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Home / Articles / Jeff's 2024 Top 5 MLB Left-handed Starters Age 27 or Younger

Jeff's 2024 Top 5 MLB Left-handed Starters Age 27 or Younger

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: Feb 26, 2024
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If you're looking for an edge in baseball betting, consider the advantage that elite left-handed starting pitchers have. Since most players face more right-handed pitching, teams that have yet to face a quality left-handed starter in five or more games are likelier to struggle. To help you make informed decisions, here are my top five left-handed starting pitchers who are 27 years old or younger and are expected to perform well in the 2024 season. You can use this list to improve your regular betting and fantasy baseball experience.

No. 1  Tarik Skubal      (Detroit Tigers)   AGE: 27      | 2023: 7-3, 2.80 ERA, 0.90 WHIP |

Tarik Skubal has made this list before, appearing at No. 4 two years ago. His performance has improved in each of his first four big-league seasons. After recovering from an injury that kept him out of action until July 4th, he proved to be one of the most effective pitchers in the league. Tarik recorded 102 strikeouts in just 80.1 innings pitched and held hitters to a batting average of .190. He enters the upcoming season fully healthy. His FIP was 2.00, with a stellar ground ball rate of 51.6%. Skubal's three main pitches, the fastball (95.8 MPH), slider (87.6), and change-up (84.3) are all top-notch. He also incorporates a curveball (76.4), which he throws 6.7% of the time. His career numbers are impressive, accumulating 420 strikeouts in 379.1 innings pitched with a better than four-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. Expect him to have a "breakout" season regarding innings, strikeouts, and hopefully 15+ wins. You should draft him as your second starter before round 10.

No. 2   Jesus Luzardo     (Miami Marlins)   AGE: 26     | 2023: 10-10, 3.63 ERA, 1.22 WHIP |

The Miami Marlins are eagerly anticipating Jesus Luzardo's performance this season. In his second full season as a starter, he recorded 208 strikeouts in 178.2 innings, bringing his career total to 501 strikeouts in 445.1 innings. His strikeouts can be a game-changer in fantasy matchups, making him a valuable asset. The Marlins have listed him as the second starter after ace Sandy Alcantara, indicating their high confidence in him. Luzardo's fastball averaged 96.8 MPH last season with a fantastic slider (85.1 MPH) and an improving change-up, which he used 21% of the time. He added a sinker to his arsenal last year, which helped to diversify his pitching style. His FIP was 3.55, with an excellent ground-ball rate of 41.1%, while maintaining a .238 average against opposing hitters. He is a mid to late-round sleeper with tremendous potential again this season, especially playing in a ballpark ranked 11th in the fewest runs scored, where he will make roughly half his starts.

No. 3 Cole Ragans (Kansas City Royals) Age: 26 | 2023: 7-5 ERA: 3.47 WHIP: 1.16 |

Thanks to his impressive performance, Cole Ragans burst onto the baseball scene in 2023 and has already achieved "ACE" status. In just 96 innings pitched, the 26-year-old left-hander struck out 113 batters and maintained an impressive 3.47 ERA, 3.19 FIP, and 1.16 WHIP. Although he can throw a fastball at speeds of 96-97 MPH, his changeup has caught the scouts' attention, making him one to put on your radar in fantasy and real-life baseball. This pitch has an impressive 35.6% whiff rate. Additionally, Ragans throws a cutter that averages 91-92 MPH approximately 15% of the time, and it has been described as "nasty." While his 47 walks are a bit concerning, they will likely improve as he gains more experience. Cole Ragans was traded to Kansas City in the previous season as a part of the deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Rangers. He made 12 starts for the Royals, performing exceptionally well, posting a dominant 2.64 ERA and 1.07 WHIP across 71 and two-thirds innings. Cole held hitters to a low .201 batting average, with a stellar 28% hard-hit rate and 44% ground-ball rate. He is expected to continue to be a strong starter for Kansas City in the upcoming season, including opening day. The Kansas City Royals will outperform their 70.7 PECOTA win projection in 2024, so don't hesitate to draft Ragans earlier than his average draft position.

No. 4  Nick Lodolo     (Cincinnati Reds)  AGE: 26      | 2023: 2-1, 6.29 ERA, 1.75 WHIP |

The 7th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Nick Lodolo, has struggled with injuries in the past, but he certainly looks like a promising prospect at 6'6" and 218 pounds. In 2022, he recorded 131 strikeouts in 103.1 innings pitched, holding hitters to a .235 batting average. However, he was injured for most of the 2023 season and only recorded 47 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched. Despite this setback, the Reds still have him listed as their second starting pitcher on their depth chart. Although the Reds' overall performance may not be impressive according to PECOTA projections (forecasting 78.7 wins), Nick's 29.7% K-rate in 2022 suggests that there will still be plenty of strikeouts. His career stats of 11.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, and 47.1 ground-ball rate make him a good fit for Great American Ballpark. As a result, his performance should yield many points for your fantasy team. Nick's best pitch is a slider, which he throws 32% of the time, with an average speed of 80.2 MPH. He relies on his fastball (which reaches 94 MPH) 56.9% of the time. Last season, he used his change-up (averaging 87.3 MPH) at a career-high 12.5% frequency. Overall, Nick Lodolo is a late-round sleeper with a high upside, but he must stay healthy to fulfill that potential.

No. 5 Kyle Harrison (SF Giants) AGE: 22 | 2023: 1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP |

Kyle Harrison possesses a solid athletic build with long arms and legs in proportion to his height, leaving some space for further development. He has a smooth and effortless delivery from a mid to low 3/4's arm slot. He is very athletic and coordinated on the mound and has a loose and clean arm action that conceals the ball exceptionally well in his turn. Kyle's release is controlled and low effort. He throws a low 90s fastball, reaching a maximum of 93.6 mph, which generates late running life to the inside of left-handed hitters, often resulting in broken bats. His tight slurve-like breaking ball (82.3 MPH) works well with his fastball and creates weak swings from batters. He also has a nice change-up (86.6 MPH) with some sink on it. Kyle had 105 strikeouts in 65.2 innings while playing for AAA last season. After joining the big club, he pitched for 34.2 innings and recorded 35 strikeouts while restricting the opposing hitters to a .220 batting average. According to MLB Pipeline, Harrison is ranked as the 23rd-best prospect out of the top 100. He is listed as SP2 on the Giants depth chart. In 2023, Oracle Park was ranked 10th in the fewest runs scored. Consider picking him in the late rounds.

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