Ranking the Top 10 MLB Starting Rotations Heading into Spring Training

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Top 10 Rotations Ahead Of Spring Training

Jeff Curry – USA TODAY Sports

Starting rotations have always been important in baseball, and year after year contending teams try to bolster them looking to get more chances to compete for a World Series ring.

The starters are arguably some of the most important players in MLB, and sometimes a good rotation can be the difference between taking that step of making the playoffs and staying home. In fact, a strong rotation is often the difference between winning and losing the World Series.

And even though Opening Day is still more than two months away, Spring Training isn’t that far off, and the projected rotations can already be ranked as they appear to be set for several teams.

It’s no coincidence that the four teams that played in both the ALCS and the NLCS will feature at some point in the ranking as the starters carry a heavy load throughout the season. More often than not they are signaled as a key component on any winning team. You can have a lot of offense and some of the best bats in the world, but teams rarely go far in a season if they don’t have adequate pitching to complement the offense.

Several changes can occur between now and the start of the season, but the rotations presented here are the best in the Majors at the moment. In some cases having a good rotation doesn’t translate to a good overall record, but without looking at the win-loss total of each team, these are the 10 best rotations with Spring Training a little more than a month away.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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10. Seattle Mariners

Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker

The Seattle Mariners have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball – Felix Hernandez – to headline their staff, but it’s not as spectacular after him. Hisashi Iwakuma has been a sensational import from Japan and Taijuan Walker has all the tools to be a star at the MLB level, but James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez are two arms that downgrade the overall quality of the rotation.

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9. San Francisco Giants

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Rotation: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong

The San Francisco Giants’ rotation is not getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have enough quality to be considered a Top 10 unit. Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong are both on the wrong side of 30, but they are dependable options to be in the back of a staff that features the inconsistencies of Tim Lincecum and the dominance of Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner -- two quality pitchers that are set to bounce back this season.

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8. Texas Rangers

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Rotation: Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch

Japanese import Yu Darvish has been spectacular in his first two years since coming from the NPB, but after him there are several question marks with the rotation. Derek Holland will be sidelined until the All-Star break at the earliest, and that leaves Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch as the rest of the Texas Rangers' staff.

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7. Washington Nationals

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Rotation: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ross Detwiler

The Washington Nationals didn’t live up to the hype last season, but the quality of their staff should allow them to compete if the offense bounces back. Stephen Strasburg is one the best young pitchers in the game, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are as consistent as it gets and the move for Doug Fister adds even more quality to a team that needs it on the mound. Ross Detwiler is a solid option to be the fifth arm on the staff.

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6. Atlanta Braves

Daniel Shirey – USA TODAY Sports

Rotation: Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy, Alex Wood

Mike Minor and Kris Medlen headline the pitching staff for the Atlanta Braves, one of the most consistent in the NL in recent years. Julio Teheran made great leaps quality-wise last season, and both Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood should give plenty of innings at the back of the rotation.

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5. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Rotation: Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez, Edinson Volquez

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the perfect mixture of youth and experience in their rotation, and it should allow them to compete in the NL Central this season. NL Comeback Player of the Year Francisco Liriano and former first overall pick Gerrit Cole headline the staff, and the three other arms – Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez – are solid yet unspectacular.

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4. Detroit Tigers

Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports

Rotation: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly

The Detroit Tigers have an incredible trio to anchor the rotation led by ace Justin Verlander and followed by current AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly – who converted as a starter from the bullpen – round out a staff that is among the best in the AL.

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3. St. Louis Cardinals

Jeff Curry – USA TODAY Sports

Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly

Adam Wainwright is one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball, and he headlines the staff of the current NL Champions. Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller are on the fast track to stardom after their 2013 performances – especially in the postseason – and both Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly are more than reliable options to be back of the rotation options.

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2. Boston Red Sox

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Rotation: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy, John Lackey

The current World Series champions have one of the best rotations in MLB with five guys that can get the job done on any given day. The staff is anchored by ace Jon Lester, and Clay Buccholz took huge strides towards stardom last year. Veterans Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy provide stability and leadership with John Lackey being a more than adequate fifth starter.

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1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot of star power in their rotation, and it is headlined by the reigning NL Cy Young Winner Clayton Kershaw along with two stars like Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Dan Haren is a workhorse who can give plenty of innings as a fourth starter, and Josh Beckett is the final arm in what is arguably the best rotation in all of baseball.

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  • beelicker

    Not quite sure how the Cincy staff (#4 NL era, #1 NL BAA playing 1/2 their games in a bandbox home park) escapes mention here?