- Sonny Gray (Oakland Athletics)
Gray was the toughest pitcher for me to rank. I have no doubt he will contend for a Cy Young this year, but so will everyone else on this list. I have heard rumblings that Gray is ready to have another break-out year and transform from a great pitcher to one of the best in the league.
In 2014, Gray established himself as the ace of the A’s staff. In 2015, he will be an All-Star and a great fantasy option, but not a Cy Young award winner.
- Julio Teheran (Atlanta Braves)
Teheran’s awesome rookie year was followed up by his first ever All-Star performance in 2014. At 24 years old, he is the bona-fide ace of the Braves’ pitching staff, and I expect him to run with that title. The biggest blemish on Teheran’s yearly box score from last year was the win-loss ratio. 14 wins to 13 losses, not the making of an elite pitcher, per se; and, with a lineup worse than the year previous, I don’t know that the win-loss section will look any better this year.
- Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati Reds)
The 2014 season is now the bar on how I will judge Cueto. I think that 2014 was not a fluke but was a reflection of his health. That being said, I still do not trust his ability to stay healthy. If I knew he would start 30 games this year, he may be top five on the list. It is his susceptibility to injury that lowers him out of my top 10.
- Zack Greinke (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Greinke’s resurgence with the Dodgers could continue to get better this year. After his tremendous Cy Young campaign with the Royals in 2009, Greinke was slowly fading. During the three-year stretch between his Cy Young win and the beginning of his tenure with the Dodgers, Greinke played for three different teams and had an ERA of 3.83. Since joining the Dodgers, Greinke has a win loss record of 32-12 and an ERA of 2.68. Pitching the game after Clayton Kershaw can make any man feel small, but ignore comparisons — Greinke is an All-Star.
- Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals)
If nothing else, Wainwright’s absence from my top 10 should show you the burst in talent coming up through the ranks. “Waino” has been a top pitcher in the league since before you even knew Clayton Kershaw’s name. He has finished twice as a Cy Young runner-up, and twice in third place. Since 2009, Adam Wainwright has allowed an average of 2.83 runs per game (4th in the league) and has a WAR of 26.9 (6th in the league), a FIP of 2.89 (tied for 4th best in the league), and 92 wins (4th in the league). Waino’s career is in no way over, but I do not expect him to perform at quite the same level.