The 2023 Major League Baseball season will feature exciting young talent with no shortage of starlets in the starting pitcher role. Here are five promising young pitchers to follow throughout the season. These are not necessarily the best pitchers 27 years old or younger, but various pitchers looking to break out, solidify themselves on a playoff team, or become a centerpiece for their franchise.
Five Young Pitchers to Watch
Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are unlikely to win the competitive NL West, but they are trending up with several young players to form the foundation of their roster. After improving their win total by 22 wins last year, they have the potential to push for a .500 season or better.
That will start will Zac Gallen, fresh off a stellar, career-best season. He finished fifth in the Cy Young award voting as a representation of how great he was. Some of his more notable stats were a 0.91 WHIP and a .250 wOBA. According to Baseball Savant, his chase rate was in the 74th percentile with a 27% strikeout rate.
He posted a career-high in innings with 184. He had previously only surpassed 100 innings in the prior season. Now with the experience of a full-season workload, will he continue to perform as a top-five pitcher? One key will be to watch his pitch mix. He removed his slider from his arsenal almost entirely. After using the pitch over 8% of the time in 2021, he only threw it at a 0.9% rate in 2022. He, meanwhile, increased the use of his curveball and cutter.
Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have had trouble developing pitching the past few seasons, but their position players have turned out to be potential stars. While many fans will deservedly be excited about players like Bobby Witt, Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino, how much can pitching shape the outlook for the Royals over the next few seasons?
There are many doubters and believers for Brady Singer across the baseball industry. While the Royals are not expected to make the playoffs this season, it will be crucial for Singer to prove he can be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher as the Royals look to push toward contention in the following years.
Singer had a solid season with a 127 ERA+, according to Baseball Reference, yet some other underlying numbers show some concern for how high his ceiling might be. He was below average in statistics like his chase rate, barrel percentage, and whiff percentage.
Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are looking to build upon their first playoff appearance with this core of players and the rotation will be a crucial part of their performance. With Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray at the top of the rotation, Logan Gilbert can become a central part of a strong group. The Mariners made some impressive moves to bolster their lineup, so Gilbert’s improvement will be crucial in making another playoff run in a wily division.
Gilbert showed great strides after his rookie season, finishing 2022 with a 116 ERA+ and a 3.20 ERA over 185.2 innings. Despite only allowing 0.9 home runs per nine innings, he gave up hard contact and a lot of it. He was in the bottom five percent of the league in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. He has an impressive pitch mix but has not generated enough swing and miss to be considered an elite strikeout pitcher.
Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins
The shiny new Cy Young award on his shelf would say Sandy Alcantara is the best of these pitchers. Not only did Alcantara have a 178 ERA+, but he did it while pitching at least 20 more innings than any other pitcher. He has a deadly combination of velocity and chase rate.
Despite how much he got batters to chase, he was only league average in strikeout percentage. He pitched to contact while limiting how hard batters connected with the ball. His pitch mix was vastly different than it was in 2021 by nearly eliminating his curveball while making his changeup his most used pitch.
How much of a chance do the Marlins have at making the playoffs? The names in the NL East look daunting. While the Marlins have made eye-catching moves, the foundation’s success revolves around Alcantara.
Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
The Braves have filled their roster with a bundle of young All-Stars and Spencer Strider is only getting started. He moved to the rotation on May 30 and likely would have earned Cy Young consideration had he started the season in that role. As 2023 rolls around, he will have a full season to showcase his talents.
Strider was a strikeout machine with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He struck out 38.3% of his batters faced. His Baseball Savant page is laced with red, showcasing how elite he was in a host of categories: top 95% or better in expected batting average, whiff percentage, fastball velocity, and strikeout percentage.
How do you build on a season like that? Maybe he does not have to improve. With the ability to rack up starts from the start of the season, any performance similar to last year will be a massive boost in the Braves chase for a sixth consecutive division title.