MLB Power Rankings: Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations

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    Spring training is right around the corner and teams' rosters are taking shape, as most of the free agent chips have fallen already.

    With most of the starting jobs already decided, now is a good time to compare the rosters and analyze the pitching rotations of all 30 teams.

    From the stacked Phillies rotation that could very well be among the best ever to the Zack Greinke-less Royals staff, here are the power rankings of all 30 MLB teams' starting rotations.

No. 30: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 15:  Paul Maholm #28 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the New York Mets on September 15, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    1. Paul Maholm (9-15, 5.10 ERA, 80 ERA+, 102 Ks)
    2. Kevin Correia (10-10, 5.40 ERA, 68 ERA+, 115 Ks)
    3. James McDonald (4-6, 4.02 ERA, 102 ERA+, 68 Ks)
    4. Ross Ohlendorf (1-11, 4.07 ERA, 100 ERA+, 79 Ks)
    5. Scott Olsen (4-8, 5.56 ERA, 73 ERA+, 53 Ks)

    Simply put, the Pirates rotation is terrible and it is going to be a really long season for the fans in Pittsburgh.

    Maholm is easily the worst staff ace in baseball and the team chose not to bring back Zach Duke, which may have been for the best.

    McDonald does have some potential and he will have a chance to lead the rotation, an opportunity he would not have gotten in Los Angeles.

    Still, the Pirates are going to have to score a lot of runs if they want to win games.

No. 29: Kansas City Royals

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    BALTIMORE - JULY 30:  Starting pitcher Luke Hochevar #44 of the Kansas City Royals delivers against the Baltimore Orioles during MLB action at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 30, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. Hochevar collected the loss as the Orioles
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    1. Luke Hochevar (6-6, 4.81 ERA, 87 ERA+, 76 Ks)
    2. Jeff Francis (4-6, 5.00 ERA, 93 ERA+, 67 Ks)
    3. Kyle Davies (8-12, 5.34 ERA, 78 ERA+, 126 Ks) 
    4. Vin Mazzaro (6-8, 4.27 ERA, 97 ERA+, 79 Ks)
    5. Sean O'Sullivan (3-6, 6.11 ERA, 69 ERA+, 37 Ks)

    When the Royals decided to trade Zack Greinke, their rotation took a big step back.

    They lost their only legitimate starter and didn't get anyone immediately ready to contribute, either.

    Former No.1-overall pick Hochevar has the potential to be a solid starter, but relying on him as the staff ace is only asking for trouble.

    The addition of Francis could be a very good one, however, as he was the ace in Colorado for a while before the injury bug hit. He is still just 30 and could turn things around.

No. 28: Washington Nationals

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    CINCINNATI - JULY 22:  Livan Hernandez #61 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 22, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    1. Livan Hernandez (10-12, 3.66 ERA, 110 ERA+, 114 Ks)
    2. Jason Marquis (2-9, 6.60 ERA, 61 ERA+, 31 Ks)
    3. Jordan Zimmerman (1-2, 4.94 ERA, 83 ERA+, 27 Ks)
    4. John Lannan (8-8, 4.65 ERA, 87 ERA+, 71 Ks)
    5. J.D. Martin (1-5, 4.13 ERA, 98 ERA+, 31 Ks)

    The Nationals' rotation is a mess, and aside from Hernandez, there is no one who can be counted on for much of anything.

    Losing Stephen Strasburg for the season following Tommy John's surgery certainly didn't help, either.

    Zimmerman has some upside, and could emerge as a solid second starter along with Hernandez.

    It is hard to imagine that Marquis will be as bad as he was in 2010, but the rotation is still a long way off from being anything but a hindrance to the Nationals.

No. 27: Cleveland Indians

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 13:  Starting pitcher Fausto Carmona #55 of the Cleveland Indians pitches of the Boston Red Sox during Game Two of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 13, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty
    Elsa/Getty Images

    1. Fausto Carmona (13-14, 3.77 ERA, 102 ERA+, 124 Ks)
    2. Justin Masterson  (6-13, 4.70 ERA, 82 ERA+, 140 Ks)
    3. Mitch Talbot (10-13, 4.41 ERA, 88 ERA+, 88 Ks)
    4. Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.83 ERA, 101 ERA+, 38 Ks)
    5. Josh Tomlin (6-4, 4.56 ERA, 85 ERA+, 43 Ks)

    The Indians' rotation is high on potential but not much else as they continue to rebuild and look to be relevant in the AL Central.

    Carmona is a solid starter at the top of the staff, but there were rumors last season that he could be traded.

    Masterson has a bright future and Carrasco is the team's top pitching prospect, coming off a 10-6, 3.65 ERA, 133 Ks season at Class-AAA. He could emerge as the best starter on the staff and the Indians will hope the 23-year-old develops quickly.

No. 26: Houston Astros

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    CHICAGO - JULY 21: Starting pitcher Brett Myers #39 of the Houston Astros delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 12 innings. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Im
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    1. Brett Myers (14-8, 3.14 ERA, 123 ERA+, 180 Ks)
    2. Wandy Rodriguez (11-12, 3.60 ERA, 108 ERA+, 178 Ks)
    3. J.A. Happ (6-4, 3.40 ERA, 115 ERA+, 70 Ks)
    4. Bud Norris (9-10, 4.92 ERA, 79 ERA+, 158 Ks)
    5. Nelson Figueroa (7-4, 3.29 ERA, 120 ERA+, 73 Ks)

    The Astros are in the middle of a rebuild as they move out of the Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Roy Oswalt era.

    The loss of Oswalt at the front of their rotation was obviously a big one, but the emergence of Myers as a front-line starter was huge.

    Beyond Myers and Rodriguez, however, there are questions. Norris is coming off of a solid rookie season, but he will need to take the next step.

    Figueroa could be entering his first full season as a starter, as he has bounced between the rotation and bullpen throughout his career.

No. 25: Baltimore Orioles

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Brian Matusz #17 of the Baltimore Orioles delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    1. Jeremy Guthrie (11-14, 3.83 ERA, 111 ERA+, 119 Ks)
    2. Brian Matusz (10-12, 4.30 ERA, 98 ERA+, 143 Ks)
    3. Brad Bergesen (8-12, 4.98 ERA, 85 ERA+, 81 Ks)
    4. Chris Tillman (2-5, 5.87 ERA, 72 ERA+, 31 Ks)
    5. Jake Arrieta (6-6, 4.66 ERA, 91 ERA+, 51 Ks)

    The Orioles have one of the more promising rotations in the league and Matusz is one of the best up-and-coming pitchers in baseball.

    However, they lack a true ace and all of the starters outside of Guthrie are still largely unproven and have some developing to do.

    Playing in the AL East doesn't help much. The Orioles are in for more tough seasons like last season.

    Still, there is reason for optimism and Matusz could take the next step towards ace status next season.

    The Orioles' young staff will only get better.

No. 24: Arizona Diamondbacks

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    PHOENIX - JULY 10:  Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against  the Florida Marlins during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 10, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Marlins 5-4.  (
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    1. Joe Saunders (9-17, 4.47 ERA, 93 ERA+, 114 Ks)
    2. Daniel Hudson (8-2, 2.45 ERA, 174 ERA+, 84 Ks)
    3. Ian Kennedy (9-10, 3.80 ERA, 111 ERA+, 168 Ks)
    4. Zach Duke (8-15, 5.72 ERA, 71 ERA+, 96 Ks)
    5. Barry Enright (6-7, 3.91 ERA, 109 ERA+, 49 Ks)

    When the Diamondbacks dealt Dan Haren to the Angels last season for Saunders, their rotation immediately became a huge weakness.

    Looking ahead to 2011, it will once again be a cause for concern, as there is no clear cut ace.

    Saunders is not as bad as his 2010 numbers. After winning 33 games over 2008 and 2009, he could be in line for a bounce-back year.

    The real hope of the staff, however, is Hudson. He was fantastic after coming over from the White Sox for Edwin Jackson, going 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts after the trade.

No. 23: Seattle Mariners

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    SEATTLE - JUNE 24: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Chicago Cubs at Safeco Field on June 24, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    1. Felix Hernandez (13-12, 2.27 ERA, 174 ERA+, 232 Ks)
    2. Jason Vargas (9-12, 3.78 ERA, 104 ERA+, 116 Ks)
    3. Doug Fister (6-14, 4.11 ERA, 96 ERA+, 93 Ks)
    4. Erik Bedard (Did not pitch in 2010)
    5. Michael Pineda (11-4, 3.36 ERA, 154 Ks at Class AA & AAA)

    The Mariners were a sexy pick to win the AL West last season after adding Cliff Lee to a staff that already had Hernandez.

    Instead, the season was a disaster, as they lost 101 games and Lee finished the season with the Rangers after he was dealt for Justin Smoak.

    Now the team's rebuild starts with Hernandez, who won the AL Cy Young last season despite winning just 13 games, as he was clearly the league's best pitcher. 

    Pineda is one to watch. He went 11-4 with a 3.36 ERA between Class-AA and AAA last season and is still just 21 years old.

No. 22: New York Mets

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 18:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 18, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Johan Santana (11-9, 2.98 ERA, 131 ERA+, 144 Ks)
    2. Mike Pelfrey (15-9, 3.66 ERA, 107 ERA+, 113 Ks)
    3. Jon Niese (9-10, 4.20 ERA, 93 ERA+, 148 Ks)
    4. R.A. Dickey (11-9, 2.84 ERA, 138 ERA+, 104 Ks)
    5. Chris Capuano (4-4, 3.95 ERA, 100 ERA+, 54 Ks)

    Starting pitching has been a sore spot for the Mets of late as they try to recover from the poor signings of John Maine and Oliver Perez.

    However, they still have one of the best in the game in Santana, although he may miss some time early on to recover from shoulder surgery.

    Dickey proved to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season, but expecting a repeat performance is dangerous.

    The difference-maker could be top prospect Jenrry Mejia, who will get every chance to win a rotation spot out of camp. Chances are the 20-year-old will open the season in the minors.

No. 21: San Diego Padres

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 03:  Matt Latos #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on October 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Mat Latos (14-10, 2.92 ERA, 126 ERA+, 189 Ks)
    2. Clayton Richard (14-9, 3.75 ERA, 98 ERA+, 153 Ks)
    3. Aaron Harang (6-7, 5.32 ERA, 75 ERA+, 82 Ks)
    4. Tim Stauffer (6-5, 1.85 ERA, 199 ERA+, 61 Ks)
    5. Wade LeBlanc (8-12, 4.25 ERA, 86 RA+, 110 Ks)

    The Padres, despite a less-than-stellar offense, remained in the NL West race for the entire season last year thanks to their impressive pitching.

    However, they lost Jon Garland and Kevin Correia in the offseason, and their rotation appears to have taken a step back.

    Richard and Latos both far exceeded expectations last year. That gives the team two good young starters to build around.

    If Harang can bounce back, that would go a long way towards helping ease the loss of Garland. Overall, the staff still looks fairly strong and will once again be helped by a fantastic bullpen.

No. 20: Toronto Blue Jays

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 15:  Ricky Romero #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on August 15, 2010 in Anaheim, California. The Blue Jays defeated the Angels 4-1.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    1. Ricky Romero (14-9, 3.73 ERA, 111 ERA+, 173 Ks)
    2. Brandon Morrow (10-7, 4.49 ERA, 92 ERA+, 178 Ks)
    3. Brett Cecil (15-7, 4.22 ERA, 98 ERA+, 117 Ks)
    4. Marc Rzepczynski (4-4, 4.95 ERA, 84 ERA+, 57 Ks)
    5. Kyle Drabek (0-3, 4.76 ERA, 89 ERA+, 12 Ks)

    In a head-scratcher of a move, the Blue Jays dealt 13-game winner Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for second-base prospect Brett Lawrie.

    They will now count on top prospect Drabek to step in and fill his spot in the rotation.

    Drabek, who came over from Philadelphia in the Roy Halladay deal, went 14-9, 2.94 ERA, 132 Ks in 27 minor league starts before making his debut last season.

    All in all, the Blue Jays rotation is incredibly young—with an average age of just under 24—but they may still be a few years away from reaching their potential.

No. 19: Colorado Rockies

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    ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 2: Starter Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Rockies 1-0 in 11 innings.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Get
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    1. Ubaldo Jimenez (19-8, 2.88 ERA, 161 ERA+, 241 Ks)
    2. Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 4.22 ERA, 110 ERA+, 113 Ks)
    3. Aaron Cook (6-8, 5.08 ERA, 91 ERA+, 62 Ks)
    4. Jhoulys Chacin (9-11, 3.28 ERA, 142 ERA+, 138 Ks)
    5. Jason Hammel (10-9, 4.81 ERA, 96 ERA+, 141 Ks)

    No one was more talked about in the first half of the season than Jimenez. He not only pitched the first no-hitter of the season, but posted a sterling 15-1 record with a 2.21 ERA in the first half of the season.

    Though he came back to earth in the second half, he still had a great year.

    After Jimenez, the Rockies have a great young arm in Chacin, who will be only 23 this coming season and has a repertoire that plays well in Colorado.

    The team also brought back De La Rosa in hopes that he returns to his 16-win form of 2009.

No. 18: New York Yankees

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    ST. PETERSBURG - AUGUST 01:  Pitcher CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on August 1, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    1. CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18 ERA, 134 ERA+, 197 Ks)
    2. AJ Burnett (10-15, 5.26 ERA, 81 ERA+, 145 Ks)
    3. Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19 ERA, 102 ERA+, 146 Ks)
    4. Ivan Nova (1-2, 4.50 ERA, 96 ERA+, 26 Ks)
    5. Sergio Mitre (0-3, 3.33 ERA, 129 ERA+, 29 Ks)

    There is still an off-chance that Andy Pettitte could return, but it looks as though the Yankees will have to go on without him.

    Because of that, their rotation looks weaker than it has in years.

    Still, Sabathia is as good as they come and Hughes took a big step last season. With the offense they have, there is less pressure on the starters.

    An improved season from Burnett is a must for the Yankees to compete, and relying on Mitre for anything more than spot starts is risky.

    Missing out on Cliff Lee could end up being a much bigger problem than anyone realized for the Yankees in the tough AL East.

No. 17: Minnesota Twins

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    SEATTLE - MAY 31:  Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on May 31, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    1. Francisco Liriano (14-10, 3.62 ERA, 115 ERA+, 201 Ks)
    2. Scott Baker (12-9, 4.49 ERA, 92 ERA+, 148 Ks)
    3. Kevin Slowey (13-6, 4.45 ERA, 93 ERA+, 116 Ks)
    4. Brian Duensing (10-3, 2.62 ERA, 159 ERA+, 78 Ks)
    5. Nick Blackburn (10-12, 5.42 ERA, 77 ERA+, 68 Ks)

    The Twins' rotation is significantly improved if Carl Pavano is brought back. But as it is, their rotation is still good enough to make them one of the favorites to take the AL Central.

    The comeback season from Liriano was huge for a team that had a lot of questions entering the season.

    Many doubted that Liriano would ever return to the form that made him an All-Star in 2006. But after missing all of 2007 and winning just 11 games in 2008 and 2009, he bounced back in a big way last season with an 11th-place Cy Young finish and a return to the top of the rotation.

No. 16: Texas Rangers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 23:  C.J. Wilson #36 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on July 23, 2010 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    1. CJ Wilson (15-8, 3.35 ERA, 129 ERA+, 170 Ks)
    2. Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 ERA, 116 ERA+, 196 Ks)
    3. Brandon Webb (Did not pitch in 2010)
    4. Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73 ERA, 116 ERA+, 68 Ks)
    5. Derek Holland (3-4, 4.08 ERA, 106 ERA+, 54 Ks)

    The Rangers rotation took a huge hit this offseason when Cliff Lee opted to sign with the Phillies.

    But they still have several solid starters and are the favorites in the AL West thanks to their potent offense.

    The Webb signing could be an interesting one if he's healthy, and he could give the team the ace that they are missing if he can return to his Diamondbacks form.

    All in all, things could be much worse in Texas considering who they lost.

No. 15: Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 25: Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws the ball in the 1st inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Zambrano was suspended indefinitely by the Cubs for a
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    1. Carlos Zambrano (11-6, 3.33 ERA, 131 ERA+, 117 Ks)
    2. Matt Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA, 101 ERA+, 150 Ks)
    3. Ryan Dempster (15-12, 3.85 ERA, 113 ERA+, 208 Ks)
    4. Randy Wells (8-14, 4.26 ERA, 102 ERA+, 144 Ks)
    5. Tom Gorzelanny (7-9, 4.09 ERA, 106 ERA+, 119 Ks)

    The Cubs pulled off a big deal—perhaps in response to the Brewers' loading up on pitching—and traded a package of top prospects to the Rays for Garza. He gives the Cubs the third top-tier starter that they have lacked in recent seasons.

    The biggest question, as always, is Zambrano, who finished the season strong last year after an up-and-down season overall. If he can return to ace form, the Cubs rotation will be a strength.

    The team could still deal Gorzelanny before the season opens, in which case Carlos Silva would step in as the fifth starter.

No. 14: Florida Marlins

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    ATLANTA - JULY 02:  Pitcher Josh Johnson #55 of the Florida Marlins against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    1. Josh Johnson (11-6, 2.30 ERA, 182 ERA+, 186 Ks)
    2. Ricky Nolasco (14-9, 4.51 ERA, 93 ERA+, 147 Ks)
    3. Javier Vazquez (10-10, 5.32 ERA, 80 ERA+, 121 Ks)
    4. Anibal Sanchez (13-12, 3.55 ERA, 118 ERA+, 157 Ks)
    5. Chris Volstad (12-9, 4.58 ERA, 92 ERA+, 102 Ks)

    The Marlins have one of the more underrated staffs in baseball and one of the most underrated aces in Josh Johnson.

    Had it not been for a late-season injury, Johnson may have made a run at Roy Halladay for the NL Cy Young.

    With Johnson, Nolasco and Sanchez all entering their primes, the Marlins could make some noise in the NL East.

    The addition of Vazquez gives them an innings eater and a veteran presence. He could bounce back now that he is no longer in the bright lights of New York.

No. 13: Milwaukee Brewers

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:  Zack Greinke #23 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on August 11, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    1. Zack Greinke (10-14, 4.17 ERA, 100 ERA+, 181 Ks)
    2. Yovani Gallardo (14-7, 3.84 ERA, 103 ERA+, 200 Ks)
    3. Shaun Marcum (13-8, 3.64 ERA, 114 ERA+, 165 Ks)
    4. Randy Wolf (13-12, 4.17 ERA, 95 ERA+, 142 Ks)
    5. Chris Narveson (12-9, 4.99 ERA, 79 ERA+, 137 Ks)

    The Brewers went all in this offseason when many thought they would look to deal Prince Fielder.

    Instead, they made a huge move acquiring 2009 AL Cy Young winner Greinke and added Marcum to fill out what would have already been a stellar staff.

    With Fielder still expected to be gone once he hits free agency at season's end, the Brewers best chance to make a playoff run is right now.

    If they can make it to October, the trio of Greinke, Marcum and Gallardo could go a long way.

No. 12: Atlanta Braves

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    ATLANTA - JUNE 28:  Pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on June 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    1. Tim Hudson (17-9, 2.83 ERA, 138 ERA+, 139 Ks) 
    2. Derek Lowe (16-12, 4.00 ERA, 98 ERA+, 136 Ks)
    3. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.33 ERA, 117 ERA+, 173 Ks)
    4. Jair Jurrjens (7-6, 4.64 ERA, 84 ERA+, 86 Ks)
    5. Mike Minor (3-2, 5.98 ERA, 66 ERA+, 43 Ks)

    The Braves have a good mix of veterans and up-and-comers in their rotation, and Hudson and Lowe continue to be consistent front-line starters when healthy.

    Hanson proved that his great rookie season in 2009 was not a fluke, and he is among the best young pitchers in the game.

    The question mark is Minor, the Braves top pitching prospect, as he has made just 25 minor league starts, and is still largely unproven.

    This is not the Braves rotation of the 1990s, but it is still one of the better staffs in the league.

No. 11: Detroit Tigers

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    ATLANTA - JUNE 27:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    1. Justin Verlander (18-9, 3.37 ERA, 124 ERA+, 219 Ks)
    2. Max Scherzer (12-11, 3.50 ERA, 120 ERA+, 184 Ks)
    3. Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.92 ERA, 85 ERA+, 84 Ks)
    4. Phil Coke (7-5, 3.76 ERA, 112 ERA+, 53 Ks)
    5. Brad Penny (3-4, 3.23 ERA, 122 ERA+, 35 Ks)

    Verlander is a staple at the top, but the Tigers pulled the trigger on a big deal prior to the 2010 season, dealing 2009 All-Star starter Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson in a huge three-team deal.

    In return they got Scherzer and Coke, who will play a big role in 2011.

    Coke made 74 appearances as a reliever last season, but will join the rotation this coming season. Scherzer took another step towards fulfilling his vast potential.

    If Penny can stay healthy and Porcello can bounce back, the Tigers could make a move in the AL Central.

No. 10: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 24, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    1. Clayton Kershaw (13-10, 2.91 ERA, 132 ERA+, 212 Ks)
    2. Chad Billingsley (12-11, 3.57 ERA, 107 ERA+, 171 Ks)
    3. Ted Lilly (10-12, 3.62 ERA, 115 ERA+, 166 Ks)
    4. Hiroki Kuroda (11-13, 3.39 ERA, 113 ERA+, 159 Ks)
    5. Jon Garland (14-12, 3.47 ERA, 106 ERA+, 136 Ks)

    The Dodgers have underperformed the past few seasons, but their rotation is the strongest it has been in a long time going into the 2011 season.

    They will have a full season of Lilly, who re-signed after coming over in a trade from the Cubs last season, and the addition of innings eater Jon Garland is big.

    The ace of the staff, however, is clearly Kershaw. He took a big step last season and, at 22, should only get better.

    Overall, the Dodgers staff will put them in the running for the NL West and is certainly one of the better rotations in the NL.

No. 9: St. Louis Cardinals

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    1. Chris Carpenter (16-9, 3.22 ERA, 122 ERA+, 179 Ks)
    2. Adam Wainwright (20-11, 2.42 ERA, 161 ERA+, 213 Ks)
    3. Jaime Garcia (13-8, 2.70 ERA, 145 ERA+, 132 Ks)
    4. Jake Westbrook (10-11, 4.22 ERA, 92 ERA+, 128 Ks)
    5. Kyle Lohse (4-8, 6.55 ERA, 60 ERA+, 54 Ks)

    The Cardinals boast two of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball at the top of their rotation in Carpenter and Wainwright.

    With one of the best pitching coaches in all of baseball in Dave Duncan, guys like Westbrook and Lohse could be in line for bounce-back seasons.

    Garcia, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, is the real wild card of the bunch.

    He could be an invaluable complement to Carpenter and Wainwright if he can duplicate his 2010 performance.

No. 8: Tampa Bay Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG - JULY 07:  Pitcher David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Tropicana Field on July 7, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    1. David Price (19-6, 2.72 ERA, 145 ERA+, 188 Ks)
    2. James Shields 13-15, 5.18 ERA, 76 ERA+, 187 Ks)
    3. Jeff Niemann (12-8, 4.39 ERA, 90 ERA+, 131 Ks)
    4. Wade Davis (12-10, 4.07 ERA, 97 ERA+, 113 Ks)
    5. Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 3.47 ERA, 115 ERA+, 33 Ks)

    The Rays have some of the best young arms in the game with Price and Davis, and there will be another one on display in 2011 when the 23-year-old Hellickson joins the rotation.

    The team was confident enough in his progression that they dealt 15-game winner Matt Garza to the Cubs.

    The Rays will need a bounce-back season out of Shields and a productive year from Hellickson if they hope to keep pace in the AL East. Price's continued emergence as the staff ace wouldn't hurt either.

    With the entire back end of their bullpen gone, they will need their starters to step up.

No. 7: Los Angeles Angels

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:  Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium on August 11, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    1. Jered Weaver (13-12, 3.01 ERA, 135 ERA+, 233 Ks)
    2. Dan Haren 12-12, 3.91 ERA, 107 ERA+, 216 Ks)
    3. Ervin Santana (17-10, 3.92 ERA, 104 ERA+, 169 Ks)
    4. Joel Pinero (10-7, 3.84 ERA, 106 ERA+, 92 Ks)
    5. Scott Kazmir (9-15, 5.94 ERA, 68 ERA+, 93 Ks)

    The Angels will enter 2011 with the same rotation they finished last season with, as their big move came last season when they dealt for Dan Haren.

    While the rotation looks great on paper, it is not without its questions.

    Kazmir has gone from ace to practically useless in a matter of two seasons, and he could be in jeopardy of losing his job if he opens the season poorly again.

    But his struggles were offset by the emergence of Weaver, who led the AL in strikeouts and is among the best pitchers in all of baseball at this point in his career.

No. 6: Oakland Athletics

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    OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 19:  Trevor Cahill #53 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    1. Trevor Cahill (18-8, 2.97 ERA, 139 ERA+, 118 Ks)
    2. Brett Anderson (7-6, 2.80 ERA, 148 ERA+, 75 Ks)
    3. Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 3.23 ERA, 128 ERA+, 171 Ks)
    4. Dallas Braden (11-14, 3.50 ERA, 118 ERA+, 113 Ks)
    5. Brandon McCarthy (Did Not Pitch In 2010)

    The Athletics' rotation may be the most underrated in all of baseball, and with their top three starters only 22, 24 and 22, they could be good for a long time.

    The starters will certainly benefit from improvements the team made to their offense this season.

    A lot will hinge on whether or not Cahill's breakout season was legit and how well Anderson pitches after battling some injuries last season.

    But the Athletics' rotation certainly looks promising and they could make some noise in the AL West as soon as 2011.

No. 5: Chicago White Sox

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field on August 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Dani
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    1. Mark Buehrle (13-13, 4.28 ERA, 102 ERA+, 99 Ks)
    2. Gavin Floyd (10-13, 4.08 ERA, 107 ERA+, 151 Ks)
    3. John Danks (15-11, 3.72 ERA, 117 ERA+, 162 Ks)
    4. Jake Peavy (7-6, 4.63 ERA, 94 ERA+, 93 Ks)
    5. Edwin Jackson (10-12, 4.47 ERA, 96 ERA+, 181 Ks)

    The White Sox have quietly stacked up quite a staff of starting pitchers.

    As the White Sox look to make some serious noise in the AL Central this season, stud prospect Chris Sale could force his way into the rotation as well.

    Jackson was very good after coming over from the Diamondbacks, and Danks has pushed his way to the front of the staff as one of the better lefties in the league today.

    If Floyd and Peavy can bounce back in 2011, the White Sox could be virtually unstoppable. But they will need those two for sure.

No. 4: Cincinnati Reds

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    CINCINNATI - MAY 16:  Bronson Arroyo #61 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on May 16, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    1. Bronson Arroyo (17-10, 3.88 ERA, 103 ERA+, 121 Ks)
    2. Edinson Volquez (4-3, 4.31 ERA, 93 ERA+, 67 Ks)
    3. Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64 ERA, 110 ERA+, 138 Ks)
    4. Homer Bailey (4-3, 4.46 ERA, 90 ERA+, 100 Ks)
    5. Travis Wood (5-4, 3.51 ERA, 114 ERA+, 86 Ks)

    The Reds were the surprise of the league last season, thanks in large part to their pitching and a fantastic season from Joey Votto.

    With Volquez in the rotation for a full season, they should be even better, and may have the deepest staff in all of baseball.

    Along with the five listed above, they also have impressive sophomore Mike Leake and flamethrower Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen capable of starting if needed.

    If the Reds hope to return to the playoffs, they will need a similar performance from their starters. Bringing back Arroyo was a step in the right direction.

No. 3: Boston Red Sox

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    BALTIMORE - AUGUST 31:  Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on August 31, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    1. Jon Lester (19-9, 3.25 ERA, 135 ERA+, 225 Ks)
    2. Josh Beckett (6-6, 5.78 ERA, 75 ERA+, 116 Ks)
    3. John Lackey (14-11, 4.40 ERA, 99 ERA+, 156 Ks)
    4. Clay Buchholz (17-7, 2.33 ERA, 187 ERA+, 120 Ks)
    5. Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-6, 4.69 ERA, 93 ERA+, 133 Ks)

    When the Red Sox opened their wallets for Lackey, his 2010 line was not what they had in mind. He will need to bounce back in 2011 to justify his lofty price tag.

    Moreso, Beckett and Matsuzaka need to pitch the way they have in the past if the Red Sox want to make a run in the AL East.

    One sure thing is Lester, who may be the best lefty in baseball not named Cliff Lee. He continues to improve every season and could have a Cy Young in the not too distant future.

    He and Buchholz, who finally lived up to his top-prospect billing, were among the best pitchers in all of baseball in 2010.

No. 2: San Francisco Giants

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 15:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the New York Mets in the second inning at AT&T Park on July 15, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43 ERA, 119 ERA+, 231 Ks)
    2. Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14 ERA, 130 ERA+, 177 Ks)
    3. Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07 ERA, 133 ERA+, 205 Ks)
    4. Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA, 136 ERA+, 86 Ks)
    5. Barry Zito (9-14, 4.15 ERA, 98 ERA+, 150 Ks)

    The Giants rode their strong pitching all the way to a World Series title last season, and they return to defend their title with same impressive rotation for the 2011 season.

    They may, in fact, be better in 2011, with a full season from Bumgarner, who was incredible in the playoffs. He could give the Giants a third ace as soon as next season.

    As always, Zito is the question mark, and at this point, the Giants would be happy if he could duplicate his 2010 numbers.

No. 1: Philadelphia Phillies

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 07:  Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies in Game One of the NLDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 7, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    1. Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA, 165 ERA+, 219 Ks)
    2. Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18 ERA, 130 ERA+, 185 Ks)
    3. Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 ERA, 132 ERA+, 211 Ks)
    4. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76 ERA, 143 ERA+, 193 Ks)
    5. Joe Blanton (9-6, 4.82 ERA, 84 ERA+, 134 Ks)

    The Phillies, who were already in the argument for best rotation last season when they added Roy Oswalt, are now easily in the top spot on this list.

    Lee's signing gives them four legitimate aces and a devastating staff once the postseason rolls around.

    In the five spot, Blanton is solid, and would be at least a third starter on most other teams. He could still be dealt, as the Phillies look to rid themselves of his contract.

    In that case, Kyle Kendrick would step into the fifth spot, after he went 12-11 last season in 31 starts last season.