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Which starters will earn their ace cards in 2019?

Zack Wheeler's breakthrough in the second half last year could mean big things are ahead in 2019. Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports

Regarding Cooperstown, you've probably heard of the existence of small-Hall people -- those people who prefer that the Hall of Fame include only the very best of the very best. Myself, I'm a big-Hall person. There have been a lot of great players; induct 'em all!

Just as I'm a big-Hall person, I'm a big-ace person. This is its own active debate. Some believe that, in any season, there are maybe five, maybe 10 aces. I think of aces as existing in greater numbers than that, though. To me, an ace starter is someone good enough to be the No. 1 starter in an average rotation. Some teams might be lucky enough to have multiple guys who match that description. Other teams are more like the Chicago White Sox. I just want to make sure you understand where I'm coming from.

I think there should be right around 30 aces. On many of them, we'll all agree. Jacob deGrom is an ace. Chris Sale is an ace, obviously; so is Corey Kluber. You're already familiar with the cream of the crop. My list might include a few more names than yours, and that's fine. Another crucial point to understand is that the list is always changing. Some players decline or get hurt, while other players improve. That's the story of baseball. That's certainly the story of pitching.

So let's turn our eyes to the future. We can already say who's likely to remain an ace. That may not be very interesting. Those are players we know are already great. It's more interesting to talk about newer developments. Today, let's get into the starting pitchers on the verge of becoming aces in 2019 -- if not by your definition of aces, then by mine. Guys capable of being No. 1 starters, and guys who still have a lot in the tank.

There's no guarantee for anybody, of course. Careers are seldom perfectly linear and predictable. But I'm a fan of all of the 10 pitchers below, and I'll try to quickly explain to you why. In alphabetical order, here are my aces in the making: