Starting rotations are the great equalizer in baseball.
No matter how potent a team's lineup, how its starting pitchers perform is the deciding factor in whether it will be successful over the course of the regular season.
A strong rotation not only keeps the score down, but it doesn't force the manager to overuse the bullpen, keeping relievers fresh and rested down the stretch.
A weak one does the opposite. Not only are games out of reach, but they get out of reach early, forcing a manager to tax his bullpen, leaving everyone associated with the club with a bad taste in their mouths.
As we look toward pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training (it's less than two months away, folks), what better time to see how each of the 30 starting rotations in baseball look as things stand on New Year's Day.
Some staffs are already set while others, well, let's just say that pitchers like Kyle Lohse and Shaun Marcum aren't likely to remain on the open market for much longer.
Drawing on past production, projections for 2013 and how they all seem to fit—or not fit—as a cohesive unit, let's take a look at how your favorite team's starting staff stacks up against the competition.
Can Drew Pomeranz handle major league pitching for a full season?
1. LHP Jorge De La Rosa
2. RHP Jhoulys Chacin
3. LHP Drew Pomeranz
4. RHP Juan Nicasio
5. LHP Jeff Francis
Colorado had the worst starting rotation in baseball last year, going 29-68 with a 5.81 ERA.
Unfortunately, I don't see much reason for excitement heading into 2013.
The return of Jorge De La Rosa should help, but expectations should be tempered. He's made 33 starts since the beginning of the 2010 season—the same number of starts that he made in 2009.
Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio are average at best, while Jeff Francis is well past his expiration date as an effective starting pitcher.
Drew Pomeranz, the major piece of the trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians in 2011, needs to take the next step in his development and show that he's capable of contributing at the major league level.
Until that happens—and we see that De La Rosa can once again be effective while playing a full season—there's little hope for the Rockies to have a rotation that isn't one of the worst in baseball.
"Hey you! Still believe I'm not the ace of this staff?"
1. RHP Lucas Harrell
2. RHP Bud Norris
3. RHP Phil Humber
4. RHP Jordan Lyles
5. RHP Alex White
The Astros staff is young, inexperienced and, quite frankly, could find themselves overmatched as the team makes the transition into the American League.
Harrell came out of nowhere to stake his claim to the top spot in the rotation last season, leading the team in wins (11) and ERA (3.76).
Humber, 30, is the veteran leader of the staff, having pitched in parts of seven major-league seasons.
No matter which way you slice it, it's going to be a long season in Houston.
If only Volquez could stop walking people...
1. RHP Edinson Volquez
2. LHP Clayton Richard
3. RHP Jason Marquis
4. LHP Eric Stults
5. RHP Tyson Ross
If it didn't pitch in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the land, San Diego's starting rotation would post far worse numbers than it does.
Clayton Richard is a solid starting pitcher. But after him, the staff is mediocre at best.
Edinson Volquez can blow the ball past batters anytime he likes, but he can't find the strike zone consistently and led the league in walks last year.
Jason Marquis used to be a reliable innings-eater, but he hasn't eclipsed 135 innings pitched in a season since 2009, and you have to wonder how much is left in his arm after battling injuries for the better part of three seasons.
Neither Eric Stults nor Tyson Ross is anything special, with Stults being a career journeyman and Ross, only 25, yet to show the ability to get major league batters out with any regularity.
Can Scott Diamond build off of an impressive 2012 campaign?
1. RHP Vance Worley
2. LHP Scott Diamond
3. RHP Kevin Correia
4. RHP Liam Hendriks
5. LHP Brian Duensing
There wasn't anywhere to go but up for the Minnesota Twins' starting rotation, a group that finished the 2012 season with the second-worst ERA (5.40) in baseball.
Vance Worley and Scott Diamond are young arms who have significant upside, while Kevin Correia is a serviceable veteran, though he's best suited for a back-of-the-rotation gig.
Liam Hendriks looked overmatched against major league hitters in 2012, evidenced by his 5.59 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, and whether he can be counted on to take the ball every fifth day remains to be seen.
Brian Duensing has proven over his four-year career that he is far more effective pitching out of the bullpen (3.38 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) than as a starter (4.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP).
If Worley and Diamond can take the next steps in their development, things might start looking up for the Twins in 2013.
Ricky Nolasco is the only starter with experience in Miami.
1. RHP Ricky Nolasco
2. RHP Henderson Alvarez
3. LHP Wade LeBlanc
4. RHP Nate Eovaldi
5. RHP Jacob Turner
Miami's rotation is mediocre with a chance of being slightly above average.
Ricky Nolasco is a middling starter who hasn't posted an ERA under 4.00 since 2008, and he's the ace of the staff.
Wade LeBlanc is a so-so finesse pitcher who doesn't do anything particularly well, while Henderson Alvarez, Nate Eovaldi and Jacob Turner all have room to grow, but thus far have been largely unimpressive in their short MLB careers.
Unless everything goes right in Miami, it's going to be a long season in South Florida.
Adding Trevor Bauer was a big step in the right direction.
1. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
2. RHP Justin Masterson
3. RHP Zach McAllister
4. RHP Carlos Carrasco
5. RHP Trevor Bauer
As I wrote shortly after the Indians signed RF Nick Swisher, Cleveland's starting rotation will continue to hinder progress for the Indians in 2013.
Devoid of a lefty, the Indians' rotation remains a murky mess.
Adding Trevor Bauer was a move in the right direction, but not even Bauer, widely considered to be one of the best pitching prospects in baseball heading into 2012, can save this group.
Ubaldo Jimenez has been an unmitigated disaster since his arrival, going 13-21 with a 5.32 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 42 starts for the Indians.
Justin Masterson took a major step backward in 2012, and McAllister, Carrasco and Bauer all have nice upsides—none higher than Bauer—but the trio is unproven.
1. RHP Felix Hernandez
2. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
3. RHP Erasmo Ramirez
4. RHP Blake Beavan
5. RHP Hector Noesi
Whenever you have Felix Hernandez taking the ball every fifth day, things can't be all that bad when it comes to your starting rotation.
Hisashi Iwakuma, 31, is coming off his first major-league season, one that saw him pitch much better as a starter than he did out of the bullpen. In 16 starts last season, Iwakuma went 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.
If he can keep that up all season, the Mariners might not feel the sting of losing left-hander Jason Vargas quite as much.
The trio of Ramirez, Beavan and Noesi remains talented but unproven, meaning nobody's quite sure what to expect from them.
Should anyone not named Hernandez struggle, the Mariners' three best prospects: LHP Danny Hultzen, RHP Taijuan Walker and RHP James Paxton could make their major league debuts sooner rather than later.
Fiers will look to build off of a solid 2012.
1. RHP Yovani Gallardo
2. RHP Marco Estrada
3. RHP Michael Fiers
4. LHP Chris Narveson
5. RHP Mark Rogers
The rotation is drastically different from a year ago, when Gallardo, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum comprised three-fifths of the group.
Gallardo remains one of the most overlooked pitchers in the game, throwing quality innings and giving the Brewers a chance to win every time he's on the mound.
The rest of the rotation is a bit of a crap shoot.
Estrada has a total of 32 career starts over five seasons, while Narveson is returning from rotator cuff surgery that cost him all but two games in 2012.
Both Fiers and Rogers have significant upside, and their ability to take the next step in their development will go a long way toward determining what kind of season the Brewers enjoy in 2013.
James Shields immediately improves the Royals rotation.
1. RHP James Shields
2. RHP Jeremy Guthrie
3. RHP Ervin Santana
4. RHP Wade Davis
5. LHP Bruce Chen
The Royals needed to add a front-of-the-rotation arm and they landed one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball with their trade for James Shields.
Shields has averaged 14 wins, a 3.80 ERA and 222 innings of work each season since 2007, and he's the best pitcher the Royals have had since Zack Greinke.
Wade Davis, who arrived with Shields from Tampa Bay, is a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm that pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2012. Over 64 career starts, Davis has a 4.22 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
Bruce Chen finally takes the place he's belonged since arriving in Kansas City—a spot at the back of the rotation, while Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana are reclamation projects, experienced starters looking to get their careers back on track.
There are still plenty of questions surrounding the Royals' rotation, but Shields brings stability to a group that hasn't had any in years.
Will a move to the NL help Liriano rediscover his plus stuff?
1. RHP A.J. Burnett
2. LHP Wandy Rodriguez
3. RHP James McDonald
4. LHP Francisco Liriano
5. RHP Kyle McPherson
A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are veteran starters who can be relied upon to give the Pirates solid outings every fifth day (who thought we'd ever say that again about Burnett?). But the rest of the rotation is full of questions.
Which James McDonald is the real one?
The guy who went 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over the first half of the season, or the guy who went 3-5 with a 7.52 ERA and 1.79 WHIP down the stretch?
Can Francisco Liriano give the Pirates a quality performance every time out, or will his maddening inconsistency make him the bane of Pirates fans' existences?
Can Kyle McPherson, who has a total of two career major league starts, handle a full season of MLB action?
Should any of these pitchers falter early, the calls for top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon to join the rotation will only grow louder.
Edwin Jackson helps to solidify Chicago's staff.
1. RHP Matt Garza
2. RHP Jeff Samardzija
3. RHP Edwin Jackson
4. RHP Scott Feldman
5. RHP Carlos Villanueva
Only Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija remain from a Cubs rotation that went 42-76 with a 4.52 ERA in 2012, and both are quality, reliable arms at the front of the rotation.
Edwin Jackson is an innings-eater who will keep the game within reach every fifth day, while Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva have been somewhat inconsistent over the course of their careers.
Still, this is an improved Cubs rotation from the one that finished the 2012 season, and one that should add a few more wins as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continue to rebuild this once-proud franchise.
Can Miguel Gonzalez do it again in 2013?
1. RHP Jason Hammel
2. LHP Wei-Yin Chen
3. RHP Chris Tillman
4. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
5. LHP Zach Britton
Unable to add a quality veteran starter through free agency, the Orioles return the same starting rotation that finished 2012. While the group was successful last season, it's a rotation that lacks much big league experience outside of Jason Hammel.
Both Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez are coming off their rookie campaigns.
Chris Tillman has never made more than 15 starts or eclipsed 90 innings of work in any of the four seasons that he's pitched in the majors.
Zach Britton wasn't all that impressive in his 11 starts in 2012, pitching to a 5.07 ERA and 1.54 WHIP.
None of the Orioles' starters has overpowering stuff, relying more on command and location to get batters out. Dylan Bundy, Baltimore's top pitching prospect, could be that guy, but there's no guarantee that the 20-year-old righty will break camp with the team.
Darvish was excellent for the Rangers in 2012.
1. RHP Yu Darvish
2. LHP Derek Holland
3. LHP Matt Harrison
4. RHP Alexi Ogando
5. LHP Martin Perez
The Rangers wanted Zack Greinke badly and failed to get him, leaving the starting rotation without the veteran starter with a proven track record that they sought to add.
Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison were outstanding in 2012, but the rest of the Rangers' starting rotation is full of questions.
Derek Holland took a slight step backward from his outstanding 2011 campaign, while Alexi Ogando made only one start in 2012 and Martin Perez six.
The Rangers' rotation, as presently constituted, is certainly talented enough to crack the top 10 if everything falls their way.
But until it does, they land closer to the back of the pack.
Can Johan regain his form?
1. LHP Johan Santana
2. LHP Jon Niese
3. RHP Dillion Gee
4. RHP Matt Harvey
5. RHP Jennry Meija
The Mets' starting rotation takes a step back after trading reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, but the staff overall will be bolstered by having Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate. He's a superior catcher to the failed duo of Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, both sent to Toronto in the deal.
Johan Santana struggled mightily after throwing the first no-hitter in team history on June 1, pitching to an 8.27 ERA over his last 10 starts before being shut down in the middle of August.
After Santana comes a trio of quality youngsters in Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey, with Jennry Meija merely keeping the fifth spot in the rotation warm for prospect Zach Wheeler, who figures to make an impact in Flushing by mid-season.
Will the real Jon Lester please stand up?
1. LHP Jon Lester
2. RHP Ryan Dempster
3. RHP Clay Buchholz
4. LHP Felix Doubront
5. RHP John Lackey
Boston's rotation has the potential to be outstanding, but it has question marks all over it.
Both Jon Lester (9-14, 4.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) and Clay Buchholz (11-8, 4.56 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) are coming off the worst seasons of their careers. Was their problem the debacle that was the 2012 Red Sox, or is there something else going on here?
John Lackey, who missed all of the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery, was terrible the last time he took the mound for Boston in 2010, pitching to a 6.41 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Was it because he was injured, or because he's lost his stuff?
Ryan Dempster was hit hard with the Texas Rangers (5.09 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) after his trade from the Chicago Cubs, making the question of whether he can succeed in the American League a fair one to ask.
Felix Doubront, Boston's young left-hander, was ineffective down the stretch as he set a career-high in innings pitched. Can he remain effective for an entire season?
Is there a Cy Young award in Chris Sale's future?
1. LHP Chris Sale
2. RHP Jake Peavy
3. LHP John Danks
4. RHP Gavin Floyd
5. RHP Jose Quintana
A full season of John Danks should bolster a White Sox rotation that was solid in 2012, one led by All-Stars Chris Sale and Jake Peavy.
Gavin Floyd is a capable arm at the back-end of the rotation, while Jose Quintana showed flashes of brilliance during an excellent rookie campaign.
The biggest question facing the rotation is how they'll handle throwing to Tyler Flowers on a daily basis, as long-time White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski has departed for Texas.
If Flowers is up to the challenge, the White Sox should be fine. If not, things could get messy on the south side of Chicago.
Adam Wainwright is back in a groove atop the Cardinals rotation.
1. RHP Adam Wainwright
2. RHP Chris Carpenter
3. LHP Jaime Garcia
4. RHP Jake Westbrook
5. RHP Lance Lynn
Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook are established, veteran arms, unlike the other two spots in the rotation.
Both Jaime Garcia and Lance Lynn have proven that they can be successful starting pitchers in the major leagues, but both battled inconsistency in 2012 and bounced between the rotation and the bullpen.
With Kyle Lohse no longer in the equation, Garcia and Lynn need to step up and prove they belong in the rotation, or else they risk being replaced by youngsters Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller.
Don't call him Jeff. Don't you dare call him Jeff.
1. RHP Jered Weaver
2. LHP C.J. Wilson
3. RHP Tommy Hanson
4. LHP Jason Vargas
5. RHP Joe Blanton
The Angels may have lost Zack Greinke, but the rotation in 2013 is superior to the product the team trotted out for most of the 2012 season.
Weaver, obviously, remains the crown jewel of the group. His ability to dominate opposing lineups cannot be overstated or overvalued.
The rest of the rotation is filled out with quality veterans in Wilson and Vargas, while Blanton is a passable innings-eater.
Hanson, once thought to be the future ace of the Atlanta Braves, is the wild card.
If he can stay healthy, there's no reason that we couldn't see him take the next step in his development and challenge Wilson for the No. 2 spot in the rotation this season.
Can McCarthy regain his form after this frightening injury?
1. RHP Ian Kennedy
2. RHP Brandon McCarthy
3. RHP Trevor Cahill
4. LHP Wade Miley
5. LHP Trevor Skaggs
The Diamondbacks have so much starting pitching depth that they didn't hesitate to trade former top prospect Trevor Bauer to land shortstop Didi Gregorius, who might not even start the season in Arizona.
Not one of their starting pitchers is older than 30—McCarthy is the oldest at 29.
While there are questions about how effective McCarthy will be after taking a line drive off the head last September, an injury that required emergency surgery to repair, you have to believe that Arizona did its due diligence before signing him as a free agent this winter.
Miley, who finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, might be the best pitcher on the staff.
Should someone suffer an injury or hit a rough patch, Pat Corbin, Daniel Hudson, Charles Brewer and Chase Anderson could all contribute as well in 2013.
Remember when Michael Pineda was an All-Star?
1. LHP CC Sabathia
2. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
3. LHP Andy Pettitte
4. RHP Phil Hughes
5. RHP Ivan Nova
The Yankees have a solid rotation, led by CC Sabathia, a perennial Cy Young candidate. Veterans Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are solid and consistent. The Yankees know that they have a chance to win whenever one of the three takes the mound.
Phil Hughes has excellent stuff but continues to frustrate the Yankees and their fans with his inability to recover from one bad inning.
Ivan Nova, who broke out in 2011, was mediocre at best in 2012. He'd flash nasty stuff in one start and seemingly forget how to pitch in the next.
The wild card in all of this is Michael Pineda, the 23-year-old flamethrower who the Yankees paid a steep price to acquire prior to the 2012 season.
Coming off a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for the entire season, nobody knows what to expect from the former All-Star in 2013. Will his shoulder be back to full strength and allow him to battle Nova for the fifth and final rotation spot, or will he remain on the sidelines watching?
David Phelps, who served as the Yankees' swing man last year, pitching out of the bullpen and in the rotation, figures to serve in the same role once again.
If Nova returns to form and Pineda is healthy, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will have plenty of options as to how he constructs the back-end of the rotation and his bullpen.
There is one question though—who's the everyday catcher?
With a veteran staff like this, there isn't much concern over whether it's a journeyman like Chris Steward or an unproven prospect like Austin Romine. But it's a question that needs to be answered.
Jarrod Parker made people forget about Trevor Cahill, the guy the A's traded to obtain him.
1. LHP Brett Anderson
2. RHP Jarrod Parker
3. LHP Tommy Milone
4. RHP A.J. Griffin
5. RHP Dan Straily
The 3.80 ERA posted by A's starting pitchers in 2012 was the third-best in the American League and ninth-best in baseball.
That number only figures to go down in 2013.
Oakland's rotation is young and has tremendous upside. Already a top-10 rotation, if each starter is able to take the next step in his development, Oakland may well have the best starting rotation in baseball by the time the 2014 season rolls around.
How much longer can Tim Hudson stay effective?
1. RHP Tim Hudson
2. RHP Kris Medlen
3. LHP Mike Minor
4. LHP Paul Maholm
5. RHP Randall Delgado
Tim Hudson remains the veteran leader of the Braves' rotation, a group that continues to evolve behind him. Along with southpaw Paul Maholm, the duo are the only members of the rotation with any substantial big league experience.
Kris Medlen was literally untouchable after re-joining the starting rotation, going 9-0 with a minuscule 0,97 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over 12 starts down the stretch, striking out 84 batters in 83.2 innings of work.
From July 5 on, Mike Minor was one of the best pitchers in baseball, pitching to a 2.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP while averaging seven strikeouts and only 1.7 walks per nine innings of work.
Randall Delgado figures to be part of a fluid fifth spot in the rotation that could see top prospect Julio Teheran fill the role as well.
The wild card in it all is Brandon Beachy, who got off to a Cy Young-worthy start to the 2012 season before going down with an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. If he's able to return to action in the second half of the season, he'd make an already potent rotation even stronger.
Can "The Freak" reclaim his spot among the game's elite?
1. RHP Matt Cain
2. LHP Madison Bumgarner
3. RHP Tim Lincecum
4. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
5. LHP Barry Zito
The same rotation that helped the Giants win the World Series returns fully intact in 2013, though whether Tim Lincecum can return to form is the biggest question facing the club.
Lincecum was terrible over the first half of the season (6.42 ERA, 1.58 WHIP), and while he improved in the second half (3.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), he wasn't anywhere close to the pitcher we had seen dominate the game for the last five years.
Matt Cain looked tired at the end of the playoffs, Madison Bumgarner struggled at points in the postseason and Barry Zito actually made a positive contribution to the cause.
If Lincecum gets back on track, there's no reason the Giants' rotation can't land in the top five at the end of the season.
But until then, they're on the outside looking in.
The pressure is off of Ricky Romero in Toronto.
1. RHP R.A. Dickey
2. RHP Josh Johnson
3. LHP Mark Buehrle
4. RHP Brandon Morrow
5. LHP Ricky Romero
What a difference a year makes.
After watching literally every starting pitcher they had hit the disabled list at one point or another—leaving then-ace Ricky Romero standing alone on an island, getting hit all over the field—the Blue Jays added three of the better starting pitchers in baseball to the mix.
R.A. Dickey is the reigning National League Cy Young winner.
Josh Johnson, when he's healthy, is one of the elite starting pitchers in the game.
Mark Buerhle is about as consistent a starting pitcher as there is in the game, posting double-digit wins and more than 200 innings of work in each of the past 12 years—11 of those coming in the American League with the Chicago White Sox.
The two holdovers from last year, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, both have front-of-the-rotation stuff and should be able to find success at the back-end of the rotation.
Aroldis Chapman could be a Cy Young contender—or a flop—in the rotation.
1. RHP Johnny Cueto
2. RHP Mat Latos
3. RHP Homer Bailey
4. RHP Bronson Arroyo
5. LHP Aroldis Chapman
Aroldis Chapman will finally get a chance to start in 2013—and how he handles the transition is the key to the rotation's level of success.
Already one of the better rotations in baseball, Chapman has the ability to push the group over the top should he have anywhere near the level of success as a starter that he had as a reliever.
If not, the Reds still have Mike Leake waiting in the wings, but he doesn't have the kind of stuff that Champan does.
Johnny Cueto was a Cy Young candidate for most of the season while Mat Latos had little trouble adjusting to the cozy confines of Great American Ball Park.
After years of waiting, Homer Bailey finally lived up to his billing as a big-time pitcher, tossing a no-hitter in his next-to-last start of the regular season.
Bronson Arroyo is what he is, a veteran innings-eater who, more often than not, gives his team a chance to win.
Cole Hamels continues to pitch at a Cy Young-worthy level.
1. RHP Roy Halladay
2. LHP Cliff Lee
3. LHP Cole Hamels
4. RHP Kyle Kendrick
5. LHP John Lannan
2013 could be the final season that we see the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels together in Philadelphia.
While all three are fully capable of putting together a Cy Young-worthy season, Halladay is coming off a season that saw him battle a shoulder injury and post his worst numbers since an injury-shortened 2004 season with Toronto.
Halladay needs 235 innings to have a $20 million option for 2014 vest, a number that he hasn't reached since 2010 when he led the majors with 250.2 innings of work.
Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan are capable starters who have the ability to keep the Phillies in games at the back-end of the rotation,
This David Price guy might be good...
1. LHP David Price
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
3. LHP Matt Moore
4. RHP Jeff Niemann
5. RHP Alex Cobb
Even after trading James Shields, Tampa Bay has one of the best rotations in baseball.
Led by reigning American League Cy Young winner David Price, the Rays have a young, talented rotation with the potential to shut down any lineup in the game.
Both Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann are underrated, quality young arms, while Jeremy Hellickson followed up his 2011 AL Rookie of the Year season with another strong performance, cementing himself as one of the best young arms in the game.
Matt Moore, who virtually everyone (B/R's MLB crew included) had pegged as the AL Rookie of the Year heading into the 2012 season, might be the key to it all.
Moore struggled with his command early before flashing the stuff that made Baseball America name him the second-best prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2012 season, lowering his walk rate and pitching to a 3.01 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over his last 14 starts of the season.
Adding Zack Greinke to the mix is never a bad thing.
1. LHP Clayton Kershaw
2. RHP Zack Greinke
3. RHP Josh Beckett
4. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
5. RHP Aaron Harang
Adding Zack Greinke makes your pitching staff better. When you add him to a staff that already includes Clayton Kershaw, it makes your pitching staff something special.
Greinke and Josh Beckett are no longer the aces of their pitching staffs, that burden falls on the capable shoulders of Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in baseball.
Los Angeles has so much starting pitching that the back-end of the rotation could be a constantly evolving beast, with Ryu, Harang, Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley and Stephen Fife all factoring into the equation as well.
The Nats landing Dan Haren could be the steal of the winter.
1. RHP Stephen Strasburg
2. LHP Gio Gonzalez
3. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
4. LHP Ross Detwiler
5. RHP Dan Haren
There should be no debate about whether Stephen Strasburg pitches a full season in 2013. He will lead the same rotation that won the NL East last season, with one difference.
Dan Haren replaces Edwin Jackson in a move that amounts to the rich getting richer.
It was only two years ago that Haren finished in the top seven of the voting for the AL Cy Young award, and a return to the National League might be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
Even if Haren, 32, pitches to the same numbers he posted for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012: a 4.33 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, that will be good enough to pick up plenty of wins with Washington's potent offense.
Max Scherzer took the next step in his development last season.
1. RHP Justin Verlander
2. RHP Doug Fister
3. RHP Max Scherzer
4. RHP Anibal Sanchez
5. RHP Rick Porcello
The same rotation that took the Tigers to the World Series last season returns to try to do better in 2013, led by arguably the best pitcher on the planet, Justin Verlander.
Doug Fister is healthy after battling an oblique injury for much of the season, and Detroit will have a full season of Anibal Sanchez to rely upon as well.
Max Scherzer emerged as one of the elite power pitchers in the game, setting career highs in wins (16), strikeouts (231), and strikeouts per nine innings of work (11.1), a mark that led all starting pitchers in baseball.
Rick Porcello is the only weak link in the group, and he could easily be supplanted by southpaw Drew Smyly, who was impressive over 18 starts in his rookie season, pitching to a 3.79 ERA and 1.21 WHIP out of the rotation.