Ranger Suárez's spot in MLB Network rankings will give Phillies fans fits

Is the Phillies' left-hander ranked too low in MLB Network's ranking of the best No. 3 starters in baseball?
Philadelphia Phillies starter Ranger Suárez
Philadelphia Phillies starter Ranger Suárez / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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Recently, MLB Network featured an interesting pitching comparison. The network, specifically Mark DeRosa, ranked the top five No. 3 starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies have started the 2024 season with one of the best starting rotations in baseball, so it was no surprise to see the team's third starter Ranger Suárez make the list.

However, where he placed in the rankings might irk Phillies fans.

DeRosa's rankings have Tampa Bay Rays starter Zack Littell as the fifth-best No. 3 starter in baseball. Ahead of him is Shota Imanaga, the Chicago Cubs' offseason addition from Japan. Suárez comes in third on the list behind Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt and Seattle Mariners starter Logan Gilbert.

Each pitcher has been great so far this season. Some may even be good enough to be a No. 1 or 2 starter on some teams. However, there is an argument that the Phillies' left-hander is ranked too low on this list, given his performance so far this season.

Why Ranger Suárez should be ranked higher on MLB Network's list of No. 3 starters

With a quick look at some stats and advanced metrics, one can make a case for the 28-year-old Suárez to be ranked higher than Bassitt or Gilbert on this list. That is not taking anything away from those pitchers, who have been good in their own right.

Of all the pitchers on the list, Suárez has compiled the second most innings (26) behind only Gilbert's 27 innings. He also has the third-highest K/9 at 9.35, behind Imanaga's 9.39 and Gilbert's 9.67.

Suárez's 1.73 ERA is second only to Imanaga who has yet to allow an earned run over 15 1/3 innings thus far. His 2.05 xERA is the best on the list and beats out Gilbert's 3.73 — the top-ranked pitcher on the list — by over a run and a half.

Fielding independent pitching (FIP) takes out defensive factors from a pitcher's effectiveness. The Phillies' left-hander has a 2.70 FIP which is second to just Imanaga (1.50 FIP) and is better than both Bassitt's 4.59 FIP and Gilbert's 3.42 FIP by a good margin. His 2.41 xFIP is the best of any pitcher on the list by more than half a run.

According to FanGraphs, Suárez's fWAR also tops the list in comparison to his peers who were mentioned. With a 0.8 fWAR, the Phillies' homegrown talent beats out the top pitchers in the ranking as Bassitt sits with a 0.2 fWAR, and Gilbert has accumulated a 0.5 fWAR in one more inning of work.

Player

fWAR

IP

K/9

ERA

xERA

FIP

xFIP

Suárez

0.8

26.0

9.35

1.73

2.05

2.70

2.41

Imanaga

0.7

15.1

9.39

0.00

3.02

1.50

3.63

Littell

0.7

21.0

9.43

2.14

2.78

2.44

3.3

Gilbert

0.5

27.0

9.67

2.33

3.73

3.42

3.02

Bassitt

0.2

22.1

8.87

4.03

5.62

4.59

4.24

Underrated Suárez is the best No. 3 in the game, according to Bryce Harper

Any way you look at it, Suárez — who threw a complete game shutout in his last start — is at or near the top of this list in every important statistical pitching category. While ultimately, his performance on the field is all that matters, MLB Network is underrating him, like many outside Philadelphia, with this ranking, especially given that he beats out Bassitt in every category.

Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper, always the first to cheerlead for his teammates, claimed that Suárez is the best No. 3 in the game after the lefty's complete game gem on Tuesday.

"I think people might not like it, but I think he's the best three in the game," Harper said postgame in praise of Suárez. "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."

Phillies fans know how special their Suárez has been so far this season. His continued impressive performances will be all that matters as the Phillies look to maintain a top-of-the-league pitching staff.

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