In the biggest trade of the offseason so far, the Blue Jays made a bold move to add two top starters to their lineup.
Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are both big time pitchers, and these two add to a Toronto pitching staff that lacked a dominant starter.
Although the Blue Jays did give up talented right-hander Henderson Alvarez, they now have what could be the answer to their pitching staff.
But what all of this means to the toughest division in baseball is even more profound.
So which team has the best pitching rotation?
In 2012, the Red Sox had a miserable season to say the least.
They finished dead last in their division, and their pitching staff had the 12th highest earned run average in the American League.
Currently Boston’s starting rotation hasn’t changed much from last year: Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Franklin Morales.
It’s not looking good. Aside from Lester and Buchholz, the Red Sox rotation is not strong.
Lackey is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and both Doubront and Morales haven’t had consistent success as starters.
This team has a lot of holes, and their rotation is no exception.
With the strength of the AL East, this rotation will struggle the most.
Although the Yankees aren’t quite in the same boat as Boston, they are still searching for starting pitching—literally.
Right now Andy Pettitte is still a free agent, leaving Phil Hughes, David Phelps, Ivan Nova and newly resigned Hiroki Kuroda behind ace C.C. Sabathia.
With the current staff they have, New York’s rotation can be best described as inconsistent.
Three of the starters behind Sabathia are still young, but neither Hughes nor Nova seemed to be able to string together two good starts. Both Hughes and Nova finished the year with earned run averages over 4.20.
Phelps had a good season, posting a 3.34 earned run average, but he only started in 11 games. And even Sabathia was inconsistent down the stretch after coming off of the disabled list in August.
Kuroda was the most dependable pitcher in the rotation throughout last season, but he isn't getting any younger.
The return of Kuroda certainly helps this rotation, but it still doesn't compare well to the other three rotations in the division.
For what Buck Showalter did with his team and how well they played against the Yankees in the playoffs, you’d think the Orioles would be ranked a little higher.
But Baltimore’s pitching wasn’t quite dominant last year, and with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Miquel Gonzalez and Brian Matusz all set to return, we’ll have to see if they can get better.
All five of the Orioles' starters are under 30, and Hammel, Gonzalez and Tillman had earned run averages of less than 3.50 last year.
This is a young rotation that is still growing, but they need to get better.
The Baltimore rotation can’t match the rotations of Tampa Bay or Toronto—at least not yet.
At 33-years-old, Mark Buehrle will be coming into Toronto as the veteran in the rotation.
The Blue Jay rotation, with Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ, has emerged from the most recent trade very strong with proven winners.
The 28-year-old Johnson is expected to be the number one starter after struggling to find run support in Miami last year. Johnson only won eight games but still had a 3.81 ERA.
This is undoubtedly a solid rotation. Four of the five starters are under 30 and have a lot of major league experience.
One of the main things holding the Blue Jays from the top spot is the fact that both Johnson and Buehrle are coming from the National League into the American League.
Although Buehrle pitched virtually his entire career, except for this past season in the AL, Johnson hasn’t consistently pitched against the hitters in the American League—not to mention the AL East.
Transitioning from the NL to the AL isn’t always smooth for pitchers, and we’ll have to see how Johnson will do.
This year the Rays' pitching staff was the best in baseball, and David Price led the way with his first career Cy Young Award.
Price led a staff that finished 2012 with a 3.19 earned run average and gave up only 518 earned runs.
If manager Joe Maddon has proven anything over the past few seasons, it’s that his team knows how to win with young talent.
Aside from Price and James Shields, Tampa Bay’s rotation is 25-years-old or younger, and only number five starter Alex Cobb posted an ERA of over 3.81 last year.
All five starters are expected to be back for the Rays with Shields, Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Cobb.
Tampa Bay can straight up pitch, and they have proven that they can do so in the toughest division in baseball.
The Rays deserve this top spot because their young staff has proven success.