The NL Central Rotations

In this afternoon’s impromptu chat session, I was asked which team I thought had the best rotation in the National League Central. This question was clearly inspired by the Brewers recent acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, giving them three formidable starters to match up with the group down in St. Louis. However, I didn’t choose either of those rotations as my pick for the best in that division. Instead, I went with the Reds, with the caveat that Aroldis Chapman ends up starting for them. Am I nuts?

We’re somewhat lucky in that Dan Szymborski has already unveiled his 2011 ZIPS projections for these three clubs, so we can use his system to stack up their starters side by side. Let’s start off with the Reds, while keeping in mind that ZIPS is not projecting playing time for a given roster – it is just estimating what a player would do if he was given the allotted amount of innings in the big leagues next year. For reference, league average according to ZIPS is a 4.35 ERA.

Travis Wood: 178 IP, 161 H, 17 HR, 62 BB, 147 K, 3.64 ERA
Edinson Volquez: 108 IP, 90 H, 11 HR, 55 BB, 115 K, 3.66 ERA
Johnny Cueto: 191 IP, 183 H, 23 HR, 62 BB, 156 K, 4.01 ERA
Bronson Arroyo: 201 IP, 195 H, 27 HR, 60 BB, 127 K, 4.21 ERA
Mike Leake: 168 IP, 174 H, 20 HR, 54 BB, 109 K, 4.34 ERA
Homer Bailey: 155 IP, 155 H, 18 HR, 63 BB, 124 K, 4.47 ERA
Matt Maloney: 161 IP, 169 H, 22 HR, 43 BB, 116 K, 4.47 ERA

That’s seven legitimate major league starting pitchers, and we didn’t even mention Chapman, though ZIPS isn’t overly high on him for next year. The straight weighted average ERA of those seven pitchers is 4.13, which is decent enough, but weighting it that way overestimates the quantity of innings that will be pitched by the reserves. If we re-weight the innings so that the first four starters each get 180 IP, and the last three combine for another 180, then their overall ERA comes in at 3.99.

If we do the same thing for the Cardinals (the exact numbers for each starter can be found by clicking the previous link), we get a straight weighted average of 3.86, and a re-weighted average of 3.67. The Brewers come out at 3.93 with a straight weighted average, and 3.74 with a re-weighting of innings. Both of those numbers are significantly better than what Cincinnati came out at, so maybe I am a little nuts, as ZIPS sees the Brewers and Cardinals as similar in terms of quality, but both a good bet ahead of the Reds.

However, giving each team’s top four starters 180 innings apiece, and then splitting the final 180 innings among the teams #5-#7 starters (which was done on a 75-75-30 basis) , assumes that each team will have something approaching equal health for their starters. All three teams have guys with a history of arm problems, and projecting pitcher injuries is never easy, but Jeff Zimmerman has recently done some interesting work on the likelihood of various pitchers landing on the DL. One of the first things you might notice in the spreadsheet is that Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, and Shaun Marcum are three of the 10 pitchers that are given better odds of landing on the DL than staying off of it all season.

Does this mean that the Cardinals and Brewers will definitely get fewer innings from their top end guys? No. We’re not at the place where we can project specific pitcher injuries with any kind of reliability. However, both Milwaukee and St. Louis are more vulnerable to injuries to their frontline starters, as they lack the back-end depth that the Reds have accumulated. If Carpenter or Marcum do miss significant time, the drop-off experienced will be significant, and could serve to put either (or both) teams behind the Reds in terms of starting pitcher performance.

I think we can draw two conclusions out of all this – I probably overstated the strength of the Reds rotation a bit, as the Cardinals and Brewers strength up front does outweigh the Reds depth if everyone stays relatively healthy (and Chapman doesn’t become an impact starter next year). However, both St. Louis and Milwaukee have opened themselves up to significantly more risk than the Reds, and the gap is small enough that one extended trip to the DL by one of their aces could tilt the balance of power in Cincinnati’s favor.

It really comes down to a risk versus reward argument. The Reds probably have the lowest of both, so in a situation where injuries abound, they will likely come out on top. If everyone stays healthy, they’ll end up trailing their two competitors for the division’s best rotation. It really will come down to just how many arms end up hurting next summer.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

61 Responses to “The NL Central Rotations”

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  1. Sal Bando says:

    Are you adjusting the Greinke and Marcum projections for the fact that they’re moving to the NL? That makes a huge difference.

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  2. baschman says:

    The Brewers come out at 3.93

    The link included in the above text takes you to a November 30th projection for 2011, clearly before the Marcum and Greinke trades. Am I missing something here?

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Dan had already done the Blue Jays and Royals projections, so I took Greinke and Marcum’s established projections and adjusted their ERAs downward to compensate for the differences in league quality. Ideally, we’d have had his updated projections (which include specifics of team defense), but it wouldn’t have altered the conclusion either way.

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      • Sal Bando says:

        What adjustment did you use? Just wondering.

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      • Avi A says:

        Dave, just sayin’, I think Dan posted his NL Central rotation projections, updated for the Greinke swap in an ESPN Insider article. If you have access to that, then I believe you’d have a more exact figure to work with.

        But like you said, the Reds evidently have the deepest rotation and possibly the strongest if Aroldis Chapman makes a big stride and Jaime Garcia suffers a heavy regression. While their pitching staff’s effectiveness is debatable, coupled with their offense, the Reds should snap up 1st place again in 2011.

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      • Da says:

        @Avi A: There’s a typo in your post. It says “1st place” instead of “3rd place”

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  3. Aaron says:

    Why are you using ERA rather than xFIP or FIP to make your argument?

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    • AK707 says:

      Actual runs are more useful and take into context the defenses involved. It might be nice to know that one pitcher has better raw ability, but that doesn’t mean jack when they end up actually giving up runs.

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      • Da says:

        But defense, even over an entire team, can fluctuate a fair amount from year to year.

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      • Steven Ellingson says:

        But when I hear “best rotation” that means something different to me than “best run prevention,” Fielding and park effects should not count.

        I think the reason he uses ERA is because it was easy to find on the projections. Just a guess.

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      • Lee says:

        Yea. What dis guy said. It’s exactly why we use FIP in the first place. We don’t care about how many runs they let up, we care about how well they pitch.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I agree with what you guys are saying, even though I presented information about runs allowed having I higher predictive value than FIP.

        The reason I would not solely use FIP is because there are guys that continually outperform their FIP, Carpenter and Wainwright, every single year as full season SP with the Cardinals, for example.

        The natural tendency is to say “defense”, but I thought there were discussions here previously that when a pitcher outperforms their FIP consistently that it could be attributed to something they do (likewise when they don’t, like Ricky Nolasco).

        Given the Cardinals’ philosophy in pitching, it might make more sense than with pitchers of other teams.

        Also, the Cards defense, save C and 1B, has experienced quite a bit of turnover over the last 5-6 years.

        Basically, when you have a staff of GB pitchers, it’s gonna happen … probably regardless of team.

        Garcia well outperformed his FIP (sinkerballer) and Westbrook has a tendency to do the same thing.

        Really, looking at just one or the other is the simplest way to do it, but there is probably a more effective and thorough way of looking at all the aspects, rather than as if the pitchers wer throwing to hitters in a batting cage, where the only results would be BB, K, or HR.

        When I heard the term “best rotation”, I thought of “which rotation will have the best year”, and I thought of run prevention before I thought of FIP, even though there is often a good correlation between the two.

        I think regardless, the 3 staffs in question are pretty comparable, and should lead to an exciting and competitive season, even if it may not be in a glamorous division.

        I’d like to see some really in depth on Grienke and what we should/could expect from him. Granted switchng from AL to NL means he has to face 8 batters in the lineup instead of 9. But, I’d be interested in seeing how the offenses in the ALC compare to the NLC, parks as well.

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      • GiantHusker says:

        Why are there so many people who can’t spell “Greinke”?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Because it violates the “i before e, except after c” slogan we learned in grade school?

        Actually, I never noticed or thought about it before. It’s rather secondary to everything else being discussed.

        But, point taken, we should spell it correctly … and we’ll all be better people for it. *grin*

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    • Chris says:

      I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it’s because ZiPS doesn’t directly try to predict FIP or xFIP, though the information is there to calculate each pitchers FIP. Add to the fact that I’m sure that Dave didn’t want to go in and calculate the ZiPS projection for FIP (and I don’t blame him) and you can easily see why he uses ERA instead (though ERA+ would remove park and league factors).

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    • Mike says:

      FIP and xFIP are, in part, tools for projecting future ERA.

      The ERA projections don’t make guesses about how lucky each pitcher will be, so it’d be redundant to recalculate FIP or xFIP for these purposes. ERA projections are valid.

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  4. Michael says:

    I think that, given a choice between a top-heavy rotation like St. Louis or Milwaukee and a deeper rotation like Cincinnati, I’d take the top heavy rotation. I’m glad you wrote this post, though, because when you chose the Reds in the chat it felt wrong to me, and I still see it as wrong but I can understand an argument to be made for the Reds rotation.

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  5. rluzinski says:

    It appears that you did not adjust Marcum and Greinke’s projections to account for their move to the NL?

    I just did a similar but slightly different comparison. I would guess that ZiPS just uses some weighted average over the last few years for its “projected” IP but I would still use that over assuming that all pitchers have the same projected IP. I first assume that each team needs 162 x 6 = 972 IP from their starters for a year. I then added up the projected IP of the top 5 pitchers for each team. I gave the remaining innings to a pretend 5 ERA pitcher for the Brewers and Cards and to Bailey for the Reds (to try to account for their superior depth). I also subtracted .3 ERA from Marcum and Greinke’s projected ERA (WAG… easier division but terrble team defense):

    IP ERA
    Greinke 222 2.98
    Marcum 138 3.49
    Gallardo 160 3.49
    Wolf 198 4.09
    Capuano 111 4.22
    Repl. 143 5.00
    Total: 972 3.80
    IP ERA
    Wainright 215 2.85
    Carpenter 162 3.33
    Garcia 117 3.53
    Westbrook 103 4.11
    Lohse 123 4.62
    Repl. 252 5.00
    Total: 972 3.93
    IP ERA
    Wood 178 3.64
    Volquez 108 3.66
    Cueto 191 4.01
    Arroyo 201 4.21
    Leake 168 4.34
    Bailey 126 4.47
    Total: 972 4.06

    The Brewers “win” but this is about as quick and dirty as it gets.

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  6. Socrates says:

    “Am I nuts? ”


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  7. Da says:

    Top 7 FIP:
    Travis Wood: 3.83 FIP
    Edinson Volquez: 3.92 FIP
    Johnny Cueto: 4.11 FIP
    Homer Bailey: 4.33 FIP
    Bronson Arroyo: 4.58 FIP
    (Mike Leake: 4.41 FIP)
    (Matt Maloney: 4.34 FIP)

    Zack Greinke: 3.00 FIP [unadjusted]
    Yovani Gallardo: 3.41 FIP
    Shaun Marcum: 3.85 FIP [unadjusted]
    Randy Wolf: 4.35 FIP
    Chris Narveson: 4.59 FIP
    (Chris Capuano: 4.01 FIP) [assuming he re-signs]
    (Manny Parra: 4.46 FIP)

    Adam Wainwright: 3.07 FIP
    Chris Carpenter: 3.56 FIP
    Jaime Garcia: 3.73 FIP
    Jake Westbrook: 4.25 FIP
    Kyle Lohse: 4.32 FIP
    (Bryan Augustein: 3.93 FIP)
    (P.J. Walters: 4.52 FIP)

    The Reds don’t look significantly more deep than the Brewers or Cardinals to me, and obviously they can’t touch the latter two top 3. Milwaukee and St. Louis could have significantly worse defenses than the Reds though, which helps narrow the gap. As it is, I would expect the Brewers to have the best rotation in the NL Central.

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  8. Joel says:

    The Reds probably don’t have the best rotation per se, but as a result of their depth they have the best downside protection. Over a full season where injuries to the starting pitching staff are almost a given, this protection can turn out to be very valuable. If a Reds starting pitcher gets hurt, he will be replaced with minimal drop-off in production by someone else. In the case of the Brewers or Cardinals, having someone from the “top-heavy” portion of the rotation end up on the DL for a considerable period of time is going to hurt much more. The Reds have a few young pitchers with upside (Bailey, Wood) and a potential ace up their sleeve in Chapman, which could turn out to give them 1 or 2 front of the rotation guys. How much of the upside comes to fruition will determine whether they are the top rotation in the Central in 2011.

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  9. Bubba Hotep says:

    I like the Reds’ depth for the regular season, but what about the playoffs? Were they to make the postseason, the Cards and Brewers playoff rotations would clearly be supoerior given their top-heavy builds. Would you rather face Wainright and Carpenter, Greinke and Gollardo, or Wood and Volquez in a five-game series?

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  10. diderot says:

    If Chapman makes the rotation, does Bailey go to the bullpen?

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  11. Jack Nugent says:

    I’m not aware of the full extent of Marcum’s past injury problems, but for what it’s worth, he threw 195 innings last year. I realize Chris Carpenter also threw over 230 last year, so that doesn’t necessarily mean neither of them are as risky as the data suggests, but you also have to consider the differences in their respective injuries. To my knowledge, Marcum has never had a shoulder injury, and Carpenter I know has gone under the knife for both elbow and shoulder problems.

    The only real point I’m trying to make is that given how routine TJ surgery is these days, I wonder how big of a risk Marcum really is. And ]if you think Marcum is good for 200 innings, then there’s not much more risk in the Brewers rotation than anyone really. Sure, they may not have the depth the Reds have, but I guess especially since I’m still skeptical about Chapman’s ability to make an immediate impact, I’m not buying the Reds as the best rotation in their division.

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  12. joeIQ says:

    You dissapoint me for not including the Cubs
    Bill James
    Zambrano 3.67
    Dempster 3.83
    Wells 4.12
    Gorzelanny 4.06
    Silva 4.8

    Using your method that gives 4.24 not too far off considering the home park.

    This doesn’t do it justice however, because the Cubs are trying to add webb who James gives a 3.42. Gorzelanny might be headed out, and Casher might start and Silva might not. Probably can’t catch the 3.67 mark but again, more hitter friendly park but Cubs into the discussion at least.

    Plus defenses for Cards and Brewers are worse in 011 than 010.

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    • ATown says:

      I personally don’t think the Cubs are even close to being in this conversation. I would take the Cards or Brewers top three any day vs. Zambrano, Dempster, Wells. You are right that if they get Webb they would be in the mix…assuming he is somewhere close to pre-injury form. However, the latest on Webb is that the Cubs have slowed down talks and one of the other NL Central teams is now in the mix. I think there is just as good a possibility of Webb landing in Cincy, STL, or Milwaukee than in Chicago.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        A right-handed strike thrower, that throws a 2-seamer is a “Dave Duncan Special”. Be interesting to see how that plays out.

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      • JP says:

        I’m not the Cubs’ no.1 fan, but did you see what Zambrano did towards the tail end of the season?

        After returning to the rotation he only recorded a 1.41 ERA in 11 starts (the BBs are still pretty bad, but that’s been Zambrano through his career).

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      • ATown says:

        I understand Zambrano had a very good second half. However, all of the other top rotation teams have guys that are just as likely to go on streaks like that, and I would argue that the other three (STL, MIL, CIN) have more guys that are capable of doing that. I would look more at career numbers rather than a handful of starts at the end of the year.

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  13. CircleChange11 says:

    However, giving each team’s top four starters 180 innings apiece, and then splitting the final 180 innings among the teams #5-#7 starters

    Why did you do this?

    Is the comparison intended to measure depth? Or does it reflect the nature of the 5th starter (multiple guys filling the role)?

    If the projected innings are anywhere near accurate for StL, the bullpen will be dead by the ASG.

    So, Garcia and Westbrook basically pitch 1/2 a season.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Sorry, I did not mean to post this yet. Giving the top 4 pitchers an avr of 180 IP is a good idea, IMO.

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  14. Locke says:

    I think this entire post is moot. Chapman is such an enormous wildcard, it’s impossible to say with any confidence who is best. He could be enough to make this rotation best, and he could also be a non-factor.

    PS – Why ERA and not FIP??????????

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      At tom’s site, there was information presented that showed runs allowed in one season is a better predictor of runs allowed the following season. FIP was 2nd in terms of predicting the same thing.

      Having said that, there seems to be a lot of wildcards (changing leagues, changing teams, defensive players being traded, etc) in this comparison.

      Seems to me the 3 teams are fairly comparable, and (as often the case), injuries/health will be the determinant.

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      • Lee says:

        Hmm seems to me that the question still stands. Aren’t we deciding, quite semantically I suppose, “who is better/best?” And don’t we generally point to FIP to answer this question before ERA/runs allowed?

        When I hear “who is best” I think, who gives me the best chance to prevent runs in any park, or who would I replace my rotation with if I was forced to – and I’d look to FIP before ERA in that case to make that decision.

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      • Lee says:

        But I agree, I think the 3 are a toss up… but if I had to, I’d say:

        MIL > STL > CIN

        I have a hunch Greinke is going to do something special.

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    • Da says:

      I’m putting the odds of Chapman suddenly being better than Greinke and Wainwright somewhere around 0.000000000000000000000%

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      • Lee says:

        Because for him to have a positive impact he has to be better than Wainwright or Greinke. What a relevant comment.

        PS – 104 MPH, best slider since Randy J in his prime, 22 years old. The upside is blinding.

        Your facetious .00000000 is hilariously and ironically inaccurate.

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      • ambill10 says:

        Is there really a significant chance that Chapman leaps to Greinke and Wainwright’s level in 2011? 0% seems like a pretty decent estimate considering he would have to become a top three pitcher to fulfill that task. Is there much more than a zero percent chance that Chapman finishes top five in the NL Cy Young voting in 2011?

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      • Da says:

        @Lee: Chapman is awesome, but for him alone to suddenly propel the Reds in front of the Brewers and Cardinals he would have to be the best pitcher in the NL Central. I just highly doubt that.

        (PS – Since when does Chapman have the best slider in the major leagues…?)

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      • Lee says:

        Here’s the point: Wainwright isn’t going anywhere, he’s a rock. A bad year for him will likely be 3.5 FIP, and we can pencil him in for 3.0. Greinke on the other hand, is as big of a wildcard as there is in Baseball history for someone 2 years removed from the CYA, younger than 30 with zero injuries since. He is a special dude, and I really think he’s going to be tremendous in MIL, but he could easily… umm drop out of baseball because he hate the city or the clubhouse, or his girlfriend misses the BBQ in KC or something. It’s more than a real possibility.

        Now, on the other hand. There’s no pitcher in baseball with as high of a ceiling right now (besides Strasburg), with as good raw stuff as Chapman. Watching him pitch last year wasn’t even like watching Strasburg’s first start (which I saw live) it was like you were watching an alien. Everyone was in awe. Anyway, I don’t think he’s going to be on those guy’s level next year either, but you can’t talk in absolutes with stuff like this, he is literally brimming with natural ability, and guys like that can “make the jump” and figure it out at any point. Could be next year, could be when he’s 25, could be never. That’s baseball. Plus, the Greinke point, he could be average and still put up a better WAR than Greinke, cause Zack could, well, pull a Greinke.

        My point was, .000000000 was a moronic thing to say when you are dealing with two players who are such enormous wildcards for such different reasons. And yes, his slider is absolutely filthy. Go scope some pitch FX. Randy J is a great comparison, because of the velocity. He sits mid 90s with it.

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      • WY says:

        Chapman is not going to throw a 104 MPH fastball as a starter, nor is he likely to “sit mid 90s” with his slider as a starter. He would likely need to add at least one more pitch if he were going to start, and he would not be able to sustain the velocities you have cited.

        Also, the idea that Greinke “could easily… umm drop out of baseball because he hate the city or the clubhouse, or his girlfriend misses the BBQ in KC or something” seems kind of far-fetched. He had some problems a few years ago, but clearly, he has gotten help/treatment and is mentally in a different place than he was back then. It’s also kind of insulting to him to suggest that he would quit over something like his girlfriend missing the KC BBQ (however facetiously it was meant), given that he was dealing with legitimate psychological issues and not these other sorts of (relatively petty) concerns.

        In any case, Chapman is much, much more of a wild card than Greinke, both in terms of his role (starter or reliever) and his performance as a starter (if that winds up being his role).

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    • rluzinski says:

      Why would we better off not including the pitcher’s ability to suppress hits on balls in play and team defense?

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  15. Bud Selig says:

    New league rules show the Brewers with the edge.

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  16. Carlos Baerga says:

    Anyone notice that Houston had the best ERA in the central after the all-star break?

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    • JP says:

      was just about to point that out. Sure, the Astros might suck in 2011, but it will be no fault of the rotations’.

      Given what Carlos said above for some reason everyone, and I mean everyone seems to expect the Astros’ rotation to get worse next year.

      Wandy Rodriguez’s ERA in his last 18 starts 2.02, his 101 strikeouts post-ASB were joint second in NL, while his 3.61 K/BB was the same as Felix Hernandez in the second half.

      Everyone also expect Myers’ and Happ’s peripheral stats to catch up with them, even thought they seem to constantly defy them. If Norris can sort out his command problems, 2011 could be his breakout year.

      Don’t know why I’m bothering to try and convince you since most of you seem to have made up your minds. True, the Astros’ rotation MIGHT not be as good as the three mentioned in the original piece, but it seems sloppy to omit both them and the Cubs.

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      • wobatus says:

        In this thread last year, I pointed out that going into last year, the xfip of the Astros starters had been better in 2009 than the Reds’ starters, and even a little better career wise. As it happens, the Reds staff gave up fewer runs, mainly due to much better defense than the ‘stros, who didn’t just stink at hiting last year.

        Dave was correct to talk up the Reds going into last year, but their success wasn’t much due to their starting staff.

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  17. wobatus says:

    Reds starting staff xfip last year was 4.35. Before last year in a thread here I suggested the Astros starting staff might be better than the Reds and got some criticism. Astros ended with a starting staff xfip of 4.05, and a WAR close to 15 versus 11 and change for the Reds. Reds were 4th in starting staff WAR last year in the central (behind the Cards, Astros and Adolescent Bears).

    With Oswalt gone and some regression from Myers, I think the Reds will be better this year than the Astros, even if Chapman stays in relief.

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  18. Fergie348 says:

    I had a sneaking suspicion that there is just more quality starting pitching in the NL this year than in the AL. I trolled through the value charts here at Fangraphs and discovered the following:

    When you take the 50 top starting pitchers ranked by the last 3 years’ aggregate WAR and break them down by league, you get the following aggregate WAR totals for those pitchers in each league for 2011(as far as we know):

    NL: 309.2 WAR
    AL: 238.6 WAR

    Significant? Not sure, but it might lead to an interesting discussion of why the AL is considered the better league.

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    • SleepNowInTheFire says:

      Seems pretty simple. DH instead of P and general better lineups in the AL. Of course the pitchers aren’t accumulating the same amount of WAR against AL lineups as they are against NL lineups. Javier Vazquez, much better with ATL than NYY. Sabathia has been plenty good in the AL, but how ridiculous was he for the Brewers? Your research has resulted in finding out what everyone knows. The AL is a more offense-based league, NL is based more on pitching and small ball.

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  19. Fergie348 says:

    Oh, I left Pettite off this list because he’s probably gonna retire. If you think he’ll pitch again for the Yanks, add 10.4 to the AL total.

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  20. CircleChange11 says:

    IMO, Chapman and David Price are very similar.

    Young lefties, initially fastball reliant, with some control and mechanical concerns, and needing secondary and tertiary pitches (AC is ahead of DP in this regard).

    David Price after debuting as a reliever took a year to finish in the top 5 for CYA. Now I know FG isn’t very high on Price, but that only matters if we’re arrogant enough to consider ourselves vastly superior.

    Davis Price is talented and can pitch. No, he’s not Cliff Lee (at this point neither is Lee), but Chapman has mire “stuff” than Price.

    That doesn’t mean I think that AC will go all Dwight Gooden in 2011, but I don’t see why he couldn’t or shouldn’t have significant impact in ’11.

    No, he won’t throw 104 as a starter. He’ll be a pedestrian 97-101, which we all know pretty much BP for ML hitters. Geez.

    With his fastball and slider, at this point, he just needs a show me 3rd pitch and work on it as his career progresses. I recall another lefty that did pretty well with serious heat and a hard slider. IIRC, as a young hurler there were serious mechanical issues and control problems.

    AC is ahead of where RJ and DP were in their earlest MLB years. That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it doesn’t mean it’s insignificant. I’m sure ML are not all that ex ited about facing AC.

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  21. Bob says:

    Just a glance at 2010 Pitcher Abuse Points (overall MLB) rankings for some N.L. Central starters:

    4. Dempster
    12. Myers
    22. Gallardo
    23. Wolf
    29. Wells
    31. Greinke
    39. Zambrano
    44. Bailey
    45. Narveson
    46. Norris
    48. Carpenter
    51. Gorzelanny
    60. Wandy
    65. Wainwright

    Those were the only Central twirlers in the top 75.

    Interesting to find 180-inning man Gallardo so much higher than 230-inning workhorses Carpenter & Wainwright. With last year’s conservative usage patterns for the latter two, and the surprisingly safe rookie workload for underrated southpaw Jaime Garcia (per game PAP under 90…versus an average of 1,500+ for guys like Gallardo, Wolf, Zambrano, and Bailey), I see the Cardinals continuing to send the division’s best rotation to the bump.

    While PAP’s may oversimplify things a bit, it appears Dusty and Larussa *may* have learned from their pitcher-chewing mistakes of the past.

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  22. Bob says:

    Oh, one other thing. Arbitrarily assigning the top 4 of each rotation 180 innings doesn’t feel right. In 2010, the Reds’ projected big 4 pitched a total of around 675 innings.

    The Brewers threw 815.
    The Cardinals threw 830.

    That massive discrepancy is a lot for the Redlegs to overcome.

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  23. bSpittle says:

    Does zips account for their age?

    I could see the non-Arroyo pitchers on the reds beating each of their predictions.

    We certainly haven’t seen Leake or Bailey’s best yet.
    Don’t know much about Maloney though he looks good stat-wise, and I think Volquez can improve on his best season.

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  24. Lanidrac says:

    Multiple people have mentioned how Greinke and Marcum should be given consideration for moving to the NL, but there’s also some notable considerations that should also be given to the Cardinals rotation.

    ZiPS has Garcia, Westbrook, and Lohse all missing significant time with injury. The odds of that happening to 3 St. Louis starters are extremely slim. Westbrook and Lohse have only had one major injury each in their careers. Westbrook’s injury (I don’t know what it was) did cost him most of 2 full seasons, but he was healthy and pretty effective all of last season. For Lohse, it was a more of a freak injury that was initially misdiagnosed and therefore cost him most of 2 seasons where he was either on the DL or pitching hurt (which should also adjust his ERA estmiates). Garcia is more than a year removed from recovering from Tommy John surgery (a relatively safe procedure these days) and his innings were limited accordingly last year (including being shut down for most of September). There’s no reason to view him as an injury risk or receiving limited innings next year. Carpenter is somewhat of an injury risk due to his age and injury history, but he’s had no setbacks in the last 7 years since his shoulder injury, and he’s 2 years removed from recovering from Tommy John surgery.

    On top of that, Westbrook should also receive consideration for spending a full season with the Cardinals and Dave Duncan. He’s already proved receptive to Duncan’s methods in the two months he’s already been with them.

    Anyway, I agree that the best NL Central rotation comes down to health, but if everyone is healthy, I have to give it to the Cardinals. The Reds are certainly the most balanced, but they are all merely good or decent but not great. As for the Cardinals vs. the Brewers, just break it down pitcher by pitcher: Wainwright is better than Greinke, Carpenter is better than Gallardo, Garcia is better than Marcum, Westbrook (under Dave Duncan) is better than Wolf, and Lohse is likely better than Narveson depending on how much Lohse returns to form now that he’s finally completely healthy.

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  25. Dean says:

    You’re not nuts….just retarded. The Cardinals and Brewers are in a different league than the Reds rotation.

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  26. slap says:

    So the Reds have a better rotation because they have a better downside guarantee if injuries arise?

    That’s the stupidest sh*t I’ve ever heard.

    Brewers rotation is the best in the division. Scroll up in comments and look at the stats people threw down.

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