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Who's The Best Starting Pitcher in Fantasy Baseball?

Tarik Skubal - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

There have been pitching injuries abound to start the 2024 season. Unfortunately for baseball fans and fantasy managers, some big names have succumbed to season-ending injuries. Two of the biggest names to be injured this year are Spencer Strider and Gerrit Cole.

Luckily for Cole and the teams that roster him, he is expected back this season. Unfortunately, Strider wasn't as lucky, and he will be set to miss the 2024 season. With Strider done for the year and Cole missing a couple of months of the season, the top two pitchers coming into this season will not finish as SP1 in fantasy baseball.

With those injuries, a new list of starters who could finish as the top starting pitcher in baseball arose. Some of the names are pitchers who consistently sit around SP1. Some have started hot and have the stuff to finish first, while others have an outside shot of being SP1 at the end of the season.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and weekly lineup resources:


Familiar Subjects for SP1 for the 2024 Season

Corbin Burnes - Baltimore Orioles

Burnes had a down year in 2023 compared to his resume. It was his first season with an ERA over 3.00 since becoming a full-time starter in 2020. The spike in ERA correlated with an increase in walks and a decrease in strikeouts. So far in 2024, the 29-year-old has bounced back in a big way for his new team.

His ERA sits at 2.28 with an xERA of 2.63. Burnes has 25 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings along with a 0.93 WHIP. His 27.2% strikeout rate is almost two points above his number from last season. However, his career number is 30.3%. The lower strikeout totals won't matter if he can keep his walk rate down, too. His 4.3% walk rate in 2024 is over four points lower than the league average.

Burnes was one of the top pitchers being taken in fantasy drafts before last season. After a drop in performance in 2023, he has rebounded nicely in 2024 and could finish as SP1.

Zac Gallen - Arizona Diamondbacks

Like Burnes, Gallen was going early in fantasy drafts before last season but didn't return that value. His ERA was 3.47 despite his 26% strikeout rate and career-low 5.6% walk rate. Gallen has continuously pitched better than his ERA predictors and 2024 is no different.

His 1.64 ERA comes with a 3.35 xERA. The culprit for this seems to be his batted-ball profile. His 40.7% hard-hit rate is noticeable compared to the 36.3% league average. His barrel percentage, exit velocity, and launch angle are all worse than or near the league average. The 28-year-old has a 3.16 ERA over 119 games started but is inflated by his 4.30 ERA outlier in 2021. The 29.2% strikeout rate Gallen has for the 2024 season would be the highest of his career and could lead to him finishing as SP1.

Tarik Skubal - Detroit Tigers

Once a highly touted prospect, Skubal came into his own last season through 15 starts for Detroit. His 2.30 xERA was the highest in the league. The lefty was just as dominant as any pitcher after returning from an injury he sustained in August 2022.

Skubal had a sparkling 0.90 WHIP and 102 strikeouts over 80 1/3 innings last season. That 32.9% strikeout rate will be hard to duplicate, but so far in 2024, he's posted a 28.3% rate. His 5.4% walk rate is three points better than the league average. The 27-year-old has a 2.28 ERA and 2.34 xERA, so he has been as good as his base numbers show. After throwing 80 1/3 innings last year, Skubal may be on an innings limit. If he isn't, however, he looks to be on the shortlist for SP1.


Budding SP1 for the 2024 Season

Tyler Glasnow - Los Angeles Dodgers

The most frustrating part of rostering Glasnow on a fantasy team is his injuries each season. Yet, to throw more than 120 innings or make more than 21 starts in a season, Glasnow is hoping for a full campaign to show he belongs on the list for top aces in the game.

Though he doesn't have the results of Gallen or Burnes, he has the stuff to compete against them for the top spot. His 2.98 xERA, 29.6% strikeout rate, and three wins over his first five starts for the Dodgers show what the 30-year-old is capable of. Glasnow is the riskiest of these options, but if given the chance, he could claim the SP1 spot this season.

Freddy Peralta - Milwaukee Brewers

Even though it's been three starts, Peralta has gotten off hot in 2024. His 2.55 ERA would beat his career-best 2.81 set in 2021. The 27-year-old seems to be unlucky during his career as he hasn't finished a season with a lower ERA than xERA. His advanced metrics and ERA predictors show someone with ace potential.

One blemish each year, however, is the number of home runs allowed. Peralta gave up 26 homers last season and that seems to be the culprit behind his ERA running higher than xERA. The 39.4% strikeout rate he holds in 2024 is close to tops in the league, as well as his 3.0% walk rate. Peralta's xERA of 2.53 is currently better than 84% of the league.


Long Shot SP1s for the 2024 Season

Dylan Cease - San Diego Padres

Logan Gilbert - Seattle Mariners

Shota Imanaga - Chicago Cubs

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