2016 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Rotations (#16-30)


And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the Positional Power Rankings of starting rotations before they actually get good.

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It should be noted that the Diamondbacks’ rotation at 16 really projects no differently than the Rays’ rotation at 15, which Jeff will be writing up in his More Important post on the 15 best starting rotations. Which, in fact, serves as a useful reminder that, when dealing with the 7-10 moving parts of which these rotation depth charts typically consist, the actual ranking of teams matters far less than the grouping of teams. We can be pretty certain that the No. 16-ranked Diamondbacks rotation, projected for about +13 WAR, is better than the No. 30-ranked Braves rotation, projected for just +7 WAR. It gets a little cloudier in the middle, though, and just because the A’s (+11.3 WAR) are three spots ahead of the Tigers (+11.0 WAR), that shouldn’t be taken as any kind of definitive statements of Oakland’s superiority. A guide, is how these rankings should be used.

#16 Diamondbacks


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Zack Greinke 212.0 8.3 1.9 0.8 .294 76.8 % 2.91 3.20 4.6
Shelby Miller 183.0 7.5 3.1 1.0 .296 73.7 % 3.84 4.08 1.9
Patrick Corbin 160.0 7.6 2.3 0.9 .303 73.0 % 3.58 3.65 2.5
Rubby de la Rosa 141.0 7.3 3.0 1.1 .302 71.2 % 4.24 4.26 1.2
Robbie Ray 129.0 8.6 3.7 0.9 .306 72.8 % 3.86 3.89 1.7
Archie Bradley 85.0 7.5 4.5 1.0 .303 70.3 % 4.54 4.56 0.4
Zachary Godley 28.0 7.3 3.5 1.0 .301 70.8 % 4.27 4.31 0.2
Tyler Wagner 19.0 6.2 3.4 1.2 .301 70.1 % 4.67 4.75 0.1
Josh Collmenter 9.0 6.0 2.1 1.2 .292 73.3 % 3.94 4.28 0.1
Total 965.0 7.8 2.9 1.0 .300 73.2 % 3.75 3.88 12.7

So, the team that lost Zack Greinke this offseason is tied for first among projected starting rotations. The team that gained Zack Greinke is hanging around the middle of the pack. This tells us a couple useful bits of information, the first being that that Clayton Kershaw fella is quite good. Kershaw alone accounts for the same projected WAR total as Miller, Corbin, de la Rosa, Ray and Bradley combined, and the Dodgers still have other pitchers, too. As for the Diamondbacks‘ position on this power ranking, it gives us an idea as to why, even with Greinke, many are still skeptical of the organization’s position as a legitimate contender in a competitive National League.

One caveat, in the Diamondbacks’ favor: they have one of the largest differences between their projected ERA and FIP. The sixth-largest, in fact. That is to say, if these rankings were sorted in order of RA9-WAR, rather than FIP-WAR, the Diamondbacks would stand to gain more from it than most every other team. Greinke was worth 10 RA9-WAR last year, and would see his projection increase by a full win if we went with the runs-allowed model. Shelby Miller also has the early signs of being a FIP-beater, and his projection would increase by nearly a win with the RA9 model.

So maybe the top half is a bit underrated, but the bigger issue lies within the bottom half. Rubby de la Rosa is now entering year three of “maybe that 95-mph fastball will miss some bats soon!” and this could be his last chance. Nearly all of Archie Bradley’s prospect sheen has worn off, and at this point the Diamondbacks might be happy if he winds up being a serviceable fourth or fifth starter. Zack Godley had a shiny ERA last year, but still has major command issues and was a 25-year-old who started last year in High-A for a reason. The top three can go pitch for pitch with most trios in baseball — Patrick Corbin looked every bit the budding-ace of 2013 after returning from Tommy John — but if any of them suffer prolonged injury, or de la Rosa pitches his way out of the rotation, Arizona could be handing out less-than-ideal starts in the midst of their playoff hunt.

#17 Marlins


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jose Fernandez 173.0 10.5 2.4 0.7 .311 76.7 % 2.75 2.66 4.7
Wei-Yin Chen 196.0 7.3 1.9 0.9 .300 74.8 % 3.32 3.51 3.1
Tom Koehler 171.0 6.6 3.5 1.0 .300 71.3 % 4.27 4.36 1.0
Jarred Cosart 130.0 6.4 3.9 0.7 .299 71.2 % 4.02 4.11 1.1
Adam Conley 111.0 6.9 3.4 0.8 .301 71.9 % 3.95 4.07 1.0
David Phelps 46.0 6.9 3.0 0.9 .305 71.3 % 4.05 4.05 0.4
Justin Nicolino 38.0 4.3 2.2 1.0 .300 68.7 % 4.48 4.52 0.1
Edwin Jackson 28.0 6.7 3.1 0.8 .305 70.1 % 4.12 3.96 0.3
Jose Urena 18.0 5.5 2.7 1.0 .305 69.5 % 4.33 4.30 0.1
Kendry Flores 9.0 6.6 2.8 1.0 .306 70.4 % 4.22 4.20 0.1
Jake Esch 9.0 5.8 3.4 1.0 .305 69.3 % 4.64 4.60 0.0
Jarlin Garcia 9.0 6.1 2.9 1.1 .307 69.3 % 4.60 4.53 0.0
Austin Brice 9.0 7.2 5.0 1.1 .306 69.6 % 4.91 4.90 0.0
Total 949.0 7.4 2.9 0.8 .303 72.6 % 3.73 3.79 12.0

That Jose Fernandez is given a WAR projection just outside the top 10 despite an impending innings limit is a testament to just how good the 23-year-old is. Since entering the league, he’s been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball not named Clayton Kershaw. On pure stuff alone, there might not be a more entertaining pitcher to watch than Fernandez, and he showed no ill effects upon his return from Tommy John surgery last year.

The Marlins boosted the top of their rotation this offseason by signing the probably-underrated Wei-Yin Chen, who should enjoy a move out of the AL East and into the NL West, and out of Camden Yards and into Marlins Park. Chen changes speeds, suppresses exit velocity, and limits walks with the best of them while posting serviceable strikeout figures.

The rest of Miami’s rotation is a who’s who of young starters with murky upside, most prominently featuring the innings-eating and home run-allowing Tom Koehler, who’s a fine pitcher, but is probably better suited as a fifth, or even sixth option. Jarred Cosart once had prospect status, but has more recently had the worst K-BB% of any starter in baseball since entering the league.

The upside here comes in the form of Adam Conley, who last year posted better-than-average strikeout, whiff, and home run rates as a 25-year-old rookie with a walk rate just above league average. Conley was never much of a prospect, but given the names behind Fernandez and Chen, he’s got as much a chance to contribute meaningful innings as anyone else in this rotation.

#18 Rangers


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Cole Hamels 212.0 7.9 2.5 1.0 .302 72.9 % 3.72 3.77 3.6
Colby Lewis 162.0 6.2 2.3 1.4 .307 69.1 % 4.79 4.68 1.1
Derek Holland 150.0 7.6 2.7 1.2 .306 72.3 % 4.17 4.18 1.8
Martin Perez 142.0 6.1 2.7 0.9 .309 69.9 % 4.21 4.07 1.9
Yu Darvish 132.0 10.3 3.2 1.0 .306 75.9 % 3.44 3.50 2.7
A.J. Griffin 67.0 7.2 2.5 1.6 .294 73.1 % 4.47 4.79 0.4
Chi Chi Gonzalez 47.0 5.3 3.7 1.1 .302 68.9 % 4.83 4.85 0.2
Jeremy Guthrie 38.0 5.2 2.6 1.4 .308 68.8 % 5.06 5.06 0.1
Nick Martinez 19.0 5.4 3.4 1.3 .303 70.1 % 4.92 5.09 0.0
Anthony Ranaudo 9.0 6.1 3.7 1.5 .300 70.0 % 5.13 5.24 0.0
Total 979.0 7.3 2.7 1.2 .305 71.6 % 4.19 4.20 11.8

Cole Hamels is about as steady as they come. He’s posted at least 4+ WAR, by one measure or another, in eight of his last nine seasons, and his FIP hasn’t topped 3.75 since 2007. When Yu Darvish returns to the rotation around late-May, they’ll add another ace alongside Hamels, and the Rangers don’t plan to limit his innings from that point on. By the All-Star break, the Rangers should have a lethal 1-2 punch.

Behind Hamels and (eventually) Darvish, though, things get dicey, quick. The 36-year-old Colby Lewis is the next-most steady option, and he’s ran a 4.90 ERA since 2014. Derek Holland and Martin Perez have combined for 37 starts over the last two years. In limited time over that span, Perez hasn’t been able to prevent runs at even a league-average rate, and Holland was a home run-fueled disaster in 10 starts last season. Both still have upside if they can remain healthy, but their place as effective big-league starters is no longer a given; it needs to be earned back at this point. A.J. Griffin seems the favorite to break camp as the team’s fifth starter, and he hasn’t pitched since 2013. Chi Chi Gonzalez is young enough to adjust, but he’s also walked more batters than he’s struck out in the majors.

You get the picture by now. Behind the two bonafide aces, there isn’t a single pitcher in this rotation without major injury or performance concerns. If everything breaks right, this could still have the makings of a better-than-average rotation, but that’s asking a lot.

#19 Athletics


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Sonny Gray 212.0 7.6 2.8 0.8 .299 73.3 % 3.47 3.56 3.7
Jesse Hahn 163.0 6.5 3.0 0.8 .304 70.0 % 4.10 4.05 1.9
Rich Hill 153.0 8.7 4.4 0.9 .303 71.7 % 4.17 4.19 1.5
Chris Bassitt 140.0 7.0 3.3 0.9 .304 70.8 % 4.07 4.11 1.5
Kendall Graveman 130.0 5.6 2.8 1.0 .306 69.4 % 4.43 4.36 1.0
Felix Doubront 85.0 7.2 3.4 1.0 .306 71.0 % 4.26 4.18 0.8
Henderson Alvarez 48.0 5.0 2.1 0.9 .307 69.2 % 4.25 4.17 0.5
Sean Manaea 37.0 8.0 3.7 1.0 .304 71.3 % 4.21 4.18 0.4
Total 968.0 7.1 3.2 0.9 .303 71.1 % 4.04 4.04 11.3

Much of the hype on this rotation has been slowed by an absolutely miserable spring, in which Chris Bassitt’s 5.28 ERA is the best among Oakland’s rotation candidates. Not that Spring Training ERA’s should sway your opinions much, if at all, but it’s gotten to the point where Felix Doubront could be forcing Jesse Hahn and his career 3.23 ERA (3.46 FIP) to the minors to start the year.

Spring struggles aside, there’s no reason to worry about Gray. Each passing season of sub-.280 BABIPs and above-average strand rates makes a strong case for Gray as a FIP-beater, but even if you don’t buy the batted-ball performance, Gray has still made his mark as at least a top-3o pitcher in baseball. Gray is an ace, and while it’s been nothing but negatives in the Cactus League, there’s still plenty of upside to be found in the less-proven members of the rotation. All Rich Hill did last year was be Clayton Kershaw, and his potentially elite fastball would seem to keep his floor high, given health. Hahn has done nothing but produce. For a 27-year-old with no prospect status, Bassitt has made it work, and if Kendall Graveman could miss a few more bats to pair with his ground balls, he could help balance the scale of the Josh Donaldson trade. Waiting in the wings is Sean Manaea, the centerpiece of last year’s Ben Zobrist trade, who dominated the minors last year and could be in the bigs by June.

#20 Reds


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Anthony DeSclafani 188.0 7.4 2.6 1.0 .302 71.8 % 3.90 3.89 2.7
Raisel Iglesias 168.0 8.7 2.6 1.1 .305 73.6 % 3.68 3.74 2.7
John Lamb 131.0 9.3 3.4 1.1 .302 74.2 % 3.85 4.00 1.7
Homer Bailey 131.0 7.5 2.6 1.1 .300 71.9 % 3.92 3.99 1.7
Alfredo Simon 116.0 5.8 3.0 1.2 .299 69.5 % 4.60 4.68 0.6
Brandon Finnegan 85.0 9.1 3.7 1.0 .298 74.0 % 3.72 3.92 1.2
Jon Moscot 54.0 6.4 3.1 1.5 .297 70.5 % 4.79 4.99 0.1
Michael Lorenzen 38.0 6.4 3.7 1.3 .299 70.2 % 4.82 4.95 0.1
Robert Stephenson 28.0 9.0 4.7 1.4 .297 71.7 % 4.70 4.82 0.1
Cody Reed 18.0 6.3 5.4 1.2 .294 69.9 % 5.17 5.40 0.0
Total 956.0 7.8 3.0 1.1 .301 72.1 % 4.06 4.15 11.0

If I had to pick a bottom-half rotation to finish the year in the top-10, it’d be this one. What the Reds’ staff may lack in name recognition, it more than makes up for with upside.

Consider that Raisel Iglesias struck out nearly 30% of all batters faced after the All-Star break last year, with above-average walk and ground-ball rates that put his peripherals on par with guys like David Price and Matt Harvey. Anthony DeSclafani led all rookie pitchers in Wins Above Replacement last season, and could be a changeup away from “de facto ace” to “legitimate ace.” December back surgery has put John Lamb’s season on delay, and while the ERA was ugly during his first go-around against big-league hitters, I’ll take my chances on 24-year-old lefties who strike out more than a quarter of all batters faced through their first 50 innings every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Brandon Finnegan will be a useful pitcher somewhere, even if it’s not the rotation, and longtime prospect Robert Stephenson may finally make his major-league debut this year.

None of this is to mention Homer Bailey, currently set to return from his Tommy John surgery in late June or early July. Once considered a leader of the Reds rotation, the Reds aren’t asking much of Bailey, given the young arms they’ve assembled. If Bailey can even be a serviceable mid-rotation starter upon his return, it will just be the icing on the cake for the league’s most intriguing, under-the-radar staff.

#21 Twins


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Phil Hughes 194.0 6.5 1.1 1.2 .312 70.3 % 4.17 3.92 2.7
Ervin Santana 191.0 6.7 2.7 1.1 .308 70.0 % 4.44 4.29 1.8
Kyle Gibson 172.0 6.3 2.9 0.9 .307 69.8 % 4.18 4.03 2.2
Tommy Milone 130.0 6.8 2.4 1.2 .308 71.0 % 4.38 4.31 1.2
Ricky Nolasco 91.0 6.7 2.3 1.2 .320 68.4 % 4.66 4.23 0.9
Tyler Duffey 84.0 6.6 2.4 1.1 .313 69.4 % 4.39 4.13 1.0
Jose Berrios 64.0 7.9 2.6 1.0 .313 70.9 % 4.09 3.91 0.9
Alex Meyer 19.0 8.9 4.2 1.0 .315 71.5 % 4.28 4.12 0.2
Taylor Rogers 9.0 5.7 2.8 1.1 .314 68.0 % 4.78 4.51 0.1
Total 954.0 6.7 2.4 1.1 .311 70.0 % 4.32 4.12 11.0

For the first time in a while, the Twins rotation feels somewhat interesting. Kyle Gibson looks like Francisco Liriano and Dallas Keuchel in the way he pitches, and could just be a tweak away from taking the next step and getting their results. Phil Hughes kept the same minuscule walk rate that made him look like Cliff Lee two seasons ago, it’s just that he gave back the strikeouts and home-run prevention that made that comp possible. Tyler Duffey just posted the highest strikeout rate by a Twins rookie since Liriano himself. Jose Berrios will be up later this year, and may very well top Duffey’s spot upon the Twins’ rookie strikeout leaderboard.

Despite early indications to the contrary, though, the Twins are still projected for the lowest strikeout rate in baseball, and if they were to achieve that status, it would be for the sixth consecutive year. The contracts dictate that the Twins will still give innings to Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco, and even the rosy Hughes and Gibson comps come with what ifs. No rotation in baseball is projected to underperform their peripherals more than this one. The Twins rotation is far from a powerhouse, and it’s not at all difficult to imagine it being flat-out bad. But it’s at least interesting, and that’s more than past Twins teams could say.

#22 Tigers


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jordan Zimmermann 199.0 6.7 1.8 1.2 .302 72.1 % 3.92 4.00 2.6
Justin Verlander 195.0 7.6 2.6 1.0 .302 72.4 % 3.84 3.85 2.9
Anibal Sanchez 166.0 8.0 2.6 1.0 .303 71.9 % 3.90 3.79 2.6
Daniel Norris 94.0 7.6 3.8 1.1 .306 71.8 % 4.36 4.38 0.8
Mike Pelfrey 129.0 4.9 2.8 1.0 .313 67.6 % 4.81 4.54 0.9
Matt Boyd 85.0 7.1 2.9 1.3 .305 71.2 % 4.47 4.51 0.6
Shane Greene 66.0 6.1 2.8 1.2 .313 68.2 % 4.81 4.57 0.4
Buck Farmer 28.0 6.4 3.2 1.5 .309 68.5 % 5.19 5.05 0.0
Michael Fulmer 9.0 7.2 3.0 1.2 .313 70.0 % 4.61 4.43 0.1
Total 970.0 7.0 2.6 1.1 .306 70.9 % 4.21 4.16 11.0

The nice thing for the Tigers is that Justin Verlander started to look like his old self again. More accurately, he started to look like his young self again. Let’s ignore those first six starts during which Verlander worked his way back from a triceps injury that delayed the beginning of his season. Will you agree to do that with me? Cool. Now that we’ve agreed, we can take notice of the fact that over Verlander’s final 14 starts, spanning two outs shy of 100 innings, he ran a 2.27 ERA and a 2.59 FIP with strikeout and walk rates that looked like vintage, Cy Young Verlander. If Verlander is truly back, it would be a huge boon to this Tigers rotation that had bottomed out by July last year.

What also reasons to be a boon for this Tigers staff is Jordan Zimmermann, on account of him being a good pitcher who previously pitched for a different team. Zimmermann’s lost some fastball velocity, and he lost some strikeouts, and the move to the American League can only hurt his numbers, but Zimmermann’s still been among the most consistent starters in baseball the last four years, and even better, he’s been consistently good. Working higher and higher in the zone with his high-spin four-seamer has become Zimmermann’s M.O., and should help the fastball to continue playing up even as it loses velocity.

As with many of these bottom-half rotations, though, things become dark after the light at the top. Anibal Sanchez has gone from healthy and good, to injured and good, to injured and bad over the last three seasons, and that’s not a great trend for a 32-year-old. Daniel Norris was the most promising young arm in the system until he succumbed to “non-displaced fractures in his spinous process” which sounds terrifying but apparently(?) isn’t as serious as it sounds. Mike Pelfrey just isn’t any good, and the Tigers giving him $16 million is by far the most puzzling move of the offseason to me. Matt Boyd and Shane Greene are both interesting, and young, and both have big question marks that need to be answered.

The Tigers will hit. And at the top of the rotation, they’ll pitch. The question is, will the middle and bottom of the rotation be enough?

#23 Rockies


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jorge de la Rosa 177.0 7.2 3.6 1.0 .307 70.8 % 4.33 4.28 2.1
Jonathan Gray 113.0 7.8 3.1 1.1 .319 70.6 % 4.38 4.12 1.6
Chad Bettis 151.0 7.3 3.1 1.1 .317 70.6 % 4.49 4.29 1.8
Jordan Lyles 129.0 6.2 3.1 0.9 .315 68.7 % 4.59 4.35 1.5
Tyler Chatwood 102.0 7.0 3.0 1.1 .310 70.5 % 4.35 4.26 1.3
Christian Bergman 75.0 5.6 2.0 1.4 .312 69.0 % 4.87 4.73 0.5
Tyler Matzek 56.0 7.5 5.4 1.0 .311 70.5 % 4.93 4.92 0.3
Eddie Butler 47.0 5.4 3.8 1.2 .315 68.6 % 5.25 5.09 0.2
Chris Rusin 38.0 5.3 2.6 1.2 .316 68.7 % 4.88 4.68 0.3
David Hale 19.0 5.8 3.2 1.1 .316 68.2 % 4.95 4.65 0.2
Tyler Anderson 19.0 7.3 3.3 1.1 .310 70.9 % 4.42 4.40 0.2
Jeff Hoffman 9.0 6.8 3.3 1.2 .312 71.1 % 4.59 4.58 0.1
Total 934.0 6.8 3.3 1.1 .313 70.0 % 4.56 4.42 10.0

This is a list of pitchers who throw half their games in Coors Field. What do you want me to say? Jorge de la Rosa seems to have it figured out, but he must not be a very good teacher. Jonathan Gray and his 96-mph fastball were impressive last year, despite the ugly ERA, but he’s already hurt and will begin the season on the disabled list. Chad Bettis might have the best arsenal of any Rockies pitcher, and after Gray’s injury, is probably the most exciting hurler to watch in Colorado this year.

Between Gray and Bettis, the Rockies have two legitimately intriguing arms; the problem is, it wasn’t that long ago that guys like Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek, and Eddie Butler were intriguing, too. Will Gray or Bettis buck the trend? Only time will tell, but history isn’t in their favor. Funny how fast the shine wears off when you pitch at altitude. Sad how fast the shine wears off, really.

#24 Angels


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Garrett Richards 195.0 8.1 3.0 0.7 .297 73.1 % 3.37 3.46 3.5
Hector Santiago 168.0 7.7 3.5 1.1 .291 74.4 % 3.94 4.41 1.1
Jered Weaver 167.0 5.8 2.4 1.4 .288 71.2 % 4.41 4.76 0.4
Andrew Heaney 151.0 7.2 2.6 1.0 .300 72.6 % 3.82 3.95 1.8
C.J. Wilson 117.0 7.5 3.6 0.9 .300 71.0 % 4.09 4.12 1.1
Matt Shoemaker 84.0 7.6 2.1 1.2 .298 72.9 % 3.81 3.90 1.0
Tyler Skaggs 48.0 7.5 3.1 0.8 .302 71.9 % 3.80 3.82 0.6
Nicholas Tropeano 37.0 8.1 3.0 1.1 .302 72.2 % 3.99 3.97 0.4
Total 967.0 7.3 2.9 1.0 .296 72.6 % 3.89 4.08 9.9

Jered Weaver just threw a pitch.

Much like the position players portion of the Angels’ roster, the rotation is essentially star and scrubs. Maybe that’s not fair to Hector Santiago’s fly-balling ways and the potential of Andrew Heaney, but you’ve got to squint to find much hope elsewhere. While Santiago has gotten by with iffy control, average strikeouts and tons of fly balls, ask Matt Cain — or his teammate, Weaver — how that approach works out in the long haul. Weaver has become something of a punchline, one that’s playing out in real time, right now. C.J. Wilson is already hurt again after an injury-plagued 2015, and is now overhauling his mechanics. Matt Shoemaker’s disaster 2015 has turned into a disaster Spring, and Tyler Skaggs’ recovery from Tommy John has already hit a snag.

The bright spot is Garrett Richards, who, like Marcus Stroman, showed little in the way of ill effects after tearing his ACL late in the 2014 season. He wasn’t quite the same mid-2.00s ERA and FIP ace that he was in 2014, but he shouldn’t have been expected to be, and with his velocity, stuff and ground-ball rate, there isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t mind having Richards near the front of their staff.

Ball one.

#25 Blue Jays


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Marcus Stroman 186.0 7.6 2.3 0.9 .305 71.8 % 3.71 3.63 3.4
R.A. Dickey 204.0 6.1 2.9 1.3 .287 71.7 % 4.31 4.74 1.1
Marco Estrada 163.0 6.9 2.7 1.5 .279 73.8 % 4.23 4.75 0.9
J.A. Happ 148.0 7.6 2.8 1.2 .302 72.0 % 4.14 4.15 1.8
Aaron Sanchez 103.0 6.8 4.4 0.8 .294 72.0 % 4.16 4.42 0.9
Jesse Chavez 67.0 8.1 2.6 1.1 .306 72.5 % 3.92 3.89 1.0
Drew Hutchison 56.0 8.0 2.7 1.2 .308 71.1 % 4.29 4.19 0.6
Gavin Floyd 28.0 7.0 2.8 1.5 .302 70.4 % 4.77 4.89 0.1
Conner Greene 9.0 6.3 3.6 1.4 .308 69.5 % 5.06 5.04 0.0
Total 964.0 7.1 2.9 1.2 .295 72.1 % 4.13 4.32 9.7

The question for the Blue Jays is the same as it is for the Tigers: will they pitch enough? The Blue Jays will hit. We know that they’ll hit. But after Marcus Stroman, the rotation is full of question marks. Like: how much further can R.A. Dickey’s strikeout rate drop for him to be continue being successful? As well as: was Marco Estrada just a one-year fluke, or is he just one of the most effective contact pitchers in baseball? Or: J.A. Happ?

The other question, the one that will be answered sooner rather than later, is who the fifth starter will be. It’s not Jesse Chavez, though he’s likely to make a number of spot starts along the way, and it’s not Drew Hutchison, who still possesses potential but will open the season in Triple-A in an effort to turn that potential into major-league results. The club seems to be favoring Gavin Floyd, but the correct answer is Aaron Sanchez, who’s been rolling this spring with 25 pounds of added weight, smoothed-out mechanics and refined secondary offerings.

Personally, I’m buying this Blue Jays rotation, and would take the over on this ranking, and so would RA9-WAR, as Toronto’s 19-point positive gap between their ERA and FIP is the largest projected split in baseball. Dickey and Estrada both just get hammered by FIP, but peripherals aren’t their game, and the upside of Sanchez and Happ make this rotation compelling, one that, in my eyes, will earn a much higher spot on this list as the season goes on.

#26 Brewers


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Jimmy Nelson 183.0 7.9 3.3 0.9 .308 70.7 % 4.11 4.00 2.5
Wily Peralta 170.0 6.3 3.0 1.1 .310 69.9 % 4.56 4.44 1.4
Matt Garza 164.0 6.8 2.9 1.2 .307 70.2 % 4.50 4.39 1.5
Chase Anderson 136.0 7.5 2.7 1.2 .309 71.3 % 4.33 4.25 1.4
Taylor Jungmann 130.0 8.0 3.8 1.0 .307 70.8 % 4.29 4.20 1.5
Jorge Lopez 46.0 7.7 3.7 1.4 .310 69.7 % 4.87 4.73 0.2
Tyler Wagner 37.0 6.2 3.4 1.2 .301 70.1 % 4.67 4.75 0.2
Ariel Pena 28.0 9.1 4.3 1.1 .305 72.9 % 4.20 4.28 0.3
Zachary Davies 19.0 7.4 3.3 1.0 .307 71.3 % 4.14 4.08 0.2
Adrian Houser 9.0 6.9 3.8 1.3 .310 68.8 % 5.06 4.89 0.0
Tyler Cravy 9.0 7.1 3.4 1.2 .306 70.4 % 4.51 4.50 0.1
Sean Nolin 9.0 7.1 3.5 1.2 .306 70.3 % 4.66 4.59 0.1
Total 942.0 7.3 3.2 1.1 .308 70.5 % 4.40 4.31 9.4

Wily Peralta may be starting on Opening Day, but Jimmy Nelson is the true de facto ace of this staff (said tongue-in-cheek). Nelson is a fine pitcher, one who produced both league-average peripherals and results in his first full season in the majors, but the control issues that plagued him throughout the minor leagues began to peak through, and he doesn’t miss enough bats for the walks to not be concerning.

Speaking of not missing bats, Wily Peralta and his confounding heater got even fewer whiffs than ever before, and in fact Peralta’s strikeout rate plummeted to Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle levels, despite his ability to touch 98 on the gun. Matt Garza, at this point in his career, isn’t much more than a dude whose job is to pitch meaningless innings and teach young pitchers how to prepare. Young pitchers like Chase Anderson, acquired from Arizona in the Jean Segura trade, who might have the most upside of any Brewers pitcher if he could build around his plus changeup. Or Taylor Jungmann, whose ceiling has always been limited by his erratic command.

Jorge Lopez is the highlight of a stable of young arms without much big-league experience that seem likely to get a shot at proving themselves this year. Because that’s the point of a rebuild, anyway; it’s not about winning games, it’s about seeing what you’ve got.

#27 Phillies


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Aaron Nola 176.0 7.7 2.1 1.2 .306 71.3 % 4.01 3.92 2.4
Jeremy Hellickson 159.0 7.5 2.6 1.2 .309 70.4 % 4.37 4.20 1.6
Jerad Eickhoff 128.0 7.9 3.0 1.3 .303 71.3 % 4.39 4.41 1.0
Charlie Morton 122.0 7.4 3.1 0.9 .312 69.8 % 4.13 4.00 1.5
Vincent Velasquez 94.0 10.3 3.6 1.0 .307 74.6 % 3.70 3.70 1.5
Adam Morgan 65.0 5.4 2.9 1.6 .301 67.6 % 5.36 5.34 -0.1
Brett Oberholtzer 56.0 6.8 2.3 1.2 .308 69.8 % 4.40 4.22 0.6
Jake Thompson 46.0 6.7 3.2 1.2 .302 70.5 % 4.47 4.53 0.3
Mark Appel 37.0 7.3 3.5 1.3 .312 69.2 % 4.81 4.62 0.2
Alec Asher 28.0 6.9 2.7 1.6 .307 68.5 % 5.12 4.98 0.0
David Buchanan 18.0 5.4 3.0 1.2 .310 67.7 % 4.94 4.73 0.1
Matt Harrison 9.0 5.8 3.7 1.1 .306 69.9 % 4.74 4.68 0.0
Total 938.0 7.6 2.8 1.2 .307 70.6 % 4.34 4.25 9.1

I’m a believer that, as soon as next year, we’ll look at this Phillies rotation the same way we look at this year’s Reds. Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton probably won’t make it through the year without being traded, but it’s not too difficult to imagine a rotation of Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Mark Appel as generating the same kind of hype we’re seeing in Cincinnati.

Right now, it’s a bit too early to tell, but Nola’s already made his debut and thrown nearly half a big-league season, and he’s done little to temper expectations. Velasquez might have the most live arm in the system, and if he can turn over a lineup and stick as a starter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him and his 95 mph fastball overtake the more command-oriented Nola as the team’s ace of the future. That is, if Thompson, a hulking right-handed prospect, can’t get his command under control and top them both. Eickhoff was never a top prospect, but dazzled in his debut last year with a plus curveball and could serve as the type of sleeper piece that helps accelerate and already cruising rebuild. Mark Appel? Anyone’s guess. Total wild card. But the kind of wild card with crazy upside, rather than the crazy kind that cuts your brakes.

But for now, Thompson and Appel aren’t ready and Velasquez can’t handle a full season’s workload in a rotation, so Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton are here to bide time. That’s all they’re doing, though. The future is bright in Philadelphia. It’s just not here quite yet.

#28 Orioles


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Chris Tillman 192.0 6.7 3.1 1.2 .296 71.4 % 4.36 4.49 1.8
Yovani Gallardo 176.0 5.9 3.1 1.1 .305 71.3 % 4.39 4.47 1.7
Ubaldo Jimenez 156.0 8.0 3.7 1.1 .303 71.5 % 4.27 4.26 1.8
Miguel Gonzalez 140.0 6.5 2.9 1.4 .296 71.4 % 4.64 4.88 0.7
Kevin Gausman 131.0 7.7 2.9 1.1 .304 72.2 % 4.01 4.01 1.9
Odrisamer Despaigne 47.0 5.6 2.7 1.3 .302 68.3 % 4.80 4.79 0.3
Dylan Bundy 38.0 7.8 3.3 1.1 .300 72.9 % 4.00 4.16 0.5
Tyler Wilson 28.0 5.7 2.6 1.4 .305 68.2 % 4.97 4.89 0.1
Mike Wright 18.0 6.1 2.9 1.3 .303 69.7 % 4.78 4.83 0.1
Parker Bridwell 9.0 7.0 4.7 1.4 .305 69.2 % 5.31 5.30 0.0
Total 934.0 6.8 3.1 1.2 .301 71.3 % 4.39 4.47 8.9

If Jimmy Nelson isn’t the most underwhelming de facto ace in baseball, it’s Chris Tillman. Problem is, the Brewers are rebuilding, while the Orioles are trying to win. At least the Tigers and Blue Jays, in their attempts to slug their way to the playoffs, have pitchers resembling front-line starters. Kevin Gausman could be that guy, but he still hasn’t had the chance to be an everyday starter for a full season in the big leagues, and now he’s dealing with shoulder discomfort. Ubaldo Jimenez rebounded after an ugly first year in Baltimore, but he’s still too inconsistent with his command to be a truly reliable option. Every fifth day, the Orioles scramble to find a spot starter until Miguel Gonzalez knocks on Buck Showalter’s office door to remind him that he still exists.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the diamond in the rough here could be Dylan Bundy. Bundy is out of options, so not only is he guaranteed to get his shot in the bigs this year, but he might have the longest leash in baseball. While he isn’t yet stretched out to start, he’s back to throwing 95 with a plus curve out of the bullpen in the spring, and with the makeup of this rotation, the Orioles might be forced to try Bundy in the rotation if he keeps this up. That is, if he can stay healthy. That’s the first priority, and it might be the thing that keeps him refined to the pen. How about that? The potential lifesaver might be trapped.

#29 Royals


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Ian Kennedy 180.0 7.8 3.0 1.3 .300 71.8 % 4.33 4.41 1.4
Yordano Ventura 172.0 8.3 3.2 0.8 .303 73.3 % 3.61 3.69 2.8
Edinson Volquez 161.0 6.7 3.4 1.0 .297 71.3 % 4.16 4.34 1.4
Kris Medlen 140.0 6.2 2.4 1.1 .303 70.7 % 4.26 4.32 1.2
Chris Young 103.0 6.0 3.3 1.4 .278 73.3 % 4.32 4.91 0.2
Dillon Gee 57.0 5.9 2.1 1.2 .299 70.4 % 4.26 4.34 0.5
Mike Minor 48.0 6.4 2.6 1.3 .290 72.3 % 4.26 4.55 0.3
Danny Duffy 38.0 7.4 3.3 1.0 .292 74.6 % 3.68 4.13 0.4
Kyle Zimmer 28.0 7.6 3.2 1.0 .303 71.3 % 4.15 4.15 0.3
Miguel Almonte 9.0 7.4 3.5 1.2 .302 70.8 % 4.51 4.58 0.1
Brian Flynn 9.0 6.3 3.2 1.0 .305 71.0 % 4.32 4.40 0.1
Total 947.0 7.1 3.0 1.1 .297 72.0 % 4.12 4.29 8.5

For all the time spent analyzing the Royals this offseason — the offense, and whether its combination of contact and speed is breaking the projection systems, the bullpen, and whether we can’t accurately account for the value of a high-leverage reliever — it seems to be often glossed-over that the driving force behind the Royals’ underwhelming projection is what looks like a terrible starting rotation.

I know what you’re thinking: but the defense, and the Chris Young FIP, and the similarly underwhelming rotation to start last year, too, and the ability to trade for another Johnny Cueto at the deadline — all true! And I don’t actually think this is the second-worst starting rotation in baseball. But I’m not sure it’s much better, and even an elite defense can’t polish a turd. That’s how the saying goes, right?

Edinson Volquez is the Opening Day starter, and just last year he had worse-than-average strikeout and walk rates with an exactly league-average ground-ball rate. There isn’t much to love in Volquez’s profile. Ian Kennedy is likely to pitch more innings than anyone on the staff, and just last year he allowed the highest OPS in baseball, while pitching in a massive park against an easier league. Yordano Ventura is easily the most enticing pitcher on the staff, but even he hasn’t yet had the results to match the stuff, and the command still needs work if he’s to be relied on as a No. 1 starter.

The depth options are enticing, and the Royals have had something of a knack for revitalizing pitcher’s careers in recent years, so maybe Dillon Gee or Mike Minor emerge as useful pieces again. But without another rehabilitation or midseason trade, it’s tough to see this rotation leading another World Series run. Then again, that’s what we’ve said each of the last two years. Go ahead. Crack the egg on my face, Kansas City.

#30 Braves


Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Julio Teheran 205.0 8.0 2.7 1.1 .298 74.1 % 3.74 3.96 2.2
Bud Norris 161.0 8.0 2.9 1.0 .308 71.1 % 4.08 4.00 1.6
Matthew Wisler 132.0 7.1 2.7 1.3 .303 71.8 % 4.32 4.40 0.7
Mike Foltynewicz 112.0 8.5 4.1 1.1 .305 71.6 % 4.40 4.37 0.6
Jhoulys Chacin 85.0 6.7 3.2 1.0 .307 71.0 % 4.24 4.25 0.6
Williams Perez 74.0 6.4 3.3 1.0 .307 70.0 % 4.40 4.36 0.4
Manny Banuelos 64.0 7.9 4.2 0.9 .301 71.7 % 4.16 4.27 0.4
Aaron Blair 45.0 8.1 3.3 1.0 .310 71.4 % 4.11 4.03 0.4
Tyrell Jenkins 37.0 5.8 3.9 1.1 .303 69.3 % 4.91 4.93 0.0
John Gant 19.0 7.7 3.7 1.1 .308 70.9 % 4.41 4.33 0.1
Casey Kelly 9.0 6.2 3.2 1.1 .306 68.6 % 4.68 4.57 0.0
Ryan Weber 9.0 5.9 1.8 1.1 .306 69.4 % 4.23 4.18 0.1
Total 952.0 7.6 3.2 1.1 .304 71.7 % 4.17 4.21 7.3

The Atlanta Braves’ rotation is like leaving the house in sweatpants because you don’t want to put on jeans. It’s like splashing your face with water and wetting down your hair in lieu of taking a shower. It’s like starting a list of three things and only providing two because it’s late and, eh, this is good enough.

Aside from Julio Teheran, nothing is certain in Atlanta’s rotation, and even Teheran is something of an uncertainty after taking a step back with his command last year. Norris is the “proven vet” but is also coming off a horrendous season and by midseason will likely either be trade bait if effective, or a bullpen/DFA candidate if not. Of the young guys, Wisler’s got the most experience, Foltynewicz has the 95 mph fastball, Banuelos has the former prospect status, Jenkins has the current prospect status, and Blair has the MLB-readiness to go along with current prospect status. Blair has the highest upside of the group, but all these guys will get their chance this year and any number of them could make a name for themselves. The more the merrier, because there’s plenty of holes to be filled, as is.

We hoped you liked reading 2016 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Rotations (#16-30) by August Fagerstrom!

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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.

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Don Zimmer will have his revenge on Pedro
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Don Zimmer will have his revenge on Pedro

Nice try with the disclaimer on groupings. I’m incredibly angry that [my team] is ranked below [other team]! Why do you hate [my team]?!?!

Baller McCheese
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Baller McCheese

[Expletive] [your team].

Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back
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Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back

Cranker said:
28, 2016 at 09:10

Nice try with the group warned. I am very angry, my team is classified under other groups! I hate your team?!?!

Great Mekiiz said:
28 2016 at 22:17

[Curse] [Team].