Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations at the Start of 2014

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2014

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations at the Start of 2014

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    Brad White/Getty Images

    It's been proven time and again that pitching wins championships. 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.

    At the beginning of spring training, I wrote an article ranking all 30 starting rotations. With the regular season finally getting underway, it's time to update those rankings.

    So what follows is an updated look at how all 30 MLB rotations stack up at the beginning of the 2014 season.

    It's important to note that these rankings are not based on what the rotation will be at midseason or come playoff time, but how they stand right now.

    In other words, injuries have to be taken into account, and teams like the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Oakland A's have fallen way down the list because of the injuries they were dealt this spring.

    I have included a look at injured pitchers who were projected to be part of the 2014 rotation, but those guys did not factor into the rankings, at least not in a positive way.

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted. All rotation and injury information taken from MLBDepthCharts.com

30. Houston Astros

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    Carlos Osorio

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Scott Feldman30 G, 30 GS, 12-12, 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 132 K, 181.2 IP
    RHP Jarred Cosart10 G, 10 GS, 1-1, 1.95 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 33 K, 60 IP
    LHP Brett Oberholtzer13 G, 10 GS, 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 45 K, 71.2 IP
    RHP Lucas Harrell36 G, 22 GS, 6-17, 5.86 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 89 K, 153.2 IP
    LHP Dallas Keuchel31 G, 22 GS, 6-10, 5.15 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 123 K, 153.2 IP

    Rotation Overview

    The Astros improved their rotation this offseason with the signing of veteran right-hander Scott Feldman, but their staff is still a work in progress. Feldman is best served as a middle or even back-of-the-rotation arm on a good team, and he has a group of inexperienced youngsters and mediocre veterans behind him.

    The continued progression of Brett Oberholtzer and Jarred Cosart will be important, not only to the team's success in 2014 but to their ongoing rebuilding process. Those two were impressive down the stretch last year, and could solidify their place in the long-term plans with a big first full season.

29. Seattle Mariners

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    Tony Gutierrez

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=Minors)
    RHP Felix Hernandez31 GS, 12-10, 3.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 216 K, 204.2 IP
    RHP Erasmo Ramirez14 G, 13 GS, 5-3, 4.98 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57 K, 72.1 IP
    LHP James Paxton4 GS, 3-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 21 K, 24 IP
    RHP Roenis Elias*22 GS, 6-11, 3.18 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 121 K, 130 IP
    RHP Chris Young*9 GS, 1-2, 6.81 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 21 K, 37 IP

    Injured Starters: Hisashi Iwakuma (finger, 15-day DL), Taijuan Walker (shoulder, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    Losing their No. 2 and No. 3 starters to injury this spring drops the Mariners way down this list. They have a chance to surprise some people once they're healthy if rookies Taijuan Walker and James Paxton can live up to expectations.

    For the time being, it's a sketchy group at best behind one of the game's best in Felix Hernandez. Roenis Elias has yet to pitch above Double-A but breaks camp in the rotation due to the injuries, while veteran Chris Young claimed a spot as well after not appearing in the majors last season, actually struggling in Triple-A.

28. Texas Rangers

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    Tony Gutierrez

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=Minors)
    RHP Tanner Scheppers76 G, 6-2, 1.88 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 59 K, 76.2 IP
    LHP Martin Perez20 GS, 10-6, 3.62 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 84 K, 124.1 IP
    LHP Robbie Ross65 G, 4-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 58 K, 62.1 IP
    LHP Joe Saunders32 GS, 11-16, 5.26 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 107 K, 183 IP
    RHP Nick Martinez*27 G, 25 GS, 12-7, 2.50 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 128 K, 151.1 IP

    Injured Starters: Yu Darvish (neck, 15-day DL), Matt Harrison (back, 15-day DL), Derek Holland (knee, 60-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    Another team that was hit hard by injuries this spring, the Rangers are without what was projected to be their top three starters entering the spring. Ace Yu Darvish should be back at some point in April, but the long-term health of Matt Harrison is still up in the air and Derek Holland will be out until midseason.

    Those injuries led to a pair of relievers from last year cracking the rotation, including the unlikeliest of Opening Day starters in Tanner Scheppers. Martin Perez looks like a star in the making after a good rookie season and Joe Saunders is an innings-eater if nothing else, but this is a team that will be anxiously awaiting a return to full health.

27. Chicago Cubs

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    Chris Carlson

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Jeff Samardzija33 GS, 8-13, 4.34 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 214 K, 213.2 IP
    RHP Edwin Jackson31 GS, 8-18, 4.98 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 135 K, 175.1 IP
    RHP Jason Hammel23 GS, 7-8, 4.97 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 113 K, 118 IP
    LHP Travis Wood32 GS, 9-12, 3.11 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 144 K, 200 IP
    RHP Carlos Villanueva47 G, 15 GS, 7-8, 4.06 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 103 K, 128.2 IP

    Injured Starters: Jake Arrieta (shoulder, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The rebuilding Cubs have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but the bulk of their young talent is on the position player side of things. They still some work to do as far as their starting pitching is concerned.

    Ace Jeff Samardzija may very well wind up traded at the deadline after the team decided against extending him, and Jason Hammel could also be flipped in July if he pitches well. Travis Wood has a chance to be considered part of the future if he follows up his impressive 2013 season, but for the most part this is a group of placeholders at this point.

26. Atlanta Braves

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    Carlos Osorio

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=Minors)
    RHP Julio Teheran30 GS, 14-8, 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 170 K, 185.2 IP
    LHP Alex Wood31 G, 11 GS, 3-3, 3.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 77 K, 77.2 IP
    RHP Aaron Harang26 GS, 5-12, 5.40 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 131 K, 179.2 IP
    RHP David Hale*22 G, 20 GS, 6-9, 3.22 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 77 K, 114.2 IP
    **RHP Ervin Santana32 GS, 9-10, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 161 K, 211 IP

    **Ervin Santana will open the season in extended spring training, but is expected to join the rotation in mid-April, just ahead of Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd, according to ESPN (via Michael Collins of Fansided).

    Injured Starters: Kris Medlen (TJ surgery, 60-day DL), Brandon Beachy (TJ surgery, 60-day DL), Mike Minor (shoulder, 15-day DL), Gavin Floyd (TJ recovery, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Braves looked to have at least a top-10 rotation entering spring training, but season-ending injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy and shoulder problems for Mike Minor left them piecing things together to start the season.

    Julio Teheran is one of the game's most promising young arms and Alex Wood had a great spring, but expecting Aaron Harang and David Hale to be able to pick up the slack is asking too much.

    It could be a rough start to 2014 for Atlanta, but with free-agent addition Ervin Santana expected to join the team shortly after staying at extended spring training and both Minor and Gavin Floyd not far behind, they should still be able to make a run at the NL East title. For now, though, their staff is one of the game's worst.

25. Minnesota Twins

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    Steven Senne

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Ricky Nolasco33 GS, 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 165 K, 199.1 IP
    RHP Kevin Correia31 GS, 9-13, 4.18 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 101 K, 185.1 IP
    RHP Phil Hughes29 GS, 4-14, 5.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 121 K, 145.2 IP
    RHP Mike Pelfrey29 GS, 5-13, 5.19 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 101 K, 152.2 IP
    RHP Kyle Gibson10 GS, 2-4, 6.53 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 29 K, 51 IP

    Rotation Overview

    The Twins had the worst starting pitching ERA in baseball last season at 5.26.  As a result, they handed out the two largest free-agent contracts in team history to Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes this offseason. It looks like an improved group on paper, but still one of the worst around.

    Nolasco is best served as a No. 3 or 4 starter on a contender and Hughes and Mike Pelfrey are both looking to recapture past success. Kevin Correia is a solid veteran, but is more of an arm to fill out a staff than a No. 2 starter. Getting something out of former top prospect Kyle Gibson would be nice for a team that has an eye on the future.

24. Colorado Rockies

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    Ross D. Franklin

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Jorge De La Rosa30 GS, 16-6, 3.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 112 K, 167.2 IP
    LHP Brett Anderson16 G, 5 GS, 1-4, 6.04 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 46 K, 44.2 IP
    RHP Tyler Chatwood 20 GS, 8-5, 3.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 66 K, 111.1 IP
    RHP Juan Nicasio 31 GS, 9-9, 5.14 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 119 K, 157.2 IP
    LHP Franklin Morales20 G, 1 GS, 2-2, 4.62 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 21 K, 25.1 IP

    Injured Starters: Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Rockies rotation was significantly improved last season thanks to healthy years from Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin atop the staff, but Chacin is already on the shelf to kick off the 2014 season with shoulder problems.

    Brett Anderson was acquired in a trade with the A's, and he was my pick to win NL Comeback Player of the Year. The front-line stuff is there for him to be an impact arm, but he has had a lot of trouble staying on the field. Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio have both shown flashes of being plus starters in the past and Franklin Morales claimed the No. 5 job with a good spring.

    This is a group that has a chance to take another step forward, but Chacin will need to get healthy and Anderson will need to stay healthy.

23. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Kathy Willens

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=2012 Stats)
    RHP R.A. Dickey34 GS, 14-13, 4.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 177 K, 224.2 IP
    RHP Drew Hutchison*11 GS, 5-3, 4.60 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 49 K, 58.2 IP
    LHP Mark Buehrle33 GS, 12-10, 4.15 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 139 K, 203.2 IP
    RHP Brandon Morrow10 GS, 2-3, 5.63 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 42 K, 54.1 IP
    RHP Dustin McGowan25 G, 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 K, 25.2 IP

    Injured Starters: LHP J.A. Happ (back, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The starting rotation will be the biggest X-factor in the Blue Jays' efforts to rebound from a disappointing 2013 season. Veterans R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle were solid last year and should be reliable once again, but the rest of the rotation will need to step up.

    Drew Hutchison looked great this spring, and he joins fellow right-hander Brandon Morrow as guys coming back from injury. Dustin McGowan spent last year in the bullpen, but beat out a field of below-average performers this spring to claim the No. 5 spot. If someone falters, the team has a pair of prospects in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman who could make an impact in 2014.

22. Chicago White Sox

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    Paul Sancya

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=2012 Stats)
    LHP Chris Sale30 GS, 11-14, 3.07 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 226 K, 214.1 IP
    RHP Felipe Paulino7 GS, 3-1, 1.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 39 K, 37.2 IP
    LHP Jose Quintana33 GS, 9-7, 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 164 K, 200 IP
    RHP Erik Johnson5 GS, 3-2, 3.25 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 18 K, 27.2 IP
    LHP John Danks22 GS, 4-14, 4.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 89 K, 138.1 IP

    Rotation Overview

    The White Sox have one of the best young arms in the business anchoring their staff in Chris Sale, who was my pick for AL Cy Young. The rotation behind him has the potential to be solid, but there is no shortage of question marks.

    Jose Quintana was the team's second-best starter last year, and he signed a five-year, $26.5 million extension, but he was absolutely shelled this spring. Felipe Paulino and John Danks are both looking for bounce-back seasons, while Erik Johnson will try to prove he can be another key piece of the rebuilding puzzle.

21. San Diego Padres

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    Lenny Ignelzi

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Andrew Cashner31 G, 25 GS, 10-9, 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 128 K, 175 IP
    RHP Ian Kennedy31 GS, 7-10, 4.91 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 163 K, 181.1 IP
    RHP Tyson Ross35 G, 16 GS, 3-8, 3.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 119 K, 125 IP
    LHP Eric Stults33 GS, 11-13, 3.93 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 131 K, 203.2 IP
    LHP Robbie Erlin11 G, 9 GS, 3-3, 4.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 40 K, 54.2 IP

    Injured Starters: Josh Johnson (forearm, 15-day DL), Cory Luebke (TJ surgery, 60-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Padres opened last season with Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard anchoring their rotation, but neither was still on the roster by the end of the season. The acquisition of Ian Kennedy at the deadline and a big second half from both Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross left the staff looking much better heading into this year.

    Cashner looks like the real deal and Kennedy is still just two seasons removed from going 21-4 and finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting. Left-hander Eric Stults is also back after being the team's most consistent starter last year, but the No. 5 spot has already been an issue.

    Josh Johnson was the team's most-talked-about offseason addition, as he looked to return to dominant form after a horrible season in Toronto, but he already finds himself on the DL. That opened things up for 23-year-old Robbie Erlin to earn the No. 5 spot.

20. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Kathy Willens

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    LHP Cliff Lee31 GS, 14-8, 2.87 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 222 K, 222.2 IP
    RHP A.J. Burnett30 GS, 10-11, 3.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 209 K, 191 IP
    RHP Kyle Kendrick30 GS, 10-13, 4.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 110 K, 182 IP
    RHP Roberto Hernandez32 G, 24 GS, 6-13, 4.89 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 113 K, 151 IP
    RHP Jeff Manship11 G, 4 GS, 0-5, 7.04 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 18 K, 30.2 IP

    Injured Starters: Cole Hamels (biceps tendinitis, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Phillies would no doubt be higher were it not for Cole Hamels opening the season on the DL. Once he's healthy, the veteran trio of Hamels, Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett has the potential to be very good atop the rotation. Burnett signed a two-year, $22.2 million deal in free agency after two terrific seasons with the Pirates.

    Kyle Kendrick is back, and he has tallied double-digit wins for the Phillies in five of the last seven seasons. He was solid in the first half last year with a 3.68 ERA in 19 starts, but seemed to tire in the second half with a 6.91 ERA on his way to a career-high 182 innings. Roberto Hernandez was a passable starter for the Rays last year, while non-roster invite Jeff Manship posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 spring innings to earn the fifth spot for the time being.

19. Oakland Athletics

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    Gregory Bull

    Projected Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Sonny Gray12 G, 10 GS, 5-3, 2.67 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 67 K, 64 IP
    LHP Scott Kazmir29 GS, 10-9, 4.04 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 162 K, 158 IP
    RHP Jesse Chavez35 G, 2-4, 3.92 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 55 K, 57.1 IP
    RHP Dan Straily27 GS, 10-8, 3.96 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 124 K, 152.1 IP
    LHP Tommy Milone28 G, 26 GS, 12-9, 4.14 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 126 K, 156.1 IP

    Injured Starters: Jarrod Parker (TJ surgery, 60-day DL), A.J. Griffin (elbow, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Athletics traded Brett Anderson this offseason in part because they had so many starting pitching options and no real place for him. Two arm injuries later and their depth is already being tested, but they still look like a solid rotation top to bottom.

    Losing Jarrod Parker for the year obviously hurts, as he was slated to take the ball on Opening Day. Meanwhile, A.J. Griffin led the team in innings pitched last season (200) but has been shut down for several weeks with a flexor muscle strain and could take significant time getting back.

    Sonny Gray has a chance to be a star and Scott Kazmir was their big offseason signing to replace Bartolo Colon. Dan Straily and Tommy Milone are both capable of taking a step forward, while Jesse Chavez gets a crack at starting after turning in a big spring. He was used exclusively out of the bullpen last season and put up solid numbers.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Paul Sancya

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Brandon McCarthy22 GS, 5-11, 4.53 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 76 K, 135 IP
    LHP Wade Miley33 GS, 10-10, 3.55 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 147 K, 202.2 IP
    RHP Trevor Cahill26 G, 25 GS, 8-10, 3.99 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 102 K, 146.2 IP
    RHP Bronson Arroyo32 GS, 14-12, 3.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 124 K, 202 IP
    RHP Randall Delgado20 G, 19 GS, 5-7, 4.26 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 79 K, 116.1 IP

    Injured Starters: Patrick Corbin (TJ surgery, 60-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Diamondbacks were already without a legitimate staff ace entering the season, and then they lost projected Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin for the season to Tommy John surgery. There is certainly some talent in the rotation, and they are solid 1-5, but it's hard to see this team scaring anyone in a postseason series.

    Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill have been consistent to start their careers, while veteran workhorse Bronson Arroyo should be a great addition provided he can put the back problems that plagued him this spring behind him.

    It was an up-and-down 2013 for Brandon McCarthy, but he closed out the season by going 3-3 with a 2.94 ERA over his final seven starts, and he followed that up with a strong spring. Randall Delgado fills out the staff for now, but it may not be long before top prospect Archie Bradley makes his way to Arizona, and he could be the team's best pitcher by the end of the season.

17. Los Angeles Angels

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    Ross D. Franklin

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Jered Weaver24 GS, 11-8, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 117 K, 154.1 IP
    LHP C.J. Wilson33 GS, 17-7, 3.39 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 188 K, 212.1 IP
    LHP Hector Santiago34 G, 23 GS, 4-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 137 K, 149 IP
    RHP Garrett Richards47 G, 17 GS, 7-8, 4.16 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 101 K, 145 IP
    LHP Tyler Skaggs20 G, 18 GS, 6-10, 4.60 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 115 K, 190.2 IP

    Rotation Overview

    For all of the attention that the signings of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols received, and all the criticism those two have taken for struggling, it has been the pitching that has kept the Angels out of the playoffs the past two years.

    Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson have been a solid one-two punch the past two seasons, but it's the rest of the rotation behind them that has been the issue. A strong performance from Garrett Richards after he moved from the bullpen to the rotation gave them a third viable starter, but there was clear work to be done this offseason.

    They realized that and pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal, shipping out slugger Mark Trumbo and picking up a pair of young left-handers in Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Those two are the keys to success this season for the Angels, and both have the potential to be plus arms.

16. Baltimore Orioles

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    Patrick Semansky

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Chris Tillman33 GS, 16-7, 3.71 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 179 K, 206.1 IP
    RHP Ubaldo Jimenez32 GS, 13-9, 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 194 K, 182.2 IP
    LHP Wei-Yin Chen23 GS, 7-7, 4.07 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 104 K, 137 IP
    RHP Miguel Gonzalez30 G, 28 GS, 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 120 K, 171.1 IP
    RHP Bud Norris32 G, 30 GS, 10-12, 4.18 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 147 K, 176.2 IP

    Rotation Overview

    With one of the best offenses in baseball top to bottom, it has been the starting rotation that has held the Orioles back the past two seasons. On paper they look like an improved group, as they'll have a full season of Bud Norris as well as free-agent addition Ubaldo Jimenez.

    This is still by no means an elite staff though, as neither Chris Tillman nor Jimenez are true aces and the rest of the rotation is a collection of No. 4 starter-types.

    If they can stay healthy they have a chance to be a middle-of-the-road group, and that may be good enough if they score runs and play defense like last season. Top prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy remain the X-factors, as both have front-line stuff if they can put it together.

15. New York Yankees

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    David Goldman

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=Japan, ~=Minors)
    LHP CC Sabathia32 GS, 14-13, 4.78 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 175 K, 211 IP
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda32 GS, 11-13, 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 150 K, 201.1 IP
    RHP Ivan Nova20 GS, 9-6, 3.10 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 116 K, 139.1 IP
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka*27 GS, 24-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 183 K, 212 IP
    RHP Michael Pineda~10 GS, 2-1, 3.32 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 41 K, 40.2 IP

    Rotation Overview

    There are no shortage of question marks surrounding the Yankees' rotation, but there is enough potential here for me to rank them outside the top 10.

    Will a slimmed down CC Sabathia bounce back? Can Masahiro Tanaka be a front-line arm in his first season in the MLB? What exactly can the team expect from Michael Pineda after he missed the past two seasons? Was the rough final month from Hiroki Kuroda just signs of tiring or a sign of his age?

    All legitimate questions, but if things break right this is a staff that has a chance to be one of the best in all of baseball. It's funny that Ivan Nova, who took plenty of criticism and pitched to a 5.00-plus ERA in 2012, now looks like the closest to a sure thing they have.

14. Miami Marlins

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    Jeff Roberson

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Jose Fernandez28 GS, 12-6, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 187 K, 172.2 IP
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi18 GS, 4-6, 3.39 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 78 K, 106.1 IP
    LHP Henderson Alvarez17 GS, 5-6, 3.59 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 57 K, 102.2 IP
    RHP Jacob Turner20 GS, 3-8, 3.74 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 77 K, 118 IP
    RHP Tom Koehler29 G, 23 GS, 5-10, 4.41 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 92 K, 143 IP

    Rotation Overview

    The Marlins may have lost 100 games last season, but it was through no fault of their starting rotation. They combined to post a 3.87 ERA as a group, which was good for eighth in the National League and 13th in MLB.

    With four of their five starters entering their age-24 season or younger, and Tom Koehler the elder statesman of the group at 28, there is a lot to like about the direction their pitching is headed.

    Jose Fernandez is the clear ace of the staff after turning in one of the best rookie seasons in history. Behind him, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner all pitched to a sub-4.00 ERA and will be looking to take another step forward. Koehler holds down the No. 5 spot for now, but he could be pushed by top prospect Andrew Heaney by midseason.

13. Kansas City Royals

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=Minors)
    RHP James Shields34 GS, 13-9, 3.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 196 K, 228.2 IP
    LHP Jason Vargas24 GS, 9-8, 4.02 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 109 K, 150 IP
    RHP Yordano Ventura*26 G, 25 GS, 8-6, 3.14 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 155 K, 134.2 IP
    RHP Jeremy Guthrie33 GS, 15-12, 4.04 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 111 K, 211.2 IP
    LHP Bruce Chen34 G, 15 GS, 9-4, 3.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 78 K, 121 IP

    Rotation Overview

    Losing Ervin Santana obviously hurts, but the Royals actually have the potential to be a better rotation overall in 2014. Jason Vargas was signed to replace Santana and he should eat innings and post a solid ERA, but it's rookie flamethrower Yordano Ventura who gives this group a chance to be special.

    Ventura has some of the best pure stuff in baseball, routinely dialing his fastball up to triple digits, and should make a serious impact after beating out Danny Duffy for the final rotation spot.

    Ace James Shields is in a contract year and could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate if the Royals make a run to the postseason like many expect them to. Veterans Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen are solid back-of-the-rotation arms.

12. New York Mets

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    Carlos Osorio

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Dillon Gee32 GS, 12-11, 3.62 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 142 K, 199 IP
    RHP Bartolo Colon30 GS, 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 117 K, 190.1 IP
    RHP Zack Wheeler17 GS, 7-5, 3.42 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 84 K, 100 IP
    RHP Jenrry Mejia5 GS, 1-2, 2.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 27 K, 27.1 IP
    *LHP Jon Niese24 GS, 8-8, 3.71 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 105 K, 143 IP

    *Niese will have his first start skipped and opened the year on the 15-day DL. He will join the rotation on April 6, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Star-Ledger.

    Rotation Overview

    The Mets will obviously miss Matt Harvey this season, as he is expected to miss the entire year recovering from Tommy John surgery. But they are still a solid group even without him.

    Bartolo Colon was signed to a two-year deal to fill his rotation spot. He joins an underrated trio of Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese that helped the team to the eighth-lowest starting pitching ERA in baseball last season at 3.68.

    Niese starts the season on the DL, but is expected to join the rotation on April 6. As long as he has no setback, this looks like a strong staff. Longtime prospect Jenrry Mejia won the No. 5 starter job over veterans Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan. Along with top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, the team has plenty of depth should injury strike.

11. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Carlos Osorio

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    LHP Francisco Liriano26 GS, 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 163 K, 161 IP
    RHP Gerrit Cole19 GS, 10-7, 3.22 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 100 K, 117.1 IP
    LHP Wandy Rodriguez12 GS, 6-4, 3.59 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 46 K, 62.2 IP
    RHP Charlie Morton20 GS, 7-4, 3.26 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 85 K, 116 IP
    RHP Edinson Volquez32 GS, 9-12, 5.71 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 142 K, 170.1 IP

    Rotation Overview

    There may have been no better free-agent signing last offseason than Francisco Liriano to the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million deal. The contract wound up being worth more with performance incentives, but he was worth every penny as he emerged as a legitimate ace atop their rotation.

    Losing veteran A.J. Burnett hurts, but when you consider the fact that Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton combined to make just 51 starts last year, full seasons from those three could go a long way in helping offset the loss. Cole in particular could be poised for a huge season, as he only got better as his rookie season went on.

    This staff would be higher were it not for question marks in the No. 5 spot, where Edinson Volquez showed nothing this spring to suggest he'll be a viable option. The team has some other options, including 2013 All-Star Jeff Locke and top prospect Jameson Taillon, but as of now it remains a question mark.

10. San Francisco Giants

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    Gregory Bull

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    LHP Madison Bumgarner31 GS, 13-9, 2.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 199 K, 201.1 IP
    RHP Matt Cain30 GS, 8-10, 4.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 158 K, 184.1 IP
    RHP Tim Hudson21 GS, 8-7, 3.97 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 95 K, 131.1 IP
    RHP Tim Lincecum32 GS, 10-14, 4.37 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 192 K, 197.2 IP
    RHP Ryan Vogelsong19 GS, 4-6, 5.73 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 67 K, 103.2 IP

    Rotation Overview

    Terrific starting pitching was the calling card of the Giants' 2010 and 2012 World Series-winning teams. It was also a big reason why they fell to fourth in the NL West last season. After posting the 3.73 ERA to rank sixth in 2012, their starters fell to 4.37 and 24th in the MLB last year.

    Swapping Barry Zito for Tim Hudson can only be looked at as a positive move, and Hudson has shown no ill effects of the ankle surgery that ended his season last year.

    Madison Bumgarner was one of the best pitchers in baseball last year, and is still only 24 years old, while Matt Cain looked like himself again in the second half of 2013 and should be in for a big year. If Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong can hold their own at the back of the rotation, pitching could carry the Giants once again.

9. Cleveland Indians

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Justin Masterson32 G, 29 GS, 14-10, 3.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP 195 K, 193 IP
    RHP Corey Kluber26 G, 24 GS, 11-5, 3.85 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 136 K, 147.1 IP
    RHP Zach McAllister24 GS, 9-9, 3.75 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 101 K, 134.1 IP
    RHP Danny Salazar10 GS, 2-3, 3.12 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 65 K, 52 IP
    RHP Carlos Carrasco15 G, 7 GS, 1-4, 6.75 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 30 K, 46.2 IP

    Rotation Overview

    The Indians lost both Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir to free agency and added nothing to their rotation, so how do they still rank this high?

    It starts with Justin Masterson, who looked every bit the part of a staff ace last season, striking out over a batter an inning and leading the AL with three shutouts. He's in a contract year and could position himself for a $100 million-plus payday with a big year.

    Behind him, Corey Kluber was perhaps the most underrated pitcher in baseball last season, Zach McAllister is a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm and 24-year-old Danny Salazar looks poised for a huge season after dominating over 10 starts down the stretch last year. Carlos Carrasco is a shaky No. 5 option. There could be some turnover there, but they are very strong 1-4.

8. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Chris Carlson

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Yovani Gallardo31 GS, 12-10, 4.18 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 144 K, 180.2 IP
    RHP Kyle Lohse32 GS, 11-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 125 K, 198.2 IP
    RHP Matt Garza24 GS, 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 136 K, 155.1 IP
    RHP Marco Estrada21 GS, 7-4, 3.87 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 118 K, 128 IP
    RHP Wily Peralta32 GS, 11-15, 4.37 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 129 K, 183.1 IP

    Rotation Overview

    I've been accused of overrating the Brewers heading into this season more than once. That may very well be the case, but I'm buying the rotation they have assembled after the addition of Matt Garza in the offseason.

    Yovani Gallardo is in a contract year and will be motivated to put together a big season, while veterans Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza can be counted on as reliable arms behind him.

    Marco Estrada has quietly emerged as a plus arm the past two seasons, while Wily Peralta has nowhere to go but up after a solid rookie season that was largely overlooked due to the influx of terrific young arms in the NL last season. Guys like Tyler Thornburg, Jimmy Nelson and Johnny Hellweg are waiting in the wings if injury strikes, but the five-man group to kick off the season looks awfully strongprovided they pitch to their potential.

7. Cincinnati Reds

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    Paul Sancya

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Johnny Cueto11 GS, 5-2, 2.82 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 51 K, 60.2 IP
    RHP Homer Bailey32 GS, 11-12, 3.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 199 K, 209 IP
    RHP Mike Leake31 GS, 14-7, 3.37 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 122 K, 192.1 IP
    LHP Tony Cingrani23 G, 18 GS, 7-4, 2.92 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 120 K, 104.2 IP
    RHP Alfredo Simon63 G, 6-4, 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 63 K, 87.2 IP

    Injured Starter: Mat Latos (knee, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    Were it not for a knee injury to Mat Latos that required surgery and has him starting the season on the DL, the Reds would be even higher on this list. They still crack the top 10 even without him.

    Johnny Cueto is healthy after making just 11 starts last season, and he should again be one of the best in the NL. He's followed by Homer Bailey, who has finally put it all together the past two seasons, and cashed in with a six-year, $105 million extension in the offseason.

    Mike Leake is coming off the best season of his career, and the team saw enough from Tony Cingrani last year to let veteran Bronson Arroyo walk in free agency. Alfredo Simon assumes No. 5 starter duties until Latos is back, and he should be up to the task as he has starting experience and was great as the long man last year.

6. Boston Red Sox

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    LHP Jon Lester33 GS, 15-8, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 177 K, 213.1 IP
    RHP Jake Peavy23 GS, 12-5, 4.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 121 K, 144.2 IP
    RHP John Lackey29 GS, 10-13, 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 161 K, 189.1 IP
    LHP Felix Doubront29 G, 27 GS, 11-6, 4.32 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 139 K, 162.1 IP
    RHP Clay Buchholz16 GS, 12-1, 1.74 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 96 K, 108.1 IP

    Rotation Overview

    The Red Sox posted the best record in the AL last season on the strength of the highest-scoring offense in baseball, but they won the World Series because their starting pitching stepped up when it mattered most.

    Jon Lester rebounded from a rough 2012 to regain his ace form. Clay Buchholz did the same and would likely have been in the running for AL Cy Young had he stayed healthy.

    Veterans John Lackey and Jake Peavy have shaky injury histories, but managed to stay healthy last year and were productive as a result. Ryan Dempster opted to sit the year out, but there is a good chance Felix Doubront would have beaten him for the final rotation job anyway.

    Throw in one of the deepest crops of pitching prospects in the game, and the Red Sox should be ready for anything on the starting pitching side of things.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Mark Duncan

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu30 GS, 14-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 154 K, 192 IP
    RHP Zack Greinke28 GS, 15-4, 2.63 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 148 K, 177.2 IP
    RHP Dan Haren30 GS, 10-14, 4.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 151 K, 169.2 IP
    *RHP Josh Beckett8 GS, 0-5, 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 41 K, 43.1 IP
    **LHP Clayton Kershaw33 GS, 16-9, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 232 K, 236 IP

    *Beckett is on the 15-day DL, but will be eligible to start on April 4, according to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.

    **Kershaw is on the 15-day DL with back inflammation, but he is eligible to return on April 7 and should join the rotation then barring any setbacks, according to Matt Snyder of CBSSports.

    Rotation Overview

    The Dodgers have to slide down the list a bit due to the back injury that landed Clayton Kershaw on the DL for the first time in his career, but he is expected to return by the time the team needs a fifth starter.

    Once he's healthy, the team will again have a 1-3 that stacks up with any in baseball, as the reigning NL Cy Young winner joins Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu atop the staff.

    Josh Beckett beat out veteran Paul Maholm for the fifth starter job, but Maholm will provide some nice depth should someone get hurt. Dan Haren was also added this offseason, and after finishing the 2013 season strong, expectations are high for him to turn in a big year.

4. Washington Nationals

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    Alex Brandon

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Stephen Strasburg30 GS, 8-9, 3.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 191 K, 183 IP
    LHP Gio Gonzalez32 GS, 11-8, 3.36 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 192 K. 195.2 IP
    RHP Jordan Zimmermann32 GS, 19-9, 3.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 161 K, 213.1 IP
    RHP Tanner Roark14 G, 5 GS, 7-1, 1.51 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 40 K, 53.2 IP
    RHP Taylor Jordan9 GS, 1-3, 3.66 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 29 K, 51.2 IP

    Injured Starters: Doug Fister (shoulder, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    Were it not for Doug Fister starting the season on the DL, the Nationals would have been in the top spot on this list. Even with Fister battling shoulder problems though, they still remain in the top five thanks to an impressive 1-3 and some solid depth.

    His 8-9 record may not have reflected it, but Stephen Strasburg was the best pitcher on the team last year. He may finally turn in that monster season in 2014. That's no disrespect to Jordan Zimmermann, who was one of the NL's best in his own right last year, but Strasburg had a lower WHIP, better ERA and higher strikeout rate.

    Gio Gonzalez took a step back from his fantastic 2012 numbers, but is still one of the best lefties in the game. The team entered camp with Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and Ross Detwiler battling for the No. 5 starter job, and that depth should serve them well all season. Roark was great down the stretch last year and Jordan showed flashes as well.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Gerald Herbert

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats (*=Minors)
    LHP David Price27 GS, 10-8, 3.33 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 151 K, 186.2 IP
    RHP Alex Cobb22 GS, 11-3, 2.76 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 134 K, 143.1 IP
    LHP Matt Moore27 GS, 17-4, 3.29 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 143 K, 150.1 IP
    RHP Chris Archer23 GS, 9-7, 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 101 K, 128.2 IP
    RHP Jake Odorizzi*22 GS, 9-6, 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 124 K, 124.1 IP

    Injured Starters: Jeremy Hellickson (elbow, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    An offseason of rumors came and went and David Price is still in Tampa Bay. That was reason enough for them to be my pick to win the AL pennant this season.

    Price is one of the game's true staff aces, and behind him are a pair of emerging studs in Alex Cobb and Matt Moore. Cobb would have been in the AL Cy Young mix had he not missed two months after being injured by a liner, while Moore only got better in his second season and still has a ton of upside.

    Chris Archer carried the staff when they battled injuries last season and was a worthy Rookie of the Year candidate, while Jake Odorizzi could make a run at the award this season. Elbow surgery by Jeremy Hellickson opened up a spot for Odorizzi, but after the way Hellickson struggled last year he may have taken that spot regardless.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

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    David Goldman

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Adam Wainwright34 GS, 19-9, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 219 K, 241.2 IP
    RHP Michael Wacha9 GS, 4-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 65 K, 64.2 IP
    RHP Lance Lynn33 GS, 15-10, 3.97 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 198 K, 201.2 IP
    RHP Shelby Miller31 GS, 15-9, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 169 K, 173.1 IP
    RHP Joe Kelly37 G, 15 GS, 10-5, 2.69 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 79 K, 124 IP

    Injured Starters: Jaime Garcia (shoulder, 15-day DL)

    Rotation Overview

    The Cardinals entered spring training with the wonderful problem of having too much pitching, as they had seven guys vying for five rotation spots. An injury to Jaime Garcia and a need for Carlos Martinez to stay in the eighth-inning role for the time being sorted things out, but their depth remains enviable.

    Adam Wainwright is the definition of a workhorse and probably one of the five best starting pitchers in the game right now. Postseason included, he threw a ridiculous 276.2 innings last season, and there's no reason to think he can't do it again.

    Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha may be young, but they are also incredibly talented and could give the team three ace-caliber arms by the time the postseason rolls around. Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly are young themselves but also have plenty of big-game experience and will be counted on to step up when called upon once again.

1. Detroit Tigers

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Opening Day Rotation

    Player2013 Stats
    RHP Justin Verlander34 GS, 13-12, 3.46 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 217 K, 218.1 IP
    RHP Max Scherzer32 GS, 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 240 K, 214.1 IP
    RHP Anibal Sanchez29 GS, 14-8, 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 202 K, 182 IP
    RHP Rick Porcello29 GS, 13-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 142 K, 177 IP
    LHP Drew Smyly63 G, 6-0, 2.37 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 81 K, 76 IP

    Rotation Overview

    Not many teams could trade someone like Doug Fister and still claim the No. 1 spot on these rankings, but the Tigers are good enough to pull it off.

    The threesome of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez is the best in baseball in my opinion. After a strong postseason and dominant spring, Verlander looks ready to reclaim his spot as staff ace and one of the best in the game.

    Rick Porcello takes a lot of flak, but the fact is the guy won 61 games before his 25th birthday and has brought consistency to the back of the rotation. Left-hander Drew Smyly is the wild card here, as he returns to a starting role after serving as the primary setup man last season, but he did just fine as a starter in 2012 and has only become a better pitcher since.