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Early Look at 2015 Top 20 Starting Pitchers

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Ray takes takes an early, early look at the Top 20 Starting Pitchers for 2015.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago, ESPN's David Shoenfield offered his take on the Top 10 starting pitchers in the game right now. Schoenfield has been leading, or one of the leaders anyway, in the Corey Kluber is an ace starting pitcher camp this season, and I am a paying member of that camp. His article led me to thinking about taking an early look at the top 20 starting pitchers for 2015.

In his piece, Schoenfield went through some analysis on many of the starters he ranked in his top 10, as well as some who barely missed. Here is how he ranked them:

OK, where does that leave us? With apologies to Zack GreinkeCole HamelsHisashi Iwakuma, the injured Masahiro Tanaka and maybe a couple of others, the top 10 starters in the majors RIGHT NOW: 

1. Kershaw 
2. Hernandez 
3. Wainwright 
4. Sale 
5. Darvish 
6. Price 
7. Cueto 
8. Lester 
9. Kluber 
10. Scherzer

You really can't argue with this top 10 ranking above, and I like the fact that he has Kluber in his top 10, as he has had a dominating season on the mound after he struggled in April. Kershaw is a cut above the rest of the starters listed in the top 10, with Hernandez a cut above the rest of the starters as well.

Here is how I would rank my Top 20 starting pitchers for 2015, an early look, I know, along with some thoughts on each.

Rank

Player

Team

Comments

1

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers

The best pitcher in the game seems to be getting better and better. On his way to his 3rd straight NL Cy Young award. Top 3 pick in 2015?

2

Felix Hernandez

Mariners

The best starter in the American League, and some could argue he's the best in the game. Leads all starters with a 6.2 fWAR.

3

Adam Wainwright

Cardinals

He has struggled of late, but is one of the more consistent starters in the game.

4

Chris Sale

White Sox

One of the most dominating starters in the league. One can argue he should be ranked ahead of Wainwright.

5

Max Scherzer

Tigers

Scherzer is over his spring struggles and back to pitching like an ace.

6

David Price

Tigers

Price has improved his K/9 and BB/9 this season. Quite possible he wins another Cy Young award in 2015 if he can maintain this dominance.

7

Corey Kluber

Indians

He has become an ace in the last two seasons. K/9 just under 10.0, BB/9 under 2.0 and GB% around 50%. That's dominant.

8

Johnny Cueto

Reds

Leads MLB in wins; doesn't get the love other aces get, but he is an ace.

9

Jon Lester

A's

Will be curious to see if he re-signs with Boston, who appear unwilling to pay him like an ace. He will get ace money this offseason, and could exceed the Hamels $144 million deal a few years ago.

10

Zack Greinke

Dodgers

Greinke doesn't get the love from fWAR, but he is dominant. He could opt out of deal in 2015, so expect a big year from him next year.

11

Yu Darvish

Rangers

Darvish drops in my rankings due to his high WHIP this season., and the move up in rankings of a few guys including Greinke, Cueto and Kluber.

12

Cole Hamels

Phillies

Does Hamels begin the 2015 season in a Phillies uniform? I have a feeling he will not. I think the Phillies will fire GM Ruben Amaro Jr. this offseason and hire a new GM who will clean house and begin the necessary rebuild. If so, Hamels will move up this list depending on where he ends up.

13

Masahiro Tanaka

Yankees

This ranking assumes he is healthy, and it is quite possible he moves up from here if he can prove he will return to the dominating starter he was before the elbow injury.

14

Madison Bumgarner

Giants

Bumgarner is one of the more underrated starters in baseball, but like some other young starters, he is prone to the blow up start from time to time.

15

Stephen Strasburg

Nationals

I have been outspoken with my argument that Strasburg is not the ace most make him out to be. He has trouble pitching more than 7 innings and pitching on the road.

16

Jordan Zimmermann

Nationals

Zimmermann has rebounded from a few bad starts and is back to pitching like a near ace. He has pitched to a low to sub 3.00 ERA in each of the last four seasons.

17

Garrett Richards

Angels

Richards has broken out in 2014, winning 13 games with a 2.50 ERA, a K/9 around 8.50 and a 51% ground ball rate.

18

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Dodgers

Ryu makes this list as he has proven to be a #2 starter this season, winning 13 games with a low 3.00 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

19

Hisashi Iwakuma

Mariners

Iwakuma is a solid #2 starter in Seattle, keeping the ball on the ground and is a very stingy with the free pass.

20

Tyson Ross

Padres

Ross is a surprise on this list, but he is dominant at home, pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA. He strikes out almost a batter per inning and owns an elite ground ball rate.

A few pitchers currently on the disabled list would have made the list, but Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey are currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Phillies ace Cliff Lee is currently rehabbing an elbow injury. It is certainly possible that Harvey could be a top 10 starter in baseball in 2015, but pitchers usually struggle when returning from Tommy John, and I would like to see Harvery pitch before ranking him.

It is a possibility that Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka needs Tommy John surgery, and maybe I shouldn't have ranked him due to that chance, but he is currently rehabbing the elbow injury. Should he need surgery, he would fall off the list.

Who would replace him? There are several pitchers who would make a strong case for making this list, including Reds starter Mat Latos, Braves young starter Julio Teheran, A's starters Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir, Rays starter Chris Archer, and maybe even Zack Wheeler.

The Wheelers, Grays, Archers, and other young starters like Royals starter Yordano Ventura, Pirates injured starter Gerrit Cole, and Orioles starter Kevin Gausman could be the next crew of ace starters with another year of major league pitching experience under their belt. But, I am not ready to rank them in my top 20 right now.

Who did I miss? Let's discuss in the comments section.