'Best No. 3 in the game,' underrated Phillies pitcher receives the high praise he deserves

Tuesday night was a big celebration for Ranger Suárez, and after the game, his teammates showered their No. 3 starter not just with water but with praise.
Philadelphia Phillies starting Ranger Suárez is underrated and is finally getting the praise he deserves
Philadelphia Phillies starting Ranger Suárez is underrated and is finally getting the praise he deserves / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

"Ranger Danger" is back in full force this season, pitching out of his mind in all four starts so far, including a complete-game shutout against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. It was a night to remember, as Suárez pitched a full nine innings with seven hits, one walk and eight strikeouts for the second complete game of his career, the first of this Phillies' season and only the second in MLB this year.

Deservedly, Suárez received an ecstatic celebration at the hands of his teammates after the game. Of course, he got The Daycare treatment with a bucket of water poured over his head during his postgame interview.

His teammates also heaped praise on him in their postgame interviews. Bryce Harper gave a ringing endorsement for Suárez, confidently saying he thinks Saurez is the best No. 3 pitcher in MLB:

"I think people might not like it, but I think he's the best three in the game," Harper said. "You know, I think just the way he goes out there and competes every time he's out there. Just his starts, I mean, every time he goes out there, we have a chance to win just like the other two guys that go out there in front of him."

Like it or not, Suárez's stats provide a good argument. He has a 3-0 record, which has him tied for first in MLB, and he's 14th with a 1.73 ERA. Suárez is also in the top 10 in strikeouts with 27. He is dominant and consistent and emphasizes efficiency, which allows him to stay in games longer. 

It's a huge compliment for Harper to compare Suárez to Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phillies' two aces. Suárez is starting to prove that he's up there with pitchers of that caliber and should be taken just as seriously. Currently, the Phillies have been able to get more wins for the left-hander than Wheeler or Nola.

Harper also talked about Suárez's calm, cool, and collected demeanor on the mound: "He has no heartbeat. He's a guy who just goes out there and pitches and has kind of that same plan and same demeanor every day."

Suárez's nonchalant attitude on the field has become well-known and respected. Nothing shakes him, not even in the biggest moments. His teammates feed off of his even-keeled energy, and it shows as they play well behind him every time he's on the mound.

In years past, the 28-year-old has had more success towards the end of a season than at the beginning. Last year, he began the season injured, and in 2021 and 2022, visa issues forced him to miss spring training. This year, however, he made it to spring training on time and is fully healthy.

His catcher, J.T. Realmuto, thinks that has a lot to do with his early success, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. 

"He was there. That was the difference. I think that makes a huge difference in how he starts the season," Realmuto said after the game, per Zolecki. "He's had his visa issues multiple years in a row, and coming in healthy and being ready to pitch from day one makes a huge difference. Because he got all of his starts. He got all of his work in. I feel like that's the best version of Ranger we've seen. And I think it's because he was more ready to start the season than usual."

Suárez's complete-game shutout finally gives him the credit he deserves

Since his 2021 breakout, Suárez has remained under the radar. Even after stellar playoff performances, he hasn't been talked about outside of Philadelphia. Phillies fans call him the most underrated pitcher in baseball, but unbiased baseball fans might argue that Suárez can't be in the same category as top pitchers like Zack Wheeler because he has never made 30 starts or thrown more than 160 innings. 

Matt Gelb of The Athletic describes Suárez's situation perfectly (subscription required), stating, "There is something about Suárez that has allowed him to simultaneously be underrated across baseball but leave the Phillies craving more."

Could this be the year for Suárez? The year he pitches a full season into October and cements himself as a top pitcher in MLB, not just a No. 3?

Will this be the year he finally gets the credit and national recognition he deserves?

After his complete-game shutout, it sure looks like it could be. The Phillies and the fans believe Suárez can make that jump from good to great, and we saw a flash of it Tuesday night.