2024 Fantasy Baseball Top 10 Pitcher Rankings

by Joe Bond
2024 Fantasy Baseball Top 10 Pitcher Rankings

Welcome to the last installment of my 2024 positional Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Rankings, this one being my Pitcher Top 10.

I will be going through each position breaking down my early top-10. If you missed the others follow the links below.

2024 Positional Top 10 Rankings

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Ranking pitchers is a lot harder than ranking hitters for me. There are many things a pitcher can't control that affect their overall fantasy value.

The defense behind them is one. A bad defense can cause a pitcher to allow more runs scored.

A second is the offense. If the offense is not performing then no matter how good the pitcher is pitching, he is less likely to get a win. This is just one of many reason why I prefer using quality starts over wins. Or if you play on Fantrax, and you should be, using Quality Appearance.

This is why I rank mostly on pure skillset than anything. Give me the pitcher who is able to control the ball over anybody else. Then a bonus is the strikeouts. Combine both of those and you have yourself a pitcher that limits base runners. Those are the guys that are going to perform well no matter what team they are on.

Now, if I'm debating between two pitchers who have a very similar skill set, then and only then will I use team as a tiebreaker. In that case, an extra win or two can prove to be the difference between them in overall fantasy value.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Top 10 Pitcher Rankings

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No. 10: Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers

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When you look at pitching leaders in 2023 Skubal is going to be nowhere to be seen. This is because he did not pitch until July 4th. He started a fair number of games, 15, but due to innings limitations early he was held to 80.1 total innings pitched.

However, he was great when on the mound, with the exception of his third start against the Royals where he allowed seven earned.

Skubal posted career-high marks in K/9, BB/9. This led to him having his best ERA and WHIP of his short career.

I would say you should not predict a 2.80 ERA again, but to his credit, he did have an even better xERA, FIP and xFIP. Don't know what those are look at our advanced analytics guide.

No. 9: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

Aaron Nola did Aaron Nola things again. He racked up a ton of innings, therefore a ton of strikeouts and had a solid WHIP. That is something you can count on and there is something to be said about rostering a reliable pitcher like Aaron Nola.

Also, it is an even year, so we are going to get really good Aaron Nola right? I kid, but just go look at his history.

I'll be honest though, he might not be in my top-10 all offseason. I know the projections like him, but I hesitate to fully buy-in. Inconsistency, giving up the home run ball and mediocre walk rate all factor in. Again he is an innings eater so the counting stats will for sure be there and that is carrying a lot of his ranking weight.

No. 8: Pablo Lopez, Minnesota Twins

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Not going to lie, even I'm surprised to see myself put Lopez in my top 10. Hear me out though.

Did you know Pablo Lopez was the only pitcher last season to have higher than a 10.0 K/9 and lower than 2.25 BB/9.

He is a prime example of draft the pitcher not the pitcher on the better team. Lopez was downright unlucky winning only 11 games last season. He had 20 Quality Starts, which tied for fifth.

Another good sign the he pitched better than the results, even though they were pretty good, is his xERA, FIP and xFIP were all lower than his actual ERA.

No. 7: Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks

Zac Gallen struggled a bit down the stretch last season, but years of very good production is keeping me a believer.

Great thing about Gallen is even though he might not be at the top of the K/9 leaderboard he pitches a lot of innings so he rack up the strikeouts. He is also regularly at the top of the leaderboard for WHIP. In 2023 he was 12th and in 2022 he was second.

No. 6: Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners

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Luis Castillo has it all.

Castillo has a great four-seamer, which keeps him as one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game.

He'll keep his ERA just over 3.00 most likely, but we've already gotten better, so we know it's possible.

His WHIP was a concern for me. No longer is that the case as he has improved his walk rate considerably over the last two seasons which has allowed him to lower his WHIP to 1.08 and 1.10.

It helps he plays for a good team too, so add all that together and he is easily in my Top 10.

No. 5: Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays

Gausman was a strikeout machine in 2023, finishing third only behind Strider and Blake Snell in K-rate. He was great, don't get me wrong, but here is why I can't put him higher.

The thought going into 2023 with Gausman is he could improve on his 3.35 ERA because he had a crazy high BABIP of .363. He did improve his BABIP and ERA to .321 and 3.16. So that is good, but maybe not as far of a correction as we all hoped.

So what caused his BABIP to stay so high? Well, he saw his Barrel% rise to a career-high 9.8%.  It seemed hitters were sitting on his fastball a lot. Yes, that same fastball induced a lot of swing and miss, as proven by his career-high K/9, but it also allowed for more baserunners.

He also saw his walk rate rise from his career low of 3.9% in 2022 up to 7.2%. I think we should expect something close to his 2023 mark again . This will keep his WHIP and ERA around the levels we've seen the last two seasons as well.

No. 4: Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies

Wheeler vs Gausman was a tough choice and illustrates perfectly what I was talking about in the intro about how to decide between pitchers who are rated closely.

Gausman wins strikeouts with a 31% K-rate vs 26%, but both still top of the food chain there.

Win projections are almost identical.

Being able to limit base runners is what ultimately made me choose Wheeler over Gausman.

Gausman WHIP last two seasons (1.24 and 1.18) vs Wheeler (1.04 and 1.08). This is thanks to a walk-rate of 7% to 5% in 2023.

No. 3: Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers

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Burnes had a down season, but if you're telling me a "bad" season is 3.39 ERA, 1.07 WHIP with 200 strikeouts, sign me up.

The first half of 2023 was not great. 3.94 ERA and only striking out 102 batters in 107.1 innings.

He turned things around in the second half posting a 2.71 ERA and striking out 98 in 86.1 innings.

I remember on Twitter people speculating that Burnes was pitching through an injury. I don't know about that, but what I do know is I expect to see more of the second-half Burnes than first-half.

No. 2: Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

These last two pitchers really are 1A and 1B, but I had to make a call and thus we have Cole at No. 2.

I was still all in on Cole being the top pitcher last year. I did not think the rise in ERA in 2022 was here to stay. I also loved the strikeouts and thought those were here to stay.

Well, I was right and wrong. The ERA dropped, to 2.63, but so did his strikeouts from 257 to 222. His K/9 dropped 9.56 and K% was at 27%. The first time it was below 11.00 and 32% since 2017 (last time he was in Pittsburgh)

I'm still not worried. Cole has been a model of consistency and someone you can trust to draft as one of the first pitchers for the last six seasons.

No. 1: Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves

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That leaves my 1A to be Spencer Strider. That strikeout rate of 13.55 and 281 total strikeouts is very hard to ignore and you shouldn't either.

Because of this league-high k-rate of 36.8, 5.3 more than the next, he is able to keep his WHIP down as well.

The one concern was the ERA of 3.86, which was driven up by a 4.39 ERA in the second half last season. I'm not super concerned though as his FIP and xFIP say he was getting a tad unlucky.

Believe in the stuff and enjoy having the best pitcher in baseball.

2024 Positional Top 10 Rankings

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