Best MLB Starting Pitcher: Alcantara, Scherzer or Verlander?


Mar 21, 2023

Major League Baseball is loaded with elite starting pitchers, which has made us narrow down the debate and highlight some of the top arms in the league.

Below, we dive into three of the top starters in the league, Max Scherzer, Sandy Alcantara, and Justin Verlander. 

The Case for Mad Max

After signing with the New York Mets in free agency ahead of the 2022 MLB season, Max Scherzer missed some time due to injuries but finished the campaign with an 11-5 record, paired with a 2.29 ERA. He’s enjoyed a Hall of Fame level career and will assuredly end up in Cooperstown when he hangs up his cleats, compiling a 15-year MLB career and a 3.11 career ERA. The 38-year-old is still an elite starter in baseball and has continued to post some of the league’s best numbers when he’s healthy. Health is undoubtedly a concern at this stage in his career, but when he’s on the bump, there’s a solid case to be made that he’d be the top pitcher off the board if you were looking for a starter in a one-game winner take all scenario. 

The Case for Justin

Whether you want to call Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer as the best pitcher over the past 15 seasons, it’s tough to go wrong. Verlander is coming off winning the World Series with the Houston Astros in 2022 and took his talent to the New York Mets to join Scherzer in free agency. Verlander won the American League Cy Young in 2022, where he posted an 18-4 record and a stunning 1.75 ERA. As a 39-year-old in 2022, that type of season is nearly unheard of, and he’s making a mockery of the suggestion that Father Time comes for everyone. Much like Scherzer, if Verlander can stay healthy, it’s hard to argue against the numbers that he’s been able to generate. 

The Case for Sandy

After dealing with two veteran arms that are also still elite presences on the mound, it’s time to insert a youngster into the conversation, precisely what we’re doing with Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara is coming off a 2022 season where he picked up his first National League Cy Young award, which couldn’t have been more deserved. He finished the year with a 14-9 record, paired with a 2.28 ERA and 207 strikeouts. The 27-year-old has a strong chance to be the next face of the starting pitching landscape in MLB and can continue getting better and raising his ceiling. 

The Verdict 

This is a fascinating discussion, and there’s a real case for multiple starters that aren’t even presented on this list. Entering 2023, it’s not hard to side with either veteran in Scherzer or Verlander. The overall postseason numbers have been similar for Scherzer and Verlander, where Alcantara doesn’t have a large enough sample size to judge him by. As we’ve highlighted, you can’t really go wrong in this debate, but we’ll give Verlander the tiniest edge after coming off an unbelievable 2022 campaign. 

Thumbnail photo via Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

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