And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the Positional Power Rankings of starting rotations before they actually get good.
It should be noted that the Diamondbacks’ rotation at 16 really projects no differently than the Rays’ rotation at 15, which Jeff will be writing up in his More Important post on the 15 best starting rotations. Which, in fact, serves as a useful reminder that, when dealing with the 7-10 moving parts of which these rotation depth charts typically consist, the actual ranking of teams matters far less than the grouping of teams. We can be pretty certain that the No. 16-ranked Diamondbacks rotation, projected for about +13 WAR, is better than the No. 30-ranked Braves rotation, projected for just +7 WAR. It gets a little cloudier in the middle, though, and just because the A’s (+11.3 WAR) are three spots ahead of the Tigers (+11.0 WAR), that shouldn’t be taken as any kind of definitive statements of Oakland’s superiority. A guide, is how these rankings should be used.
|Zack Greinke||212.0||8.3||1.9||0.8||.294||76.8 %||2.91||3.20||4.6|
|Shelby Miller||183.0||7.5||3.1||1.0||.296||73.7 %||3.84||4.08||1.9|
|Patrick Corbin||160.0||7.6||2.3||0.9||.303||73.0 %||3.58||3.65||2.5|
|Rubby de la Rosa||141.0||7.3||3.0||1.1||.302||71.2 %||4.24||4.26||1.2|
|Robbie Ray||129.0||8.6||3.7||0.9||.306||72.8 %||3.86||3.89||1.7|
|Archie Bradley||85.0||7.5||4.5||1.0||.303||70.3 %||4.54||4.56||0.4|
|Zachary Godley||28.0||7.3||3.5||1.0||.301||70.8 %||4.27||4.31||0.2|
|Tyler Wagner||19.0||6.2||3.4||1.2||.301||70.1 %||4.67||4.75||0.1|
|Josh Collmenter||9.0||6.0||2.1||1.2||.292||73.3 %||3.94||4.28||0.1|
So, the team that lost Zack Greinke this offseason is tied for first among projected starting rotations. The team that gained Zack Greinke is hanging around the middle of the pack. This tells us a couple useful bits of information, the first being that that Clayton Kershaw fella is quite good. Kershaw alone accounts for the same projected WAR total as Miller, Corbin, de la Rosa, Ray and Bradley combined, and the Dodgers still have other pitchers, too. As for the Diamondbacks‘ position on this power ranking, it gives us an idea as to why, even with Greinke, many are still skeptical of the organization’s position as a legitimate contender in a competitive National League.
One caveat, in the Diamondbacks’ favor: they have one of the largest differences between their projected ERA and FIP. The sixth-largest, in fact. That is to say, if these rankings were sorted in order of RA9-WAR, rather than FIP-WAR, the Diamondbacks would stand to gain more from it than most every other team. Greinke was worth 10 RA9-WAR last year, and would see his projection increase by a full win if we went with the runs-allowed model. Shelby Miller also has the early signs of being a FIP-beater, and his projection would increase by nearly a win with the RA9 model.
So maybe the top half is a bit underrated, but the bigger issue lies within the bottom half. Rubby de la Rosa is now entering year three of “maybe that 95-mph fastball will miss some bats soon!” and this could be his last chance. Nearly all of Archie Bradley’s prospect sheen has worn off, and at this point the Diamondbacks might be happy if he winds up being a serviceable fourth or fifth starter. Zack Godley had a shiny ERA last year, but still has major command issues and was a 25-year-old who started last year in High-A for a reason. The top three can go pitch for pitch with most trios in baseball — Patrick Corbin looked every bit the budding-ace of 2013 after returning from Tommy John — but if any of them suffer prolonged injury, or de la Rosa pitches his way out of the rotation, Arizona could be handing out less-than-ideal starts in the midst of their playoff hunt.
|Jose Fernandez||173.0||10.5||2.4||0.7||.311||76.7 %||2.75||2.66||4.7|
|Wei-Yin Chen||196.0||7.3||1.9||0.9||.300||74.8 %||3.32||3.51||3.1|
|Tom Koehler||171.0||6.6||3.5||1.0||.300||71.3 %||4.27||4.36||1.0|
|Jarred Cosart||130.0||6.4||3.9||0.7||.299||71.2 %||4.02||4.11||1.1|
|Adam Conley||111.0||6.9||3.4||0.8||.301||71.9 %||3.95||4.07||1.0|
|David Phelps||46.0||6.9||3.0||0.9||.305||71.3 %||4.05||4.05||0.4|
|Justin Nicolino||38.0||4.3||2.2||1.0||.300||68.7 %||4.48||4.52||0.1|
|Edwin Jackson||28.0||6.7||3.1||0.8||.305||70.1 %||4.12||3.96||0.3|
|Jose Urena||18.0||5.5||2.7||1.0||.305||69.5 %||4.33||4.30||0.1|
|Kendry Flores||9.0||6.6||2.8||1.0||.306||70.4 %||4.22||4.20||0.1|
|Jake Esch||9.0||5.8||3.4||1.0||.305||69.3 %||4.64||4.60||0.0|
|Jarlin Garcia||9.0||6.1||2.9||1.1||.307||69.3 %||4.60||4.53||0.0|
|Austin Brice||9.0||7.2||5.0||1.1||.306||69.6 %||4.91||4.90||0.0|
That Jose Fernandez is given a WAR projection just outside the top 10 despite an impending innings limit is a testament to just how good the 23-year-old is. Since entering the league, he’s been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball not named Clayton Kershaw. On pure stuff alone, there might not be a more entertaining pitcher to watch than Fernandez, and he showed no ill effects upon his return from Tommy John surgery last year.
The Marlins boosted the top of their rotation this offseason by signing the probably-underrated Wei-Yin Chen, who should enjoy a move out of the AL East and into the NL West, and out of Camden Yards and into Marlins Park. Chen changes speeds, suppresses exit velocity, and limits walks with the best of them while posting serviceable strikeout figures.
The rest of Miami’s rotation is a who’s who of young starters with murky upside, most prominently featuring the innings-eating and home run-allowing Tom Koehler, who’s a fine pitcher, but is probably better suited as a fifth, or even sixth option. Jarred Cosart once had prospect status, but has more recently had the worst K-BB% of any starter in baseball since entering the league.
The upside here comes in the form of Adam Conley, who last year posted better-than-average strikeout, whiff, and home run rates as a 25-year-old rookie with a walk rate just above league average. Conley was never much of a prospect, but given the names behind Fernandez and Chen, he’s got as much a chance to contribute meaningful innings as anyone else in this rotation.
|Cole Hamels||212.0||7.9||2.5||1.0||.302||72.9 %||3.72||3.77||3.6|
|Colby Lewis||162.0||6.2||2.3||1.4||.307||69.1 %||4.79||4.68||1.1|
|Derek Holland||150.0||7.6||2.7||1.2||.306||72.3 %||4.17||4.18||1.8|
|Martin Perez||142.0||6.1||2.7||0.9||.309||69.9 %||4.21||4.07||1.9|
|Yu Darvish||132.0||10.3||3.2||1.0||.306||75.9 %||3.44||3.50||2.7|
|A.J. Griffin||67.0||7.2||2.5||1.6||.294||73.1 %||4.47||4.79||0.4|
|Chi Chi Gonzalez||47.0||5.3||3.7||1.1||.302||68.9 %||4.83||4.85||0.2|
|Jeremy Guthrie||38.0||5.2||2.6||1.4||.308||68.8 %||5.06||5.06||0.1|
|Nick Martinez||19.0||5.4||3.4||1.3||.303||70.1 %||4.92||5.09||0.0|
|Anthony Ranaudo||9.0||6.1||3.7||1.5||.300||70.0 %||5.13||5.24||0.0|
Cole Hamels is about as steady as they come. He’s posted at least 4+ WAR, by one measure or another, in eight of his last nine seasons, and his FIP hasn’t topped 3.75 since 2007. When Yu Darvish returns to the rotation around late-May, they’ll add another ace alongside Hamels, and the Rangers don’t plan to limit his innings from that point on. By the All-Star break, the Rangers should have a lethal 1-2 punch.
Behind Hamels and (eventually) Darvish, though, things get dicey, quick. The 36-year-old Colby Lewis is the next-most steady option, and he’s ran a 4.90 ERA since 2014. Derek Holland and Martin Perez have combined for 37 starts over the last two years. In limited time over that span, Perez hasn’t been able to prevent runs at even a league-average rate, and Holland was a home run-fueled disaster in 10 starts last season. Both still have upside if they can remain healthy, but their place as effective big-league starters is no longer a given; it needs to be earned back at this point. A.J. Griffin seems the favorite to break camp as the team’s fifth starter, and he hasn’t pitched since 2013. Chi Chi Gonzalez is young enough to adjust, but he’s also walked more batters than he’s struck out in the majors.
You get the picture by now. Behind the two bonafide aces, there isn’t a single pitcher in this rotation without major injury or performance concerns. If everything breaks right, this could still have the makings of a better-than-average rotation, but that’s asking a lot.
|Sonny Gray||212.0||7.6||2.8||0.8||.299||73.3 %||3.47||3.56||3.7|
|Jesse Hahn||163.0||6.5||3.0||0.8||.304||70.0 %||4.10||4.05||1.9|
|Rich Hill||153.0||8.7||4.4||0.9||.303||71.7 %||4.17||4.19||1.5|
|Chris Bassitt||140.0||7.0||3.3||0.9||.304||70.8 %||4.07||4.11||1.5|
|Kendall Graveman||130.0||5.6||2.8||1.0||.306||69.4 %||4.43||4.36||1.0|
|Felix Doubront||85.0||7.2||3.4||1.0||.306||71.0 %||4.26||4.18||0.8|
|Henderson Alvarez||48.0||5.0||2.1||0.9||.307||69.2 %||4.25||4.17||0.5|
|Sean Manaea||37.0||8.0||3.7||1.0||.304||71.3 %||4.21||4.18||0.4|
Much of the hype on this rotation has been slowed by an absolutely miserable spring, in which Chris Bassitt’s 5.28 ERA is the best among Oakland’s rotation candidates. Not that Spring Training ERA’s should sway your opinions much, if at all, but it’s gotten to the point where Felix Doubront could be forcing Jesse Hahn and his career 3.23 ERA (3.46 FIP) to the minors to start the year.
Spring struggles aside, there’s no reason to worry about Gray. Each passing season of sub-.280 BABIPs and above-average strand rates makes a strong case for Gray as a FIP-beater, but even if you don’t buy the batted-ball performance, Gray has still made his mark as at least a top-3o pitcher in baseball. Gray is an ace, and while it’s been nothing but negatives in the Cactus League, there’s still plenty of upside to be found in the less-proven members of the rotation. All Rich Hill did last year was be Clayton Kershaw, and his potentially elite fastball would seem to keep his floor high, given health. Hahn has done nothing but produce. For a 27-year-old with no prospect status, Bassitt has made it work, and if Kendall Graveman could miss a few more bats to pair with his ground balls, he could help balance the scale of the Josh Donaldson trade. Waiting in the wings is Sean Manaea, the centerpiece of last year’s Ben Zobrist trade, who dominated the minors last year and could be in the bigs by June.
|Anthony DeSclafani||188.0||7.4||2.6||1.0||.302||71.8 %||3.90||3.89||2.7|
|Raisel Iglesias||168.0||8.7||2.6||1.1||.305||73.6 %||3.68||3.74||2.7|
|John Lamb||131.0||9.3||3.4||1.1||.302||74.2 %||3.85||4.00||1.7|
|Homer Bailey||131.0||7.5||2.6||1.1||.300||71.9 %||3.92||3.99||1.7|
|Alfredo Simon||116.0||5.8||3.0||1.2||.299||69.5 %||4.60||4.68||0.6|
|Brandon Finnegan||85.0||9.1||3.7||1.0||.298||74.0 %||3.72||3.92||1.2|
|Jon Moscot||54.0||6.4||3.1||1.5||.297||70.5 %||4.79||4.99||0.1|
|Michael Lorenzen||38.0||6.4||3.7||1.3||.299||70.2 %||4.82||4.95||0.1|
|Robert Stephenson||28.0||9.0||4.7||1.4||.297||71.7 %||4.70||4.82||0.1|
|Cody Reed||18.0||6.3||5.4||1.2||.294||69.9 %||5.17||5.40||0.0|
If I had to pick a bottom-half rotation to finish the year in the top-10, it’d be this one. What the Reds’ staff may lack in name recognition, it more than makes up for with upside.
Consider that Raisel Iglesias struck out nearly 30% of all batters faced after the All-Star break last year, with above-average walk and ground-ball rates that put his peripherals on par with guys like David Price and Matt Harvey. Anthony DeSclafani led all rookie pitchers in Wins Above Replacement last season, and could be a changeup away from “de facto ace” to “legitimate ace.” December back surgery has put John Lamb’s season on delay, and while the ERA was ugly during his first go-around against big-league hitters, I’ll take my chances on 24-year-old lefties who strike out more than a quarter of all batters faced through their first 50 innings every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Brandon Finnegan will be a useful pitcher somewhere, even if it’s not the rotation, and longtime prospect Robert Stephenson may finally make his major-league debut this year.
None of this is to mention Homer Bailey, currently set to return from his Tommy John surgery in late June or early July. Once considered a leader of the Reds rotation, the Reds aren’t asking much of Bailey, given the young arms they’ve assembled. If Bailey can even be a serviceable mid-rotation starter upon his return, it will just be the icing on the cake for the league’s most intriguing, under-the-radar staff.
|Phil Hughes||194.0||6.5||1.1||1.2||.312||70.3 %||4.17||3.92||2.7|
|Ervin Santana||191.0||6.7||2.7||1.1||.308||70.0 %||4.44||4.29||1.8|
|Kyle Gibson||172.0||6.3||2.9||0.9||.307||69.8 %||4.18||4.03||2.2|
|Tommy Milone||130.0||6.8||2.4||1.2||.308||71.0 %||4.38||4.31||1.2|
|Ricky Nolasco||91.0||6.7||2.3||1.2||.320||68.4 %||4.66||4.23||0.9|
|Tyler Duffey||84.0||6.6||2.4||1.1||.313||69.4 %||4.39||4.13||1.0|
|Jose Berrios||64.0||7.9||2.6||1.0||.313||70.9 %||4.09||3.91||0.9|
|Alex Meyer||19.0||8.9||4.2||1.0||.315||71.5 %||4.28||4.12||0.2|
|Taylor Rogers||9.0||5.7||2.8||1.1||.314||68.0 %||4.78||4.51||0.1|
For the first time in a while, the Twins rotation feels somewhat interesting. Kyle Gibson looks like Francisco Liriano and Dallas Keuchel in the way he pitches, and could just be a tweak away from taking the next step and getting their results. Phil Hughes kept the same minuscule walk rate that made him look like Cliff Lee two seasons ago, it’s just that he gave back the strikeouts and home-run prevention that made that comp possible. Tyler Duffey just posted the highest strikeout rate by a Twins rookie since Liriano himself. Jose Berrios will be up later this year, and may very well top Duffey’s spot upon the Twins’ rookie strikeout leaderboard.
Despite early indications to the contrary, though, the Twins are still projected for the lowest strikeout rate in baseball, and if they were to achieve that status, it would be for the sixth consecutive year. The contracts dictate that the Twins will still give innings to Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco, and even the rosy Hughes and Gibson comps come with what ifs. No rotation in baseball is projected to underperform their peripherals more than this one. The Twins rotation is far from a powerhouse, and it’s not at all difficult to imagine it being flat-out bad. But it’s at least interesting, and that’s more than past Twins teams could say.
|Jordan Zimmermann||199.0||6.7||1.8||1.2||.302||72.1 %||3.92||4.00||2.6|
|Justin Verlander||195.0||7.6||2.6||1.0||.302||72.4 %||3.84||3.85||2.9|
|Anibal Sanchez||166.0||8.0||2.6||1.0||.303||71.9 %||3.90||3.79||2.6|
|Daniel Norris||94.0||7.6||3.8||1.1||.306||71.8 %||4.36||4.38||0.8|
|Mike Pelfrey||129.0||4.9||2.8||1.0||.313||67.6 %||4.81||4.54||0.9|
|Matt Boyd||85.0||7.1||2.9||1.3||.305||71.2 %||4.47||4.51||0.6|
|Shane Greene||66.0||6.1||2.8||1.2||.313||68.2 %||4.81||4.57||0.4|
|Buck Farmer||28.0||6.4||3.2||1.5||.309||68.5 %||5.19||5.05||0.0|
|Michael Fulmer||9.0||7.2||3.0||1.2||.313||70.0 %||4.61||4.43||0.1|
The nice thing for the Tigers is that Justin Verlander started to look like his old self again. More accurately, he started to look like his young self again. Let’s ignore those first six starts during which Verlander worked his way back from a triceps injury that delayed the beginning of his season. Will you agree to do that with me? Cool. Now that we’ve agreed, we can take notice of the fact that over Verlander’s final 14 starts, spanning two outs shy of 100 innings, he ran a 2.27 ERA and a 2.59 FIP with strikeout and walk rates that looked like vintage, Cy Young Verlander. If Verlander is truly back, it would be a huge boon to this Tigers rotation that had bottomed out by July last year.
What also reasons to be a boon for this Tigers staff is Jordan Zimmermann, on account of him being a good pitcher who previously pitched for a different team. Zimmermann’s lost some fastball velocity, and he lost some strikeouts, and the move to the American League can only hurt his numbers, but Zimmermann’s still been among the most consistent starters in baseball the last four years, and even better, he’s been consistently good. Working higher and higher in the zone with his high-spin four-seamer has become Zimmermann’s M.O., and should help the fastball to continue playing up even as it loses velocity.
As with many of these bottom-half rotations, though, things become dark after the light at the top. Anibal Sanchez has gone from healthy and good, to injured and good, to injured and bad over the last three seasons, and that’s not a great trend for a 32-year-old. Daniel Norris was the most promising young arm in the system until he succumbed to “non-displaced fractures in his spinous process” which sounds terrifying but apparently(?) isn’t as serious as it sounds. Mike Pelfrey just isn’t any good, and the Tigers giving him $16 million is by far the most puzzling move of the offseason to me. Matt Boyd and Shane Greene are both interesting, and young, and both have big question marks that need to be answered.
The Tigers will hit. And at the top of the rotation, they’ll pitch. The question is, will the middle and bottom of the rotation be enough?
|Jorge de la Rosa||177.0||7.2||3.6||1.0||.307||70.8 %||4.33||4.28||2.1|
|Jonathan Gray||113.0||7.8||3.1||1.1||.319||70.6 %||4.38||4.12||1.6|
|Chad Bettis||151.0||7.3||3.1||1.1||.317||70.6 %||4.49||4.29||1.8|
|Jordan Lyles||129.0||6.2||3.1||0.9||.315||68.7 %||4.59||4.35||1.5|
|Tyler Chatwood||102.0||7.0||3.0||1.1||.310||70.5 %||4.35||4.26||1.3|
|Christian Bergman||75.0||5.6||2.0||1.4||.312||69.0 %||4.87||4.73||0.5|
|Tyler Matzek||56.0||7.5||5.4||1.0||.311||70.5 %||4.93||4.92||0.3|
|Eddie Butler||47.0||5.4||3.8||1.2||.315||68.6 %||5.25||5.09||0.2|
|Chris Rusin||38.0||5.3||2.6||1.2||.316||68.7 %||4.88||4.68||0.3|
|David Hale||19.0||5.8||3.2||1.1||.316||68.2 %||4.95||4.65||0.2|
|Tyler Anderson||19.0||7.3||3.3||1.1||.310||70.9 %||4.42||4.40||0.2|
|Jeff Hoffman||9.0||6.8||3.3||1.2||.312||71.1 %||4.59||4.58||0.1|
This is a list of pitchers who throw half their games in Coors Field. What do you want me to say? Jorge de la Rosa seems to have it figured out, but he must not be a very good teacher. Jonathan Gray and his 96-mph fastball were impressive last year, despite the ugly ERA, but he’s already hurt and will begin the season on the disabled list. Chad Bettis might have the best arsenal of any Rockies pitcher, and after Gray’s injury, is probably the most exciting hurler to watch in Colorado this year.
Between Gray and Bettis, the Rockies have two legitimately intriguing arms; the problem is, it wasn’t that long ago that guys like Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek, and Eddie Butler were intriguing, too. Will Gray or Bettis buck the trend? Only time will tell, but history isn’t in their favor. Funny how fast the shine wears off when you pitch at altitude. Sad how fast the shine wears off, really.
|Garrett Richards||195.0||8.1||3.0||0.7||.297||73.1 %||3.37||3.46||3.5|
|Hector Santiago||168.0||7.7||3.5||1.1||.291||74.4 %||3.94||4.41||1.1|
|Jered Weaver||167.0||5.8||2.4||1.4||.288||71.2 %||4.41||4.76||0.4|
|Andrew Heaney||151.0||7.2||2.6||1.0||.300||72.6 %||3.82||3.95||1.8|
|C.J. Wilson||117.0||7.5||3.6||0.9||.300||71.0 %||4.09||4.12||1.1|
|Matt Shoemaker||84.0||7.6||2.1||1.2||.298||72.9 %||3.81||3.90||1.0|
|Tyler Skaggs||48.0||7.5||3.1||0.8||.302||71.9 %||3.80||3.82||0.6|
|Nicholas Tropeano||37.0||8.1||3.0||1.1||.302||72.2 %||3.99||3.97||0.4|
Jered Weaver just threw a pitch.
Much like the position players portion of the Angels’ roster, the rotation is essentially star and scrubs. Maybe that’s not fair to Hector Santiago‘s fly-balling ways and the potential of Andrew Heaney, but you’ve got to squint to find much hope elsewhere. While Santiago has gotten by with iffy control, average strikeouts and tons of fly balls, ask Matt Cain — or his teammate, Weaver — how that approach works out in the long haul. Weaver has become something of a punchline, one that’s playing out in real time, right now. C.J. Wilson is already hurt again after an injury-plagued 2015, and is now overhauling his mechanics. Matt Shoemaker’s disaster 2015 has turned into a disaster Spring, and Tyler Skaggs‘ recovery from Tommy John has already hit a snag.
The bright spot is Garrett Richards, who, like Marcus Stroman, showed little in the way of ill effects after tearing his ACL late in the 2014 season. He wasn’t quite the same mid-2.00s ERA and FIP ace that he was in 2014, but he shouldn’t have been expected to be, and with his velocity, stuff and ground-ball rate, there isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t mind having Richards near the front of their staff.
#25 Blue Jays
|Marcus Stroman||186.0||7.6||2.3||0.9||.305||71.8 %||3.71||3.63||3.4|
|R.A. Dickey||204.0||6.1||2.9||1.3||.287||71.7 %||4.31||4.74||1.1|
|Marco Estrada||163.0||6.9||2.7||1.5||.279||73.8 %||4.23||4.75||0.9|
|J.A. Happ||148.0||7.6||2.8||1.2||.302||72.0 %||4.14||4.15||1.8|
|Aaron Sanchez||103.0||6.8||4.4||0.8||.294||72.0 %||4.16||4.42||0.9|
|Jesse Chavez||67.0||8.1||2.6||1.1||.306||72.5 %||3.92||3.89||1.0|
|Drew Hutchison||56.0||8.0||2.7||1.2||.308||71.1 %||4.29||4.19||0.6|
|Gavin Floyd||28.0||7.0||2.8||1.5||.302||70.4 %||4.77||4.89||0.1|
|Conner Greene||9.0||6.3||3.6||1.4||.308||69.5 %||5.06||5.04||0.0|
The question for the Blue Jays is the same as it is for the Tigers: will they pitch enough? The Blue Jays will hit. We know that they’ll hit. But after Marcus Stroman, the rotation is full of question marks. Like: how much further can R.A. Dickey’s strikeout rate drop for him to be continue being successful? As well as: was Marco Estrada just a one-year fluke, or is he just one of the most effective contact pitchers in baseball? Or: J.A. Happ?
The other question, the one that will be answered sooner rather than later, is who the fifth starter will be. It’s not Jesse Chavez, though he’s likely to make a number of spot starts along the way, and it’s not Drew Hutchison, who still possesses potential but will open the season in Triple-A in an effort to turn that potential into major-league results. The club seems to be favoring Gavin Floyd, but the correct answer is Aaron Sanchez, who’s been rolling this spring with 25 pounds of added weight, smoothed-out mechanics and refined secondary offerings.
Personally, I’m buying this Blue Jays rotation, and would take the over on this ranking, and so would RA9-WAR, as Toronto’s 19-point positive gap between their ERA and FIP is the largest projected split in baseball. Dickey and Estrada both just get hammered by FIP, but peripherals aren’t their game, and the upside of Sanchez and Happ make this rotation compelling, one that, in my eyes, will earn a much higher spot on this list as the season goes on.
|Jimmy Nelson||183.0||7.9||3.3||0.9||.308||70.7 %||4.11||4.00||2.5|
|Wily Peralta||170.0||6.3||3.0||1.1||.310||69.9 %||4.56||4.44||1.4|
|Matt Garza||164.0||6.8||2.9||1.2||.307||70.2 %||4.50||4.39||1.5|
|Chase Anderson||136.0||7.5||2.7||1.2||.309||71.3 %||4.33||4.25||1.4|
|Taylor Jungmann||130.0||8.0||3.8||1.0||.307||70.8 %||4.29||4.20||1.5|
|Jorge Lopez||46.0||7.7||3.7||1.4||.310||69.7 %||4.87||4.73||0.2|
|Tyler Wagner||37.0||6.2||3.4||1.2||.301||70.1 %||4.67||4.75||0.2|
|Ariel Pena||28.0||9.1||4.3||1.1||.305||72.9 %||4.20||4.28||0.3|
|Zachary Davies||19.0||7.4||3.3||1.0||.307||71.3 %||4.14||4.08||0.2|
|Adrian Houser||9.0||6.9||3.8||1.3||.310||68.8 %||5.06||4.89||0.0|
|Tyler Cravy||9.0||7.1||3.4||1.2||.306||70.4 %||4.51||4.50||0.1|
|Sean Nolin||9.0||7.1||3.5||1.2||.306||70.3 %||4.66||4.59||0.1|
Wily Peralta may be starting on Opening Day, but Jimmy Nelson is the true de facto ace of this staff (said tongue-in-cheek). Nelson is a fine pitcher, one who produced both league-average peripherals and results in his first full season in the majors, but the control issues that plagued him throughout the minor leagues began to peak through, and he doesn’t miss enough bats for the walks to not be concerning.
Speaking of not missing bats, Wily Peralta and his confounding heater got even fewer whiffs than ever before, and in fact Peralta’s strikeout rate plummeted to Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle levels, despite his ability to touch 98 on the gun. Matt Garza, at this point in his career, isn’t much more than a dude whose job is to pitch meaningless innings and teach young pitchers how to prepare. Young pitchers like Chase Anderson, acquired from Arizona in the Jean Segura trade, who might have the most upside of any Brewers pitcher if he could build around his plus changeup. Or Taylor Jungmann, whose ceiling has always been limited by his erratic command.
Jorge Lopez is the highlight of a stable of young arms without much big-league experience that seem likely to get a shot at proving themselves this year. Because that’s the point of a rebuild, anyway; it’s not about winning games, it’s about seeing what you’ve got.
|Aaron Nola||176.0||7.7||2.1||1.2||.306||71.3 %||4.01||3.92||2.4|
|Jeremy Hellickson||159.0||7.5||2.6||1.2||.309||70.4 %||4.37||4.20||1.6|
|Jerad Eickhoff||128.0||7.9||3.0||1.3||.303||71.3 %||4.39||4.41||1.0|
|Charlie Morton||122.0||7.4||3.1||0.9||.312||69.8 %||4.13||4.00||1.5|
|Vincent Velasquez||94.0||10.3||3.6||1.0||.307||74.6 %||3.70||3.70||1.5|
|Adam Morgan||65.0||5.4||2.9||1.6||.301||67.6 %||5.36||5.34||-0.1|
|Brett Oberholtzer||56.0||6.8||2.3||1.2||.308||69.8 %||4.40||4.22||0.6|
|Jake Thompson||46.0||6.7||3.2||1.2||.302||70.5 %||4.47||4.53||0.3|
|Mark Appel||37.0||7.3||3.5||1.3||.312||69.2 %||4.81||4.62||0.2|
|Alec Asher||28.0||6.9||2.7||1.6||.307||68.5 %||5.12||4.98||0.0|
|David Buchanan||18.0||5.4||3.0||1.2||.310||67.7 %||4.94||4.73||0.1|
|Matt Harrison||9.0||5.8||3.7||1.1||.306||69.9 %||4.74||4.68||0.0|
I’m a believer that, as soon as next year, we’ll look at this Phillies rotation the same way we look at this year’s Reds. Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton probably won’t make it through the year without being traded, but it’s not too difficult to imagine a rotation of Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Mark Appel as generating the same kind of hype we’re seeing in Cincinnati.
Right now, it’s a bit too early to tell, but Nola’s already made his debut and thrown nearly half a big-league season, and he’s done little to temper expectations. Velasquez might have the most live arm in the system, and if he can turn over a lineup and stick as a starter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him and his 95 mph fastball overtake the more command-oriented Nola as the team’s ace of the future. That is, if Thompson, a hulking right-handed prospect, can’t get his command under control and top them both. Eickhoff was never a top prospect, but dazzled in his debut last year with a plus curveball and could serve as the type of sleeper piece that helps accelerate and already cruising rebuild. Mark Appel? Anyone’s guess. Total wild card. But the kind of wild card with crazy upside, rather than the crazy kind that cuts your brakes.
But for now, Thompson and Appel aren’t ready and Velasquez can’t handle a full season’s workload in a rotation, so Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton are here to bide time. That’s all they’re doing, though. The future is bright in Philadelphia. It’s just not here quite yet.
|Chris Tillman||192.0||6.7||3.1||1.2||.296||71.4 %||4.36||4.49||1.8|
|Yovani Gallardo||176.0||5.9||3.1||1.1||.305||71.3 %||4.39||4.47||1.7|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||156.0||8.0||3.7||1.1||.303||71.5 %||4.27||4.26||1.8|
|Miguel Gonzalez||140.0||6.5||2.9||1.4||.296||71.4 %||4.64||4.88||0.7|
|Kevin Gausman||131.0||7.7||2.9||1.1||.304||72.2 %||4.01||4.01||1.9|
|Odrisamer Despaigne||47.0||5.6||2.7||1.3||.302||68.3 %||4.80||4.79||0.3|
|Dylan Bundy||38.0||7.8||3.3||1.1||.300||72.9 %||4.00||4.16||0.5|
|Tyler Wilson||28.0||5.7||2.6||1.4||.305||68.2 %||4.97||4.89||0.1|
|Mike Wright||18.0||6.1||2.9||1.3||.303||69.7 %||4.78||4.83||0.1|
|Parker Bridwell||9.0||7.0||4.7||1.4||.305||69.2 %||5.31||5.30||0.0|
If Jimmy Nelson isn’t the most underwhelming de facto ace in baseball, it’s Chris Tillman. Problem is, the Brewers are rebuilding, while the Orioles are trying to win. At least the Tigers and Blue Jays, in their attempts to slug their way to the playoffs, have pitchers resembling front-line starters. Kevin Gausman could be that guy, but he still hasn’t had the chance to be an everyday starter for a full season in the big leagues, and now he’s dealing with shoulder discomfort. Ubaldo Jimenez rebounded after an ugly first year in Baltimore, but he’s still too inconsistent with his command to be a truly reliable option. Every fifth day, the Orioles scramble to find a spot starter until Miguel Gonzalez knocks on Buck Showalter’s office door to remind him that he still exists.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the diamond in the rough here could be Dylan Bundy. Bundy is out of options, so not only is he guaranteed to get his shot in the bigs this year, but he might have the longest leash in baseball. While he isn’t yet stretched out to start, he’s back to throwing 95 with a plus curve out of the bullpen in the spring, and with the makeup of this rotation, the Orioles might be forced to try Bundy in the rotation if he keeps this up. That is, if he can stay healthy. That’s the first priority, and it might be the thing that keeps him refined to the pen. How about that? The potential lifesaver might be trapped.
|Ian Kennedy||180.0||7.8||3.0||1.3||.300||71.8 %||4.33||4.41||1.4|
|Yordano Ventura||172.0||8.3||3.2||0.8||.303||73.3 %||3.61||3.69||2.8|
|Edinson Volquez||161.0||6.7||3.4||1.0||.297||71.3 %||4.16||4.34||1.4|
|Kris Medlen||140.0||6.2||2.4||1.1||.303||70.7 %||4.26||4.32||1.2|
|Chris Young||103.0||6.0||3.3||1.4||.278||73.3 %||4.32||4.91||0.2|
|Dillon Gee||57.0||5.9||2.1||1.2||.299||70.4 %||4.26||4.34||0.5|
|Mike Minor||48.0||6.4||2.6||1.3||.290||72.3 %||4.26||4.55||0.3|
|Danny Duffy||38.0||7.4||3.3||1.0||.292||74.6 %||3.68||4.13||0.4|
|Kyle Zimmer||28.0||7.6||3.2||1.0||.303||71.3 %||4.15||4.15||0.3|
|Miguel Almonte||9.0||7.4||3.5||1.2||.302||70.8 %||4.51||4.58||0.1|
|Brian Flynn||9.0||6.3||3.2||1.0||.305||71.0 %||4.32||4.40||0.1|
For all the time spent analyzing the Royals this offseason — the offense, and whether its combination of contact and speed is breaking the projection systems, the bullpen, and whether we can’t accurately account for the value of a high-leverage reliever — it seems to be often glossed-over that the driving force behind the Royals’ underwhelming projection is what looks like a terrible starting rotation.
I know what you’re thinking: but the defense, and the Chris Young FIP, and the similarly underwhelming rotation to start last year, too, and the ability to trade for another Johnny Cueto at the deadline — all true! And I don’t actually think this is the second-worst starting rotation in baseball. But I’m not sure it’s much better, and even an elite defense can’t polish a turd. That’s how the saying goes, right?
Edinson Volquez is the Opening Day starter, and just last year he had worse-than-average strikeout and walk rates with an exactly league-average ground-ball rate. There isn’t much to love in Volquez’s profile. Ian Kennedy is likely to pitch more innings than anyone on the staff, and just last year he allowed the highest OPS in baseball, while pitching in a massive park against an easier league. Yordano Ventura is easily the most enticing pitcher on the staff, but even he hasn’t yet had the results to match the stuff, and the command still needs work if he’s to be relied on as a No. 1 starter.
The depth options are enticing, and the Royals have had something of a knack for revitalizing pitcher’s careers in recent years, so maybe Dillon Gee or Mike Minor emerge as useful pieces again. But without another rehabilitation or midseason trade, it’s tough to see this rotation leading another World Series run. Then again, that’s what we’ve said each of the last two years. Go ahead. Crack the egg on my face, Kansas City.
|Julio Teheran||205.0||8.0||2.7||1.1||.298||74.1 %||3.74||3.96||2.2|
|Bud Norris||161.0||8.0||2.9||1.0||.308||71.1 %||4.08||4.00||1.6|
|Matthew Wisler||132.0||7.1||2.7||1.3||.303||71.8 %||4.32||4.40||0.7|
|Mike Foltynewicz||112.0||8.5||4.1||1.1||.305||71.6 %||4.40||4.37||0.6|
|Jhoulys Chacin||85.0||6.7||3.2||1.0||.307||71.0 %||4.24||4.25||0.6|
|Williams Perez||74.0||6.4||3.3||1.0||.307||70.0 %||4.40||4.36||0.4|
|Manny Banuelos||64.0||7.9||4.2||0.9||.301||71.7 %||4.16||4.27||0.4|
|Aaron Blair||45.0||8.1||3.3||1.0||.310||71.4 %||4.11||4.03||0.4|
|Tyrell Jenkins||37.0||5.8||3.9||1.1||.303||69.3 %||4.91||4.93||0.0|
|John Gant||19.0||7.7||3.7||1.1||.308||70.9 %||4.41||4.33||0.1|
|Casey Kelly||9.0||6.2||3.2||1.1||.306||68.6 %||4.68||4.57||0.0|
|Ryan Weber||9.0||5.9||1.8||1.1||.306||69.4 %||4.23||4.18||0.1|
The Atlanta Braves’ rotation is like leaving the house in sweatpants because you don’t want to put on jeans. It’s like splashing your face with water and wetting down your hair in lieu of taking a shower. It’s like starting a list of three things and only providing two because it’s late and, eh, this is good enough.
Aside from Julio Teheran, nothing is certain in Atlanta’s rotation, and even Teheran is something of an uncertainty after taking a step back with his command last year. Norris is the “proven vet” but is also coming off a horrendous season and by midseason will likely either be trade bait if effective, or a bullpen/DFA candidate if not. Of the young guys, Wisler’s got the most experience, Foltynewicz has the 95 mph fastball, Banuelos has the former prospect status, Jenkins has the current prospect status, and Blair has the MLB-readiness to go along with current prospect status. Blair has the highest upside of the group, but all these guys will get their chance this year and any number of them could make a name for themselves. The more the merrier, because there’s plenty of holes to be filled, as is.
August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.