Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering Spring Training

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2015

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering Spring Training

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Hitting may put fans in the stands, but pitching still wins championships, and that was never more clear than last season when Madison Bumgarner led the San Francisco Giants to a World Series title.

    It's been a busy offseason on the pitching market, with Max Scherzer and Jon Lester heading this year's free-agent class of starters. The third ace-caliber arm on the market, James Shields, has yet to sign and could certainly shake things up between now and Opening Day.

    With that in mind, what follows is a look at where all 30 MLB teams' rotations rank heading into spring training.

    A team's projected five-man rotation to open the year carried the most weight in determining where each team was ranked.

    However, we also took overall depth and potential impact prospects into account, as most teams deal with injuries throughout the course of the season and are forced to turn to others outside of their original five.

30. Colorado Rockies

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.89 (29th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Jorge De La Rosa14-11, 4.10 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.237 WHIP, 139 K, 184.1 IP
    RHP Jordan Lyles 7-4, 4.33 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.366 WHIP, 90 K, 126.2 IP
    LHP Tyler Matzek 6-11, 4.05 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.394 WHIP, 91 K, 117.2 IP
    RHP Jhoulys Chacin 1-7, 5.40 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 1.437 WHIP, 42 K, 63.1 IP
    RHP Kyle Kendrick10-13, 4.61 ERA, 4.57 FIP, 1.362 WHIP, 121 K, 199.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Christian Bergman, RHP Eddie Butler, RHP Jon Gray, RHP David Hale, LHP Chris Rusin, RHP Tyler Chatwood (DL)

    Analysis

    The Colorado Rockies have not had a starter's ERA under 4.50 since 2010, the year Ubaldo Jimenez went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA to finish third in NL Cy Young voting.

    This year's staff has some potential, with the steady Jorge De La Rosa at the top and the young duo of Jordan Lyles and Tyler Matzek both showing flashes of being plus starters last season.

    Big picture, though, De La Rosa is probably a No. 3 starter on a good team, and the rest of these guys are nothing more than No. 5 starter-types.

    The innings-eating Kyle Kendrick should help bridge the gap to top prospects Eddie Butler and Jon Gray. Those two still represent the future of this rotation and perhaps the only real hope the team has of fielding a plus staff.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.44 (27th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Josh Collmenter 11-9, 3.46 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.126 WHIP, 115 K, 179.1 IP
    RHP Jeremy Hellickson 1-5, 4.52 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 1.445 WHIP, 54 K, 63.2 IP
    LHP Vidal Nuno 2-12, 4.56 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 1.256 WHIP, 129 K, 161.2 IP
    RHP Chase Anderson9-7, 4.01 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.373 WHIP, 105 K, 114.1 IP
    RHP Allen Webster5-3, 5.03 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.458 WHIP, 36 K, 59.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Archie Bradley, RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Andrew Chafin, RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Randall Delgado, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Bronson Arroyo (DL), LHP Patrick Corbin (DL)

    Analysis

    The Arizona Diamondbacks have no shortage of starting pitching depth, and 2013 All-Star Patrick Corbin is expected back at some point in the first half, but heading into the season they are lacking a true leader atop the rotation.

    Josh Collmenter probably earned the Opening Day start as the team's most consistent starter last year. He finished the season going 3-2 with a 1.26 ERA and 0.740 WHIP over his final seven starts, as opponents hit just .173 with a .429 OPS against him during that span.

    Buying low on Jeremy Hellickson was a good risk for the team, as the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year has had a hard time duplicating his rookie performance over the past few years but still has plenty of upside as a 27-year-old.

    The final three spots in the rotation all figure to be up for grabs this spring, and it's worth keeping an eye on top prospect Archie Bradley. He will no doubt get a shot at some point in 2015 to show what he can do at the big league level.

28. Minnesota Twins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Starter's ERA: 5.06 (30th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Phil Hughes16-10, 3.52 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 1.130 WHIP, 186 K, 209.2 IP
    RHP Ervin Santana14-10, 3.95 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 1.306 WHIP, 179 K, 196.0 IP
    RHP Ricky Nolasco 6-12, 5.38 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 1.516 WHIP, 115 K, 159.0 IP
    LHP Tommy Milone 6-4, 4.19 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 1.398 WHIP, 75 K, 118.0 IP
    RHP Kyle Gibson13-12, 4.47 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.310 WHIP, 107 K, 179.1 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Logan Darnell, RHP J.R. Graham, RHP Trevor May, RHP Alex Meyer, RHP Mike Pelfrey (DL)

    Analysis

    Despite shelling out the two biggest free-agent contracts in team history to sign Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million) last winter, the Minnesota Twins again had the worst starter's ERA in baseball.

    For his part, Hughes wound up being a fantastic signing, as he finished seventh in AL Cy Young voting and set an MLB record with an 11.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That earned him a five-year, $58 million extension, replacing the final two years of the deal he signed last offseason.

    He'll again front the staff, alongside free-agent signing Ervin Santana, who became the new highest-priced free agent in team history when he signed a four-year, $55 million deal.

    Tommy Milone and Kyle Gibson look like the leading candidates to round out the rotation right now, but keep an eye on top prospect Alex Meyer. The big 6'9" right-hander had a 3.52 ERA and 10.6 strikeout-per-nine rate in Triple-A last year, and he has the stuff to be their future ace.

27. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.88 (20th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Cole Hamels9-9, 2.46 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 1.148 WHIP, 198 K, 204.2 IP
    LHP Cliff Lee4-5, 3.65 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 1.377 WHIP, 72 K, 81.1 IP
    RHP Aaron Harang12-12, 3.57 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.400 WHIP, 161 K, 204.1 IP
    RHP David Buchanan6-8, 3.75 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.292 WHIP, 71 K, 117.2 IP
    RHP Jerome Williams6-7, 4.77 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.400 WHIP, 82 K, 115.0 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Jesse Biddle, RHP Miguel Gonzalez, LHP Adam Morgan, RHP Jonathan Pettibone, RHP Chad Billingsley (DL)

    Analysis

    Had they pulled the trigger on trading Cole Hamels this offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies rotation would likely be no higher than 29th in these rankings, but with their ace still in the fold they move up a few slots.

    The health of Cliff Lee, who will earn $25 million this season and carries a $27.5 million option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout, is still the big question here. If he can stay on the field and turn in a strong first half, he could be an attractive trade chip come July.

    Signing Aaron Harang to a one-year, $5 million deal was a smart move for the Phillies, as he'll provide the rebuilding club with cheap innings and another potential piece to flip at the deadline. The same goes with taking a flier on Chad Billingsley, as he looks to prove healthy.

    Jesse Biddle could be entering a make-or-break year as far as his status as a top prospect is concerned, after he struggled to a 5.05 ERA in Double-A last season.

26. Houston Astros

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    Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.82 (19th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats (*MiLB stats)
    LHP Dallas Keuchel 12-9, 2.93 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 146 K, 200.0 IP
    RHP Scott Feldman 8-12, 3.74 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.303 WHIP, 107 K, 180.1 IP
    RHP Collin McHugh 11-9, 2.73 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 1.022 WHIP, 157 K, 154.2 IP
    RHP Brett Oberholtzer 5-13, 4.39 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.378 WHIP, 94 K, 143.2 IP
    RHP Dan Straily *7-8, 4.42 ERA, 1.347 WHIP, 46 BB, 123 K, 118.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Jake Buchanan, RHP Alex White, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, RHP Brad Peacock (DL)

    Analysis

    There was not a more surprising starting pitching duo in baseball last season than Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, as both guys came out of nowhere to help lead the Houston Astros staff to respectability.

    Keuchel was 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA in two big league seasons prior to last year, while McHugh was claimed off waivers from the Colorado Rockies in December 2013 and wound up finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    Scott Feldman provided a solid veteran presence after signing a three-year, $30 million deal last offseason, and he should again provide the team with a quality mid-level innings eater.

    That being said, the back end of the staff is a question mark, and despite solid peripheral numbers there is always the risk of regression from Keuchel and McHugh after their out-of-nowhere performances.

25. New York Yankees

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.77 (17th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka 13-5, 2.77 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 1.056 WHIP, 141 K, 136.1 IP
    LHP CC Sabathia3-4, 5.28 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 1.478 WHIP, 48 K, 46.0 IP
    RHP Michael Pineda 5-5, 1.89 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 0.825 WHIP, 59 K, 76.1 IP
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi 6-14, 4.37 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.332 WHIP, 142 K, 199.2 IP
    LHP Chris Capuano 3-4, 4.35 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.387 WHIP, 84 K, 97.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Scott Baker, LHP Jose De Paula, RHP Bryan Mitchell, RHP Luis Severino, RHP Chase Whitley

    Analysis

    The New York Yankees made it clear early this offseason that they would not chase any big-ticket free agents, and unless they pull off a last-minute signing of James Shields, they will have stuck to their word.

    Masahiro Tanaka was a stud as a rookie last season, but he'll be pitching with a partially torn UCL, and that could turn into a bigger issue and Tommy John surgery at any time. Case in point, Adam Wainwright pitched through a similar injury for nearly five years before he was finally forced to go under the knife.

    Then there is Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia, who made a combined 21 starts last season. Anything you can get out of Sabathia at this point is a plus, while Pineda already has a laundry list of injuries to his arm in his short MLB career.

    Nathan Eovaldi is a quality young arm with some upside, and he could wind up being one of the steals of the offseason if he takes another step forward. It's hard to get too excited about Chris Capuano as the No. 5 starter, though, and not moving quickly to re-sign Brandon McCarthy looks like a mistake.

    This rotation has enough upside if everyone stays healthy to earn the No. 25 spot, but there are so many question marks that it looks more like a ticking time bomb than a quality staff.

24. Boston Red Sox

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.36 (26th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Rick Porcello 15-13, 3.43 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.231 WHIP, 129 K, 204.2 IP
    LHP Wade Miley 8-12, 4.34 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 1.401 WHIP, 183 K, 201.1 IP
    RHP Clay Buchholz 8-11, 5.34 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.386 WHIP, 132 K, 170.1 IP
    RHP Justin Masterson 7-9, 5.88 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.632 WHIP, 116 K, 128.2 IP
    RHP Joe Kelly6-4, 4.20 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 1.349 WHIP, 66 K, 96.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Matt Barnes, LHP Edwin Escobar, LHP Brian Johnson, LHP Henry Owens, RHP Brandon Workman, RHP Steven Wright

    Analysis

    Nick Cafardo of the The Boston Globe may have said it best:

    For me it makes no sense to do all they’ve done — and they’ve done a lot with formidable lineup additions like Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez; three new pitchers in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Justin Masterson, who are all good interior pieces – and not go after the ace.

    Porcello and Miley are both quality arms any rotation would love to have, and Masterson was perhaps the most intriguing buy-low option on the market, but all three guys are probably a No. 2/3 starter at their best.

    This is still a team that is clearly without a front-line starter after missing out on re-signing Jon Lester, and it's been proven time and again that it's awfully hard to win come October without an ace to lean on.

    Porcello is coming off the best season of his career, and he's still only 26 years old, but does anyone really think he's a pitcher who can be leaned on down the stretch and into October to lead a team to a title?

    The farm system is loaded with high-end young arms, so the risk of Masterson flopping and Buchholz not bouncing back is somewhat minimized by that depth. Still, this doesn't look like a team with the pitching to contend for a division, let alone a World Series title.

23. Los Angeles Angels

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.62 (13th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats (*-MiLB stats)
    RHP Jered Weaver18-9, 3.59 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 1.209 WHIP, 169 K, 213.1 IP
    LHP C.J. Wilson13-10, 4.51 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 1.446 WHIP, 151 K, 175.2 IP
    RHP Matt Shoemaker16-4, 3.04 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 1.074 WHIP, 124 K, 136.0 IP
    LHP Hector Santiago6-9, 3.75 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.359 WHIP, 108 K, 127.1 IP
    LHP Andrew Heaney *9-6, 3.28 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 36 BB, 143 K, 137.1 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Cory Rasmus, RHP Nick Tropeano, RHP Garrett Richards (DL), LHP Tyler Skaggs (DL)

    Analysis

    If Garrett Richards is healthy and ready to roll for Opening Day, the Los Angeles Angels climb up these rankings quite a few spots. But with their best starter likely to open the year on the disabled list after knee surgery, they land in the bottom third.

    The velocity continued to drop for Jered Weaver last season, down to 86.3 mph on his fastball (via FanGraphs). That didn't stop him from putting together another solid season, though, and he's still a good No. 2 starter at this point in his career.

    Matt Shoemaker gave the team a huge boost as a rookie, and there's no reason to think he can't put up similar numbers over a full season. Now the team is hoping for a similar contribution from prospect Andrew Heaney, who was acquired in the Howie Kendrick trade.

    If Heaney pitches well, it will be interesting to see who gets bumped to the bullpen once Richards returns. C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago both have experience pitching in relief, and the pen is still in need of a quality left-hander.

22. Cincinnati Reds

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.37 (third in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats (*MiLB stats)
    RHP Johnny Cueto 20-9, 2.25 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 0.960 WHIP, 242 K, 243.2 IP
    RHP Homer Bailey9-5, 3.71 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 1.229 WHIP, 124 K, 145.2 IP
    RHP Mike Leake 11-13, 3.70 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.246 WHIP, 164 K, 214.1 IP
    LHP Tony Cingrani 2-8, 4.55 ERA, 5.37 FIP, 1.532 WHIP, 61 K, 63.2 IP
    RHP Anthony DeSclafani *6-7, 3.78 ERA, 1.212 WHIP, 31 BB, 97 K, 102.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Dylan Axelrod, RHP Daniel Corcino, LHP David Holmberg, RHP Raisel Iglesias, RHP Matt Magill, RHP Jason Marquis, RHP Jon Moscot, RHP Keyvius Sampson

    Analysis

    With four of their five starters from last season headed for free agency next winter, trading one or more seemed unavoidable for the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. And it wound up being Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon who were dealt.

    In return, the team picked up a pair of quality pitching prospects in Jonathon Crawford and Anthony DeSclafani, and it looks like DeSclafani is the front-runner for the No. 5 starter job at this point.

    Johnny Cueto is a really good pitcher, but it's probably wise not to expect a repeat of his 2014 performance. His FIP (3.30) was over a run higher than his ERA (2.25), and his .238 BABIP was the lowest mark among qualified starters (via FanGraphs), so some regression is to be expected.

    Homer Bailey will need to live up to his six-year, $105 million deal as the clear No. 2 starter now, though it could be Mike Leake who fills that role. Tony Cingrani looks like the X-factor here, as he showed flashes of greatness as a rookie in 2013 but still lacks a reliable third pitch.

21. Miami Marlins

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.04 (23rd in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Henderson Alvarez12-7, 2.65 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 1.235 WHIP, 111 K, 187.0 IP
    RHP Mat Latos 5-5, 3.25 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.153 WHIP, 74 K, 102.1 IP
    RHP Jarred Cosart 13-11, 3.69 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 1.364 WHIP, 115 K, 180.1 IP
    RHP Tom Koehler 10-10, 3.81 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.296 WHIP, 153 K, 191.1 IP
    LHP Brad Hand3-8, 4.38 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 1.360 WHIP, 67 K, 111.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP David Phelps, RHP Andre Rienzo, RHP Jose Fernandez (DL), RHP Dan Haren (retire?)

    Analysis

    The Miami Marlins will likely be without ace Jose Fernandez until at least the beginning of June, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, but they still have a quality rotation in place without him.

    Henderson Alvarez stepped into the role of staff ace last season and emerged as an All-Star, as the 24-year-old looks to be a key piece of what they're building in Miami. The same goes for Jarred Cosart, whom the team paid a steep price to acquire at the trade deadline last year.

    Mat Latos is likely just be a one-year rental, given the other young pieces the team is looking to extend, but he figures to be a big piece of the puzzle if the team is going to make the postseason this coming year.

    Trading away Nathan Eovaldi, Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney this offseason has left the team fairly thin on rotational depth. And if Dan Haren sticks to his word and retires or is traded, the No. 5 starter job will be up for grabs this spring.

20. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.96 (22nd in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats (*MiLB Stats)
    LHP Mark Buehrle13-10, 3.39 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.356 WHIP, 119 K, 202.0 IP
    RHP R.A. Dickey14-13, 3.71 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.229 WHIP, 173 K, 215.2 IP
    RHP Marcus Stroman 11-6, 3.65 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 1.171 WHIP, 111 K, 130.2 IP
    RHP Drew Hutchison 11-13, 4.48 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.262 WHIP, 184 K, 184.2 IP
    LHP Daniel Norris*12-2, 2.53 ERA, 1.118 WHIP, 43 BB, 163 K, 124.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Kyle Drabek, LHP Jeff Francis, RHP Liam Hendriks, RHP Todd Redmond, RHP Aaron Sanchez

    Analysis

    The Toronto Blue Jays boasted the second-worst starter's ERA in baseball in 2013 at a dismal 4.81, but they were significantly improved this past season and have a chance to be even better in 2015.

    Veterans Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey ate up 417.2 innings combined in 2014, and while they are not elite arms at this point in their careers, there is something to be said for their consistency and reliability at the top.

    Marcus Stroman (23) and Drew Hutchison (24) are both coming off of breakout seasons of sorts, and both guys still have plenty of room to improve moving forward.

    The No. 5 starter job will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch, as top prospects Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez look to be the front-runners for the job, though Sanchez could be ticketed for the closer's role.

19. Milwaukee Brewers

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.69 (15th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats (*MiLB)
    RHP Matt Garza8-8, 3.64 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.182 WHIP, 126 K, 163.1 IP
    RHP Wily Peralta17-11, 3.53 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.304 WHIP, 154 K, 198.2 IP
    RHP Kyle Lohse 13-9, 3.54 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 1.150 WHIP, 141 K, 198.1 IP
    RHP Mike Fiers 6-5, 2.13 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 0.879 WHIP, 76 K, 71.2 IP
    RHP Jimmy Nelson*10-2, 1.46 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, 32 BB, 114 K, 111.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Brooks Hall, RHP Johnny Hellweg, RHP Taylor Jungmann, RHP Tyler Thornburg

    Analysis

    The decision to trade Yovani Gallardo no doubt changes the immediate outlook of the Milwaukee Brewers rotation, but it's a decision that was no doubt made easier by the presence of young right-hander Jimmy Nelson.

    The 25-year-old absolutely dominated Triple-A competition last season with a 1.46 ERA over 16 starts, and he held his own in his first extended taste of big league action, posting a 4.93 ERA (3.78 FIP) over 69.1 innings of work. His continued development will be a big key for the Brewers in 2015.

    Steady veterans Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse will be back for another year, and the latter will be pitching for perhaps one last multiyear deal as he enters his age-36 season.

    Mike Fiers was 6-4 with a 2.09 ERA in his 10 starts last season, also making four relief appearances, and he was the team's best starter down the stretch. He's already 29 years old, but he won't be arbitration-eligible for two more years, so he's a nice cheap source of innings even if he regresses.

    Wily Peralta took a big step forward in 2014, his second full season in the Brewers rotation, and the team will look for him to step into the role of ace now that Gallardo is gone.

18. San Francisco Giants

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.74 (16th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Madison Bumgarner 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 1.090 WHIP, 219 K, 217.1 IP
    RHP Matt Cain2-7, 4.18 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.251 WHIP, 70 K, 90.1 IP
    RHP Tim Hudson9-13, 3.57 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.231 WHIP, 120 K, 189.1 IP
    RHP Jake Peavy7-13, 3.73 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.278 WHIP, 158 K, 202.2 IP
    RHP Ryan Vogelsong 8-13, 4.00 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.278 WHIP, 151 K, 184.2 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Chris Heston, RHP Tim Lincecum, RHP Yusmeiro Petit

    Analysis

    Madison Bumgarner is an absolute horse atop the rotation for the San Francisco Giants and unquestionably one of the best in the game today after his phenomenal postseason run. But the rest of the rotation has enough question marks to drop the Giants down these rankings.

    San Francisco will count on Matt Cain to be the No. 2 guy, but he'll be returning from elbow and ankle surgeries that limited him to just 15 starts a year ago.

    Tim Hudson went 7-6 with a 2.87 ERA in the first half last year to make the NL All-Star team, but he dropped off significantly after the break, going 2-7 with a 4.73 ERA. Entering his age-39 season, he may be closer to the pitcher we saw in the second half moving forward.

    Jake Peavy was phenomenal after joining the Giants at the deadline, posting a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts, and that earned him a new two-year, $24 million deal. However, the extreme fly-ball pitcher is not going to duplicate the 2.4 percent HR/FB rate (per FanGraphs), and an ERA around 4.00 may be a more reasonable expectation.

    Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit are all candidates for the No. 5 starter spot. Lincecum will get every chance given his $18 million salary, but Petit may be the best option at this point.

17. Detroit Tigers

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.89 (21st in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP David Price15-12, 3.26 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 1.079 WHIP, 271 K, 248.1 IP
    RHP Anibal Sanchez8-5, 3.43 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.095 WHIP, 102 K, 126.0 IP
    RHP Justin Verlander15-12, 4.54 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.398 WHIP, 159 K, 206.0 IP
    RHP Alfredo Simon15-10, 3.44 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 1.207 WHIP, 127 K, 196.1 IP
    RHP Shane Greene5-4, 3.78 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 1.398 WHIP, 81 K, 78.2 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Buck Farmer, LHP Kyle Lobstein, RHP Drew VerHagen

    Analysis

    With Max Scherzer departing in free agency and Rick Porcello shipped to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, the Detroit Tigers have lost a pair of key arms from last year's rotation.

    A full season of David Price should help offset the loss of Scherzer, and a healthy Anibal Sanchez would also go a long way after he was limited to just 21 starts this past season.

    Then there is $28 million man Justin Verlander, who is no longer the dominant ace he was just a few years ago but is still capable of leading a staff when he's at his best.

    That being said, it's hard not to think this rotation has taken a significant step backward, as it will rely heavily on a relatively unproven arm in Shane Greene and a prime regression candidate in Alfredo Simon.

    Big picture, Simon is probably better suited returning to the bullpen after his production plummeted in the second half last year, and if he continues to struggle, what little depth the team does have could be tested early.

16. Kansas City Royals

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.60 (t-10th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Yordano Ventura 14-10, 3.20 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 1.295 WHIP, 159 K, 183.0 IP
    LHP Jason Vargas11-10, 3.71 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.273 WHIP, 128 K, 187.0 IP
    RHP Edinson Volquez 13-7, 3.04 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 1.230 WHIP, 140 K, 192.2 IP
    RHP Jeremy Guthrie13-11, 4.13 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.303 WHIP, 124 K, 202.2 IP
    LHP Danny Duffy9-12, 2.53 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.112 WHIP, 113 K, 149.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Aaron Brooks, LHP Brandon Finnegan, LHP Brian Flynn, LHP John Lamb, RHP Yohan Pino, RHP Kris Medlen (DL)

    Analysis

    It's easy to point to James Shields' postseason struggles and say he's not a big loss for the Kansas City Royals. But there is little question he has been the leader of their rotation for the past two seasons, and his departure leaves a big hole at the top.

    It will be up to hard-throwing Yordano Ventura to fill that hole, as he looks to build off a terrific rookie season. Given how filthy his stuff is, and his 9.9 K/9 during his time in the minors, an uptick in his strikeout rate this coming year seems like a reasonable expectation.

    Veterans Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie are steady innings-eaters and quality middle-of-the-rotation arms if nothing else. The team signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year, $20 million deal, and if he can post numbers similar to what he did in Pittsburgh last year, that will be money well spent.

    The X-factor here is Danny Duffy, as he enjoyed a breakout season in 2014 but could be in for some fairly significant regression given his 3.83 FIP and .239 BABIP. For the team to expect him to be anything more than a No. 5 starter in 2015 may be asking too much.

15. Oakland Athletics

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.37 (fourth in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Sonny Gray14-10, 3.08 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 1.192 WHIP, 183 K, 219.0 IP
    LHP Scott Kazmir15-9, 3.55 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.161 WHIP, 164 K, 190.1 IP
    RHP Jesse Hahn7-4, 3.07 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 1.214 WHIP, 70 K, 73.1 IP
    LHP Drew Pomeranz 5-4, 2.35 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 1.116 WHIP, 64 K, 69.0 IP
    RHP Jesse Chavez8-8, 3.45 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.308 WHIP, 136 K, 146.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Arnold Leon, LHP Sean Nolin, RHP A.J. Griffin (DL), RHP Jarrod Parker (DL)

    Analysis

    The Oakland Athletics will once again be strong at the top of their rotation with emerging star Sonny Gray leading the way and Scott Kazmir returning to form as one of the better left-handed starters in the game this past season.

    However, beyond those two it will be a relatively young, inexperienced crop of arms vying for the final three spots this spring.

    Jesse Hahn was the key piece of the trade that sent Derek Norris to the San Diego Padres, and the 25-year-old showed enough consistency as a rookie last season that he seems like a safe bet to fill one of the remaining spots.

    Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez both pitched well as starters last year, despite also spending time in the bullpen. Chavez was 8-7 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts, while Pomeranz was 4-5 with a 2.58 ERA in 10 starts.

    There is no shortage of depth behind them after the team acquired a trio of big league ready arms this offseason in Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman. The A's will also have Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin back at some point, as both guys are on the mend from Tommy John surgery.

14. Atlanta Braves

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.42 (fifth in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Julio Teheran 14-13, 2.89 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 1.081 WHIP, 186 K, 221.0 IP
    LHP Alex Wood11-11, 2.78 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.142 WHIP, 170 K, 171.2 IP
    RHP Shelby Miller10-9, 3.74 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 1.273 WHIP, 127 K, 183.0 IP
    LHP Mike Minor6-12, 4.77 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.438 WHIP, 120 K, 145.1 IP
    LHP Eric Stults 8-17, 4.30 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 1.375 WHIP, 111 K, 176.0 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Mike Foltynewicz, LHP Wandy Rodriguez, RHP Chien-Ming Wang

    Analysis

    The Atlanta Braves may have gutted their offense this winter with the trades of Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis, but their starting rotation still looks fairly strong, especially at the top.

    Julio Teheran emerged as a legitimate ace last season, and alongside Alex Wood and newly acquired Shelby Miller, the team has a terrific trio of young, controllable starters to build around moving forward.

    Mike Minor missed the first month of the season dealing with shoulder issues and never really seemed to hit his stride once he did return. He was 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA in 2013, and he's still just 27 years old, so there's plenty of reason to think he'll bounce back.

    The final spot in the rotation will likely be a battle of non-roster veterans Eric Stults and Wandy Rodriguez, unless hard-throwing Mike Foltynewicz steals the job this spring.

    Stults topped 175 innings each of the past two seasons while pitching for the San Diego Padres, and he closed out the 2014 season very well, with a 2.74 ERA in 11 starts over the final two months. That's enough to make him the favorite at this point.

13. Baltimore Orioles

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.61 (12th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Chris Tillman13-6, 3.34 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.230 WHIP, 150 K, 207.1 IP
    LHP Wei-Yin Chen16-6, 3.54 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.228 WHIP, 136 K, 185.2 IP
    RHP Bud Norris15-8, 3.65 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.216 WHIP, 139 K, 165.1 IP
    RHP Kevin Gausman 7-7, 3.57 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 1.315 WHIP, 88 K, 113.1 IP
    RHP Miguel Gonzalez10-9, 3.23 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 1.296 WHIP, 111 K, 159.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP Steve Johnson, RHP Logan Verrett

    Analysis

    The Baltimore Orioles may be lacking a truly dominant ace at the top, but their rotation was rock-solid top to bottom last season, and all the pieces are back heading into 2015.

    The FIP stat is generally a good indicator of expected regression, but a handful of pitchers seem to consistently post an ERA well below their FIP. Mark Buehrle is who comes to mind, and Chris Tillman seems to fall into that category as well. He's not a bona fide ace, but he's a really good pitcher.

    Wei-Yin Chen was a pleasant surprise as a 16-game winner last season, and he'll look to cash in with a big contract year. The same goes for Bud Norris, who will earn $8.8 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

    The one to watch here is Kevin Gausman, as he is coming off a strong showing over 20 starts last season and still has a ton of upside. The 24-year-old was the No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft for a reason, and he looks like the future ace in Baltimore.

12. Chicago Cubs

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.11 (24th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Jon Lester16-11, 2.46 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 1.102 WHIP, 220 K, 219.2 IP
    RHP Jake Arrieta 10-5, 2.53 ERA, 2.26 FIP, 0.989 WHIP, 167 K, 156.2 IP
    RHP Jason Hammel 10-11, 3.47 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 1.123 WHIP, 158 K, 176.1 IP
    LHP Travis Wood8-13, 5.03 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 1.532 WHIP, 146 K, 173.2 IP
    RHP Kyle Hendricks7-2, 2.46 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 1.083 WHIP, 47 K, 80.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Dallas Beeler, LHP Felix Doubront, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Eric Jokisch, RHP Jacob Turner, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada

    Analysis

    The Chicago Cubs made it no secret that Jon Lester was their top target entering the offseason, and they got their guy with a six-year, $155 million deal during the winter meetings. He's the ace the rotation needed to bring legitimacy to the team's rebuild, and a proven winner to anchor the staff.

    Behind him will be one of the breakout stars of 2014 in Jake Arrieta, who finished ninth in NL Cy Young voting despite making just 25 starts. His peripheral numbers were all fantastic, so his breakout looks to be legit.

    Re-signing Jason Hammel to a two-year, $20 million deal was a nice depth move, after the right-hander went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA (3.19 FIP) in 17 starts with the team last season prior to being traded to Oakland.

    Kyle Hendricks was a pleasant surprise as a rookie, and his pinpoint control should continue to make him a useful piece of the rotation puzzle moving forward.

    A spot would likely go to Travis Wood if the season were to start today, but there's still a chance the 2013 All-Star is traded at some point. That would leave Jacob Turner, Edwin Jackson and Tsuyoshi Wada as the leading candidates to round out the staff.

11. Texas Rangers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.75 (28th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Yu Darvish 10-7, 3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 1.261 WHIP, 182 K, 144.1 IP
    LHP Derek Holland2-0, 1.46 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 1.054 WHIP, 25 K, 37.0 IP
    RHP Yovani Gallardo 8-11, 3.51 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.295 WHIP, 146 K, 192.1 IP
    RHP Colby Lewis10-14, 5.18 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 1.521 WHIP, 133 K, 170.1 IP
    LHP Ross Detwiler 2-3, 4.00 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.413 WHIP, 39 K, 63.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Nick Martinez, RHP Ross Ohlendorf, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Nick Tepesch, LHP Matt Harrison (DL), LHP Martin Perez (DL)

    Analysis

    "Injury-plagued" doesn't quite do the 2014 Texas Rangers justice, especially on the starting pitching front. Only one starter (Colby Lewis) topped 150 innings, and 15 different pitchers made at least one start over the course of the year.

    That being said, with the additions of Yovani Gallardo and Ross Detwiler and a healthy Derek Holland, this is a staff that has a chance to surprise a lot of people.

    Yu Darvish is still one of the best pitchers in the game, and that trio of Darvish, Holland and Gallardo at the top might be the best in the American League outside of the Chicago White Sox.

    That 5.18 ERA doesn't look pretty for Colby Lewis, but he was the victim of some bad luck as his .339 BABIP was the highest mark among qualified starters (via FanGraphs). If nothing else he's capable of eating some innings and putting up an ERA around 4.00.

10. Cleveland Indians

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.82 (t-18th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Corey Kluber 18-9, 2.44 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 1.095 WHIP, 269 K, 235.2 IP
    RHP Carlos Carrasco 8-7, 2.55 ERA, 2.44 FIP, 0.985 WHIP, 140 K, 134.0 IP
    RHP Danny Salazar6-8, 4.25 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.382 WHIP, 120 K, 110.0 IP
    RHP Gavin Floyd2-2, 2.65 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 1.252 WHIP, 45 K, 54.1 IP
    RHP Trevor Bauer5-8, 4.18 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.379 WHIP, 143 K, 153.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Charles Brewer, LHP T.J. House, RP Shaun Marcum, RHP Josh Tomlin

    Analysis

    Just how good can the Cleveland Indians starting rotation be in 2014 after a dominant showing during the second half of the season last year? The answer to that question will likely determine whether the team contends for a playoff spot in 2015.

    Corey Kluber built off a largely overlooked 2013 season to emerge as one of the most dominant starters in the game, edging out Felix Hernandez for AL Cy Young honors and giving the Indians a bona fide ace.

    Behind him the duo of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar certainly has a ton of upside, but each has also been wildly inconsistent during his time in the majors. Carrasco didn't join the rotation full time until August last season, at which point he posted a 1.30 ERA over his final 10 starts.

    Trevor Bauer still has plenty of upside, while T.J. House was a pleasant surprise with a 2.53 ERA in 10 second-half starts. Those two will compete with newly signed Gavin Floyd for the final two rotation spots, though Floyd has made just 14 starts the past two years and is coming off a second serious arm injury.

    On upside the Indians crack the top 10 in these rankings. But they have as much "boom or bust" potential as any rotation in baseball.

9. San Diego Padres

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.55 (ninth in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Tyson Ross13-14, 2.81 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.211 WHIP, 195 K, 195.2 IP
    RHP Andrew Cashner 5-7, 2.55 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.127 WHIP, 93 K, 123.1 IP
    RHP Ian Kennedy13-13, 3.63 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 1.289 WHIP, 207 K, 201.0 IP
    LHP Robbie Erlin 4-5, 4.99 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.402 WHIP, 46 K, 61.1 IP
    RHP Brandon Morrow1-3, 5.67 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 1.650 WHIP, 30 K, 33.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Odrisamer Despaigne, RHP Casey Kelly, RHP Brandon Maurer, RHP Aaron Northcraft, RHP Matthew Wisler, RHP Josh Johnson (DL), LHP Cory Luebke (DL)

    Analysis

    The San Diego Padres starting rotation has come a long way from the days of Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard fronting the staff, and it's thanks in large part to their work on the trade market.

    Flipping Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner still looks like a questionable move to say the least, but they managed to turn a utility infielder in Andy Parrino and a pair of relievers in Joe Thatcher and Mike Adams into Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Robbie Erlin in a trio of great trades.

    Keeping Cashner healthy will be the key here for San Diego, as he is capable of putting up ace-caliber numbers when he's 100 percent, but he was limited to just 19 starts in 2014.

    Brandon Morrow will get the first crack at the No. 5 starter spot after he signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal as one of the more intriguing buy-low options on the market. If he struggles, Odrisamer Despaigne is likely next in line after he posted a 3.36 ERA (3.74 FIP) over 16 starts as a rookie.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.60 (t-10th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Francisco Liriano7-10, 3.38 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.300 WHIP, 175 K, 162.1 IP
    RHP Gerrit Cole11-5, 3.65 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.210 WHIP, 138 K, 138.0 IP
    RHP A.J. Burnett8-18, 4.59 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 1.409 WHIP, 190 K, 213.2 IP
    RHP Vance Worley 8-4, 2.85 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1.211 WHIP, 79 K, 110.2 IP
    LHP Jeff Locke7-6, 3.91 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 1.272 WHIP, 89 K, 131.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Brandon Cumpton, RHP Tyler Glasnow, RHP Nick Kingham, RHP Brad Lincoln, LHP Clayton Richard, RHP Adrian Sampson, RHP Jameson Taillon, RHP Charlie Morton (DL)

    Analysis

    The Pittsburgh Pirates' decision to re-sign Francisco Liriano to a three-year, $39 million deal looks like one of the better bargains of the offseason, as the move came right before Jon Lester signed and the pitching market exploded.

    He'll again front the staff alongside emerging ace Gerrit Cole, who was hampered by injuries last season, but still looks to have as much upside as any pitcher in baseball entering his age-24 season.

    A.J. Burnett returns to Pittsburgh after a disastrous campaign in Philadelphia, but if one expects to be the same guy he was in 2012 and '13, it may be wishful thinking. The 38-year-old can still be a quality middle-of-the-rotation starter, though.

    Vance Worley and Jeff Locke will round out the staff to open the year, but Charlie Morton is expected back from hip surgery shortly after the season starts. Beyond that, the team has some fantastic pitching depth in the minors, led by the electric arm of Tyler Glasnow.

7. Chicago White Sox

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 4.26 (25th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Chris Sale12-4, 2.17 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 0.966 WHIP, 208 K, 174.0 IP
    RHP Jeff Samardzija 7-13, 2.99 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 1.065 WHIP, 202 K, 219.2 IP
    LHP Jose Quintana9-11, 3.32 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 1.243 WHIP, 178 K, 200.1 IP
    LHP John Danks 11-11, 4.74 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 1.441 WHIP, 129 K, 193.2 IP
    RHP Hector Noesi 8-12, 4.75 ERA, 4.83 FIP, 1.369 WHIP, 123 K, 172.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Scott Carroll, RHP Erik Johnson, RHP Francellis Montas, RHP Brad Penny, LHP Carlos Rodon

    Analysis

    The Chicago White Sox were as aggressive as any team in baseball this offseason, and their biggest move may wind up being the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.

    He'll be slotted between a pair of terrific lefties in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, giving the White Sox arguably the best trio of starters in the American League, and a group that should help them improve significantly on that 4.26 starter's ERA from a year ago.

    The five-year, $32.5 million extension the team signed Sale to prior to the 2013 season looks like absolute robbery in hindsight, and at some point in the very near future The Condor is going to be taking home AL Cy Young honors.

    The back of the rotation is questionable with John Danks and waiver-wire find Hector Noesi rounding out the staff, but help is on the way in the form of top prospect Carlos Rodon.

    "You’re talking about lefty who, his pure stuff is going to be right up there with Chris Sale," said Jim Callis of MLB.com (via CSN Chicago). "He maybe needs to tweak the command a little bit, but I think Carlos Rodon will be ready to help the White Sox pretty much whenever they need him to this season."

    Rodon could legitimately push for the No. 5 spot to open the year with a strong camp, and once he arrives the White Sox could have the best rotation in the AL. Until then, they slide just inside the top 10.

6. Tampa Bay Rays

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.48 (t-seventh in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats (*MiLB)
    RHP Alex Cobb10-9, 2.87 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.136 WHIP, 149 K, 166.1 IP
    LHP Drew Smyly 9-10, 3.24 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 1.163 WHIP, 133 K, 153.0 IP
    RHP Chris Archer10-9, 3.33 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 1.279 WHIP, 173 K, 194.2 IP
    RHP Jake Odorizzi 11-13, 4.13 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.280 WHIP, 174 K, 168.0 IP
    RHP Alex Colome *7-7, 3.53 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, 35 BB, 83 K, 97.0 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Nate Karns, LHP Mike Montgomery, LHP Enny Romero, RHP Burch Smith, LHP Matt Moore (DL)

    Analysis

    Despite trading away ace David Price at the deadline last year, the Tampa Bay Rays still have easily the best starting rotation in the AL East, and a staff that could be the best in the entire American League before the season is over.

    Alex Cobb will step into the role of staff ace, and after going 21-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 1.143 WHIP over the past two seasons, he looks to be more than up to the task.

    Drew Smyly, one of the key pieces the Rays acquired in the Price deal, went 3-1 with a 1.70 ERA in seven starts following the trade last year and looks like a breakout candidate heading into 2015.

    Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi both have plus strikeout stuff and front-of-the-rotation upside when they're at their best, and both guys are still young enough to take another step forward.

    The question here is the No. 5 starter spot, with prospect Alex Colome likely to get the first crack at the job seeing as he's out of options. Matt Moore is expected back from Tommy John surgery at some point in the second half, but until then Colome has the stuff to hold down the job.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.44 (sixth in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Adam Wainwright20-9, 2.38 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 1.031 WHIP, 179 K, 227.0 IP
    RHP Lance Lynn15-10, 2.74 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.262 WHIP, 181 K, 203.2 IP
    RHP Michael Wacha 5-6, 3.20 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 1.196 WHIP, 94 K, 107.0 IP
    RHP John Lackey14-10, 3.82 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.278 WHIP, 164 K, 198.0 IP
    RHP Carlos Martinez2-4, 4.03 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 1.410 WHIP, 84 K, 89.1 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Marco Gonzales, LHP Tyler Lyons, RHP Carlos Villanueva, LHP Jaime Garcia (DL)

    Analysis

    Despite his extremely high workload, minor offseason elbow surgery and his struggles last October, St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright still enters the 2015 season as one of the best pitchers in baseball and a true staff ace.

    Behind him, Lance Lynn has quietly turned into a really good starter, putting up the best numbers of his career across the board last year and earning a three-year, $22 million extension in the process.

    Michael Wacha looked primed for a breakout season last year but was instead derailed by a nagging shoulder injury. Keeping him healthy will be one of the keys for the Cardinals in 2015.

    Veteran John Lackey struggled some with a 4.30 ERA in 10 starts after joining the Cards at the trade deadline, but he's a gamer and brings a needed edge to the rotation.

    Hard-throwing Carlos Martinez will get every chance to seize the final rotation spot after spending most of the past two seasons in a setup role. If he falters, lefty Marco Gonzales and veteran free-agent signing Carlos Villanueva provide some solid depth. 

4. Seattle Mariners

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.48 (t-seventh in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Felix Hernandez15-6, 2.14 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 0.915 WHIP, 248 K, 236.0 IP
    RHP Hisashi Iwakuma 15-9, 3.52 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.050 WHIP, 154 K, 179.0 IP
    LHP James Paxton6-4, 3.04 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 1.203 WHIP, 59 K, 74.0 IP
    RHP Taijuan Walker2-3, 2.61 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.289 WHIP, 34 K, 38.0 IP
    LHP J.A. Happ 11-11, 4.22 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 1.335 WHIP, 133 K, 158.0 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Roenis Elias, RHP Erasmo Ramirez

    Analysis

    Felix Hernandez turned in perhaps the best season of his career in 2014, and entering his age-29 season there is no reason to think the Seattle Mariners ace will slow down anytime soon.

    Hisashi Iwakuma put up solid overall numbers once again after a third-place finish in Cy Young voting in 2013, but he imploded down the stretch with a 7.88 ERA in his final seven starts. The 33-year-old is one to keep an eye on this spring.

    The team held strong in its unwillingness to part with James Paxton or Taijuan Walker while exploring the trade market for an outfield bat, and those two could both be in for breakout seasons after showing flashes this past season.

    The team acquired J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays, and he'll fill the spot vacated by veteran Chris Young. That leaves Roenis Elias, who went 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts as a rookie, as quality depth should someone go down with an injury.

3. New York Mets

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.66 (14th in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Matt HarveyDid not pitch, Tommy John surgery
    RHP Jacob deGrom 9-6, 2.69 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 1.140 WHIP, 144 K, 140.1 IP
    LHP Jon Niese 9-11, 3.40 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.268 WHIP, 138 K, 187.2 IP
    RHP Zack Wheeler11-11, 3.54 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 1.327 WHIP, 187 K, 185.1 IP
    RHP Bartolo Colon15-13, 4.09 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.226 WHIP, 151 K, 202.1 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP Dillon Gee, LHP Steven Matz, RHP Cory Mazzoni, RHP Rafael Montero, RHP Noah Syndergaard

    Analysis

    No team in baseball has more starting pitching depth than the New York Mets entering the 2015 season. The question is just how good the five guys who do make up the rotation can be, and if they can lead the team to a legitimate playoff push.

    It all starts with ace Matt Harvey, who will be shaking off the rust of Tommy John surgery after missing all of the 2014 season. For one to expect him to be as dominant as he was in 2013 is foolish, but even 75 percent of that would still make for an awfully good pitcher.

    The emergence of Jacob deGrom last season on his way to NL Rookie of the Year honors and the continued progression of Zack Wheeler gives the team a trio of young arms who should anchor its staff for years to come.

    Veterans Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee will compete to round out the rotation, but they will be pushed by the next wave of young arms, led by another ace-caliber right-hander in Noah Syndergaard.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.20 (second in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    LHP Clayton Kershaw 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 1.81 FIP, 0.857 WHIP, 239 K, 198.1 IP
    RHP Zack Greinke 17-8, 2.71 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 1.152 WHIP, 207 K, 202.1 IP
    LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu 14-7, 3.38 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 1.191 WHIP, 139 K, 152.0 IP
    RHP Brandon McCarthy10-15, 4.05 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 1.275 WHIP, 175 K, 200.0 IP
    LHP Brett Anderson1-3, 2.91 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.315 WHIP, 29 K, 43.1 IP

    Other Candidates: LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Mike Bolsinger, RHP Carlos Frias, RHP Zach Lee, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Joe Wieland

    Analysis

    The No. 1 team in these rankings is in a league of its own, but if anyone is going to challenge it for that top spot, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Clayton Kershaw is undoubtedly the best pitcher in the game after an absolutely dominant 2014 that ended in NL MVP and Cy Young honors, and alongside Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers boast arguably the best trio of starters in the game.

    Los Angeles signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year, $48 million deal after a Jekyll and Hyde performance in 2014. He was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts with the Diamondbacks but turned things around after joining the Yankees at the deadline, going 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts. Throw in his lengthy injury history, and he's far from a sure thing.

    Rounding out the staff is lefty Brett Anderson, who has front-line stuff when healthy but has made just 32 total starts over the past four seasons.

    If McCarthy and Anderson can both manage to stay healthy for a full season somehow, this rotation could be the best in baseball. That's a big enough "if" at this point, though, that there is little question which team the No. 1 rotation belongs to here in early February.

1. Washington Nationals

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    2014 Starter's ERA: 3.04 (first in MLB)

    Projected Rotation

    Player2014 Stats
    RHP Jordan Zimmermann 14-5, 2.66 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 1.072 WHIP, 182 K, 199.2 IP
    RHP Max Scherzer 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 252 K, 220.1 IP
    RHP Stephen Strasburg 14-11, 3.14 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 1.121 WHIP, 252 K, 215.0 IP
    RHP Doug Fister 16-6, 2.41 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 1.079 WHIP, 98 K, 164.0 IP
    LHP Gio Gonzalez10-10, 3.57 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 1.197 WHIP, 162 K, 158.2 IP

    Other Candidates: RHP A.J. Cole, RHP Taylor Jordan, RHP Tanner Roark, RHP Blake Treinen

    Analysis

    It's not often you see a pitcher go 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA and then lose his job the following offseason, but that's the case with Tanner Roark. That speaks to just how good the Washington Nationals rotation figures to be this coming year.

    It was originally believed that the team's signing of Max Scherzer to a massive seven-year, $210 million deal could be a precursor to trading either Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg, but it now appears as though the team will begin the year with its stacked rotation intact.

    A case could certainly be made for Roark rounding out the rotation instead of Gio Gonzalez, but he provides the staff with a left-hander, and his 3.02 FIP was actually lower than the 3.47 mark Roark posted last year.

    There will be decisions to make moving forward, with Zimmermann and Doug Fister both headed for free agency next offseason, but for the time being the Nationals look to have the game's best rotation by a decent margin.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.

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