September is already here, but there is still plenty of time to change the story of the 2023 season.
That’s true for teams such as the surging Mariners, and it’s true for players, too. A slow start? A midseason swoon? Those are setbacks, to be sure. But the length of the MLB season, challenging as it is, also allows time to regroup and come back stronger.
Take our latest Starting Pitcher Power Rankings, based on the votes of our MLB.com panel, which took into account track record and season-long success but also recent performance. Yes, the same pitcher occupies the No. 1 spot for the second straight edition, but below that there was quite a bit of movement. Seven pitchers jumped up from unranked status -- six of them making their season debuts here -- while another cracked the top three for the first time.
Here is a look at this week’s Starting Pitcher Power Rankings, with all stats up to date through Tuesday’s games.
1. Blake Snell, Padres (Last poll: 1)
It’s been quite a rise for Snell, from not making our first six polls of the season to claiming the top spot twice in a row. He’s done it while walking a tightrope, too. The left-hander has issued the most walks in the Majors (89), but opponents have a .563 OPS against him with men on base, including .499 with runners in scoring position. Potentially closing in on his second Cy Young Award, Snell owns a 1.31 ERA over his past 19 starts.
2. Justin Steele, Cubs (6)
This is the highest Steele has climbed in the Starting Pitcher Power Rankings (previous best: fourth). The unheralded lefty is coming off the most impressive start of his career, holding the Giants to two hits and striking out 12 over eight scoreless innings on Monday. But the truth is, Steele has been dealing all season long. The highest his 2023 ERA has climbed after any of his 26 starts? 2.80.
3. Gerrit Cole, Yankees (2)
Cole has placed in the top four spots in our rankings six straight times and nine of 11 overall this season. While the Yankees’ playoff hopes have been dashed, Cole still has an opportunity to lock down his first Cy Young Award, after five previous top-five finishes. To that end, he has a 1.83 ERA and 25-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his past three outings.
4. Spencer Strider, Braves (4)
Here’s one way to look at Strider’s dominance this season: Just six pitchers have recorded at least 100 strikeouts on a single pitch type in 2023, and Strider has done it with multiple pitches. He has racked up 121 K’s with his slider (the most for any pitcher-pitch combo), plus 106 with his four-seam fastball.
5. Kodai Senga, Mets (not ranked)
Perhaps it’s gotten a bit lost as the Mets have fallen out of contention, but Senga has been lights-out for a while now. After some up-and-down performances early in his first MLB season, the 30-year-old native of Japan boasts a 2.71 ERA since May 17, including 2.48 over his past 10 starts. This is his first time breaking into our top 10.
6. Sonny Gray, Twins (not ranked)
Gray appeared in each of the first five editions of the Starting Pitcher Power Rankings, and after a relatively brief downturn in June and July dropped him out, the 11-year veteran is back. He has completed at least six innings in nine straight starts, eight of them quality starts, with a 2.65 ERA in that span. At age 33, Gray could score his highest Cy Young Award finish since placing third back in 2015.
7. Max Scherzer, Rangers (not ranked)
It’s about time Scherzer makes his first appearance of the season in the top 10. No, it hasn’t been his best year. But Mad Max has reemerged since a Deadline deal to Texas, carrying a 2.21 Rangers ERA into his showdown with two-time former teammate Justin Verlander on Wednesday night.
8. Zack Wheeler, Phillies (not ranked)
If you go by FanGraphs’ FIP-based WAR formula, Wheeler has been the best pitcher in the Majors this season, despite never making it into these rankings until now. But even if you’re skeptical of those numbers, there is plenty to recommend about Wheeler’s season, which could be turning into a dark horse Cy Young Award bid.
9. Kyle Bradish, Orioles (not ranked)
Question: Who has been the best starting pitcher on the team with the AL’s best record? Answer: Bradish. The 26-year-old ranks third in the AL in ERA (3.03) and ERA+ (140), plus second in HR/9 rate (0.77), second in H/9 rate (7.5) and sixth in FIP (3.44) and WHIP (1.11). Bradish has come up huge for the Baltimore rotation, especially since mid-June, posting a 2.28 ERA over his past 14 starts.
10 (tie). Freddy Peralta, Brewers (not ranked)
As of late July, Peralta had a 4.72 ERA, and his season looked like it would be a significant step backward. Since then, though, he’s been arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Going into Wednesday’s outing against the Pirates, Peralta had a 1.71 ERA over his past seven starts (all Brewers wins), with four double-digit strikeout performances.
10 (tie). Cole Ragans, Royals (not ranked)
Ragans was the 30th overall pick in the 2016 Draft by the Rangers but underwent multiple Tommy John surgeries and didn't pitch in a professional game from Aug. 30, 2017-May 5, 2021. After producing a 5.32 ERA in 26 games (nine starts) for the Rangers between 2022-23, Ragans was traded to the Royals on June 30 for Aroldis Chapman. The lefty has since pitched like the ace Kansas City desperately needs, with a 1.51 ERA and 1.64 FIP in eight starts.
Also receiving votes: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Max Fried (Braves), Charlie Morton (Braves), Luis Castillo (Mariners), Logan Gilbert (Mariners), George Kirby (Mariners), Zac Gallen (D-backs), Kevin Gausman (Blue Jays), Brandon Woodruff (Brewers), Tyler Glasnow (Rays), Logan Webb (Giants)
Voters: David Adler, Brett Blueweiss, Paul Casella, Doug Gausepohl, Thomas Harrigan, Sarah Langs, Travis Miller, Ricardo Montes de Oca, Brian Murphy, Sweeny Murti, Manny Randhawa, Efrain Ruiz, Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru, Andrew Simon, David Venn