP (0.902). He led the Majors in hits per nine with 5.7. He also led the NL in complete games with two this past season. The guy is a stud and can put up numbers with the best of them. The 2016 Cy Young Award-winner could very well win his third in 2017, but he will face some stiff competition.

3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
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Injuries held him back a little this season, and the Dodgers were a little cautious with him down the stretch to make sure he was good for a long postseason run. Still, he made 27 starts, pitched 175 innings, struck out 202, won 18 games, led the NL with a 6.73 K/BB ratio, led the NL with an ERA+ of 180 and posted a NL-leading 2.31 ERA in what many consider a down year for the ace. Almost any GM would tell you that, if they had to win one game, Kershaw would be the man on the mound.

2. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
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Sale takes the number two slot this year after posting a 2.90 ERA and striking out 308 batters in 214.1 innings. He led the Majors in innings, strikeouts, FIP and K/9. He began the year absolutely unhittable, and, though he seemed to wear down towards the end of the year, he was still a workhorse who could put up double digit strikeouts in any given start.

1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
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The 2014 Cy Young Award winner should be the 2017 Cy Young Award winner. He tied for the MLB lead in wins with 18, led in ERA with a 2.25, complete games (5), shutouts (3), ERA+ (202), WHIP (0.869) and K/BB ratio (7.36). He also led the AL in H/9 with 6.2 and BB/9 with 1.6. His eight wins above replacement also led the Major Leagues. He was the best pitcher in 2017.