New ace climbs to top of SP Power Rankings

June 6th, 2024

In the sixth and latest Starting Pitcher Power Rankings of the 2024 season, a new champion has emerged.

After allowing only one run and 10 hits over 13 innings across his most recent two starts, Tigers southpaw Tarik Skubal has claimed the top spot for the first time this season. Our panel barely gave him the nod over an impressively deep field, with other top candidates including a pair of dominant Phillies pitchers and rapidly rising Yankees rookie Luis Gil.

Here is a look at the results of this week’s Starting Pitcher Power Rankings, which include three MLB rookies and two newcomers to the top-10 list.

1. , Tigers (Last poll: 2)
After appearing in the top 10 in each of the prior five editions of this exercise, including top-five finishes in each of the previous three, Skubal has finally made it to the pinnacle. The 27-year-old has continued to improve year-by-year, resulting in him becoming an AL Cy Young favorite. While ERA isn’t the be-all, end-all of pitching evaluation metrics in the modern era, check out Skubal’s improvement over the course of his career: 5.63 in 2020, to 4.34 in 2021, 3.52 in 2022, 2.80 in 2023 and finally 1.97 through June 5, 2024. By any definition of the word, he’s become a true ace.

2. , Phillies (3)
Suárez’s most recent two starts didn't go as smoothly as his historic beginning to the season. He allowed four earned runs in a loss at Colorado on May 26, then exited the game after two shutout innings against the Cardinals on June 1 due to a hand injury. But his body of work for the season as a whole is still remarkable enough for him to earn the second spot here. His nine wins and 1.70 ERA both rank first or tied for first among qualified starting pitchers.

3. , Phillies (4)
Wheeler was the top finisher in both the third and fourth editions of this poll, and he’s one of four pitchers to be in the top 10 every time (also Skubal, Corbin Burnes and Tyler Glasnow). The fact that Wheeler isn’t the top-ranked pitcher on his own team only speaks to the Phillies’ rotation’s dominance this season; Wheeler has proven to be as dominant as ever. His 0.967 WHIP is a career low, and he is MLB’s only pitcher with 90-plus strikeouts and a sub-2.50 ERA (91 K’s, 2.23 ERA).

4. , Yankees (not ranked)
To jump from zero top-10 appearances in the first five polls to No. 4 in the sixth poll is an awfully abrupt rise, but “abrupt” is the perfect word to describe Gil’s ascent into pitching stardom. The 26-year-old, who debuted in 2021 but is still rookie-eligible this season, has simply mowed down everything in sight, including a preposterous 0.60 ERA across 44 2/3 innings in his seven starts since May 1 (with a 7-0 record to match). For the season as a whole, he leads qualified pitchers with a meager .129 batting average allowed.

5. , Orioles (9)
It’s paradoxical to suggest that a former Cy Young winner who was acquired in a blockbuster trade this offseason could be “quietly” dominating, but that seems to be the case for Burnes, who has simply gone about his business for an Orioles team trying to keep pace with the Yankees in the AL East. Burnes has not allowed more than three runs in any of his 13 starts, and his 13 consecutive starts with at least five innings and three or fewer runs allowed is the longest active streak in MLB. In his past five starts, he’s 3-0 with a 1.41 ERA.

6. , Red Sox (10)
Similarly to Skubal, Houck is having a breakout season. The fellow 27-year-old’s 1.85 ERA is comfortably a career low in a season with at least 25 innings pitched. For Houck, the name of the game has been keeping the ball on the ground: his 0.12 HR/9 IP allowed leads all qualified pitchers, barely ahead of Cristopher Sánchez’s 0.14 with the Phillies. Much thanks to that ability, Houck's 2.15 FIP leads MLB. And he’s heating up lately, with a 1.05 ERA across his past four starts.

7. , Dodgers (7)
We’re finally starting to see what a healthy Glasnow can do -- and the Dodgers' offseason trade appears to be paying off so far. With 80 innings pitched, Glasnow is already two-thirds of the way to his prior career high of 120 despite the calendar sitting in early June. Glasnow is MLB’s only pitcher to hit the century mark for strikeouts this season, sitting at 104, 10 ahead of second-place Jack Flaherty.

8. , Pirates (8)
Skenes hasn’t had any more hitless outings since our most recent Power Rankings, but the rookie sensation is certainly still getting by. Since a relatively rough first career outing, Skenes has allowed six runs across 23 innings in four appearances, with 31 strikeouts and an 0.83 WHIP allowed over that span. His fastball velocity continues to pace the field among starting pitchers, and his innovative “splinker” has also given hitters fits, implying that Skenes will be a name near the top of these rankings for years to come.

9. , Cubs (1)
Perhaps Imanaga was a victim of the “Power Rankings jinx.” He had only given up a combined seven runs (five earned) across his first nine starts, but in his first start since we ranked him No. 1 on our previous list, he allowed two homers and seven earned runs in a 10-6 loss at Milwaukee. Despite this rough outing, Imanaga has achieved enough in his rookie season to remain on the leaderboard. His 1.88 ERA ranks fourth among qualified pitchers, trailing only Suárez, Gil and Houck.

10. , Braves (not ranked)
Perhaps it’s surprising that Fried hadn’t appeared in our top 10 yet this season, because the two-time top-five Cy Young vote-getter has been as strong as usual. He currently has his fifth consecutive season with 10-plus starts and a sub-3.05 ERA, which would make him the first pitcher with five straight such seasons since Clayton Kershaw had a streak of 12 from 2009-20. Fried is the only pitcher with multiple complete games this season, taking over Atlanta’s ace role following Spencer Strider’s season-ending injury.

Others receiving votes: Seth Lugo (Royals), Chris Sale (Braves), Garrett Crochet (White Sox), Cole Ragans (Royals), Reynaldo López (Braves), Javier Assad (Cubs), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Dodgers), Jack Flaherty (Tigers), Luis Castillo (Mariners), Logan Webb (Giants), Dylan Cease (Padres), Mitch Keller (Pirates), Matt Waldron (Padres), Ben Brown (Cubs), Jake Irvin (Nationals)

Voters: Chris Begley, Theo DeRosa, Daniel Feldman, Travis Miller, Brian Murphy, Sweeny Murti, Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru, Andrew Simon, Ismail Soyugenc, David Venn, Tom Vourtsis, Andy Werle