MLB News: 2024 Pitchers Crisis

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In the 2024 MLB season, the question “Are aces broken?” has become increasingly pertinent. This year has been particularly harsh on elite pitchers, as many of them have struggled with injuries or have yet to make a significant impact on the mound and directly on the MLB odds for each team.


Gerrit Cole: A Glimmer of Hope

New York Yankees Pitcher Gerrit ColeTo highlight this, Gerrit Cole, one of the league’s top pitchers since 2018 and the ace of the New York Yankees, is finally making his 2024 debut due to inflammation in his $324 million elbow. Despite missing two and a half months, Cole is considered one of the lucky ones. 

Since news of his injury in March, 17 major league pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery. This statistic underscores how rough the year has been for top-tier pitchers and bettors trusting them for MLB Odds


The Troubled List of Injured Aces

A glance at a list of the best pitchers or recent Cy Young Award winners reveals a worrying trend. Several elite pitchers have yet to pitch this year, including Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, and Robbie Ray. Others, like Shohei Ohtani, Sandy Alcantara, and Shane Bieber, won’t pitch at all in 2024. Some, such as Zack Greinke and Corey Kluber, are out of MLB entirely.

The situation looks grim, even when considering those who have pitched but haven’t met expectations. Blake Snell, who signed a juicy contract with the San Francisco Giants this past offseason, has only managed six starts with a 9.51 ERA, making a third Cy Young Award seem improbable. 

Similarly, Justin Verlander, with ten starts and a 3.95 ERA alongside two separate IL stints, and Kevin Gausman of the Toronto Blue Jays, who has a 4.08 ERA over 14 starts, illustrate the broader struggles. Notably, Gausman is the only one among this group who hasn’t spent time on the injured list, highlighting the precarious state of starting pitchers’ health this season.


Signs of Hope Amidst Struggles

Despite this, there is some hope. Cole, coming off the best season of his career, is returning without having undergone surgery.  The six-time All-Star aims for personal success while carrying the expectations of all starting pitchers.

Interestingly, while individual pitchers are struggling, starting pitching as a whole is showing some strength. Starters’ share of all pitching WAR is up, and starts of six or more innings are also more common.

People have dubbed this year the Year of the Breakout Pitcher, with new names like Tarik Skubal, Luis Gil, and Tanner Houck in the American League, and Ranger Suárez and Shōta Imanaga in the National League, vying for Cy Young consideration.


The Impact of Rookies and Young Promises

Rookies are also making waves. Paul Skenes, for example, is a strong contender for the NL Rookie of the Year with a 2.29 ERA through seven starts. However, these breakout performances don’t fully compensate for the absence of established aces. 

Among the top 25 starters in WAR from 2023, only Logan Webb, Sonny Gray, Zac Gallen, Zack Wheeler, George Kirby, Corbin Burnes, and Luis Castillo have maintained or improved their performance in 2024.

Many promising pitchers have succumbed to injuries or career-altering issues, including Walker Buehler, Lucas Giolito, Shane McClanahan, Alek Manoah, Jack Flaherty, Michael Soroka, and Spencer Strider. This pattern reflects a broader issue in pitching culture, which has become increasingly obsessed with velocity, often at the expense of long-term health. All these factors affect the way the MLB odds change through the season.


The Future of Ace Pitchers

As Cole returns, there is cautious optimism. His minor league rehab outings were impressive, with 12.1 innings pitched, one earned run allowed, and 19 strikeouts against zero walks. However, there are concerns about his fastball velocity, which has decreased from previous seasons. The Yankees, despite managing without him, face potential trouble if Cole isn’t at his best.

In 2024, it feels like the last stand for ace pitchers. If Cole can’t lead the charge, the future of dominant starting pitchers in MLB looks uncertain.  This season may indeed be remembered as the one where aces broke down.