Ranking MLB's 2022 aces -- and the pitchers who could make the leap

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As a new MLB season begins, the use of starting pitchers is in the headlines again -- highlighted by one of the generation's best starters, Clayton Kershaw, coming out 80 pitches into a perfect game bid -- but we're here to look at the best pitchers the game has to offer in 2022.

The concept of an ace comes up a lot in baseball conversations, often without a specific definition. In scouting, it has a bit more of a specific meaning, but that can vary from person to person. The basic idea, in a scouting sense, is that an ace is part of the top tier of starting pitchers across the sport and that this tier is more than five or six pitchers but fewer than 15 -- with most scouts and executives putting it at eight to 12.

Rather than one ace per team, think of it more as roughly one per playoff team, with the newly expanded 12-team playoffs representing the high end of the range. I did this almost exactly a year ago, so you can see how much movement there is on the list over one season.

This is a ranking for this season, rather than projecting into the future, so think of this as whom you want starting for your team in a key September game -- but you've got to make the list now. Any pitcher who is still recovering from surgery isn't eligible, but any injury that does not yet require surgery and from which they should return by midseason means the pitcher is eligible. (Yes, that means Jacob deGrom.)

Here are baseball's true aces of 2022 -- along with those who have the best chance to make the leap this season.