MLB Power Rankings: Re-Ranking All 30 Teams' Rotations Heading into May
Heading into the second month of the season, it is time to look back and revise the original rankings for every MLB team's starting rotations.
Some teams, such as the Orioles, Pirates and Cardinals, have greatly outperformed my rankings, as they came out of the gates pitching a lot better than expected.
On the other hand, there were teams such as the Brewers and Red Sox that had an underwhelming start to the year and subsequently fell in the rankings.
With more than five months left in the season and big names such as Jarrod Parker and Andy Pettitte set to make their mark this month, it will definitely be a great time to watch some baseball.
Here is a look at this month's power rankings for each MLB rotation. Be sure to check back each month for an updated look to see where your favorite team lands.
30. Minnesota Twins (April Rank: 23)
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1. Carl Pavano (1-2, 4.91)
2. Francisco Liriano (0-3, 11.02 ERA)
3. Liam Hendriks (0-1, 6.89 ERA)
4. Nick Blackburn (0-3, 6.64 ERA)
5. Jason Marquis (2-0, 6.23 ERA)
5a. Anthony Swarzak (0-3, 5.03 ERA)
DL: Scott Baker (out for season)
Not much has gone right for the Twins this season, and their rotation is no exception.
After a great spring training, Francisco Liriano has been awful. They have four starters with an ERA over six heading into Monday night's action, leaving Carl Pavano's 4.91 mark as the best on their team.
With the worst team ERA in all of baseball, not to mention the league's worst record, there is no getting around how bad they have been thus far.
29. Kansas City Royals (April Rank: 28)
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1. Bruce Chen (0-3, 4.23)
2. Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98)
3. Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 6.75 ERA)
4. Luis Mendoza (1-2, 6.00 ERA)
5. Daniel Duffy (1-2, 3.63 ERA)
Tied with Minnesota for the league's worst record are the Kansas City Royals.
I expected Jonathan Sanchez and Luis Mendoza to take steps forward this season, but each have been big disappointments, sitting with ERAs of 6.75 and 6.00, respectively.
Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar have been decent, and top prospect Daniel Duffy has shown glimpses of why he is so highly regarded. Still, this Royals team needs a lot of help, and the rotation is no exception.
28. Colorado Rockies (April Rank: 22)
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1. Jeremy Guthrie (2-1, 5.92 ERA)
2. Jamie Moyer (1-2, 3.14 ERA)
3. Juan Nicasio (2-0, 4.40 ERA)
4. Jhoulys Chacin (0-2, 5.85 ERA)
5. Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
I still love this rotation's potential, but unfortunately for the Rockies, the only pitcher who has lived up to expectations has been the 49-year-old.
Even after his rough start against the Mets on Sunday, Moyer still leads the starters with a 3.14 ERA. In spite of a fastball that does not reach 80 mph, he should be solid all year.
The rest of the young guns will turn it around, but until they do, this rotation ranks near the bottom of the league.
27. Houston Astros (April Rank: 29)
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1. Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 1.72 ERA)
2. Lucas Harrell (1-2, 4.71 ERA)
3. Bud Norris (1-1, 5.46 ERA)
4. J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.70 ERA)
5. Kyle Weiland (0-3, 6.62 ERA)—DL
6. Jordan Lyles (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
Considering where the Astros were pegged heading into the season, I think having the 27th-best team ERA in baseball is actually progress.
Wandy Rodriguez has been nothing short of outstanding, and as long as he performs at a reasonable level, he will keep this rotation out of the cellar.
26. Chicago Cubs (April Rank: 27)
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1. Matt Garza (2-1, 2.67 ERA)
2. Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 4.13 ERA)
3. Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.33 ERA)
4. Chris Volstad (0-3, 6.11 ERA)
5. Paul Maholm (2-2, 6.20 ERA)
6. Randy Wells (0-1, 6.23 ERA)
With Matt Garza at the front of this rotation, the Cubs have themselves a bona-fide ace.
Unfortunately, Chicago has essentially no depth.
Ryan Dempster is close to returning from the DL, and Jeff Samardzija has looked solid in his debut as a full-time starter. However, with Chris Volstad, Paul Maholm and Randy Wells rounding out the rotation, the Cubs will have to wait some time before they move higher up this list.
25. Cleveland Indians (April Rank: 25)
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1. Justin Masterson (0-2, 5.40 ERA)
2. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-1, 4.50 ERA)
3. Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.27 ERA)
4. Josh Tomlin (1-2, 5.48 ERA)
5. Jeanmar Gomez (1-1, 2.35 ERA)
Where is the real Derek Lowe, and what have you done with him?
After his remarkable turnaround this season, I know at least the Braves are asking that question.
With Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez struggling, Lowe has carried this rotation, and Jeanmar Gomez has looked great so far in 2012.
If Masterson and Jimenez return to form, the Indians have the potential to really climb this list.
24. Oakland Athletics (April Rank: 26)
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1. Brandon McCarthy (1-3, 3.23 ERA)
2. Bartolo Colon (3-2, 2.53 ERA)
3. Tom Milone (3-2, 3.69 ERA)
4. Tyson Ross (1-1, 6.48 ERA)
5. Jarrod Parker (0-0, 1.42 ERA)
6. Graham Godfrey (0-3, 5.06 ERA)
The Athletics have quietly found themselves a nice rotation with some depth.
Brandon McCarthy is building off his great 2011 with five out of six quality starts so far this year, and Bartolo Colon is showing his performance with the Yankees last season was no fluke.
While Tom Milone's days with a sub-3.00 ERA didn't last long, I am a big believer in his ability to be a successful back-of-the-rotation starter. Of course, he just got crushed by the Red Sox, but that should be the aberration rather than the normality.
Top prospect Jarrod Parker is already up in the big leagues, so with this solid front four, the A's will be in just about every game for the foreseeable future.
23. San Diego Padres (April Rank: 17)
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1. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)
2. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)
3. Clayton Richard (1-3, 5.12 ERA)
4. Anthony Bass (1-3, 2.30 ERA)
5. Joe Wieland (0-4, 4.91 ERA)
DL: Dustin Moseley
Playing in the pitching haven that is PETCO Park, the Padres rotation has a distinct home-field advantage.
Having said that, the rotation still has its flaws, and if it was not for Anthony Bass' development this season, San Diego would have had even more problems.
Bass has 27 K's in 27.1 innings, Cory Luebke is performing like the ace he showed he could be last season, and Edinson Volquez is showing glimpses of the potential that made him an equal value in a trade for Josh Hamilton.
22. Baltimore Orioles (April Rank: 30)
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1. Jake Arrieta (1-2, 4.45 ERA)
2. Tommy Hunter (2-1, 4.26 ERA)
3. Jason Hammel (3-1, 1.97 ERA)
4. Brian Matusz (0-3, 5.56 ERA)
5. Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 2.22 ERA)
Heading into the year, I did not believe the Orioles had a No. 1 starter.
After being acquired from the Rockies, Jason Hammel has done his best to prove me wrong.
Hammel's three wins and 1.97 ERA are both team bests. Baltimore has the seventh-best team ERA in all of baseball, as it sits atop the AL East.
21. Seattle Mariners (April Rank: 18)
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1. Felix Hernandez (2-1, 2.23 ERA)
2. Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.38 ERA)
3. Hector Noesi (1-2, 8.83 ERA)
4. Blake Beavan (1-2, 3.60 ERA)
5. Kevin Millwood (0-2, 5.24 ERA)
Until the Mariners' top prospects are ready, Seattle's rotation is essentially Felix Hernandez and everybody else.
When a rotation has a perennial Cy Young candidate who is capable of winning 20 games and striking out 200 people in his sleep, it takes a lot of pressure off of everyone else—especially young pitchers.
Jason Vargas has developed into a nice starter, Blake Beavan has gotten off to a solid start in 2012 and Hector Noesi will continue to get better after his slow start.
20. Boston Red Sox (April Rank: 12)
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1. Jon Lester (1-2, 4.65 ERA)
2. Josh Beckett (2-3, 4.45 ERA)
3. Clay Buchholz (3-1, 8.69 ERA)
4. Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.09 ERA)
5. Daniel Bard (2-2, 3.72 ERA)
The names Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz are still there, but as their stats show, the performance has not followed suit.
However, after a terribly slow start as a team, the pitching has stepped it up of late, only allowing 3.3 runs over their last seven games.
Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard have shown they belong, so if Boston's other "Big Three" can raise their games, the Red Sox rotation will be on the rise, and quickly.
19. Cincinnati Reds (April Rank: 15)
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1. Johnny Cueto (3-0, 1.39 ERA)
2. Mat Latos (1-2, 5.97 ERA)
3. Bronson Arroyo (1-0, 2.70 ERA)
4. Mike Leake (0-3, 6.65 ERA)
5. Homer Bailey (1-2, 3.60 ERA)
Johnny Cueto does not surprise me anymore.
Year after year, he improves. After many people doubted his 2.31 ERA last year, his 1.39 ERA at this point in 2012 shows he may still might have more room to grow.
The Reds are this low because after Cueto, they do not have as much as I thought. Mat Latos has struggled adjusting to his new surroundings, Mike Leake has not had one good start in any of his four appearances this year and Homer Bailey is an injury waiting to happen.
Unless Latos turns it around, I fear the Reds will not be able to live up to preseason expectations.
18. Chicago White Sox (April Rank: 21)
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1. John Danks (2-3, 6.23 ERA)
2. Jake Peavy (3-1, 1.67 ERA)
3. Gavin Floyd (2-3, 3.13 ERA)
4. Chris Sale (2-1, 3.12 ERA)
5. Philip Humber (1-1, 4.16)
Jake Peavy and Chris Sale have turned me into believers.
Peavy has thrown back-to-back complete games and has regained the form that made him a perennial Cy Young candidate a couple of years ago with the Padres. In addition, Chris Sale has looked great in his debut as a starting pitcher, with 26 strikeouts against only seven walks in 26 innings.
Philip Humber threw a perfect game, and Gavin Floyd is as consistent as ever. If John Danks can turn his season around, the White Sox will have one of the deepest rotations in baseball.
17. New York Mets (April Rank: 19)
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1. Johan Santana (0-2, 2.25 ERA)
2. R.A. Dickey (3-1, 4.45 ERA)
3. Jon Niese (2-0, 2.81 ERA)
4. Dillon Gee (2-2, 4.85 ERA)
5. Chris Schwinden (0-0, 11.25 ERA)
DL: Mike Pelfrey out for season
This is what I wrote a month ago: "The Mets have the potential to be a very solid rotation and finish higher on this list if everything pans out."
Even with the injury to Mike Pelfrey, everything has panned out as we enter May baseball.
Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese represent a very nice one-two-three for the rotation. Dillon Gee is a solid No. 4 starter. If the Mets can get average production from their fifth starter, they will continue to surprise the baseball world, as their lineup still has room to improve.
The important thing for the rest of the season will be Santana's health.
16. New York Yankees (April Rank: 7)
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1. CC Sabathia (3-0, 4.58 ERA)
2. Hiroki Kuroda (2-3, 3.69 ERA)
3. Phil Hughes (1-3, 7.88)
4. Ivan Nova (3-0, 5.18 ERA)
5. David Phelps (0-0, 3.57 ERA as reliever)
Bullpen: Freddy Garcia
ALT: Michael Pineda (out for season), Andy Pettitte (minors)
The Yankees rotation has earned a lot of press because of poor performance and injuries.
After a couple of poor starts, CC Sabathia has resurrected his 2012 season. After him, the Yankees are full of question marks.
Hiroki Kuroda has struggled moving from L.A. to the Bronx, Phil Hughes has been terrible and Freddy Garcia was so bad he was demoted to the bullpen in favor of David Phelps.
If these struggles continue, the Yanks rotation will continue to move down this list, but I still believe in the likes of Hughes, Kuroda and especially Ivan Nova (25/5 K/BB ratio). I think they will bounce back sooner rather than later.
15. Toronto Blue Jays (April Rank: 16)
1. Ricky Romero (3-0, 3.18 ERA)
2. Brandon Morrow (2-1, 3.03 ERA)
3. Henderson Alvarez (1-2, 3.62 ERA)
4. Kyle Drabek (2-2, 2.40 ERA)
5. Drew Hutchison (1-0, 6.10 ERA)
The daunting task of pitching against the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox every year does not seem to faze the young Blue Jays rotation.
The front of Toronto's rotation has lived up to expectations, as Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow have become two of the better pitchers in the American League.
Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek represent two more great young pitchers for the Blue Jays. If they continue to pitch the way they have (Drabek threw extremely well against the Rangers on national television), the Jays may continue to rise up this list.
14. Atlanta Braves (April Rank: 13)
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1. Tommy Hanson (3-2, 3.00 ERA)
2. Brandon Beachy ( 2-1, 1.05 ERA)
3. Mike Minor (2-2, 4.68 ERA)
4. Randall Delgado ( 2-2, 6.30 ERA)
5. Tim Hudson (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
ALT: Jair Jurrjens (minors), Julio Teheran (top prospect)
The Atlanta Braves rotation has a ton of potential, and they just got one of the best pitchers of the last decade back to full health.
Tim Hudson earned the win Sunday, and with Brandon Beachy pitching the way he has, combined with Tommy Hanson, the Braves have quite a formidable top three.
The question mark remains Jair Jurrjens. If he can return to form in Triple-A, look out for Atlanta.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (April Rank: 4)
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1. Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA)
2. Zack Greinke (3-1, 3.94 ERA)
3. Randy Wolf (2-2, 6.84 ERA)
4. Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA)
5. Marco Estrada (0-1, 3.71 ERA)
DL: Chris Narveson out for season
I still have a lot of faith in the Brewers rotation, but they simply have not performed.
Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf both have ERAs higher than six, and Zack Greinke has not been anything special despite his three wins.
There should be four quality pitchers in this rotation. While they drop nine spots this month, they will have bounced back by the time next month's rankings roll around.
12. Detroit Tigers (April Rank: 11)
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1. Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.41 ERA)
2. Max Scherzer (1-3, 7.77 ERA)
3. Drew Smyly (1-0, 1.23 ERA)
4. Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.45)
5. Adam Wilk (0-3, 8.18)
DL: Doug Fister
Akin to the Seattle Mariners, the Tigers rotation has turned into Justin Verlander and a bunch of question marks.
Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Adam Wilk have been terrible. While Drew Smyly has been spectacular, he is still an unknown with just four starts in his big-league career.
Verlander has the ability to carry this rotation until Doug Fister returns from the DL and Scherzer/Porcello return to form. However, if the Tigers want to go anywhere in October, this trend will need to reverse itself.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates (April Rank: 24)
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1. Erik Bedard (1-4, 2.48 ERA)
2. A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.38 ERA)
3. James McDonald (1-1, 2.97 ERA)
4. Kevin Correia (1-1, 2.42 ERA)
5. Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.65 ERA)
DL: Jeff Karstens
Can you guess the only rotation in baseball where all five starters have an ERA less than three?
It's kind of obvious, as we're on the Pirates page and all, but it does not make it any less impressive.
The best part for Pirates fans is that I expect at least three of these starters—Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett and James McDonald—to continue this type of performance.
In addition, Charlie Morton showed he was capable of pitching at this level last year, as he had a 2.52 ERA after 75 innings last year. Kevin Correia is a solid veteran to complete the staff.
If the Pirates begin to hit, they will make this staff—especially Erik Bedard—look even better.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (April Rank: 10)
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1. Ian Kennedy (3-0, 3.38 ERA)
2. Trevor Cahill (1-2, 3.70 ERA)
3. Joe Saunders (2-1, 0.90 ERA)
4. Wade Miley (3-0, 1.29 ERA)
5. Josh Collmenter (0-2, 9.82 ERA)
DL: Daniel Hudson
Daniel Hudson is injured, but it is not a long-term injury, and Joe Saunders and Wade Miley have more than made up for his absence.
Ian Kennedy looks like he will be in the middle of the Cy Young race again. Once Hudson comes off the DL, the D-Backs will be able to send Josh Collmenter to the bullpen or minors. The best is yet to come for Arizona.
9. Miami Marlins (April Rank: 9)
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1. Josh Johnson (0-3, 5.34 ERA)
2. Mark Buehrle (1-4, 3.34 ERA)
3. Ricky Nolasco (2-0, 3.20 ERA)
4. Carlos Zambrano (0-2, 3.24 ERA)
5. Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 2.73 ERA)
The Marlins rank this high because at this point in the season, Josh Johnson has been their worst starting pitcher.
Who would have thought that was even possible?
If/when Johnson returns to form, Miami will move up even further, as everyone else in the rotation has an ERA below 3.50.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (April Rank: 14)
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1. Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.78 ERA)
2. Chad Billingsley (2-1, 2.64 ERA)
3. Chris Capuano (3-0, 2.73 ERA)
4. Aaron Harang (1-2, 5.72 ERA)
5. Ted Lilly (2-0, 0.90 ERA)
When you have Clayton Kershaw, your rotation is inherently going to be good.
When you add three other pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs, your rotation goes from good to great.
The Dodgers have the seventh-best ERA as a team in all of baseball. The way Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano have looked so far this season, that number may stay in the top 10 all season.
7. Los Angeles Angels (April Rank: 3)
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1. Jered Weaver (3-0, 2.02 ERA)
2. Dan Haren (1-1, 3.34 ERA)
3. Ervin Santana (0-5, 5.58 ERA)
4. C.J. Wilson (3-2, 2.70 ERA)
5. Jerome Williams (1-1, 5.51 ERA)
How a team as talented as the Angels is 8-15, I will never understand, especially when their pitching staff has actually been pretty good.
Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson have been great. Dan Haren has pitched well enough to win multiple games. While Ervin Santana has struggled with a 5.58 ERA, the Angels have not scored a run over his last four starts.
Most of the blame for L.A.'s struggles belongs on the hitters and the bullpen, as the starting rotation—especially the front three—has been outstanding.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (April Rank: 20)
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1. Kyle Lohse (4-0, 1.62 ERA)
2. Jaime Garcia (2-1, 2.78 ERA)
3. Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.32 ERA)
4. Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.33 ERA)
5. Jake Westbrook (3-1, 1.30 ERA)
DL: Chris Carpenter
In my last power rankings, many of you pointed out that the Cardinals were way too low, and you were right.
While I was correct in questioning Adam Wainwright, as he has struggled, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook have been nothing short of spectacular. Lance Lynn, who I barely even mentioned in my old rankings, has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball after the first month.
Although I do not believe this rotation can sustain this level of performance, they have the second-best team ERA in all of baseball and belong this high in the rankings.
5. Texas Rangers (April Rank: 8)
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1. Colby Lewis (3-0, 1.93 ERA)
2. Derek Holland (2-2, 5.13 ERA)
3. Yu Darvish (4-0, 2.18 ERA)
4. Matt Harrison (3-1, 3.38 ERA)
5. Neftali Feliz (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
After his first-inning hiccup against Seattle in his first career start, Yu Darvish has been even better than advertised.
Not only is he 4-0, but he has faced three of the best offenses in the American League in the Tigers, Yankees and Blue Jays, each in hitters' parks. He only gave up two runs in 21.2 innings while striking out 24.
The Japanese ace is here to stay, and he is the Rangers' No. 3 starter. Look out, MLB.
4. San Francisco Giants (April Rank: 5)
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1. Tim Lincecum (2-2, 5.74 ERA)
2. Matt Cain (1-1, 2.37 ERA)
3. Madison Bumgarner (4-1, 2.53 ERA)
4. Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 4.19 ERA)
5. Barry Zito (1-0, 1.67 ERA)
How could the Giants move up after Tim Lincecum's disastrous start?
Well, in his last 15 innings, he has only given up two runs, so I can confidently say "The Freak" is back.
On top of that, Matt Cain has looked as good as ever, and Madison Bumgarner is still my underdog to win the Cy Young. And somehow, Barry Zito has returned to his dominant form as if he is back in Oakland.
The Giants have as strong a front three and as deep a starting five as any other team in baseball. Until that changes, the Giants will stay in the top five all season long.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (April Rank: 1)
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1. Roy Halladay (3-2, 1.95 ERA)
2. Cole Hamels (3-1, 2.73 ERA)
3. Vance Worley (2-1, 1.97 ERA)
4. Joe Blanton (2-3, 3.81 ERA)
5. Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 6.59 ERA)
DL: Cliff Lee (0-1, 1.96 ERA)
Even with Cliff Lee on the disabled list, the continued emergence of Vance Worley has almost made it a non-story.
After Monday night's performance against the Cubs, Worley dropped his ERA below two; he seems every bit as good as he was last season.
Adding Worley to the "Big Three" of Halladay, Hamels and Lee makes their rotation even better than it was last season, when their staff finished the year with the best ERA in baseball.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (April Rank: 2)
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1. James Shields (4-0, 3.31 ERA)
2. David Price (4-1, 2.67 ERA)
3. Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.51 ERA)
4. Matt Moore (0-1, 4.68 ERA)
5. Jeff Niemann (1-3, 3.68 ERA)
ALT: Wade Davis
The reputation surrounding the Rays rotation heading into the regular season has not changed.
They already have three pitchers who could be aces on a majority of teams throughout baseball; that does not even include Matt Moore, who has only scratched the surface of his potential.
When he breaks out and pitches well consistently, their rotation will be very tough to beat.
1. Washington Nationals (April Rank: 6)
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1. Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.13 ERA)
2. Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.82 ERA)
3. Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 1.33)
4. Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.16 ERA)
5. Ross Detwiler (2-1, 1.64 ERA)
One of the only teams who will be able to compete with the Rays' youth and exuberance is the Nationals. At this point in the season, their rotation has been the best in baseball, and it is not close.
Washington boasts four starters with an ERA under two, and their top three of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann look as good as any three pitchers out there. Strasburg is the early favorite for the NL Cy Young (if the Nats do not limit his innings), and Ross Detwiler has been outstanding thus far in 2012. His 2.96 FIP and 66 percent ground-ball rate prove his results are legitimate.
At this point in the season, the Nationals not only have the best front of the rotation in baseball, but they also have the deepest staff, with Jackson and Detwiler rounding out the top five.
The way they are going, they will hold onto this top spot for the foreseeable future.