Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
There’s a good chance we haven’t seen the best Buehler has to offer. That’s a scary thought for hitters around the league, considering how dominant he was down the stretch last season in the heat of a pennant race.
The 24-year-old posted a 1.62 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and a .137 opponents’ batting average with 45 strikeouts in 39 innings over the final month of the season. That was capped off by 6.2 scoreless innings of one-hit ball in the decisive Game 163 to clinch the NL West title.
We could be looking at a bona fide NL Cy Young candidate in 2019.
German Marquez, Colorado Rockies
Marquez quietly finished fourth in the NL with 230 strikeouts last season, backing his mid-90s fastball with a lethal curveball (19.8% usage, 111 K, .151 BAA, .126 ISO) and an equally effective slider (18.7% Usage, 61 K, .177 BAA, .102 ISO).
It was Kyle Freeland who finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting and was hailed as a breakout star in 2018. It’s Marquez who had better peripheral numbers across the board, though, and he’s the better bet to lead the staff going forward.
Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians
On the surface, Bieber had a ho-hum rookie season, posting a 96 ERA+ with a 4.55 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 114.2 innings.
However, his 3.23 FIP and an absurdly high .356 BABIP speak to a pitcher who’s headed for some significant positive regression. Throw in a 5.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranked 10th among all pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, and it’s hard not to get excited about what’s to come.
Others to Watch: Luis Castillo (CIN), Zach Eflin (PHI), Jack Flaherty (STL), Tyler Glasnow (TB), Josh James (HOU), Mitch Keller (PIT), Yusei Kikuchi (SEA), Jesus Luzardo (OAK), Nick Pivetta (PHI), A.J. Puk (OAK), Mike Soroka (ATL), Touki Toussaint (ATL), Forrest Whitley (HOU), Trevor Williams (PIT), Brandon Woodruff (MIL)