It's been proven time and again that pitching wins championships, and while the Boston Red Sox got to the postseason last year on the strength of the league's No. 1 offense, their pitching staff stepped up big in the playoffs and helped them claim the title.
This offseason has seen the pitching market develop relatively slowly, due in large part to teams waiting on Masahiro Tanaka to pick a team, and there are still a number of unsigned arms that will likely break camp as part of someone's rotation.
Aside from Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, who remain two of the more talked about free agents, the likes of A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm, Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano all remain on the market as well.
That could certainly shake things up between now and Opening Day, but as things stand right now, here is a look at where all 30 MLB teams' rotations rank. A team's projected five-man rotation carried the most weight in where each team ranked, though depth was considered as well, considering most teams deal with injuries throughout the season and are forced to turn to others outside of those five.
*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
SP Jarred Cosart
|RHP Scott Feldman||30 GS, 12-12, 3.86 ERA, 132 K, 181.2 IP|
|RHP Jarred Cosart||10 GS, 1-1, 1.95 ERA, 33 K, 60 IP|
|LHP Brett Oberholtzer||10 GS, 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 45 K, 71.2 IP|
|RHP Brad Peacock||14 GS, 5-6, 5.18 ERA, 77 K, 83.1 IP|
|RHP Jerome Williams||25 GS, 9-10, 4.57 ERA, 107 K, 169.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Lucas Harrell, RHP Paul Clemens, LHP Dallas Keuchel
The Astros' rotation will be a young one once again this season, though the team did sign Scott Feldman to a three-year, $30 million deal in free agency to anchor the staff.
Jarred Cosart (1.95 ERA vs. 4.35 FIP) and Brett Oberholtzer (2.76 ERA vs. 3.65 FIP) both benefited from some good luck last season, and could be in for some growing pains in their sophomore campaigns. The final two rotation spots are up for grabs, and a bounce-back season from Lucas Harrell would certainly be a bonus.
|RHP Ricky Nolasco||33 GS, 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 165 K, 199.1 IP|
|RHP Kevin Correia||31 GS, 9-13, 4.18 ERA, 101 K, 185.1 IP|
|RHP Mike Pelfrey||29 GS, 5-13, 5.19 ERA, 101 K, 152.2 IP|
|RHP Phil Hughes||29 GS, 4-14, 5.19 ERA, 121 K, 145.2 IP|
|RHP Samuel Deduno||18 GS, 8-8, 3.83 ERA, 67 K, 108 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Vance Worley, RHP Kyle Gibson, LHP Scott Diamond, RHP Trevor May
After getting an MLB-worst 5.26 ERA from their rotation last season, the Twins understandably made starting pitching the focal point of their offseason. Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million) were given the two largest free-agent contracts in team history, while Mike Pelfrey was re-signed as well.
That said, Nolasco is best served as a No. 3 starter on a good team, and Hughes is coming off of a terrible season with the Yankees. The staff is better, but not enough to make them even league average unless a lot of things break their way in 2014.
|RHP R.A. Dickey||34 GS, 14-13, 4.21 ERA, 177 K, 224.2 IP|
|LHP Mark Buehrle||33 GS, 12-10, 4.15 ERA, 139 K, 203.2 IP|
|RHP Brandon Morrow||10 GS, 2-3, 5.63 ERA, 42 K, 54.1 IP|
|LHP J.A. Happ||18 GS, 5-7, 4.56 ERA, 77 K, 92.2 IP|
|RHP Kyle Drabek||3 G, 0-0, 7.71 ERA, 3 K, 2.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Drew Hutchinson, RHP Todd Redmond, LHP Sean Nolin, RHP Chad Jenkins
There's a good chance the Blue Jays sign one of the top remaining arms on the market, as they have a clear need and the luxury of their first-round selections both being protected. As things stand now though, they have made no additions to what was a terribly disappointing staff last year.
R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are back to lead a group that is counting on healthy seasons from Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ after the two combined for just 28 starts last year. Both are capable of being plus big league starters, but they need to stay on the field. The No. 5 spot is currently up for grabs, with a number of injury-returnees and youngsters looking to unseat last year's surprise contributor Todd Redmond.
|RHP Jeff Samardzija||33 GS, 8-13, 4.34 ERA, 214 K, 213.2 IP|
|LHP Travis Wood||32 GS, 9-12, 3.11 ERA, 144 K, 200 IP|
|RHP Edwin Jackson||31 GS, 8-18, 4.98 ERA, 135 K, 175.1 IP|
|RHP Jason Hammel||23 GS, 7-8, 4.97 ERA, 113 K, 118 IP|
|RHP Jake Arrieta||14 GS, 5-4, 4.78 ERA, 60 K, 75.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Chris Rusin, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP James McDonald, LHP Brooks Raley
After a rumor-filled offseason, it looks as though right-hander Jeff Samardzija will start the season atop the Cubs' rotation once again, though he is still a candidate to be traded in July. He joins the team's lone All-Star representative last year in Travis Wood to form a solid one-two punch atop the rotation, but it's downhill from there.
Edwin Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million deal last offseason and promptly turned in the worst season of his career. Jake Arrieta and Chris Rusin both pitched well down the stretch, with Arrieta going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts after coming over in a trade with the Orioles. Bounce-back candidate Jason Hammel was signed to a one-year, $6.75 million deal, and he could be flip much like Scott Feldman was last year if he impresses.
|LHP Chris Sale||30 GS, 11-14, 3.07 ERA, 226 K, 214.1 IP|
|LHP Jose Quintana||33 GS, 9-7, 3.51 ERA, 164 K, 200 IP|
|RHP Erik Johnson||5 GS, 3-2, 3.25 ERA, 18 K, 27.2 IP|
|LHP John Danks||22 GS, 4-14, 4.75 ERA, 89 K, 138.1 IP|
|RHP Andre Rienzo||10 GS, 2-3, 4.82 ERA, 38 K, 56 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Felipe Paulino, LHP Eric Surkamp, RHP Nestor Molina
The White Sox have one of the best pitchers in the game atop their rotation in left-hander Chris Sale, and Jose Quintana has been terrific each of the past two seasons and is still just 25 years old, but the rest of the rotation is far from a sure thing entering the season.
Erik Johnson and Andre Rienzo both showed flashes in their first taste of big league action last season, and they'll get every chance to lock down a rotation spot this spring. The team would no doubt love to move John Danks and the $42.75 million he is owed over the next three season, but he has to prove he is all the way back from shoulder surgery before he has any value. Felipe Paulino is one to watch this spring, as he was a nice under-the-radar signing and could compete for a rotation spot.
|RHP Jhoulys Chacin||31 GS, 14-10, 3.47 ERA, 126 K, 197.1 IP|
|RHP Jorge De La Rosa||30 GS, 16-6, 3.49 ERA, 112 K, 167.2 IP|
|LHP Brett Anderson||5 GS, 1-4, 6.04 ERA, 46 K, 44.2 IP|
|RHP Tyler Chatwood||20 GS, 8-5, 3.15 ERA, 66 K, 111.1 IP|
|RHP Jordan Lyles||25 GS, 7-9, 5.59 ERA, 93 K, 141.2 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Chad Bettis, RHP Eddie Butler, RHP Jonathan Gray
The Rockies improved their starting pitching ERA from a league-worst 5.81 in 2012 to a far more respectable 4.57 this past year. That was thanks almost entirely to healthy seasons from Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa atop the staff, and a solid showing from Tyler Chatwood when he was healthy.
Brett Anderson was acquired from the Oakland A's, and if he can stay on the field, he could be a huge addition. He's failed to make more than 19 starts in a season since his rookie campaign in 2009, though, and counting on him to lock down a rotation spot is risky. The No. 5 spot is up for grabs, as the team waits on top prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray to reach Colorado.
|RHP Ian Kennedy||31 GS, 7-10, 4.91 ERA, 163 K, 181.1 IP|
|RHP Andrew Cashner||25 GS, 10-9, 3.09 ERA, 128 K, 175 IP|
|LHP Eric Stults||33 GS, 11-13, 3.93 ERA, 131 K, 203.2 IP|
|RHP Tyson Ross||16 GS, 3-8, 3.17 ERA, 119 K, 125 IP|
|RHP Josh Johnson||16 GS, 2-8, 6.20 ERA, 83 K, 81.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Cory Luebke, RHP Tim Stauffer, LHP Robbie Erlin, RHP Burch Smith
The Padres' rotation has the potential to be significantly improved in 2014, but the team is relying heavily on bounce-back performances from Ian Kennedy and Josh Johnson to make that happen. Kennedy was acquired at the July deadline, while Johnson was signed to a one-year, $8 million deal after a disastrous 2013 in Toronto.
Andrew Cashner finished the season on fire, going 2-3 with a 1.22 ERA and seven straight quality starts to close out the year, and he may very well end up being the ace of the staff. Tyson Ross was solid after rejoining the rotation in the second half, going 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 second-half starts. Don't sleep on Cory Luebke, who could finally be healthy and has the stuff to make an impact if he is.
|RHP Chris Tillman||33 GS, 16-7, 3.71 ERA, 179 K, 206.1 IP|
|LHP Wei-Yin Chen||23 GS, 7-7, 4.07 ERA, 104 K, 137 IP|
|RHP Bud Norris||30 GS, 10-12, 4.18 ERA, 147 K, 176.2 IP|
|RHP Miguel Gonzalez||28 GS, 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 120 K, 171.1 IP|
|RHP Kevin Gausman||5 GS, 3-5, 5.66 ERA, 49 K, 47.2 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Steve Johnson, LHP Zach Britton, RHP Alfredo Aceves, RHP Dylan Bundy
The Orioles are another team that seems poised to add another starter before the offseason is over, but for now they have the same rotation that let them down in 2013. Chris Tillman was an All-Star and is the closest thing to a staff ace on the roster, but he's really better suited as a No. 2 or No. 3 guy.
Wei-Yin Chen has been consistently solid since signing out of Japan, and Bud Norris should be a solid veteran innings eater in the middle of the rotation. The real X-factor here is the continued development of Kevin Gausman and the health of Dylan Bundy. Those are the team's top two prospects and guys capable of fronting a staff if they put it all together. Left-hander Zach Britton is out of options, so he will get a long look this spring.
|RHP James Shields||34 GS, 13-9, 3.15 ERA, 196 K, 228.2 IP|
|RHP Jeremy Guthrie||33 GS, 15-12, 4.04 ERA, 111 K, 211.2 IP|
|LHP Jason Vargas||24 GS, 9-8, 4.02 ERA, 109 K, 150 IP|
|RHP Wade Davis||24 GS, 8-11, 5.32 ERA, 114 K, 135.1 IP|
|LHP Danny Duffy||5 GS, 2-0, 1.85 ERA, 22 K, 24.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Bruce Chen, RHP Yordano Ventura, RHP Kyle Zimmer, RHP Brad Penny
The Royals' biggest question entering the offseason was how they would replace Ervin Santana in the starting rotation, as he was arguably their best starter last year but was likely headed out of their price range in free agency. The answer wound up being left-hander Jason Vargas, who signed a four-year, $32 million deal and is more than capable of double-digit wins and 200-plus innings.
He joins James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie to form a solid veteran trio atop the staff, while the final two spots are up for grabs. Danny Duffy looked great after returning from Tommy John surgery in August, but was sidelined again by a shoulder strain. Bruce Chen was re-signed after a solid season as a swingman, and he could remain in that role moving forward. Top prospects Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer should both make their presence known at some point in 2014.
|LHP Cliff Lee||31 GS, 14-8, 2.87 ERA, 222 K, 222.2 IP|
|LHP Cole Hamels||33 GS, 8-14, 3.60 ERA, 202 K, 220 IP|
|RHP Kyle Kendrick||30 GS, 10-13, 4.70 ERA, 110 K, 182 IP|
|RHP Jonathan Pettibone||18 GS, 5-4, 4.04 ERA, 66 K, 100.1 IP|
|RHP Roberto Hernandez||24 GS, 6-13, 4.89 ERA, 113 K, 151 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, RHP Chad Gaudin, RHP Ethan Martin, LHP Jesse Biddle
The Phillies still have one of the best one-two punches in all of baseball with left-handers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels fronting their rotation, but this is no longer a staff that strikes fear into opponents beyond those two.
Kyle Kendrick is back and he's a serviceable starter, and Jonathan Pettibone will be looking to build off of a solid rookie season that was cut short by a rotator cuff injury. The team would love nothing more than for Cuban defector Miguel Gonzalez to seize a rotation spot, but he could need some time in the minors before he's ready. Roberto Hernandez and Chad Gaudin were nice additions from a depth standpoint, but are fringe starters at best.
|RHP Jered Weaver||24 GS, 11-8, 3.27 ERA, 117 K, 154.1 IP|
|LHP C.J. Wilson||33 GS, 17-7, 3.39 ERA, 188 K, 212.1 IP|
|RHP Garrett Richards||17 GS, 7-8, 4.16 ERA, 101 K, 145 IP|
|LHP Hector Santiago||23 GS, 4-9, 3.56 ERA, 137 K, 149 IP|
|RHP Joe Blanton||20 GS, 2-14, 6.04 ERA, 108 K, 132.2 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Tyler Skaggs, LHP Mark Mulder
Round 2 of the rotation overhaul took place this offseason for the Angels, after the additions of Jason Vargas, Tommy Hunter and Joe Blanton last winter did not pan out as hoped. One positive was the emergence of Garrett Richards, as he gives the team a solid third option behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs were acquired in a three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Santiago will likely win a rotation spot, Skaggs could open the year in the minors after going 3-6 with a 5.43 ERA over 13 big league starts the past two seasons. Joe Blanton is owed $7.5 million this coming season, so he'll get a chance to win a rotation spot, as he battles Skaggs and comeback candidate Mark Mulder, among others for the No. 5 spot.
|RHP Yu Darvish||32 GS, 13-9, 2.83 ERA, 277 K, 209.2 IP|
|LHP Matt Harrison||2 GS, 0-2, 8.44 ERA, 12 K, 10.2 IP|
|LHP Martin Perez||20 GS, 10-6, 3.62 ERA, 84 K, 124.1 IP|
|RHP Alexi Ogando||18 GS, 7-4, 3.11 ERA, 72 K, 104.1 IP|
|RHP Colby Lewis||*16 GS, 6-6, 3.43 ERA, 93 K, 105 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Nick Tepesch, RHP Justin Germano
Prior to losing Derek Holland until midseason with a knee injury, the Rangers were on the fringe of being a top 10 team on this list. However, there are serious questions as to who will fill out the rotation now and depth could wind up being a major issue.
Yu Darvish is back as one of the best arms in the game, and left-hander Martin Perez emerged as a plus option in the second half. However, Matt Harrison is returning from shoulder surgery, Alexi Ogando has been off and on the DL the past two seasons and Colby Lewis missed all of 2013 recovering from elbow surgery. Look for them to add some veteran depth before the offseason is over.
SP Patrick Corbin
|LHP Patrick Corbin||32 GS, 14-8, 3.41 ERA, 178 K, 208.1 IP|
|RHP Trevor Cahill||25 GS, 8-10, 3.99 ERA, 102 K, 146.2 IP|
|LHP Wade Miley||33 GS, 10-10, 3.55 ERA, 147 K, 202.2 IP|
|RHP Brandon McCarthy||22 GS, 5-11, 4.53 ERA, 76 K, 135 IP|
|RHP Randall Delgado||19 GS, 5-7, 4.26 ERA, 79 K, 116.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Archie Bradley, RHP Daniel Hudson
The Diamondbacks lack a true staff ace, but they have a solid rotation top-to-bottom. Patrick Corbin looked like he could fill the role of ace after going 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA in the first half last season, but those numbers dropped to 3-7 with a 5.19 ERA in the second half.
Randall Delgado could take a step forward with another season under his belt, and Brandon McCarthy is a prime bounce back candidate after finishing the year strong with a 2.94 ERA over his last seven starts. The X-factor is Archie Bradley, who is arguably the top pitching prospect in the game, and could be fronting the staff by midseason if all goes according to plan.
|RHP Justin Masterson||29 GS, 14-10, 3.45 ERA, 195 K, 193 IP|
|RHP Corey Kluber||24 GS, 11-5, 3.85 ERA, 136 K, 147.1 IP|
|RHP Danny Salazar||10 GS, 2-3, 3.12 ERA, 65 K, 52 IP|
|RHP Zach McAllister||24 GS, 9-9, 3.75 ERA, 101 K, 134.1 IP|
|RHP Shaun Marcum||12 GS, 1-10, 5.29 ERA, 60 K, 78.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Carlos Carrasco, RHP Tyler Cloyd
Count the Indians among the teams who could still add a starter before the offseason is over, as the loss of Scott Kazmir and potential loss of Ubaldo Jimenez in free agency has left what was a surprisingly effective staff in 2013 with some holes.
Justin Masterson is back in the role of staff ace, and Danny Salazar has the makings of a future star, but there are questions as to what exactly the team will get out of Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister in 2014. The No. 5 spot is up for grabs, and the team would love for Trevor Bauer to take a step forward and seize it. Instead, look for him to open the year in the minors and for Shaun Marcum to grab that job in the spring.
|RHP Jose Fernandez||28 GS, 12-6, 2.19 ERA, 187 K, 172.2 IP|
|RHP Jacob Turner||20 GS, 3-8, 3.74 ERA, 77 K, 118 IP|
|LHP Henderson Alvarez||17 GS, 5-6, 3.59 ERA, 57 K, 102.2 IP|
|RHP Nathan Eovaldi||18 GS, 4-6, 3.39 ERA, 78 K, 106.1 IP|
|RHP Tom Koehler||23 GS, 5-10, 4.41 ERA, 92 K, 143 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Kevin Slowey, LHP Brian Flynn, LHP Brad Hand
The Marlins' rotation was a pleasant surprise last season, as they posted a combined 3.87 ERA to rank 13th in the MLB, despite the team losing 100 games. Rookie phenom Jose Fernandez led the way, and he should give the team a bona fide staff ace for the next decade and be a perennial Cy Young candidate.
Behind him, Jacob Turner (22), Henderson Alvarez (23) and Nathan Eovaldi (23) are all still very young, and the rotation looks to have as bright a future as any in baseball. They also have a combined 137 career starts under their belts, so they're experienced beyond what their age may suggest. Look for Tom Koehler to keep the No. 5 starter spot warm until another of their young arms steps forward.
|RHP Felix Hernandez||31 GS, 12-10, 3.04 ERA, 216 K, 204.2 IP|
|RHP Hisashi Iwakuma||33 GS, 14-6, 2.66 ERA, 185 K, 219.2 IP|
|RHP Taijuan Walker||3 GS, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 12 K, 15 IP|
|LHP James Paxton||4 GS, 3-0, 1.50 ERA, 21 K, 24 IP|
|RHP Erasmo Ramirez||13 GS, 5-3, 4.98 ERA, 57 K, 72.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Scott Baker, RHP Brandon Maurer, LHP Danny Hultzen
This ranking may be a bit ambitious considering the Mariners will be relying on a pair of rookies, but Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are no ordinary rookies. Walker has the stuff to be just as good as the dynamic duo of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma right out of the gates in 2014, and Paxton showed what he's capable of in a four-start stint last season.
The team could still look to add another veteran arm, but the Scott Baker signing was a nice buy-low move, and they have some interesting young arms in Erasmo Ramirez, Brandon Maurer and Danny Hultzen. Two rough starts in which he allowed 12 earned runs in 8.2 innings aside, Ramirez was 5-2 with a 4.22 ERA in his other 12 appearances, and he's still just 23 years old.
|RHP Yovani Gallardo||31 GS, 12-10, 4.18 ERA, 144 K, 180.2 IP|
|RHP Matt Garza||24 GS, 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 136 K, 155.1 IP|
|RHP Kyle Lohse||32 GS, 11-10, 3.35 ERA, 125 K, 198.2 IP|
|RHP Marco Estrada||21 GS, 7-4, 3.87 ERA, 118 K, 128 IP|
|RHP Wily Peralta||32 GS, 11-15, 4.37 ERA, 129 K, 183.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Tyler Thornburg, RHP Johnny Hellweg, RHP Mike Fiers, RHP Hiram Burgos
With their recent signing of Matt Garza to a very reasonable four-year, $50 million deal, the Brewers suddenly have a rotation that could be above average this coming season. A lot will hinge on whether or not ace Yovani Gallardo can get back on track, as he was 33-19 with a 3.59 ERA in the two seasons leading up to last year.
Kyle Lohse is a solid veteran arm who was the team's best pitcher last season, while Marco Estrada proved his solid 2012 performance was no fluke. Lost in the shuffle of a phenomenal NL rookie class of pitchers was a decent season by Wily Peralta, and he finished the season strong with a 3.38 ERA over his final six starts. The team has good depth with a handful of other young arms who have seen time in the rotation, but the starting five looks to be set entering spring.
|RHP Bartolo Colon||30 GS, 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 117 K, 190.1 IP|
|LHP Jon Niese||24 GS, 8-8, 3.71 ERA, 105 K, 143 IP|
|RHP Dillon Gee||32 GS, 12-11, 3.62 ERA, 142 K, 199 IP|
|RHP Zack Wheeler||17 GS, 7-5, 3.42 ERA, 84 K, 100 IP|
|RHP Jenrry Mejia||5 GS, 1-2, 2.30 ERA, 27 K, 27.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP John Lannan, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP Rafael Montero, RHP Jake deGrom
Losing Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery is a major blow, but the Mets did sign 18-game winner Bartolo Colon this offseason, and he should at least help ease that loss. Harvey was far from the only solid arm on the staff last season, as the Mets' rotation ranked eighth in the MLB with a 3.68 ERA.
Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have both turned into solid middle-of-the-rotation arms, and Zack Wheeler could be primed for a big step forward after a solid showing as a rookie last year. The No. 5 spot will be won this spring, with former top prospect Jenrry Mejia looking like the early favorite, though veterans John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka will both get a look for that spot as well. If top prospect Noah Syndergaard continues to develop quickly, he could get a look at some point in 2014 as well.
|LHP CC Sabathia||32 GS, 14-13, 4.78 ERA, 175 K, 211 IP|
|RHP Hiroki Kuroda||32 GS, 11-13, 3.31 ERA, 150 K, 201.1 IP|
|RHP Masahiro Tanaka||*27 GS, 24-0, 1.27 ERA, 183 K, 212 IP|
|RHP Ivan Nova||20 GS, 9-6, 3.10 ERA, 116 K, 139.1 IP|
|RHP Michael Pineda||~10 GS, 2-1, 3.32 ERA, 41 K, 40.2 IP|
*Stats in Japan, ~Minor League Stats
Other Candidates: RHP David Phelps, RHP Adam Warren, LHP Vidal Nuno
The Yankees rotation improved significantly when they won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, as the Japanese right-hander gives them another front-line arm to join CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda atop the staff. Sabathia will need to get back on track after the worst season of his career, though, and Kuroda is coming off of a rough finish to the 2013 season as his ERA shot up nearly a run over his final eight starts.
Ivan Nova was quietly the team's best starter for much of last season, and he could be counted on again to carry the staff at times if others struggle. The X-factor is Michael Pineda, as he looks to finally be healthy after missing most of the past two seasons following his acquisition from the Seattle Mariners. He was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 171 innings as a rookie back in 2011, and the stuff is still there for him to be an impact arm.
|RHP Matt Cain||30 GS, 8-10, 4.00 ERA, 158 K, 184.1 IP|
|LHP Madison Bumgarner||31 GS, 13-9, 2.77 ERA, 199 K, 201.1 IP|
|RHP Tim Lincecum||32 GS, 10-14, 4.37 ERA, 192 K, 197.2 IP|
|RHP Tim Hudson||21 GS, 8-7, 3.97 ERA, 95 K, 131.1 IP|
|RHP Ryan Vogelsong||19 GS, 4-6, 5.73 ERA, 67 K, 103.2 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Yusmeiro Petit, LHP Mike Kickham, RHP Jason Berken, LHP David Huff
A hallmark of their recent run of success, the Giants' rotation was a major disappointment in 2013 and it took everything the team had to avoid a last-place finish as a result. Madison Bumgarner was the lone bright spot, as he continues to cement has place as one of the best young arms in the game.
Ace Matt Cain's numbers are disappointing on the surface, but he had a 2.36 ERA in 11 starts after the All-Star break and should be back to form in 2014. Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong were re-signed, and Tim Hudson was added to replace the departed Barry Zito. As long as Hudson shows no ill effects of the broken ankle that ended his season last year, and Vogelsong can stay healthy, the staff should improve on last season. Injuries could be a major issue though, as they have little-to-no depth.
|LHP Francisco Liriano||26 GS, 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 163 K, 161 IP|
|RHP Gerrit Cole||19 GS, 10-7, 3.22 ERA, 100 K, 117.1 IP|
|LHP Wandy Rodriguez||12 GS, 6-4, 3.59 ERA, 46 K, 62.2 IP|
|RHP Charlie Morton||20 GS, 7-4, 3.26 ERA, 85 K, 116 IP|
|RHP Edinson Volquez||32 GS, 9-12, 5.71 ERA, 142 K, 170.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Jeff Locke, RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Jameson Taillon
Potentially losing A.J. Burnett is a big blow to the Pirates, and it is looking more and more likely he'll sign elsewhere this offseason. However, full seasons from Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Wandy Rodriguez should be enough to offset that loss, as those three combined for just 51 starts last season.
Francisco Liriano was among the biggest surprises of 2013, and his peripheral numbers suggest he can do it again as long as he stays healthy. They're taking a chance on Edinson Volquez as the No. 5 starter, but they do have other options should he falter. Jeff Locke was an All-Star in 2013 before falling apart in the second half, while top prospect Jameson Taillon is expected to debut sometime in 2014 and should be a rotation staple once he arrives.
|RHP Kris Medlen||31 GS, 15-12, 3.11 ERA, 157 K, 197 IP|
|LHP Mike Minor||32 GS, 13-9, 3.21 ERA, 181 K, 204.2 IP|
|RHP Julio Teheran||30 GS, 14-8, 3.20 ERA, 170 K, 185.2 IP|
|RHP Brandon Beachy||5 GS, 2-1, 4.50 ERA, 23 K, 30 IP|
|LHP Alex Wood||11 GS, 3-3, 3.13 ERA, 77 K, 77.2 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Freddy Garcia, RHP David Hale, RHP Aaron Northcraft, RHP Cody Martin
The Braves' homegrown trio of Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran were terrific in leading the staff last season, and they will be expected to do the same this coming season. The veteran presence of Tim Hudson will be missed, but they have the guys to replace him from a production standpoint.
Brandon Beachy was 5-5 with a 2.00 ERA though his first 13 starts in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and if he is back close to 100 percent, he gives the team a fourth plus option. There will be some competition for the No. 5 starter spot, and David Hale could be one to watch this season, though my guess is Alex Wood will open the season with the job.
|RHP Jarrod Parker||32 GS, 12-8, 3.97 ERA, 134 K, 197 IP|
|LHP Scott Kazmir||29 GS, 10-9, 4.04 ERA, 162 K, 158 IP|
|RHP Sonny Gray||10 GS, 5-3, 2.67 ERA, 67 K, 64 IP|
|RHP A.J. Griffin||32 GS, 14-10, 3.83 ERA, 171 K, 200 IP|
|RHP Dan Straily||27 GS, 10-8, 3.96 ERA, 124 K, 152.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Tommy Milone, LHP Drew Pomeranz
Losing Bartolo Colon hurts, but the A's quickly replaced him with left-hander Scott Kazmir in free agency, and with the continued development of their young arms, they should once again be among the best pitching teams in baseball.
Jarrod Parker looks ready to seize the role of staff ace, and Sonny Gray is poised for a breakout season after pitching very well down the stretch and in the playoffs. The trio of A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone will battle it out for the final two spots in the rotation, though all three will likely be counted on at some point in 2014. They may lack a true lights-out ace, but the A's rotation is as deep as any in baseball.
|LHP Jon Lester||33 GS, 15-8, 3.75 ERA, 177 K, 213.1 IP|
|RHP Clay Buchholz||16 GS, 12-1, 1.74 ERA, 96 K, 108.1 IP|
|RHP John Lackey||29 GS, 10-13, 3.52 ERA, 161 K, 189.1 IP|
|RHP Jake Peavy||23 GS, 12-5, 4.17 ERA, 121 K, 144.2 IP|
|RHP Ryan Dempster||29 GS, 8-9, 4.57 ERA, 157 K, 171.1 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Felix Doubront, RHP Allen Webster, RHP Brandon Workman
The Red Sox rotation is a relatively old group, and keeping everyone healthy could be tricky in the upcoming season. However, with Felix Doubront and a bevy of other young arms waiting in the wings, they have the depth to offset any potential losses due to injury.
Jon Lester bounced back from a rough 2012 season to once again prove he was a staff ace, while Clay Buchholz looked like a Cy Young candidate before injuries sidelined him. John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Ryan Dempster have all dealt with injuries in recent years, but they have also all pitched incredibly well at times when healthy. Top prospect Anthony Ranaudo could see the majors at some point in 2014, while Allen Webster and Brandon Workman both got their feet wet last season.
|RHP Johnny Cueto||11 GS, 5-2, 2.82 ERA, 51 K, 60.2 IP|
|RHP Mat Latos||32 GS, 14-7, 3.16 ERA, 187 K, 210.2 IP|
|RHP Homer Bailey||32 GS, 11-12, 3.49 ERA, 199 K, 209 IP|
|RHP Mike Leake||31 GS, 14-7, 3.37 ERA, 122 K, 192.1 IP|
|LHP Tony Cingrani||18 GS, 7-4, 2.92 ERA, 120 K, 104.2 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Jeff Francis, RHP Chien-Ming Wang, LHP David Holmberg
The Reds have likely parted ways with veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo in free agency, but they have a more than capable replacement in Tony Cingrani, who was afforded an extended look last season with Johnny Cueto sidelined, and he impressed over 23 games (18 starts).
Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake all stepped up with Cueto sidelined last season, and having him back healthy atop the rotation makes them that much better. Latos and Bailey are both pitching for contract extensions as well, so they could both be in for big seasons. Veterans Jeff Francis and Chien-Ming Wang were added for depth, while top prospect Robert Stephenson could see a late-season call-up if he continues to impress.
|LHP David Price||27 GS, 10-8, 3.33 ERA, 151 K, 186.2 IP|
|RHP Alex Cobb||22 GS, 11-3, 2.76 ERA, 134 K, 143.1 IP|
|LHP Matt Moore||27 GS, 17-4, 3.29 ERA, 143 K, 150.1 IP|
|RHP Chris Archer||23 GS, 9-7, 3.22 ERA, 101 K, 128.2 IP|
|RHP Jake Odorizzi||4 GS, 0-1, 3.94 ERA, 22 K, 29.2 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, LHP Enny Romero
Despite all of the talk that he would be traded this offseason, it looks like Rays' ace David Price will be with the team to kick off the 2014 season. He could still be moved at midseason, but if the Rays are right in the thick of things as many expect them to be, there's a good chance they'll hold onto him and turn their attention to the playoffs.
Alex Cobb enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, despite the fact that he missed roughly a month after taking a line drive off the head. Matt Moore was an All-Star and remains one of the most promising young arms in the game. The team's depth is being tested early, as Jeremy Hellickson underwent elbow surgery earlier this week, but Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi should be more than capable of rounding out the staff. Left-hander Enny Romero looks like the next in line to emerge from the Rays' farm system and make an impact in the rotation.
|LHP Clayton Kershaw||33 GS, 16-9, 1.83 ERA, 232 K, 236 IP|
|RHP Zack Greinke||28 GS, 15-4, 2.63 ERA, 148 K, 177.2 IP|
|LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu||30 GS, 14-8, 3.00 ERA, 154 K, 192 IP|
|RHP Dan Haren||30 GS, 10-14, 4.67 ERA, 151 K, 169.2 IP|
|RHP Josh Beckett||8 GS, 0-5, 5.19 ERA, 41 K, 43.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Stephen Fife, RHP Matt Magill, RHP Chad Billingsley
Had the Dodgers landed Masahiro Tanaka, they likely would have claimed the top spot in these rankings. As things stand though, they still figure to have one of the best staffs in the league this coming season, and the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw will be fronting it once again after signing a record-breaking extension in the offseason.
Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu both proved to be terrific signings last offseason, and the team is hoping they can get similar results from Dan Haren after giving him a one-year, $10 million deal. Josh Beckett is almost a forgotten man at this point, but if he's healthy he could wind up being a positive contributor considering all he's expected to be is a back-of-the-rotation arm at this point. Depth is an issue, especially if Chad Billingsley has any recovery from elbow surgery last May, but entering the season they look awfully strong.
|RHP Justin Verlander||34 GS, 13-12, 3.46 ERA, 217 K, 218.1 IP|
|RHP Max Scherzer||32 GS, 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 240 K, 214.1 IP|
|RHP Anibal Sanchez||29 GS, 14-8, 2.57 ERA, 202 K, 182 IP|
|RHP Rick Porcello||29 GS, 13-8, 4.32 ERA, 142 K, 177 IP|
|LHP Drew Smyly||63 G, 6-0, 2.37 ERA, 81 K, 76 IP|
Other Candidates: LHP Jose Alvarez
The Tigers shipped Doug Fister off to the Washington Nationals this offseason in an effort to save some money and hopefully position themselves to re-sign AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer this coming offseason. That hurts the staff a bit, but Drew Smyly was a capable starter in 2012 before moving to the bullpen last year, and he should be able to hold down the No. 5 spot.
It was a down year for Justin Verlander, and he could miss the start of the season with a core muscle injury, but there's no reason to think he can't return to his dominant form after a strong postseason showing. Many criticized the five-year, $80 million deal the team gave Anibal Sanchez last offseason, but an ERA title later he has more than proved his worth. There is virtually no depth here, so an injury could hurt, but their top five guys rival any in the league.
|RHP Adam Wainwright||34 GS, 19-9, 2.94 ERA, 219 K, 241.2 IP|
|RHP Michael Wacha||9 GS, 4-1, 2.78 ERA, 65 K, 64.2 IP|
|RHP Shelby Miller||31 GS, 15-9, 3.06 ERA, 169 K, 173.1 IP|
|LHP Jaime Garcia||9 GS, 5-2, 3.58 ERA, 43 K, 55.1 IP|
|RHP Joe Kelly||15 GS, 10-5, 2.69 ERA, 79 K, 124 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Carlos Martinez
I've brought up depth—or lack thereof—regarding previous teams, but that is certainly not an issue in St. Louis. The team has seven legitimate starting candidates vying for five spots, and two guys who would likely find their way onto any other staff in baseball appear to be headed for the Cardinals' bullpen in 2014.
Adam Wainwright is back to lead the staff after a terrific season, and he'll be flanked by two of the game's brightest young arms in Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller. Expectations will be sky high for Wacha after his postseason performance, but he has the stuff to back those expectations up. Jaime Garcia returns from injury to provide even more depth, while Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn look like the leading candidates for the No. 5 spot. It's a young group that lacks a proven second ace, but they have the potential to be great 1-5.
|RHP Stephen Strasburg||30 GS, 8-9, 3.00 ERA, 191 K, 183 IP|
|LHP Gio Gonzalez||32 GS, 11-8, 3.36 ERA, 192 K. 195.2 IP|
|RHP Jordan Zimmermann||32 GS, 19-9, 3.25 ERA, 161 K, 213.1 IP|
|RHP Doug Fister||32 GS, 14-9, 3.67 ERA, 159 K, 208.2 IP|
|LHP Ross Detwiler||13 GS, 2-7, 4.04 ERA, 39 K, 71.1 IP|
Other Candidates: RHP Tanner Roark, RHP Taylor Jordan, RHP Ross Ohlendorf
The Nationals already had a top-five staff prior to acquiring Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers, and that move was enough to propel them to the top spot in these rankings. The trade looks to have been the steal of the offseason, as it cost the Nationals a pair of spare parts in Steve Lombardozzi and Ian Krol, and a decent pitching prospect in Robbie Ray.
Fister may be the best No. 4 starter in the game, as he slots behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in a rotation that has four ace-caliber arms. The No. 5 spot is up for grabs, as Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan both impressed in limited action last season, and if nothing else the team has some useful depth should injury strike. The Nationals fell short of expectations last season, with the offense largely to blame, but they look poised for a playoff run in 2014 on the strength of their fantastic rotation.