2013 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Pitchers (#16-#30)

For an explanation of this series, please read the introductory post. The data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position.

Last week, we tackled the positional players, grading out each team’s options at each spot that is occupied by a fielder. You can see all those posts here, and yes, they’ve now been updated to reflect the correct park adjusted numbers. So, today, we move on to the pitching side of things. Because we’re dealing with 7-10 starters and an equal number of relievers for each club, we’re breaking these posts into two parts, less they become our own version of War and Peace.

We’ll start off with the starting staffs that occupy the 16th-30th spots on the list, but also keep in mind that the ordinal rank is often not that important, as there’s no real difference between the #13 and #17 teams in terms of projected outcome. The actual performance is the interesting thing here. And, since we’re starting in the lower half of the list, there are some pretty ugly projections to follow.

Also, note that the innings projections are not equal for every team. Due to durability and bullpen deployment, not every team gets the same amount of innings from their starters over the course of the season. We have equalized the innings at the team level, so teams that are projected for fewer innings from their starters will get a larger number from their relievers, but the IP totals for each team’s rotation and bullpen won’t match up like the PA totals did for each hitter. We’ve made sure they fall within a reasonable range, however, and think the overall distribution of playing time makes sense for each club.

All that said, on to the write-ups.

#16 Giants


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Matt Cain 218.0 7.7 2.4 0.9 .291 74.9 % 3.32 3.52 3.5
Madison Bumgarner 206.0 8.3 2.2 0.8 .304 74.0 % 3.27 3.16 4.3
Tim Lincecum 162.0 9.0 3.7 0.8 .308 73.4 % 3.65 3.49 2.6
Barry Zito 157.0 5.9 3.6 1.1 .295 70.3 % 4.51 4.54 0.6
Ryan Vogelsong 152.0 7.2 3.3 0.9 .300 72.0 % 3.86 3.88 1.8
Chris Heston 30.0 6.0 3.2 0.8 .308 68.9 % 4.36 4.09 0.3
Boof Bonser 24.0 5.7 3.9 0.9 .309 69.3 % 4.67 4.46 0.1
Eric Surkamp 10.0 7.4 3.8 0.8 .312 71.5 % 4.09 3.91 0.1
Total 959.0 7.6 3.0 0.9 .300 72.8 % 3.72 3.70 13.2

It’s easy to look at the first few names on this list and think that the Giants are being underrated here, but while ZIPS and Steamer see a nice rebound season for Tim Lincecum, neither see him getting back to his Cy Young peak, and neither are all that fond of the decision to give Barry Zito a rotation spot without having any serious alternatives should that go badly. The Giants have perhaps the least amount of depth beyond their starting five of any team in baseball, so they’re going to be relying heavily on the guys currently penciled in to the rotation.

The good news is that the front of their rotation is very strong. Since our WAR is based on FIP, you can bump Matt Cain up a little bit since his ERA is annually lower than his FIP. With a pair of +4-ish win pitchers heading up the staff and an above average hurler in Lincecum, the Giants should have an advantage on the mound more often than not. The big question for San Francisco will be whether or not they’ll have to give a bunch of replacement level innings to the back end because of their lack of depth. It isn’t a problem in October, but if they want to get to October, they might want to look at finding another decent starting pitcher to help get them through the regular season.

#17 Braves


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Tim Hudson 205.0 5.6 2.7 0.7 .297 70.9 % 3.75 3.82 2.9
Kris Medlen 202.0 7.3 2.2 0.8 .301 73.0 % 3.41 3.35 4.1
Mike Minor 173.0 8.0 3.0 1.1 .298 73.7 % 3.93 4.00 2.1
Paul Maholm 145.0 6.2 2.7 0.8 .301 70.3 % 4.01 3.93 1.9
Julio Teheran 122.0 6.6 3.5 1.1 .301 71.1 % 4.36 4.42 0.9
Brandon Beachy 50.0 8.8 3.1 1.0 .298 76.2 % 3.50 3.64 0.8
J.R. Graham 46.0 6.3 3.2 1.0 .303 69.7 % 4.39 4.27 0.4
Total 943.0 6.8 2.8 0.9 .300 72.0 % 3.84 3.86 13.1

Kris Medlen – not a fluke. Okay, well, he won’t be the second coming of Greg Maddux again, but the projections like him a lot, and suggest that he’ll be one of the best starting pitchers in the National League this year. He might not look like a traditional ace, but the BB/K/HR profile is very similar to Matt Cain. Medlen won’t start for the Braves on Opening Day, but by this measure, he looks like Atlanta’s best starter.

After him, it’s mostly decent rather than spectacular. Hudson, Minor, and Maholm should give the team a fairly stable rotation, but they don’t provide a ton of upside. That comes in the #5 spot, where Julio Teheran has had a ridiculous spring training, and is certainly capable of putting up better numbers than he has here. Spring training results don’t mean anything, really, but the variance on Teheran’s projection is quite large, and it wouldn’t be that surprising if he ended up throwing 150 good innings this year. If Teheran beats this projection handily, the Braves might give the Nationals a real run for their money in the NL East. If he doesn’t, they’ll be waiting anxiously for Brandon Beachy’s second half return.

#18 Angels


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jered Weaver 211.0 7.5 2.3 1.1 .285 75.6 % 3.42 3.70 3.5
C.J. Wilson 182.0 7.8 3.6 0.7 .298 73.0 % 3.65 3.68 3.0
Jason Vargas 208.0 5.7 2.4 1.3 .291 70.8 % 4.35 4.44 1.6
Joe Blanton 167.0 6.7 1.9 1.1 .304 70.3 % 4.08 3.87 2.4
Tommy Hanson 151.0 7.8 3.1 1.1 .300 74.1 % 3.94 4.10 1.8
Jerome Williams 24.0 6.2 2.4 1.0 .305 70.1 % 4.14 4.00 0.3
Garrett Richards 16.0 6.0 4.0 1.0 .310 68.9 % 4.83 4.61 0.1
Total 960.0 7.0 2.7 1.1 .295 72.6 % 3.90 3.97 12.7

Like with Cain, Weaver’s WAR should be adjusted upwards a bit to account for his FIP-beating ways. Even the .285 BABIP projection here might not be low enough, based on Dan Rosenheck’s recent research. If the Angels are going to win this year, though, they’re going to need Weaver to be at his best, because the guys behind him are less than impressive.

Wilson’s still a strong starter, though coming off arm surgery, he’s also a bit of a wild card. Then there’s the back-end. Jason Vargas should be able to take advantage of the Trout/Bourjos/Hamilton outfield and a park that deflates home runs, but he’s still an average pitcher at best. Joe Blanton is the anti-Weaver, so if you’re bumping Weaver up for regularly beating FIP, you also have to downgrade Blanton slightly. The projections don’t hate Hanson, but he’s also a big question mark from a health perspective, and the options to replace him if things go south are not great. The Angels have the best group of position players in the game by this project, but that’s good, because this pitching staff doesn’t look like the kind of group that is going to lead anyone to the postseason.

#19 Rockies


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jhoulys Chacin 146.0 7.0 3.9 1.0 .312 70.2 % 4.55 4.31 2.2
Jorge de la Rosa 140.0 7.1 3.9 1.1 .311 69.7 % 4.68 4.43 2.0
Jeff Francis 133.0 5.4 2.2 1.1 .319 67.0 % 4.87 4.34 2.0
Juan Nicasio 137.0 7.8 2.8 1.0 .321 70.5 % 4.26 3.79 2.8
Jon Garland 97.0 5.6 3.5 0.9 .297 69.5 % 4.45 4.40 1.4
Drew Pomeranz 56.0 7.6 4.1 1.0 .318 70.0 % 4.74 4.34 0.8
Tyler Chatwood 46.0 5.7 4.6 1.0 .316 68.1 % 5.27 4.88 0.4
Christian Friedrich 41.0 6.9 3.3 1.2 .322 67.9 % 5.03 4.47 0.6
Total 795.0 6.7 3.4 1.1 .314 69.3 % 4.64 4.30 12.2

Probably the most surprising placement of any team on the list. Because of the run environment, injury issues, and the Rockies experiments with getting rid of starters as we know them, Colorado doesn’t have very many big name pitchers in their rotation, but Zips and Steamer also look at this as a pretty deep group of solid average pitchers, though average pitchers who are unlikely to post ERAs that match their FIPs.

A big part of that is simply Coors Field, which annually is home to a .330 BABIP or so. While people talk about the home run effect, the extra hits really add up as well, and so judging Colorado’s pitchers from a park neutral standpoint can be a tricky task. But, we should acknowledge that guys like Chacin, Nicasio, Pomeranz, and Friedrich were all pretty interesting prospects and would likely be thought of very differently if they played in another home park. Add in some decent history from de la Rosa and the projections optimism about Garland and Francis, and this group isn’t completely hapless. There’s not an innings eater to be found, but if they mix and match again, they have enough interesting arms to put a rotation together that might not be so bad.

#20 Pirates


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
A.J. Burnett 181.0 7.4 3.3 0.8 .309 71.4 % 3.88 3.75 2.5
Wandy Rodriguez 197.0 6.6 2.8 0.8 .299 71.3 % 3.83 3.72 2.8
James McDonald 130.0 7.7 3.7 1.0 .299 72.5 % 4.08 4.10 1.3
Francisco Liriano 129.0 8.8 4.0 0.7 .306 71.9 % 3.73 3.51 2.2
Jeff Karstens 122.0 6.0 1.9 1.1 .300 70.8 % 4.04 3.95 1.4
Gerrit Cole 49.0 8.0 3.8 0.8 .310 72.5 % 4.04 3.86 0.6
Jeanmar Gomez 46.0 5.2 3.2 0.9 .307 67.7 % 4.72 4.39 0.3
Kyle McPherson 43.0 6.8 2.4 1.0 .305 70.7 % 4.08 3.98 0.5
Phillip Irwin 46.0 5.9 2.2 0.9 .305 68.7 % 4.22 3.97 0.5
Total 943.0 7.1 3.1 0.9 .303 71.2 % 3.97 3.84 12.0

The Pirates get one of the lower innings projections of any team, mainly because they’ve assembled a rotation of guys with extensive injury histories. Burnett and Rodriguez give the team a couple of mostly reliable starters, but they aren’t anyone’s idea of front-of-the-rotation arms either, and then it becomes a big jumble of guess work. Can Liriano stay healthy enough to pitch regularly? Zips and Steamer both see him pitching pretty well when he’s on the mound, but who knows how long that will last.

The good news for Pittsburgh is that help is on the way, and the kids on the farm might actually be upgrades over some of the back-end guys currently in place. Gerrit Cole might be the Pirates third best starter right now, and Cistulli-favorite Phil Irwin gets a pretty nice projection as well. Toss in Kyle McPherson and the eventual arrival of Jameson Taillon — though that might have to wait for 2014 — and there’s some interesting pitching in Pittsburgh’s future. It’s just not quite here yet.

#21 Mariners


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Felix Hernandez 229.0 8.5 2.4 0.7 .306 73.7 % 3.16 3.01 5.5
Hisashi Iwakuma 160.0 6.8 2.6 0.9 .304 71.3 % 3.93 3.82 2.2
Joe Saunders 186.0 5.4 2.7 1.1 .298 70.4 % 4.33 4.32 1.4
Erasmo Ramirez 107.0 6.0 2.5 1.0 .299 69.6 % 4.21 4.14 1.0
Blake Beavan 106.0 4.2 1.9 1.2 .297 67.4 % 4.69 4.60 0.5
Brandon Maurer 109.0 6.4 4.2 0.9 .301 69.2 % 4.61 4.49 0.6
Jeremy Bonderman 46.0 6.2 3.1 1.1 .300 69.9 % 4.59 4.45 0.3
Danny Hultzen 26.0 8.7 6.0 0.8 .305 71.0 % 4.57 4.45 0.2
Total 970.0 6.5 2.8 0.9 .301 70.7 % 4.07 3.97 11.7

The King is great, but his council are the kinds of assistants that get rulers deposed. Felix accounts for 47% of the entire rotation’s projected WAR, which is both a tribute to how amazing he is and a cautionary tale about everyone who follows him. Iwakuma is a decent enough pitcher who shouldn’t be anyone’s #2, and then it gets questionable in a hurry. I’d bet on Erasmo Ramirez beating this projection if the Mariners actually committed to giving him a rotation spot, but he very well could end up in Triple-A watching Blake Beavan pitch every fifth day.

With Brandon Maurer, there’s some interesting long term upside, but he’s also never pitched above Double-A, and the secondary stuff probably isn’t good enough yet for him to be a real asset in the rotation. Joe Saunders is what he is, and the fences coming in at Safeco won’t do him any favors, especially considering his problems with right-handed hitters. While the Mariners “Big Three” pitching prospects have received a lot of hype, none of them look anywhere near big league ready. Take away Felix and this rotation would be among the worst in the league. As it is, he pushes them up to 20th through his greatness alone.

#22 Royals


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
James Shields 221.0 7.8 2.4 1.0 .311 72.1 % 3.82 3.60 4.4
Jeremy Guthrie 180.0 5.3 2.6 1.2 .301 70.1 % 4.54 4.59 1.5
Ervin Santana 182.0 6.6 3.1 1.3 .302 70.0 % 4.65 4.60 1.5
Wade Davis 162.0 6.9 3.4 1.1 .301 71.9 % 4.37 4.42 1.7
Bruce Chen 81.0 6.2 2.7 1.3 .303 70.0 % 4.71 4.62 0.7
Luis Mendoza 40.0 5.0 3.3 0.9 .308 68.9 % 4.66 4.54 0.4
Will Smith 48.0 5.4 3.2 1.1 .304 68.8 % 4.77 4.55 0.4
Danny Duffy 18.0 8.2 4.1 1.1 .307 72.1 % 4.33 4.26 0.2
Felipe Paulino 19.0 8.2 3.6 1.0 .316 71.8 % 4.21 3.95 0.3
Total 951.0 6.6 2.9 1.1 .304 70.8 % 4.39 4.32 11.0

The great rotation overhaul of 2013 looks like a dud. The projections still love James Shields, though without the Rays shifting defense around to deflate his BABIP, the results aren’t expected to be quite as good as they have in the past. But, man, the non-Shields starters…

There isn’t an above average pitcher to be found anywhere after Shields, with a collection of innings eaters piling on top of each other to combine for something less than mediocrity. The Royals have bet the farm on an improved rotation carrying their young position players into contention, but based on these projections, it just isn’t going to work out as KC had hoped. There’s probably more hope for Davis than this suggests, given the complexities involved with reliever-to-starter conversion projects, but there just isn’t much upside in guys like Guthrie, Santana, and Chen, and most of the Royals young arms have either fizzled or just aren’t ready for prime time. If these projections hold, it’s only a matter of time until we begin hearing rumblings of teams calling the Royals to check on Shields availability.

#23 Mets


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jon Niese 201.0 7.5 2.5 0.9 .310 71.6 % 3.81 3.54 3.2
Matt Harvey 168.0 8.9 3.9 0.9 .305 73.4 % 3.85 3.82 2.1
Shaun Marcum 134.0 7.5 2.6 1.0 .296 73.5 % 3.68 3.73 1.8
Dillon Gee 137.0 7.3 3.1 1.0 .307 70.3 % 4.23 4.07 1.3
Jeremy Hefner 81.0 5.9 2.7 1.0 .308 70.1 % 4.42 4.24 0.6
Johan Santana 97.0 7.5 2.8 1.1 .301 72.9 % 4.01 3.96 1.1
Collin McHugh 40.0 7.1 3.7 1.0 .310 70.4 % 4.51 4.38 0.2
Zack Wheeler 48.0 8.5 4.5 0.8 .305 71.9 % 4.08 3.97 0.5
Total 906.0 7.6 3.1 1.0 .305 71.9 % 3.98 3.87 11.0

In a year, the Mets should be quite a bit higher than this. Jon Niese remains a good breakout candidate, and Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler both project as average starters right now, with serious potential for more than that down the line. The core of a good rotation is in place. Now, the Mets just have to be patient enough to wait for those guys to develop into a really good front three.

With Marcum, Santana, and Gee, they have some interesting and potentially decent supporting pieces in place while the team makes that transition, but health concerns hang over all three and limit the amount of innings we can project for any of them. That leaves a chunk of innings going to placeholders like Hefner and McHugh, which drags down the Mets overall total. If Santana can get healthy and Marcum can stay healthy, though, the Mets could have a pretty interesting group of five for the second half of the season, especially if Wheeler gets to the show before the All-Star break. There’s reasons for hope here. That hope just needs a little more seasoning, though.

#24 Orioles


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jason Hammel 174.0 7.5 3.1 0.9 .304 71.6 % 3.97 3.82 3.2
Wei-Yin Chen 163.0 6.2 2.4 1.2 .291 72.1 % 4.16 4.35 2.0
Chris Tillman 158.0 6.9 3.3 1.2 .295 71.4 % 4.46 4.52 1.6
Miguel Gonzalez 146.0 6.8 3.5 1.2 .301 71.3 % 4.49 4.57 1.4
Jake Arrieta 122.0 7.3 4.0 1.1 .305 69.4 % 4.71 4.49 1.3
Zach Britton 44.0 6.3 3.9 0.9 .310 69.0 % 4.68 4.35 0.5
Jair Jurrjens 47.0 4.6 3.0 1.6 .304 67.2 % 5.57 5.35 0.1
Dylan Bundy 40.0 7.5 3.7 1.0 .307 71.5 % 4.30 4.23 0.5
Total 894.0 6.8 3.3 1.1 .300 70.9 % 4.41 4.38 10.7

One quick note here – Kevin Gasuman isn’t included because we don’t have ZIPS/Steamer projections for him, but given that he was a polished college arm who marauded his way through the minors after signing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent a decent chunk of the season in Baltimore and pitched pretty well to boot. So, feel free to bump this projection up a bit in order to include him in the overall plan.

Somewhat like the Pirates and Mets, the seeds of a good rotation are here, but the young guys are more potential than performance at this point, and the lack of a real ace up front holds the overall projection down. There aren’t any huge glaring weaknesses here, but five average (or in Hammel’s case, slightly above average) starters doesn’t make a great rotation, and that’s essentially what the Orioles have here. With Bundy, Gausman, and maybe a couple of holdovers from the current group, there’s some interesting long term potential for the Orioles, but 2013 looks like a bit of a step backwards from last year’s surprisingly strong run.

#25 Brewers


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Yovani Gallardo 199.0 9.0 3.2 0.9 .310 73.6 % 3.71 3.50 3.7
Marco Estrada 187.0 8.4 2.6 1.1 .306 72.9 % 3.89 3.73 2.9
Mike Fiers 136.0 8.2 3.1 1.1 .298 74.0 % 3.91 4.02 1.7
Chris Narveson 122.0 7.1 3.4 1.1 .311 69.9 % 4.62 4.27 1.1
Wily Peralta 129.0 7.8 5.0 0.8 .309 70.6 % 4.51 4.31 1.1
Mark Rogers 81.0 7.0 6.0 0.8 .302 71.0 % 4.69 4.74 0.3
Johnny Hellweg 40.0 6.4 7.7 1.2 .313 68.8 % 6.18 6.11 -0.4
Total 894.0 8.0 3.8 1.0 .307 71.9 % 4.22 4.08 10.4

Remember when I said the Giants maybe had the least pitching depth beyond their starters in baseball? If it’s not them, it’s Milwaukee. Rogers looked like he had harnessed his impressive stuff last summer, but a miserable spring (7 IP, 12 BB, 3 K) has him ticketed for the bullpen simply because he’s out of options, and there’s just not much in the way of interesting options after that. There’s a reason the team keeps getting tied to Kyle Lohse – he would be a pretty big upgrade over the internal candidates for the Brewers rotation.

That isn’t to say that the front four don’t have any potential. Gallardo’s a good pitcher, while Estrada and Fiers are going to look good on the nights they don’t give up any home runs. HR rate has a lot of fluctuation, and there will be stretches where these guys keep the ball in the park and look like world beaters. We saw stretches like that from both last year. The problem is that they probably can’t sustain those stretches, so there’s also going to be nights where they’re throwing Home Run Derby. If they had another quality starter, having two interesting upside guys with big variance at the back of the rotation would be more palatable. As it is, the Brewers look like they’re at least one good pitcher short of being a contender this year.

#26 Twins


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Scott Diamond 191.0 4.9 2.5 0.8 .313 68.0 % 4.46 4.05 2.7
Kevin Correia 146.0 4.9 2.8 1.3 .305 67.1 % 5.05 4.75 0.9
Vance Worley 157.0 6.8 3.1 1.0 .313 70.3 % 4.37 4.09 2.1
Mike Pelfrey 143.0 5.0 2.9 1.0 .309 68.2 % 4.76 4.45 1.3
Liam Hendriks 91.0 5.5 2.8 1.1 .307 68.2 % 4.76 4.47 0.8
Cole DeVries 83.0 5.4 2.4 1.4 .309 67.8 % 5.04 4.74 0.5
Kyle Gibson 90.0 6.6 3.3 1.1 .310 70.0 % 4.65 4.44 0.8
Total 901.0 5.5 2.8 1.1 .310 68.5 % 4.69 4.38 9.2

When your #1 starter has a projected strikeout rate of 4.9 K/9, you’re probably in for a long year. I don’t even know what to say about this group, honestly. Kevin Correia isn’t the worst pitcher in baseball, but he’s just here to eat innings and try not to embarrass the state of Minnesota too badly in the process. Mike Pelfrey is a relcamation project who cost millions, while everyone else got reclamation projects for free. Those guys might be good for keeping the innings count down on Kyle Gibson and Liam Hendriks, but they’re not moving the organization forward in any kind of meaningful way.

I get that the Twins wanted to rebuild. I liked the decision to swap Ben Revere for Vance Worley and Trevor May. I just don’t know why rebuilding includes so many guys with no real future in Minnesota, nor any real hope to turn into interesting trade chips at the deadline. This looks like deck chair rearranging more than building for the future.

#27 Indians


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Justin Masterson 181.0 6.7 3.3 0.7 .312 69.3 % 4.17 3.83 2.7
Ubaldo Jimenez 193.0 7.8 4.1 0.9 .307 70.8 % 4.39 4.17 2.2
Brett Myers 152.0 5.9 2.5 1.1 .305 69.7 % 4.34 4.14 1.8
Zach McAllister 136.0 6.5 2.9 1.1 .316 69.2 % 4.70 4.31 1.3
Scott Kazmir 91.0 5.9 4.6 1.3 .300 68.4 % 5.36 5.38 -0.2
Carlos Carrasco 87.0 6.4 3.4 1.1 .306 68.8 % 4.78 4.53 0.6
Trevor Bauer 44.0 9.2 4.9 1.0 .310 72.8 % 4.27 4.19 0.5
Corey Kluber 16.0 7.2 4.0 1.0 .320 69.4 % 4.69 4.36 0.1
Daisuke Matsuzaka 16.0 7.2 3.9 1.3 .306 69.9 % 4.86 4.79 0.1
Total 916.0 6.8 3.5 1.0 .309 69.7 % 4.53 4.29 9.1

Thing you don’t really want to write about a contender: “Their season probably hangs on whether or not Scott Kazmir can resurrect his career.”

But that’s basically where the Indians are. Kazmir has shown decent velocity in spring training, so he’s won the fifth starter job and will try and make these projections look silly. He hasn’t been good for a while, but if his stuff is actually back to where it was in his Tampa Bay days, it’s not impossible to think that he could be a useful starter for Cleveland. Which is good, because they need their #5 starter to pitch well in order to compensate for the fact that their first few starters don’t stack up well against other contenders.

Masterson, Jimenez, and Myers would be a terrific #3-#5, offering both upside and some durability, but as a #1-#3 on a team trying to win, they don’t inspire much confidence. The Indians hitters should be good enough to keep them hanging around the Wild Card race most of the summer, but if they’re serious about making a run at this thing, they need to upgrade at least one rotation spot. Maybe Trevor Bauer can be that mid-season boost. If not, they’ll probably have to look outside the organization.

#28 Padres


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Edinson Volquez 137.0 8.4 4.7 0.7 .304 71.8 % 4.03 3.92 1.2
Clayton Richard 156.0 5.2 2.5 0.9 .299 69.8 % 4.16 4.09 1.1
Jason Marquis 143.0 5.9 3.0 0.9 .307 69.1 % 4.40 4.21 0.8
Cory Luebke 146.0 8.3 2.9 0.8 .295 73.9 % 3.37 3.42 2.3
Andrew Cashner 124.0 9.0 3.6 0.8 .303 72.9 % 3.54 3.40 2.0
Tyson Ross 81.0 6.7 4.0 0.8 .307 71.6 % 4.14 4.11 0.5
Eric Stults 43.0 5.8 3.3 0.9 .300 70.5 % 4.31 4.32 0.2
Anthony Bass 40.0 7.2 3.4 0.8 .300 71.8 % 3.89 3.79 0.4
Robbie Erlin 40.0 8.3 2.6 1.0 .304 72.5 % 3.69 3.61 0.5
Total 911.0 7.2 3.3 0.8 .302 71.4 % 3.94 3.86 9.0

Luebke, Cashner, Erlin, and Bass wouldn’t be a terrible front four if you could pencil them in for 200 innings apiece. Unfortunately, it’s not even clear that the Padres will get 200 innings combined from that group, so the rest of the rotation is fill-ins and placeholders, and not a great collection of placeholders at that. Their raw numbers will look okay thanks to Petco Park, but once you account for the run environment, it becomes pretty clear that the Padres have real pitching problems.

Losing Casey Kelly to Tommy John surgery didn’t help matters any either. While the Padres are theoretically both trying to win now and building for the future, they seem stuck in between two directions, and don’t have a rotation that points towards either plan working out that well. A strong healthy season from Cashner would be a positive step, but they’re going to need more than that to fix this rotation long term.

#29 Marlins


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Ricky Nolasco 200.0 6.2 2.1 1.0 .313 69.6 % 4.17 3.79 3.0
Henderson Alvarez 160.0 4.9 2.5 0.8 .306 68.9 % 4.28 4.09 1.8
Wade LeBlanc 146.0 6.5 2.8 1.1 .310 70.6 % 4.43 4.19 1.5
Nathan Eovaldi 130.0 6.6 4.1 0.9 .306 69.8 % 4.57 4.38 1.0
Jacob Turner 135.0 6.0 3.7 1.0 .305 68.7 % 4.68 4.45 1.0
Kevin Slowey 46.0 5.8 2.1 1.3 .305 68.8 % 4.72 4.51 0.3
Alex Sanabia 40.0 5.6 2.8 1.3 .304 69.2 % 4.81 4.71 0.2
Brad Hand 45.0 6.8 5.7 1.2 .299 70.2 % 5.24 5.27 -0.1
Total 902.0 6.0 3.0 1.0 .308 69.5 % 4.48 4.25 8.7

“Hey, that Ricky Nolasco projection looks pretty good.”
“Look at his expected BABIP and strand rate again.”
“Oh. Same old Ricky.”

On the one hand, I’ll give the Marlins credit. If you’re not going to win, it’s probably better to not win with guys like Turner, Eovaldi, and Alvarez. Collect enough interesting arms with flaws and one or two might figure things out, giving you a base to build off for 2014. On the other hand, this rotation is dreadful, and Nolasco probably won’t last the year in Miami. Jose Fernandez can not get to Miami soon enough.

#30 Astros


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Bud Norris 192.0 8.4 3.6 1.2 .307 72.1 % 4.35 4.22 1.7
Lucas Harrell 135.0 5.9 3.9 0.8 .310 68.1 % 4.63 4.21 1.2
Philip Humber 129.0 6.4 2.8 1.3 .309 68.9 % 4.80 4.50 0.8
Erik Bedard 85.0 7.9 3.8 1.1 .314 70.3 % 4.64 4.28 0.7
Brad Peacock 87.0 7.3 4.6 1.2 .318 69.5 % 5.20 4.90 0.1
Alex White 83.0 6.1 4.0 1.1 .307 69.2 % 4.89 4.71 0.3
Jordan Lyles 43.0 6.1 2.7 1.1 .311 67.8 % 4.64 4.23 0.4
John Ely 40.0 7.1 3.1 1.1 .312 70.5 % 4.44 4.16 0.4
Jarred Cosart 40.0 6.4 5.0 1.2 .312 69.4 % 5.20 5.17 -0.1
Dallas Keuchel 42.0 4.5 3.0 1.1 .313 65.9 % 5.28 4.73 0.1
Total 877.0 6.9 3.7 1.1 .310 69.5 % 4.73 4.44 5.8

This might not be the worst rotation anyone has ever put together on purpose, but it’s in the conversation. This is the kind of group you expect to finish the season when your original starters got into a huge fight at a bar and all landed on the disabled list. The Astros are taking “throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks” to a whole other level. And they’re probably going to trade Bud Norris at some point this year, so it’s only going to get worse.

The Astros plan makes sense if they can keep from alienating the entire city of Houston in the process. This is the kind of rotation that might make an entire city turn away from baseball for a while, though. This is why the Astros are going to be terrible. They’re going to give up a lot of runs this year. Long term, it may be worth it. Short term? It’s going to be ugly.



Print This Post



Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Will
Guest
Will

This article would work a lot better if it was ordered in descending order (30-16) rather than 16-30.

In fact, all of the articles in this series would be better if they went from worst to best.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

For all instances of “would be better” and variations, substitute “I would prefer.”

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

No, I think objectively and logically you would want to ascend in rankings rather than spoil the surprise.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Maybe the surprise is “who will be last”?

King of the Byelorussian Crunkers
Guest
King of the Byelorussian Crunkers

I don’t think this series is meant to surprise people, just inform them.

King of the Byelorussian Crunkers
Guest
King of the Byelorussian Crunkers

My comment responded to Kevin; Steve’s response to Kevin is also plausible; and we jointly support Anon21’s point, in case any one is scoring at home.

TheHoustonian
Guest
TheHoustonian

Speaking as an Astros fan, there’s no suspense in “who will be last?”

Kyle
Member
Kyle

This is a message board, and quite a bit of what is written here is just opinion. Shocker. There’s no need to qualify that it is an opinion or personal preference. It’s better to just say what you mean and move on. But that’s just my preference, I guess.

bgburek
Member
bgburek

I scrolled down and did it backwards anyway

Baltar
Guest
Baltar

I strongly disagree. I want to read about the best and, if I have time and inclination, then the rest.

wpDiscuz