RHP: Max Scherzer, Nationals (10–5, 1.94 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 12.2 K/9, 4.6 WAR)
LHP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (13–2, 2.19 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 10.7 K/9, 3.7 WAR)
RHP: Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (6–7, 3.15 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 10.0 K/9, 2.5 WAR)
RHP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (9–2, 3.28 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.8 WAR)
LHP: Alex Wood, Dodgers (10–0, 1.67 ERA, 2.04 FIP, 10.8 K/9, 3.0 WAR)
RHP: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (3.05 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 10/2 K/9. 3.1 WAR)
The first two are easy; I dissected their cases earlier this week, finding the extension of Scherzer's 2016 Cy Young-winning dominance into 2017 enough to tilt the balance towards anointing him the starter even before the Dodgers finalized their decision to start Kershaw Sunday, making him ineligible for the actual game, but not here. Those two are so far ahead of the pack, and the collapse of the Cubs’ and Mets’ rotations—which produced four All-Stars and the top three ERA finishers last year—so drastic that it's tough to figure out where to turn next.
Six of the next seven pitchers on the ERA leaderboard—Gio Gonzalez, Chase Anderson, Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Mike Leake and Jimmy Nelson—all had ERAs of 4.37 or higher last year, to pick just one point of reference, and Martinez is the only other holdover from last year’s top 10 besides Scherzer (Kershaw fell 13 innings short of qualifying). Martinez is compiling his third straight strong season, and Strasburg has been excellent when available in that span, so they make the cut.
Wood is 6 1/3 innings short of qualifying for the ERA title but has put up Kershaw-esque numbers since moving out of the bullpen early in the year. Over his last 11 starts, he has a 1.34 ERA with one homer and 83 strikeouts in 67 innings, and overall, he's seventh in WAR. For the sixth spot, Greinke gets the nod for a bounce-back season that has him in the top six in ERA, FIP and WAR, the only NL starter besides Scherzer and Kershaw who can say that.