With the season not too far away, we thought it would be nice to preview the 5 best rotations in baseball.
The AL Champion Rays’ rotation can be described in one word, Beast. Last season, they boasted a team ERA (bullpen included) of 3.82, which is pretty remarkable. The only loss from their rotation this offseason was Edwin Jackson who gave them a solid 14 wins and 183.3 innings; this "hole" should be more than filled with the fantastic David Price. The rotation starts off with James Shields, who will be 27 this coming season.. Last season he pitched an impressive 215 innings, with a 3.56 ERA, 1.153 WHIP, and a 4:1 K:BB ratio. Interestingly enough, he pitched the same number of innings the year before, with a 3.85 ERA a ridiculous 1.107 WHIP, and a 5.11:1 K:BB ratio. This young guy has been consistently effective over the last couple of years, and should only continue to put up impressive stats this season. Scott Kazmir, still only 24, is another one of the great pitchers in the Rays’ rotation. He has had his fair share of injury troubles, but when healthy he is dominant. Last season, he had an ERA of 3.49, 166 Ks, a WHIP of 1.267, and threw 152.3 innings. He tends to walk a few more guys than he should. He has shown great potential when he has been healthy, leading the
Next up, is our own New York Yankees. The Yankees made some serious improvements to their rotation this season, adding the best lefty in baseball,CC Sabathia, and the 08 strikeout leader, AJ Burnett. In doing so, they made their rotation younger (Sabathia is 27, Burnett is 32) and more effective. They lost Mike Mussina, who at 38 was coming off of a stellar 20-win season. Their rotation is clearly formidable. CC Sabathia is the team’s ace signing on with a 7 year $161mm contract. His ’08 season was spectacular, as he carried the Brewers into the playoffs. He was quite the workhorse, throwing 253 innings between the Indians and the Brewers. He sported a cool 2.70 ERA, with an insane 1.65 ERA in his 17 games with the Brewers (7 of which were complete games). His 251 Ks, 4.25 K:BB, and 1.115 WHIP made me water at the mouth. Hopefully, his workload over the past couple years won't hurt him this year or in the future. Burnett, another big free agent signing, had a very solid season for the Jays in ‘08. He hurled 221.3 innings with a 4.07 ERA (a little bit higher than we’d like). He had 231 Ks and a WHIP of 1.342. He is obviously a huge injury risk, but hopefully he can stay healthy in his first year in pinstripes. Burnett’s biggest strength is his electric stuff, as he pitches for power as well as movement. He could be the ace on almost any other team, but instead he’ll take the role of the #2 in the
The Giants boast the 3rd best rotation in baseball. Their ace, Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, is dirty, unbelievable, and has already proved himself to be a superstar. The 24 year old had a 2.62 ERA, a 1.172 WHIP, 265 Ks (led league), in his Cy Young campaign. Not bad for a 24 year old. Matt Cain, their #2, had a 3.76 ERA, had 186 Ks, and a 1.364 WHIP. He is another guy that will give you a bunch of innings, with an average of 202 innings over the last 3 seasons. Future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, signed with San Fran this offseason, and will be 45 this year. Sure, he's old, but his stats were still impressive last season, with a 3.91 ERA, and 1.239 WHIP, and 173 Ks. His age could catch up with him though, and his constant back issues could pose a problem as well.. Barry Zito, who has done nothing but disappoint for the Giants, is the #4. He has struggled immensely in SF, posting a 5.15 ERA, 1.600 WHIP, and an abysmal 1.17 K:BB ratio last season. He was a fine pitcher across the bay in
The Chicago Cubs come in at #4. The Big Z (Carlos Zambrano), is their ace. He had a decent season last year with a WHIP of 1.293 and 3.91 ERA. His strikeout rates were down from previous seasons, as he only punched out 130 in ‘08. The highlight of his season was his impressive no-hitter. He has proven himself to be a force, and will certainly give the Cubbies lots of quality innings.He pitched over 200 innings each year from 03-07. His biggest flaw is his excessive number of walks. Ex-Yankee Ted Lilly is the #2. The lefty had an ERA of 4.09, 184 Ks, and a WHIP of 1.226. He had a bit of a down season, compared to his "usual stats", so it wouldn't be improbable to see a jump in his stats. Ryan Dempster, #3, had a great season for the Cubs last year. Until last season, he was used primarily as a reliever, but he showed that he can be a very successful starter. He threw 206.66 innings last year with an ERA of 2.96, a WHIP of 1.210, and 187 Ks. He signed a new four year deal with the Cubs this offseason. Typically, relievers-turned-starters have a tougher time their second year, as they fatigue earlier in the season.. Rich Harden, the #4, can be ridiculously dominant when healthy. He showed that last season with a 2.07 ERA and a filthy 1.061 WHIP while pitching for the A’s and Cubs. If he can stay healthy, a big IF, he will be a force in this tremendous
The Angels have the 5th best rotation in the league. Their #1, John Lackey, has shown dominancy for years and is entering his contract year. He had a 3..75 ERA, a 1.231 WHIP, and 3.25 K:BB last season. He was sidelined for a considerable amount of time with a strained tricep. Expect to see him continue to put up strong stats, and bring home some W’s. The youngErvin Santana (#2) had a breakout season for the Angels last year. His 3.49 ERA 214 Ks, and 1.119 WHIP impressed all of baseball. He has shown strengths before, so expect him to keep pitching well this season. #3 Joe Saunders had a great year in ‘08 with a 3.41 ERA, 1.212 WHIP, and a 17-7 record. We’ll see if Saunders can repeat what was the best season of his career so far. Jered Weaver had a less than stellar season for the Angels last year. At 25, he posted a 4.33 ERA, a 1.285 WHIP, and 2.8 K:BB ratio. Look for him to improve this year, now that he has some more big league experience. Rounding out their rotation should be Dustin Moseley who only started 10 games last season. He has great potential, and we’ll see if he can live up to it. This is clearly a talented rotation, but the Angels are relying heavily on repeat seasons from Santana and Saunders, and a bounce-back season for Weaver.
Boston Red Sox- The Sox have Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, John Smoltz, Clay Bucholz, and Brad Penny as viable candidates for the rotation. This could be a great rotation, but Dice-K is overrated,
Florida Marlins- A strong young core could turn heads, but without being “proven” you can’t be sure of how effective they will be.
What do you guys think? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.