It's almost February which means the offseason is nearing an end and rosters can now finally be examined. Which teams improved drastically this offseason and which ones are sure to falter?
top 5 rotations mlb
Top five starting pitching rotations in baseball
5. Detroit Tigers
David Price LHP
Justin Verlander RHP
Anibal Sanchez RHP
Alfredo Simon RHP
Shane Greene RHP
The number-five slot on this list was by far the toughest to come up with.
Many teams came to mind such as the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics who seem to pump pitchers out like it’s their job. Actually it is their job.
Nevertheless, the Detroit Tigers, despite the recent loss of ace Max Scherzer, will fill in nicely.
Trade deadline acquisition David Price anchors the staff that will need former ace Justin Verlander to somewhat return to form. If Verlander cannot improve upon his 4.54 ERA and, very mediocre for him, 159 strikeouts in 206 innings, then Detroit might not even deserve a top-10 spot.
He is now 31 years old and has regressed two seasons in a row. His rapid regression is a huge negative that could’ve easily been the sole reason that scared them away from re-signing Scherzer.
Fortunately for the Tigers they have a solid middle of the rotation with a rejuvenated Anibal Sanchez and Alfredo Simon who both pitched to under 3.50 ERA’s a season ago.
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
4. St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright RHP
Michael Wacha RHP
John Lackey RHP
Carlos Martinez RHP
Lance Lynn RHP
While Mike Matheny’s St. Louis Cardinals take the fourth spot on our list, they have the potential to be tops. One through five, all of their starters present real worthiness.
Ace Adam Wainwright keeps on turning out fantastic seasons one after another. The man who broke onto the scene in 2006 as a closer is now one of the more overlooked and underrated stud starters in the game today. He put up a sparkling 2.38 ERA a season ago. While his strikeouts were a little low for his liking, to win 20 games at the age of 33 is nothing to sneeze at.
Their rotation dominance hinges on the success of 23-year-old phenom Michael Wacha.
Mike like Wainwright in '06, two-seasons ago Wacha burst onto the scene as a reliever. He dominated the Los Angeles Dodgers en route to the NLCS MVP. His numbers for series were no runs allowed, seven hits and 13 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.
Last season he struggled through injuries and could never get that 2012 late-season form back. If he returns to the guy baseball was introduced to, then the entire NL Central will need to be put on notice early on.
John Lackey’s resurgence and the danger young Carlos Martinez presents make things interesting. They could potentially be the deepest staff in the majors when it's all said and done.
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
3. New York Mets
Matt Harvey RHP
Jacob deGrom RHP
Zack Wheeler RHP
Jon Neise LHP
Bartolo Colon RHP
Mets fans in the city of New York all feel like Rodney Dangerfield: they just get no damn respect. For good reason too, as ownership via Fred and Jeff Wilpon has led to a terrible franchise over the past eight seasons.
Through gutting the personnel, stacking young talented arms and a whole lot of patience, Mets fans are starting to finally see that lovely light at the end of a very long tunnel.
2015 will be the first step on the field in which the Mets take over the baseball-crazed city that is New York, and will own it for the next several years.
The reason is simple: young, dominant pitching.
While most don’t think the Mets did enough on offense to compete this season, and believe Matt Harvey is the determining factor of their success, I’m here to tell you that their pitching is so deep that it doesn’t matter.
NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom is an MLB ace. His mindset of grit and determination suits that role with the best of them. It also doesn’t hurt to pitch to a 2.69 ERA with a 144 strikeouts in 140.1 innings.
The Mets finished with a team ERA of 3.49 last year which put them in the ninth spot in baseball. This was without Harvey.
Harvey will undoubtedly miss a portion of the season. They will cap his innings and try to set it up where he’ll be available in October should they make a run.
The power this staff possesses though is not seen in its top-five. Names like Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Stephen Maltz and Matthew Bowman give New York the deepest pitching pool of talent one through 10 of any team in baseball.
Their wealth of pitching will eventually work itself in order to obtain a true cornerstone, everyday player.
Either way though, the saying is true as injuries prove every season: you can never have enough starting pitching.
Don Mattingly’s staff sports something that very few teams can: they have three left-handed pitchers.
Oh yeah, and they also have a guy by the name of Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw was so filthy last year that he took home NL MVP honors. Not a simple feat for a pitcher as only 10 men have won both the Cy Young and MVP since 1956. It was well-deserved.
Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 198.1 innings. While once again his postseason production was “scratch your head” worthy, he is still by far the best pitcher in the game with San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on his heels.
Zack Greinke represents an outstanding number-two. When speaking about staffs, what separates the Dodgers from their rivals, in the defending champion Giants, is the pitchers that follow each representing ace.
In San Francisco, the uncertainty of how 30-year-old Matt Cain will rebound is a very serious issue for Bruce Bochy. Old-man Tim Hudson won’t get it done this year and Tim Lincecum is just too confusing to even think about analyzing.
Greinke is followed by Hyn-Jin Ryu who put together as solid a season in 2014 as you can ask from your middle man.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
1. Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer RHP
Stephen Strasburg RHP
Jordan Zimmermann RHP
Gio Gonzalez LHP
Doug Fister RHP
If the Mets boast the best depth 10 deep, then the Washington Nationals easily have the best starting-five as a whole.
After the signing of 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, they clearly possess the top starting rotation in the game right now.
There is no doubt in my mind that the blockbuster seven-year, $210 million Scherzer contract will wind up being a terrible one for the Nats. While it’s going to hamper them in a couple of years, the key here is that right now it makes them dangerous.
To throw out a one-two-three punch of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann is just plain silly. Adding a lefty on top of it in Gio Gonzalez is unfair.
Scherzer fanned 252 batters last year; Strasburg nabbed 242 guys; Zimmermann got 183; and Gonzalez tallied 162. That’s a total of 839 strikeouts from your top four pitchers. Numbers like that get you into rare-air.
Not only is the club adding a bonafide number-one starter, but they're adding him to a pitching staff that led the majors in ERA last year with a 3.03 mark. The second-best team was Seattle at 3.17.
The people on the beltway who don’t bleed orange have got to be licking their chops right now.
With spring comes warm and fuzzy feelings of one’s team contending in August and September for one of those 10 coveted playoff berths. In Washington D.C. though, they already know their team can contend, it’s just a matter of getting over that hump in the playoffs.
Both 2012 and 2014 saw very bitter and disappointing series losses to the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants.
While the normal spring training phrase is “hope springs eternal,” the Nats fans hope Scherzer will bring along with him very overdue October success.
(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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If 2014 taught us anything, it was reaffirming the fact that pitching still gets it done. If offense and homeruns put fannies in the seats, then pitching wins championships. The San Francisco Giants and stud pitcher Madison Bumgarner treated us oh so delightfully to that notion last October.
The team that led the National League in wins last year with 96 was the Washington Nationals. They were led by youngster Stephen Strasburg and a host of others to the tune of a 3.03 earned run average. Not surprisingly, that mark led the majors.
Ranking third in the league was Billy Beane's Oakland Athletics at 3.22. While they most definitely faltered down the stretch, their dominant pitching was the reason for their most of the season dominance. In fact, nine of the top 15 clubs clubs in the category of ERA made the postseason.
As the steroid era thankfully regresses more and more into the baseball-history vault, the need for power decreases while speed, pitching and defense increases. General managers have recognized this along with developing within your own organization as the new keys to success in the big leagues.
No more can the New York Yankees of the world buy aging, veteran sluggers and get away with making the postseason every year. It worked in the past, but now Brian Cashman is starting to regret the old, tired team that is slowly crippling his organizational development. They're stuck with hitters over the age of 30 and aside from Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances, have no pitching whatsoever.
Out with the old and in with the new.
So, who are the new pitching monsters of baseball? Check out my list of the top five starting rotations in baseball at the current moment.