Power Ranking Every MLB Pitching Staff After Masahiro Tanaka Deal
Power Ranking Every MLB Pitching Staff After Masahiro Tanaka Deal
Spring Training is almost here! It's just three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to their designated areas to prepare for the upcoming 2014 MLB season.
This offseason has been quite the roller coaster ride. Top free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano and Brian McCann all found new homes with big deals. The drama has been fantastic with Ellsbury leaving the World Champion Boston Red Sox for their bitter rival New York Yankees. Speaking of the Yankees, they’ve been on one of the largest spending sprees in history by committing to over $400 million this offseason.
Perhaps one of the most exciting stories this offseason is the big signing of Masahiro Tanaka, the most desired pitcher from Japan. Tanaka has put up outstanding numbers over his career overseas, and now he must be able to perform in the big leagues. We all know how much hype surrounds these Japanese pitchers. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish were greatly anticipated and for the most part performed adequately. How much better can Tanaka make the Yankees this upcoming season? New York desperately needs the help.
Some teams have taken advantage of this offseason to bolster their pitching rotations. As we’ve seen the last few years, pitching is the most important commodity on a team that wants to win a championship. Look at the last four teams in the playoffs last season. The Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers all had one thing in common — a great pitching staff. Of course, there is still plenty of time for teams to continue to strengthen their pitching. Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo remain on the market.
Now that a fresh season is on the horizon, let’s take a look at where each team’s pitching staff ranks for the 2014 season.
Michael LeDuc is a Boston Celtics writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, and add him on Google.
30. Houston Astros
Potential Starters: Scott Feldman, Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Cosart, Lucas Harrell, Brad Peacock
The Houston Astros are again a sad excuse for a team in MLB this season. They won't find a way to be competitive anytime soon. However, there is promise with young pitchers like Oberholtzer and Cosart. These two pitchers looked steady in their short 2013 stints. They could be something to build on, but Astros will still be last in the league in terms of pitching -- and hitting, fielding, base running, etc.
29. Minnesota Twins
Potential Starters: Ricky Nolasco (above), Kevin Correia, Samuel Deduno, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley
The Twins had one of the worst pitching staffs in the league last season with the second worst ERA in the league. This offseason they added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. While Hughes is hardly an upgrade, Nolasco may make a slight difference. However, it is hard to predict how his mediocre pitching will translate in the American League. Minnesota had the least amount of quality starts with 62 in 2013. This pitching staff isn't looking so hot in 2014.
28. Chicago Cubs
Potential Starters: Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta, Carlos Villanueva
After losing out on the Tanaka sweepstakes, Chicago Cubs fans will have to go through another year of turmoil. Travis Wood (above) and Samardzija have flashed potential, but it won't be enough to compete consistently. Hopefully the Cubs can land David Price next season.
27. San Diego Padres
Potential Starters: Ian Kennedy (above), Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults, Josh Johnson, Tyson Ross, Cory Luebke, Casey Kelly
The Padres actually have potential on their pitching staff. While Kennedy is mediocre at best, Cashner could take a step forward and Johnson could return to form in the National League. Hopefully Casey Kelly will finally live up to the hype and rise to the occasion, but there are too many "what ifs" for the Padres to get out of the bottom of the league.
26. Colorado Rockies
Potential Starters: Jorge de la Rosa (above), Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles, Brett Anderson
Jorge de la Rosa has proven to be a steady starter, but by no means can he put a team over the top. The problem with the Rockies is their ace is a No. 3 or No. 4 starter at best. Colorado's pitching was a mess last year, but I do see a little improvement. A lot lays heavily on Chacin and Chatwood to get this team back into contention.
25. Toronto Blue Jays
Potential Starters: R.A. Dickey (above), Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, J.A. Happ, Esmil Rogers, Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek
The Blue Jays' best pitchers are old and nearly washed up. Dickey and Buehrle are still capable, but they cannot carry this staff in the tough AL East. I expect Toronto to be better than last year, but the pitching is weak. In 2013, this staff was in the bottom of the league in ERA and had the third least quality starts with 67. However, there are a couple of young guys who can potentially contribute this season.
24. Miami Marlins
Potential Starters: Jose Fernandez (above), Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner, Alex Sanabia
Jose Fernandez showed what he was capable of last season. This upcoming season, there is quite a bit of pressure on him to lead this staff. Then again, no one expects the Marlins to win anytime soon, so maybe the pressure talk is overstated. Miami has some potential as their top pitchers are under the age of 23 and have proven they can hold their own in MLB. Also, the acquisition of catcher Jarred Saltalamacchia should be beneficial to the youngsters.
23. Chicago White Sox
Potential Starters: Chris Sale (above), John Danks, Jose Quintana, Felipe Paulino, Erik Johnson
Chris Sale is the lone bright sport in Chicago's rotation. The 24-year old pitcher has shown that he has what it takes to make an impact in the league. Danks is also a serviceable veteran, and Quintana has also been adequate. Other than that, there isn't a lot of depth on the pitching staff.
22. Los Angeles Angels
Potential Starters: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs, Joe Blanton
The Angels' staff starts to get a little dicey after Weaver and Wilson. There is nobody to contribute on a consistent basis. Weaver and Wilson are the real deal, but no one on this staff can help them over the course of the season. There will be some improvement, but the Angels will be close to where they were last year near the bottom of MLB.
21. Philadelphia Phillies
Potential Starters: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Gonzalez, Roberto Hernandez
The Phillies are similar to the Angels—top heavy. They have a terrific starter in Cliff Lee, but how much does he realistically have left in the tank? He is going to be 36 next year and has certainly put on a lot of mileage over the years. Hamels had a slow start last season but is expected to have a much better year. Gonzalez may be something, but overall the pitching staff is weak. There are no high expectations coming from me for the Phillies this season.
20. Milwaukee Brewers
Potential Starters: Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg
Expect Gallardo to bounce back after his down year last season. If he can return to form, the Brewers may be able to make a run. If the Brewers can agree to terms with Garza, it'll make a huge difference. Without him, the Brewers are No. 23 instead of No. 20. Garza's presence will take some pressure off Gallardo and Lohse. Not a bad staff on paper, but there are some question marks.
19. Cleveland Indians
Potential Starters: Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Shaun Marcum, Trevor Bauer
It doesn't look like much on paper, but I believe in the Indians' pitching staff. Teams play for Terry Francona, and these "nobodies" will get the job done. Masterson, McAllister, Kluber and Salazar aren't going to overpower anyone or make any All-Star teams, but they are steady and consistent. Will it be enough to make the playoffs again?
18. Baltimore Orioles
Potential Starters: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Kevin Gausman
Chris Tillman needs to make another step forward to become the leader of this staff. After Tillman, every other pitcher is mediocre at best. Pitching was Baltimore's Achilles heal last season, and it is up to this staff to be good enough for this team to make an impact in the AL East. Unfortunately, besides Tillman this staff just doesn't have the consistency. Chen, Gonzalez and Norris need to step up next season.
17. Seattle Mariners
Potential Starters: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Brandon Maurer
This rotation did not fare well in the 2013 rankings, but I expect a huge leap. Hernandez and Iwakuma were solid last year and are positioned to lead this staff. I really like what I saw out of Paxton and Walker in their brief stints in 2013, and I believe that will translate into 2014. It sure does help when you have one of the best pitchers in MLB on your staff. King Felix will dominate.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
Potential Starters: Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Randall Delgado, Brandon McCarthy
I am overly excited about this Arizona pitching staff. Corbin is a stud in my eyes plus Miley and Chaill have a lot of promise too. Expect these youngsters to make a leap next season. This will be a fun staff to watch, and I definitely have high expectations for it.
15. Oakland Athletics
Potential Starters: Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily Scott Kazmir, Tom Milone
Bartolo Colon was the backbone of the great Athletics' pitching staff of 2013. Unfortunately, he has moved on. However, this staff is filled with mature, young and steady pitchers who are capable of carrying this team to success. Parker, Griffin, Gray and Straily are true competitors. The numbers won't be remotely as good as last year, but this rotation is in the Top 15 for sure.
14. New York Mets
Potential Starters: Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Jenrry Mejia, Matt Harvey
If Matt Harvey was healthy, this team would be ranked a lot higher. Sadly, he might not be back until the end of the 2014 season. At least New York signed Bartolo Colon. He dominated in the AL, so he should do just fine in the NL East. Gee, Wheeler and Niese look solid while Mejia may be something special. Mets fans have something to be excited about.
13. Kansas City Royals
Potential Starters: James Shields, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Danny Duffy, Wade Davis, Yordano Ventura
This team is one pitcher away from making a serious run in the Wild Card race. KC had one of the best pitching rotations in the league last year, being in the top 10 in terms of ERA. However, the loss of Ervin Santana does hurt. Vargas is serviceable but not as steady as Santana. With that being said, this staff is good enough to be ranked in the top 15.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates
Potential Starters: Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez, Charlie Morton, Edinson Volquez, Jeff Locke
How the Pirates' pitching fares is solely dependent on which Liriano shows up this season. If he pitches like last season, this is a top 15 staff. But if injuries start to plague his season the pitching staff will suffer. A.J. Burnett is a huge loss and his veteran presence will be missed. I believe the youngsters on this staff will take a step forward in 2014, but it wouldn't hurt to add another veteran pitcher.
11. New York Yankees
Potential Starters: CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Michael Pineda
Without the recent signing of Tanaka, this pitching staff would have been ranked a lot lower. But Tanaka is a great fit for the Yankees. It'll be beneficial to have Kuroda by his side as well. Sabathia had a bad season last year, so he really needs to become that ace again for the Yankees to succeed. The Yankees have a solid top-three, but there is not a lot to be said about the rest of the rotation. Overall, 2014 will be much better than 2013 for New York.
10. Texas Rangers
Potential Startes: Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross, Nicholas Tepesch, Colby Lewis
In terms of WAR, the Rangers were the second-best rotation in the league in 2013. Darvish is looking like a Cy Young pitcher and Perez is a promising young arm. There are many question marks in the rest of the rotation, but I think this underrated staff will get the job done.
9. San Francisco Giants
Potential Starters: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong
Madison Bumgarner is becoming quite the pitcher and is positioned to help lead this staff. Cain had a down a year and is projected to return to form. Lincecum needs to do better to put this staff over the top ,and I really like the signing of Tim Hudson. His veteran presence should help solidify this rotation.
8. Atlanta Braves
Potential Starters: Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Alex Wood, Gavin Floyd
The Braves astoundingly had the best team ERA in the league and the second most quality starts with 102. Teheran and Medlen are more than capable of leading this staff. I love Teheran; he's a young gunner and is exciting to watch.
7. Cincinnati Reds
Potential Starters: Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani
The Reds have solid pitching up and down their rotation. It's a very young bunch that knows how to pitch in the big leagues. If Cueto stays healthy, it'll be a huge boost. Latos is that guy at the top of the rotation, Bailey and Leake are consistent and Cingrani has a lot of potential. They were tied for fourth with 94 quality starts and fourth with a 3.38 ERA last season.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
Potential Starters: David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson, Jake Odorizzi
At times during 2013, Moore looked like the ace on the mound. Price and Moore are deadly at the top of the rotation. Cobb has shown to be a quality starter while Chris Archer is up-and-coming and should be an excellent pitcher.
5. Boston Red Sox
Potential Starters: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, Ryan Dempster
The re-emergence of Jon Lester is crucial for Boston. He needs to continue to show he can be that ace. Buccholz also has ace-like talent, but he needs to be able to stay on the field. Lackey was one of their best pitchers last season while Peavy, Dempster and Doubront are steady enough to give quality starts on a consistent basis. There's also some good pitchers waiting for their time down in the minors. What makes the reigning World Champions' staff better than the Rays' is the depth.
4. St. Louis Cardinals
Potential Starters: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Jaime Garcia
Wainwright is the true ace of the staff while rookie pitcher Wacha had unworldly performances last season and into the postseason. Miller is a solid starter, and Lynn and Kelly are consistent enough to contribute. Garcia has shown that he is a good pitcher, and maybe he can help out if he can stay on the field. This Cardinals staff will be at it again this season as one of the top rotations in MLB.
3. Washington Nationals
Potential Starters: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ross Detwiler
The Nationals are going to have a big year. Strasburg is going into his fifth year and should be able to dominate. Zimmermann had a terrific year last year and should be solid again. Gonzalez is capable pitcher, and Fister is a great option at the back of the rotation. It should be a dominant year for this Nationals' staff.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Potential Starters: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley
When your staff has two Cy Young pitchers at the top of the rotation, you're in pretty good shape. In my mind, they have two of the top five pitchers in the league. The Dodgers had the second-best ERA last season, and their greatness will continue. Ryu showed that he can pitch consistently in the league, and Haren is a good veteran addition. Beckett or Billingsley need to get back on track to make this staff virtually unbeatable.
1. Detroit Tigers
Potential Starters: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly
Like the Dodgers, it helps when you have two Cy Young pitchers at the top of your rotation. Verlander is primed for a great season after a a down year in 2013. Scherzer was the best pitcher in the AL last season, and Sanchez also had a terrific year. Porcello is average, and Smyly will be starting for the first time. Last year, Detroit led the league with 108 quality starts. This staff should be the best in 2014.