Atlanta Braves: Ranking the NL East aces entering 2023 season
A few days ago, we took a look at the starting rotations from the Atlanta Braves and the NL East's four other teams, ranking each ahead of the 2023 season. Using that same thought as well, here is a ranking of each NL East team's ace ahead of the 2023 season.
Ranking the NL East's aces entering 2023 season
5. RHP Stephen Strasburg - Washington Nationals
2022 Season Stats: 0-1, 13.50 ERA, 5:2 K:BB ratio across 4.2 IP
While there might be some debate on just whom Washington's ace truly is as we enter the 2023 season, let's assume for the sake of this article that it is a healthy Strasburg, who takes the nod over additional options such as Patrick Corbin and Josiah Gray.
Since winning the World Series with the Nationals in 2019, Strasburg has had only 31.1 IP since, which has translated to eight starts across three seasons. The dominating question entering 2023 for Washington will obviously be the potential health of Strasburg, and if the right-hander is back to full health, then the three-time All-Star and former World Series MVP is still likely the Nationals No. 1 starting option on the mound.
4. RHP Aaron Nola - Philadelphia Phillies
2022 Season Stats: 11-13, 3.25 ERA, 235:29 K:BB ratio across 205 IP
As for the No. 4 spot, it likely goes to the Phillies ace, whether the pick goes to Nola or Zack Wheeler, both of which are possible choices here. However, the pick goes to Nola, who is coming off a season in which the right-hander finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting a year ago.
Even at the No. 4 spot, which shows just how truly stacked the NL East is when it comes to frontline starters, Nola is simply put likely be a Cy Young contender once again this season. It will certainly be tough to duplicate his eye-opening 235:29 K:BB ratio in particular, but you should expect Nola regardless to be one of the NL East's best once again.
3. LHP Max Fried - Atlanta Braves
2022 Season Stats: 14-7, 2.48 ERA, 170:32 K:BB ratio across 185.1 IP
The ace of the Atlanta Braves, Fried enters the 2023 season here at the No. 3 spot, coming off a 2022 campaign in which the left-hander finished as the runner-up for the NL Cy Young award.
Fried was nothing short of phenomenal a year ago on his way to career season, with the southpaw's 2.48 ERA ranking third lowest in all of the National League. Owning a combined 2.68 ERA across the last three seasons, Fried should simply once again be among baseball's elite starters in 2023, while also contending for his fourth consecutive Gold Glove at the position.
2. RHP Sandy Alcantara - Miami Marlins
2022 Season Stats: 14-9, 2.28 ERA, 207:50 K:BB ratio across 228.1 IP
A player you could could also argue has a case to be made at No. 1, Alcantara, the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, enters the 2023 season at the No. 2 spot.
Alcantara was simply sensational a year ago for the Marlins on his way to his first Cy Young award, leading the MLB in IP at 228.2, as well as with six complete games. Coming off back-to-back 200+ strikeout seasons, Alcantara is likely to be the in the mix for the Cy Young once again in 2023, and has a legit case to be made as the best pitcher in baseball at the moment.
1. RHP Justin Verlander - New York Mets
2022 Season Stats: 18-4, 1.75 ERA, 185:29 K:BB ratio across 175 IP
Similar to the Phillies previously, the case can be made for two pitchers to label as the Mets ace entering the 2023 season, both of which have a strong case to be made for that pick. However, for the sake of this article, the choice goes to Verlander over Max Scherzer, with the veteran right-hander coming off one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame caliber career.
The AL Cy Young award winner a year ago with the World Series champion Houston Astros, Verlander would lead all of baseball with a 1.75 ERA, 0.829 WHIP, and 220 ERA+, while also leading the AL with 18 wins, as well as a .818 W-L% and 6.0 H/9. Verlander is also arguably the biggest move in the NL East from this offseason, and will likely make a significant impact for the Mets in 2023 as one of baseball's top pitche.