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Monday Morning QB: Smoking Aces, Ranking the top 10 MLB Pitching Rotations

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Happy President’s Day everyone! There’s nothing more American than taking a day off to honor past Presidents’ and talk baseball!

Today I will be ranking the top 10 rotations in MLB. This list was admittedly a bit harder for me than the last two. It seems like there’s no shortage of stacked pitching staffs going into this season. One thing I’ve learned about pitching over the years is you can never have enough of it; someone is bound to have a down year / get injured, and a “no-name” pitcher will step-up at some point and have a big year. Nonetheless, it is still fun (and useful) to rank teams rotations going into the season to get an idea of what different clubs are bringing to the table:

(For comparison’s sake, here’s how the “pros” ranked em)

1) San Fransisco Giants:

1.    Matt Cain
2.    Madison Bumgarner
3.    Tim Lincecum
4.    Ryan Vogelsong
5.    Barry Zito

Last years World Series champs get the number 1 spot on this list, and for good reason. It is difficult to win a World Series without a powerhouse offense, but great pitching can help  make up for that. Matt Cain has evolved into a true ace, and Bumgarner is a young pitcher with all the tools to be a great MLB pitcher. “Big-Time-Timmy-Jim” Lincecum will have a bounce back year this year, and while he may never regain his Cy-Young form, he doesn’t have to as the number 3 pitcher on the staff. Vogelsong and Zito are solid bank end starters; the Giants will look to make another deep playoff run on the wings of their dominant pitching.

2) Washington Nationals
1.    Stephen Strasburg
2.    Gio Gonzalez
3.    Jordan Zimmermann
4.    Dan Haren
5.    Ross Detwiler

Strasburg is ready to be the Nat’s “work-horse” this year, and is the best pitcher in the league not named Justin Verlander. Gio Gonzalez was great last year for the Nat’s, and it doesn’t appear MLB will suspend him for being on Anthony Bosch’s PED list. Jordan Zimmerman is a good young pitcher who should continue to develop. I like the acquisition of Dan Haren and think he will benefit from a return to the NL.

3) Detriot Tigers
1.    Justin Verlander
2.    Max Scherzer
3.    Doug Fister
4.    Anibal Sanchez
5.    Rick Porcello

Verlander and Scherzer are just plain scary as a 1-2 punch. Both are flamethrowers and while Verlander is undoubtedly the ace, this is no knock on Scherzer’s ability. We’ve been hearing about Doug Fister’s potential for a while now, its time for him to prove it with a full season of solid pitching. While I think the Tigers overpaid Sanchez, that has nothing to do with this list and he (along with Porcello) are more than solid back-end-of-the-rotation type of guys.

4) Los Angeles Dodgers

1.    Clayton Kershaw
2.    Zack Greinke
3.    Josh Beckett
4.    Hyun-Jin Ryu
5.    Chad Billingsley

The Dodger’s didn’t forget about pitching when they opened up their checkbook this offseason; it will be interesting to see how well Greinke performs this year as the talent is obviously there. Kershaw is one of the best young pitchers in the game and a true ace. Josh Beckett was effective last year with the Dodgers, and should have a solid year pitching in the NL. Ryu is a big Korean pitcher who has the stuff to succeed in the MLB, and Billingsley would be a front to middle of the rotation pitcher for many teams. Like their line-up, this pitchign staff is  stacked going into the season.

5) Toronto Blue Jays

1.    R.A. Dickey
2.    Brandon Morrow
3.    Mark Buehrle
4.    Josh Johnson
5.    Ricky Romero

Perhaps no other staff has as much potential to either be dominant or pedestrian as these Blue Jays. How will Cy-Young winner R.A. Dickey’s game translate to the AL East? Can Brandon Morrow stay healthy, and will his dominant stuff ever come together to make him an elite pitcher? Can Buehrle be effective in the AL at this point in his career? Will Josh Johnson be the guy who almost set the record for most consecutive outings giving up 2 or fewer earned runs, or have injuries taken a toll on his once bright career? And Ricky Romero, the Jays 2012 opening day starter, has gotta be on paper the best number 5 pitcher in baseball. The talent is certainly there, but how the Jay’s rotation will shape up is anybody’s guess.

6) New York Yankees

1.   CC Sabathia
2.    Hiroki Kuroda
3.    Andy Pettitte
4.    Phil Hughes
5.    Ivan Nova / Phelps / Pineda

CC is an ace, and Kuroda was better than anybody could’ve guessed last year earning him another season with the Yanks. Andy Pettitte was great last season until he injured himself, it will be interesting to see what he can contribute to this club for a full season (and probably the post-season, these are the Yankees after all). Phil Hughes has had flashes of brilliance, but all-in-all has not lived up to his potential; this is a make-or-break year for the no longer young Hughes. Nova and Phelps are both young pitchers with lots of potential that any team would like to have fighting for the 5th spot in their rotation. If Pineda can get healthy that would be great for the Yanks, he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league 2 years ago in his rookie campaign. The Yankees have a good deep staff going into this season, and that margin for error than provides is very important in a 162 game season.

7) Tampa Bay Rays

1.    David Price
2.    Jeremy Hellickson
3.    Matt Moore
4.    Jeff Niemann
5.    Alex Cobb

David Price is an elite pitcher, and Jeremy Hellickson is a young stud who is right there knocking on elite’s door. Matt Moore is a very young very talented  pitcher who will be looking to perform better after a disappointing (for him) 2012 season. Niemann and Cobb are both question marks as starters, but have shown the ability to be effective as back end of the rotation guys (Cobb is still young and will continue to develop). Losing James Shields would hurt any pitching staff, but if there’s any team that can make it work with what they got you have to believe the Joe Maddon led Rays are that team.

8) Philadelphia Phillies

1.    Roy Halladay
2.    Cliff Lee
3.    Cole Hamels
4.    Kyle Kendrick
5.    John Lannan

Down years in 2012 for Halladay and Lee cost the Phillies a few spots on this list, and although Hamels is number 3 on the depth chart he is the true ace of this staff. Still these 3 guys are arguably still the best 1-2-3 in baseball (I wouldn’t argue it, but someone could). Kyle Kendrick was solid in 2012 for the Phills, and John Lannan is good enough to be a number 5 starter in the NL.

9) Chicago White Sox

1.    Chris Sale
2.    Jake Peavy
3.    John Danks
4.    Gavin Floyd
5.    Jose Quintana

Chris Sale was the surprise breakout pitcher of 2012, his stuff was unhittable at times and he will look to build on that success in 2013. Jake Peavy had a resurgence last year, does he have another dominant season in him? At only 31 years old, I think he does (doesn’t he seem like hes been around for a looooong time, I though he was in his mid 30s and had to double-check his age). John Danks and Gavin Floyd are solid middle of the rotation guys, but the real wild-card here is Jose Quintana. Quintana is only 24 years old and was very good for the White Sox last season. If he continues to get better, and Peavy has another good year, this staff will finish better than 9th best in the league.

10) Oakland Athletics

1.    Brett Anderson
2.    Jarrod Parker
3.    Tom Milone
4.    A. J. Griffin
5.    Daniel Straily

I may be greatly underestimating this staff, time will tell. The A’s were one of the pleasant surprises of the 2012 MLB season, and much of their success was due to their young pitching staff. The lack of a true ace cost them spots on this list, but everyone is young and everyone is good, and this staff could very well finish the season as one of the best in baseball. Straily is a bit of an unknown, but the A’s have given us no reason to question the ability of their young pitching.

So there you have it. This was the toughest list of the 3 I’ve done so far, and I’m sure many of you will disagree with my picks. Be sure to let me hear it in the comment section!

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One thought on “Monday Morning QB: Smoking Aces, Ranking the top 10 MLB Pitching Rotations

  1. Watch out for the…. Braves?

    Like

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