Ranking the Mets and MLB's Top 10 Starting Rotations Right Now
There are some who say that the starting pitcher is going extinct in Major League Baseball, so everyone should enjoy the good ones while they're still around to be enjoyed.
Allow us to help by pointing in the general direction of the 10 best starting rotations in the league as time winds down on the 2022 season.
The eye test came in handy as we arranged these rankings, but there are also these things called statistics that are pretty neat. We weighed what teams' rotations have done all year. Yet this was also a "What have you done for me lately?" sort of exercise, so recent performances and, courtesy of FanGraphs, projections got just as much consideration.
Let's start with some honorable mentions and then count down from there.
Note: All rotation alignments are courtesy of RosterResource on FanGraphs.
Current Rotation: RHP Spencer Strider, RHP Charlie Morton, RHP Kyle Wright, RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Ian Anderson
Atlanta's starting five made the original cut for this list, but then it lost its best hurler when Fried went on the concussion injured list on Thursday. This does equal an opportunity for Anderson to right his ship after his recent demotion, but his 5.11 ERA for the year makes it hard to take it for granted that he will.
San Francisco Giants
Current Rotation: LHP Carlos Rodón, RHP Logan Webb, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Jakob Junis
Rodón and Webb have been shoving all season, and FanGraphs actually projects the Giants to have one of MLB's five best rotations down the stretch. But from our perspective, there's a bit too much confidence there in Wood, Cobb and Junis, the latter of whom hasn't gotten more than 13 outs in a start since June 10.
Current Rotation: RHP Logan Gilbert, RHP Luis Castillo, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP George Kirby, LHP Marco Gonzales
Man, does this rotation look amazing on paper. The catch is that it's not so good in reality right now, as Gilbert, Ray and Gonzales all have ERAs of 6.00 or more since the All-Star break. With Gilbert's velocity down slightly, it may be time to wonder if the slender youngster is tiring.
Tampa Bay Rays
Current Rotation: LHP Shane McClanahan, RHP Drew Rasmussen, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, LHP Jeffrey Springs, RHP Corey Kluber
The good news? The Rays rank fifth in the majors with a 3.52 ERA from their starters. The bad? They're also dead-last in innings. McClanahan has already pitched a career-high 128.1 of those, so it's not terribly surprising that he's hit a wall with nine earned runs allowed over his last two outings.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
- RHP José Berríos
- RHP Mitch White
- RHP Kevin Gausman
- LHP Yusei Kikuchi
- RHP Alek Manoah
Aggregate Stats: 96 GS, 507.0 IP, 493 H (67 HR), 495 K, 145 BB, 3.89 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 3.6
The actual order of the Blue Jays rotation is a little wonky right now, but the main players are the same three guys who've been there all along: Berríos, Gausman and Manoah.
As both right-handers boast ERAs in the 2.00s for the season, Gausman's and Manoah's ace credentials easily pass inspection. Not so much for Berríos, whose ERA has been over 5.00 for much of the season.
Yet it wasn't that long ago that Berríos was in a groove as he posted a 3.00 ERA with 42 strikeouts over 36 innings in July. He's since gone back to struggling in August, but that recent performance and his All-Star track record allow for some optimism.
Otherwise, Kikuchi has struggled all year and White is merely holding Ross Stripling's spot while he works his way back from a strained hip. The Jays will need Stripling to pick up where he left off—i.e., a 2.49 ERA over his last 10 starts—for their Big Three to become a Big Four.
9. New York Yankees
- RHP Gerrit Cole
- LHP Nestor Cortés
- RHP Frankie Montas
- RHP Domingo Germán
- RHP Jameson Taillon
Aggregate Stats: 91 GS, 508.1 IP, 433 H (70 HR), 535 K, 125 BB, 3.43 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 4.2
If there's a rotation on this list that's arguably less than the sum of its parts, it's gotta be this one.
Since the opening of July, Yankees starters have a less-than-impressive 4.48 ERA. Cortés is the only one with a mark south of 4.00 in this span, and the caveat with him is that the team has generally been capping him at 90 pitches since the start of June.
What nonetheless has us willing to give the Yankees rotation a pass is its sheer upside. This applies first and foremost to Cole, who responded to a pair of rough outings with a stellar outing on Tuesday that served as a reminder that he's one of MLB's best hurlers when he's on.
Montas has likewise pitched like a top-of-the-rotation starter in each of the last two seasons, tallying a 3.45 ERA on the whole. So at least until Luis Severino is able to return from a strained lat, the Yankees can be confident that their front three will be able to pick up after Taillon and Germán at the back end.
8. San Diego Padres
- RHP Yu Darvish
- LHP Blake Snell
- RHP Joe Musgrove
- LHP Sean Manaea
- RHP Mike Clevinger
Aggregate Stats: 89 GS, 521.0 IP, 438 H (61 HR), 536 K, 155 BB, 3.63 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 4.0
With prized left-hander MacKenzie Gore now in Washington by way of the Juan Soto trade, the Padres can ill afford any injuries among their current starting five.
Otherwise, it's a good bunch that has revolved around Musgrove and Darvish all season. They've teamed up for a 3.10 ERA, and Musgrove hasn't actually pitched that poorly even though he's added nearly a full run to his own ERA since July 13. Of the five starts he's made in this span, only two have truly been bombs.
Meanwhile, Snell and Clevinger have found their strides of late. The former, by allowing one earned run or fewer in six of his last seven starts. The latter, by racking up a 3.42 ERA thus far in the second half.
Manaea is the undeniable weak link, as he's been hit hard to the tune of a 6.88 ERA since the start of July. But even as the runs have piled up, he's continued to give the Padres at least five innings more often than not. That'll do for an ostensible No. 5 starter.
7. Chicago White Sox
- RHP Dylan Cease
- RHP Michael Kopech
- RHP Lucas Giolito
- RHP Lance Lynn
- RHP Johnny Cueto
Aggregate Stats: 90 GS, 496.1 IP, 444 H (64 HR), 516 K, 181 BB, 3.48 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 3.5
Starting at the top, Cease is so hot right now that he should have a heat wave named after him.
The mustachioed right-hander has made 14 straight starts in which he's allowed one or fewer earned runs. That's a major league record, and he can credit it largely to a devastating slider that's held opposing batters to an .091 average with 76 strikeouts.
Though Cease has been hogging the attention of late, the White Sox's rotation as a whole has picked things up with a 3.13 ERA over the last 30 days. That's owed largely to Kopech and Cueto, who have been pulling their weight all season.
The same can't be said of Giolito and Lynn, who should be better than the aggregate 5.26 ERA that they have for the season. Yet both hurlers have some positive momentum going, with Giolito pitching to a 3.60 ERA over his last three starts and Lynn posting a 3.42 ERA over his last four.
6. Miami Marlins
- RHP Sandy Alcántara
- RHP Edward Cabrera
- RHP Pablo López
- LHP Jesús Luzardo
- LHP Braxton Garrett
Aggregate Stats: 71 GS, 425.1 IP, 323 H (36 HR), 424 K, 123 BB, 2.90 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 3.5
Alas, the Marlins haven't been able to generate enough offense to sustain themselves as a playoff contender. Their rotation, on the other hand, is sure to have contenders fearing them as a spoiler down the stretch.
Alcántara has a strong claim to the title of the best pitcher in baseball right now. The hard-throwing righty boasts a 2.01 ERA for the season and, just as impressive, has logged at least seven innings in 16 of his 23 starts. Nobody else has more than 12.
López is also having a heck of a season despite some recent struggles, while Cabrera and Luzardo at least hold up their end of the bargain in terms of the sheer stuff that this starting five has to offer. These guys average 95.1 mph on the fastball, with a 74.1 contact percentage that would be tied for 13th among qualified starters if it was all coming from the same person.
If there's a question with Miami's rotation, it has to do with durability at the back end. Cabrera and Luzardo have both spent substantial time on the injured list this season, and neither of them nor Garrett eats innings quite like Alcántara and López.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
- LHP Julio Urías
- RHP Ryan Pepiot
- RHP Tony Gonsolin
- LHP Andrew Heaney
- LHP Tyler Anderson
Aggregate Stats: 73 GS, 402.0 IP, 293 H (40 HR), 371 K, 105 BB, 2.44 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 4.0
With Clayton Kershaw (back) and Walker Buehler (forearm) on the injured list and Dustin May still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, what's astonishing about the Dodgers rotation is how much talent it doesn't have right now.
That it still looks as good as it does is a testament to its depth, though it's perhaps just as much a testament for the team's knack for working wonders with both homegrown players and outside additions.
To the latter, Anderson and Heaney have a 2.33 ERA between them. To the former, Urías and Gonsolin have a 2.37 ERA in their own right. Pepiot is likewise no mere stand-in, as he ranks as MLB.com's No. 71 prospect by way of plus-plus marks for his fastball and changeup.
Beyond the small sample sizes for Heaney and Pepiot, another nit to pick with the Dodgers' current rotation is that there aren't any true workhorses in its midst. To wit, Anderson is the only one who's topped 100 pitches in a start this season, and he's done so only twice.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
- RHP Corbin Burnes
- RHP Freddy Peralta
- RHP Brandon Woodruff
- LHP Eric Lauer
- LHP Aaron Ashby
Aggregate Stats: 85 GS, 464.2 IP, 380 H (60 HR), 539 K, 159 BB, 3.51 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 4.6
Regression after a Cy Young Award-winning season? Pish posh, says Burnes, who leads the National League in both strikeouts and WHIP while also posting a 2.45 ERA.
After a slow start to the season, Woodruff has likewise looked like his typical ace-like self since he came off the injured list back on June 28. He's made eight starts and pitched to a 2.42 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 14 walks in 48.1 innings.
Peralta has also looked good in a pair of starts since he ended his own stay on the IL on Aug. 3, notably getting his fastball up to 97 mph. As he continues to add arm strength, the odds are good that he'll eventually look like the same guy who was an All-Star in 2021.
Though the two lefties have had their ups and downs throughout 2022, Lauer and Ashby have largely been better lately. The former boasts a 2.90 ERA over his last seven starts, with the latter pitching to a 3.71 ERA over his last six.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
- RHP Aaron Nola
- RHP Zack Wheeler
- RHP Noah Syndergaard
- RHP Kyle Gibson
- LHP Ranger Suárez
Aggregate Stats: 102 GS, 591.1 IP, 523 H (60 HR), 544 K, 145 BB, 3.47 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 4.8
Frankly, the Phillies rotation would deserve a place on this list even if there was nothing but junk after Nola and Wheeler.
The two veteran righties haven't always been hot this season, but they sure as heck are right now. Since June 8, they've made 22 starts and pitched to a 2.38 ERA. Nola has been notably long ball-proof, allowing only five home runs over 78 innings as he's breathed new life into his sinker.
Speaking of sinkers, Suárez likewise has a good one of those and it's been working for him as he's accumulated a 1.27 ERA in five starts since he came off the IL on July 16. As such, this is a good spot for a reminder that the lefty put up a historic 308 ERA+ just last year.
Though Syndergaard made a rough first impression in his Phillies debut on Aug. 4, he got back on track his next time out to continue his solid season. After starting out with a 4.91 ERA through 16 starts, even Gibson has found footing in the form of a 2.89 ERA in six outings since July 9.
2. Houston Astros
- RHP Justin Verlander
- LHP Framber Valdez
- RHP Luis García
- RHP Cristian Javier
- RHP José Urquidy
Aggregate Stats: 102 GS, 604.2 IP, 480 H (70 HR), 594 K, 168 BB, 3.13 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 4.3
So good is this Astros rotation that García is the only one who doesn't have an ERA+ in above-average territory north of 100. And since he's at 96, even noting that feels like a cheat.
Though Verlander finally allowed more than two earned runs for the first time since June 18 his last time out, he's still dispelling any fears that he would eventually wear down in his return from Tommy John surgery. His ERA has never been higher than 2.30 at any point, and he's still throwing gas even as he adds more and more innings to his 39-year-old arm.
Speaking of gas, Javier has been throwing so much of that lately that he's arguably Houston's second-best pitcher right now. He's whiffed 76 batters over 55.2 innings since June 13, including 44 by way of a heater that really explodes on hitters.
Then again, such talk only further contributes to the notion that Valdez is underrated. Even more so than his 2.73 ERA, what really captures his dominance this year is that he's allowing only a 14.7 fly-ball percentage. That's the lowest such mark for a qualified starter since batted ball data became available in 2002. And this is in the middle of the Fly Ball Revolution, folks.
1. New York Mets
- RHP Max Scherzer
- RHP Jacob deGrom
- RHP Chris Bassitt
- RHP Carlos Carrasco
- RHP Taijuan Walker
Aggregate Stats: 81 GS, 478.0 IP, 422 H (46 HR), 481 K, 115 BB, 3.16 ERA
Rest of Season WAR: 5.2
Sure, it's only been two starts. But since he came off a long stay on the IL on Aug. 2, Jacob deGrom has looked a whole lot like, well, Jacob deGrom.
He's certainly wasted no time reestablishing himself as arguably the best power pitcher in major league history, dialing his fastball up to 102 mph and snapping off mid-90s sliders as he's struck out 18 of the 36 batters he's faced.
Scherzer has also looked the part of a multi-time Cy Young Award winner since he ended his own stay on the IL on July 5. In eight starts, he's allowed only eight earned runs next to 67 strikeouts and six walks over 53 innings.
Carrasco and Bassitt are likewise on a roll, having combined for a 1.84 ERA with only five home runs allowed over 83 innings since the start of July. Walker is technically the coldest Mets starter, but only if you focus too hard on his eight-run dud on Aug. 5. On either side of that are 10 starts of five-plus innings and no more than three earned runs.