Fantasy baseball's top starting pitchers are ...

March 27th, 2024

Let's be honest: Starting pitcher is the most important position in fantasy baseball. You can withstand a miss at some other positions, but starters will make up 25-30% of most rosters and provide the large majority of your pitching totals. If you don't make the correct calls here, it could be a long season.

Fortunately, the talent pool is extremely deep, and there are many ways you can go about constructing a championship-worthy rotation. There is a healthy amount of reliable studs at the top, a rich crop of young stars ready to move into the upper echelon, and plenty of pitchers aiming for a rebound season who are worth taking a chance on.

To prepare you for your upcoming drafts, here is a tier-by-tier guide to the top starting pitchers in’s 2024 fantasy rankings.

Get in-depth breakdowns of each position:
Top 300 | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | C | OF | RP

Tier 1: Spencer Strider

Strider remained the game's premier strikeout starter in 2023 while throwing 55 more innings than he did the previous year. His 36.8% K rate was five percentage points better than any other qualified starter. His chase and whiff rates went up while his walk rate ticked down. Strider's 3.86 ERA was more than a full run higher than in '22 (2.67), but that can be heavily attributed to a huge jump in his HR/FB rate that seems unlikely to repeat.

Tier 2: Corbin Burnes, Zack Wheeler, Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Zac Gallen, Pablo López, Kevin Gausman

Burnes, Wheeler, Castillo, Kirby and Gallen finished with a strikeout rate around 25% last year. That's not quite elite, but they still gave fantasy managers plenty of K's through sheer bulk as they each exceeded 190 innings. All of them finished among the top 12 in WHIP as well. Kirby, in his first full season, had the lowest walk rate in the Majors (2.5%). Burnes should remain formidable with Baltimore.

López finished third on that list (23.2%). A bump up in velocity came with more strikeouts (234) and less damaging contact (6.3% barrel rate). The Twins' right-hander was one of many pitchers who added a sweeper to their repertoire last season, and he limited batters to a .173 average and a .205 expected weighted on-base average on that pitch.

Gausman has been plagued with high BABIPs over the past two seasons (.363 in 2022, .321 in '23). But his results during that time don't leave much room for complaining (3.25 ERA, 2.68 FIP and an 11.1 K/9 rate over 359 2/3 innings). His 23.8% K-BB rate last year was second only to Strider. The right-hander is unlikely to be available to start for the Blue Jays on Opening Day after dealing with right shoulder fatigue during Spring Training, but Toronto doesn't expect him to miss much time, if any.

Tier 3: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Logan Webb, Tarik Skubal, Aaron Nola, Max Fried, Freddy Peralta, Framber Valdez, Blake Snell

You can break this collection of No. 1 and No. 2 starters into a few different sub-groups. You have your workhorses, such as Nola, Webb and Valdez. They can give you 200-plus innings and solid ratios.

You have your young arms who look like they are about to level up based on how they ended the 2023 season. This includes Skubal and Peralta. The former allowed three earned runs with 43 strikeouts and four walks over 30 September innings. The latter had an MLB-best 30.6% K-BB rate after the All-Star break.

Glasnow, Fried and Snell are your high-risk, high-reward hurlers. Glasnow owns an outstanding 35% strikeout rate since the start of 2019, but he has tossed 332 2/3 innings through those five years. Fried contributed 77 2/3 innings last year as he made three trips to the injured list. He has been superb when healthy, highlighted by a 162 ERA+ since 2020. Snell won his second career Cy Young Award with a 2.25 ERA and 234 K's in 2023. However, he led the Majors in walks last year and has only exceeded 129 1/3 innings in a season twice in his career (in his two Cy Young seasons).

Lastly, there's a true wild card with Yamamoto. We don't know just how good he will be at the highest level, but after being a three-time MVP in Nippon Professional Baseball and signing a record-setting contract for a pitcher, expectations are rightfully high.

Tier 4: Logan Gilbert, Grayson Rodriguez, Bobby Miller, Zach Eflin, Jesús Luzardo, Joe Ryan, Cole Ragans, Justin Steele, Joe Musgrove, Dylan Cease, Tanner Bibee

This is a good area to grab your second or third starter, especially considering all of the up-and-coming stars, such as Gilbert, Rodriguez, Miller, Luzardo, Ragans and Bibee. Someone in that group has a Cy Young Award in their future. Perhaps it's G-Rod, who has one of the filthiest curveballs in the big leagues.

Cease was the American League Cy Young runner-up in 2022 and then saw his ERA increase by more than two full runs last year. That could be partially attributed to his MLB-high .330 BABIP. A trade from the rebuilding White Sox to the Padres could raise his value in fantasy leagues that count wins.

Musgrove is coming off of an injury-plagued 2023 but was full-go entering Spring Training and could be a draft steal if he can replicate his 2021-22 results (125 ERA+ over 362 1/3 combined innings).

Tier 5: Sonny Gray, Chris Sale, Chris Bassitt, Michael King, Hunter Greene, Shane Bieber, Bailey Ober, Merrill Kelly, José Berríos

Sale, who turns 35 during the regular season's first week, was very productive when available over the past three seasons (117 ERA+, 10.8 K/9). But myriad ailments limited him to only 151 total innings. A fresh start with the Braves could help his fantasy stock.

King will likely be a very popular pick in many drafts after recording a 2.27 ERA and a 31.7% K rate over his final six starts with the Yankees. A bigger opportunity awaits him with San Diego, but be mindful that his 104 2/3 innings last year were a career high by a wide margin.

Greene's power fastball-slider combo could make him the next Strider. But first, he needs to prove that he can handle a full workload and showcase better control. Injuries limited the Reds' phenom to 112 innings during his second season, and he has a career 9.3% walk rate.

Tier 6: Shōta Imanaga, Carlos Rodón, Yu Darvish, Mitch Keller, Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier, Jordan Montgomery, Nick Pivetta, Bryce Miller, Hunter Brown, Walker Buehler, Triston McKenzie, Brandon Pfaadt, Nathan Eovaldi, Gerrit Cole

You have a little bit of everything in this final group. Do you want to depend on some 2023 rookies to take a step forward? Say hello to Brown, Miller and Pfaadt.

Want to take a chance on some proven veterans with injury concerns? Rodón, Darvish, Verlander and Eovaldi fit that bill.

This tier also includes a pair of high-upside options to stash in Buehler and Cole. Both pitchers are set to miss the start of 2024 -- Buehler is being brought along slowly after undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career in 2022, while Cole is dealing with a right elbow ailment -- but could provide ace-level production when they are back.

Then there's Imanaga, who is preparing for his first MLB season with the Cubs after coming over from Japan in the offseason. Though he wasn't quite on the level of Yamamoto in NPB, Imanaga was an excellent pitcher in his own right and makes for an intriguing pick in the middle rounds.