Major League Baseball is filled with several exciting pitchers who all have the potential to be future aces of their teams. Some, like Tim Lincecum, have already proven their greatness in the Major Leagues—today I'd like to look at some who are still gunning for the top.
Stephen Strasburg, young ace of the Nats
This pick may gather some criticism, but Pelfrey is young and still has potential. Pelfrey got off to an amazing start this season—he would throw 7 or 8 innings of 1-run ball with ease. But he had a brutal 7-week mid-summer stretch where he saw his ERA climb from around the 2.40 mark to around the 3.80 mark. Pelfrey has been inconsistent since then, if mostly effective. If "Big Pelf" can gather it up in seasons to come and pitch like he did at the start of the season on a yearly basis, he will an amazing pitcher. Pelfrey hasn't always been a strikeout pitcher, but will gather some more with his excellent splitter.
Do you want strikeouts? A LOT of strikeouts? Jered Weaver is your man. Since coming into the league, Jered has taken the strikeout ranks by force. If you're a pitcher in the A.L. competing for the pitching triple crown, good luck beating Weaver out. Weaver currently leads the league in strikeouts this season with 218. When Weaver matures more, and gets his decent ERA lower, he'll be a powerful force in the league. No doubt the ace of the Angels.
Wade Davis has been solid for the Rays. He's been fairly consistent, averaging a 4.50-ish ERA, and is wrapping up a good season. He is another young man in the Ray's pitching core, along with Price, Shields, Niemann, and Garza. Davis has performed well in big games. Wade has a good future ahead with him with a good Rays offense.
Gio Gonzalez has been a fantastic pitcher for the A's. The young lefty is a compliment to Trevor Cahill with a solid 3.47 ERA and 154 strikeouts. The A's will have a bright future with these young pitchers, and Gio only being 25, he has a long road ahead, and is sure to also be a bright road.
The Yankee rotation—besides CC Sabathia—has struggled all season, but Hughes has been among the most consistent. Hughes has a respectable 4.31 ERA, but, like, Pelfrey, had a great beginning to the year. He's stumbled in the second half, and should continue to be a #4 or #5 in the Yankee rotation, even though he should be in the #3 spot. The young kid's good—Girardi shouldn't severely limit his innings.
Ricky Romero is a great young left-hander for the Blue Jays. He has an explosive fastball, and a solid 3.75 ERA. Romero is looking good, and is yet to hit his prime. The only concern with Romero is that he's been lit up a few times this season when he loses his control of the fastball. Romero has been a bit inconsistent and has been all or nothing, but he's mostly been having good starts. A great thing about Ricky is his ability to go deep into games. That's valuable to the Blue Jays.
The ace of the Brewers, Gallardo has been good for Milwaukee. His 3.64 ERA is a little higher than he would like, but the young 24 year old backs it up 181 K's. Gallardo will get better with time, and will be a true terror to hitters one day.
Young Travis Wood has been dynamite for the Cincinnati Reds, with a solid 3.46 ERA. He throws a decent, low-90s fastball, but it's his mental approach that makes him tough. Despite not having great stuff his strong will and mindset enable him to pitch well. He's had success pounding the strike zone, and if that keeps working, the Reds will have a really good pitcher—and a key part of an exciting young team, along with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
Cole Hamels was an instrumental part in the Phillies World Series run back in 2008 against the Rays. The young lefty has led all National League lefties in strikeouts since he came into the league. Hamels had a rather poor 2009, by his standards, but regained his form in 2010. A good Hamels is a scary Hamels. A #1 spot in the rotation isn't in the cards for him as long as he's a Phillie, as there's still Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay ahead of him, but he'll be important to the team regardless.
Verlander's strikeout numbers have been remarkable. The youngster gets his strikeouts from high 90s fastballs and a hard power curve. Verlander wishes he could improve on his ERA a little bit, but his Ks are off the charts. He's got 190 this season so far, with a decent 3.48 ERA. With his strikeout rate, one hopes his ERA will go down.
Matt Cain is another strikeout pitcher, with 163 this year. The Giants have an amazing set of arms, also including Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez Sanchez. With the 'Big 3' of the Giants, they're bound to make the playoffs either this season or next, with Cain comfortably in the number-two starter role.
Tommy Hanson is a dazzling young arm for the Atlanta Braves, with a nice 3.54 ERA, and nowhere to go but up. Hanson should be the Braves #2 next year, behind Tim Hudson. Hanson has good stuff, and is deadly when he's on.
Mat Latos has been truly solid as the Padres sophomore ace. He's had a Cy Young candidate year, with being close to the league lead in ERA and WHIP. The Padres have a bright future with Latos in hand, especially since the Padres don't have many other great arms for starters.
Jimenez is a fantastic young pitcher for the Rockies, and already established as their ace. He's got an amazing 18 wins, 186 Ks, and a 2.75 ERA. This young gun throws high heat and has excellent stuff. He was unhittable at the start of the season (literally no-hitting the Braves), but has since cooled down. This young ace will continue to anchor the Rockies rotation and will look to win a World Series for his team one day. When Jimenez reaches his prime, it'll be bad news for the NL West.
Clay Buchholz, alongside Jon Lester, is one of the Red Sox aces. Buchholz should definitely be in Cy Young talks, after coming out of virtually nowhere to take the AL by storm, with an amazing 2.48 ERA and 16 wins. He'll hope to strike out some more batters in the future, and I personally can't wait for this young star to hit his prime. He'll be in many All-Star games for years to come if he keeps up the great work.
King Felix has pitched royally well this year, and is one of the few people on the Mariners that will keep the fans from going crazy since they shipped Cliff Lee off to the Rangers. Felix has a remarkable 2.39 ERA, along with 214 strikeouts. If he wasn't on the lowly Mariners he would have more then a measley 11 wins. Felix is young and will be dominant once he hits his prime. If he stays with the Mariners, he'll probably stick as their ace. If not, he'll be at least a number-two starter on any team.
Greinke, last year's winner of the AL Cy Young award, hasn't had the season he would've liked to have. His 3.90 ERA is solid but nowhere near the low 2's ERA he had last year pitching for the Royals. Greinke is a prime candidate for a bounce-back year, and it'd be nice to see him revert to his 2009 form. Either way, he's the Royals ace, and will be a star once he hits his prime.
Who's the Ray's ace, you ask? Shields? No. Garza? No. Price? Yes. David Price shocked us all with his breakout season, with an amazing 17 wins and 2.75 ERA. Price hasn't even hit his prime yet, and will be the Rays' stopper for years to come with his high heat. Like Wood, Price isn't afraid at all to go after hitters with his high 90s fastball, and will pound corners. With tough opposition in the AL East from the Yankees and Red Sox, Price is bound to be vital to the Rays winning future division crowns.
Cahill is a remarkable pitcher with a great 2.84 ERA and a sparkling 1.08 WHIP. I know what you're all thinking: "there are guys with better stats behind Cahill, what gives?" The great thing about Trevor is that he's the same age as everybody's favorite phenom, Stephen Strasburg. Cahill will most likely be the Athletics number-one next season, and will be the A's ace. Cahill looks to have a very bright future ahead of him, and would like to obtain more strikeouts. I'm sure he'll get more strikeouts when he hits his prime in about six or seven years.
The dazzling ace of the Nationals has taken the baseball world with his fingertips. Strasburg, an amazing young phenom, has a great 2.91 ERA, with a crazy strikeout total—92 Ks in 68 innings pitched. That's beyond words. Also, not to mention, a sparkling WHIP of 1.07. The baseball world has something to enjoy now for the next 15 or so years. God, I can't wait until this kid hits his prime. Sadly, Strasburg suffered an injury and will lose the whole 2011 season to Tommy John surgery. Studies have shown most pitchers that have had the surgery, Chris Carpenter and Tim Hudson included, have had very good careers. I hope the same applies to Strasburg. Thank goodness we have all these other bright and talented stars to keep us waiting.
I'd love to see what you think of the article, and see who you think are young aces that I may have forgotten. I'm truly sorry to anyone whose favorite young pitcher wasn't included, and I'd be interested to see some other possibilities I could have used. The world is full of young aces, and I can't wait to see how these gentlemen can change baseball.