Top 5 Young Hurlers

Over the past half decade, pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale have been the standard for successful pitching in Major League Baseball. There are a number of young rising stars who are on their way to becoming the next in line of dominant starting pitchers.

This is a list of the top five young rising stars most likely to join the select group of preeminent pitchers in all of baseball within the next three to five seasons.

In order to qualify for this list and be considered as a young star on the rise, the pitcher must have pitched fewer than three full seasons in the majors. A full season being 150+ innings.

#5) Danny Duffy

(3.65 ERA, 245 K, 133 BB, 1.336 WHIP, 298.2 IP)

When healthy, Danny Duffy has shown signs of being highly potent. There is no doubt that Duffy has been the Royals best pitcher up to this point in the season. In fact, he currently boasts the third best ERA in the AL.

Duffy has flirted with a no-hit bid on a few different occasions over his short stint as a starting pitcher.

One major concern that looms with Duffy is the ability to keep himself healthy. He has shown signs of being injury prone by missing a heavy amount of time in 2012 and 2013 due to Tommy John Surgery.

Duffy has shown a noticeable improvement this season in his ability to command the ball. He has allowed 50 walks this season over 141.1 innings. Prior to this season Duffy had surrendered 83 walks in 157.1 innings.

If Duffy can stay healthy and continue to improve upon issuing fewer free passes, he can be one of the most efficient pitchers in baseball. He has certainly shown that he has the stuff to be flat out dominant.

#4) Yu Darvish

Career Stats: (3.27 ERA, 680 K, 218 BB, 1.196 WHIP, 545.1 IP)

Since joining the league in 2012, Yu Darvish has proven to be one of the best power pitchers in the game. This flamethrower finished the 2013 season with 277 strikeouts, which was 37 better than the next closest pitcher in the category.

Darvish has had his fair share of remarkable performances, which includes taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning on three different occasions. In fact, Darvish pitched a game in 2013 in which he took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Houston Astros. Darvish came up short of completing perfection when he had a hard hit come backer go between his legs.

Darvish has shown a tremendous amount of consistency over the first three years of his career. He has been selected to the all-star team in all three campaigns. He also finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2013 and ninth in 2012.

Darvish was recently shut down for the season after being on the DL for about a month with shoulder inflammation. With the Texas Rangers seemingly out of the playoff race since June, there was no reason to risk worse injury by rushing him back to the rotation this season.

Darvish will only continue to get better when he returns next season as a 28 year old who will be entering the prime years of his career.

#3) Masahiro Tanaka

Career Stats: (2.51 ERA, 135 K, 19 BB, 1.005 WHIP, 129.1 IP)

Masahiro Tanaka has an arm that many ball clubs sought after during the 2013-2014 MLB offseason. In fact, the New York Yankees showed just how important Tanaka's talent is by signing him to an enormous contract. According to Bryan Hoch/MLB.com, that amount came out to $155 million over the next seven years. Hoch also added that Tanaka posted a 24-0 record with an ERA of 1.27 last season in Japan.

Tanaka has looked sharp thus far in his MLB rookie campaign. He already possesses attributes you would find in a lot of quality veteran starters in this league. He consistently put himself in position to go deep in ball games as he has only walked a total of 19 batters in 129.1 career innings. That kind of efficiency has allowed Tanaka to throw three complete games over his first 18 career starts.

It's uncertain how long Tanaka's injury will keep him out of the starting rotation but it doesn't look to be anything serious. With Tommy John Surgery looking unlikely, you can expect Tanaka to continue to improve in his quest to become one of the supreme pitchers in baseball.

If Tanaka continues to consistently pound the strike zone, he is fully capable of capturing a Cy Young Award as early as 2015 or 2016.

#2) Matt Harvey

Career Stats: (2.39 ERA, 261 K, 57 BB, 0.985 WHIP, 237.2 IP)

When Matt Harvey made his rookie debut in 2012 he was one of the most hyped pitchers MLB has seen over the past decade. In fact, Harvey has been nicknamed the "Real Deal."

Harvey certainly lived up to his nickname and all expectations with a dominate 2013 campaign. The New York Mets ace finished last season fourth in the NL Cy Young voting in large part because he showed excellent command by only surrendering 31 walks over 178.1 innings.

With a fastball consistently reaching the upper 90s, hitters have had a hard time getting solid contact against Harvey. He only allowed 0.4 homeruns per nine innings last season, which was the best in the bigs.

Harvey's live arm hasn't seen any action in 2014 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery late last season. New York's "Dark Knight" hopes he can pick up where he left off when he returns to Gotham City in 2015.

#1) Jose Fernandez

Career Stats: (2.25 ERA, 257 K, 71 BB, 0.972 WHIP, 224.1 IP)

He may only have one full year under his belt, but Jose Fernandez has pitched like someone who is in the middle of their prime. Last year, Fernandez had one of the best rookie pitcher campaigns ever. He finished third in the NL Cy Young voting with a league best 5.8 hits allowed per nine innings.

Fernandez certainly passes the eye test as well. He's got a fastball with late movement that tops out in the upper 90s. The break on his curveball is as nasty as any hurler in the league. He has made some of the best hitters in the league look silly trying to swing at his Uncle Charlie.

Unfortunately, the 2014 season was cut short for Fernandez due to Tommy John Surgery. With that being said, at only 22 years old, there isn't too much cause for concern. He still has plenty of time to recover before he heads into the prime years of his career.

One and a half seasons isn't enough time to get an accurate assessment of a pitcher. With that being said, Fernandez has shown that he has the makeup to be one of the two or three best pitchers in the league if he returns pitching the same way he did before undergoing surgery.



Royal Curve Top Stories