Each day this week, I’ll be ranking baseball’s rotations. I was surprised with where some of the rotations ultimately ranked and some of the rankings were virtual ties but this is America so I had to sack up and decide which rotation should rank higher. I’ll be talking about my rankings over on Twitter, @SAlaskaBarstool.
Checking in at the very bottom is the Colorado Rockies’ enigma of a rotation. I get that its tough to develop Coors Field-compatible starters and no sane free agent starter would want to sign in Colorado but the Rockies have no real excuse for such a mess. Jorge De la Rosa, the team’s splitter-throwing ‘ace’ is a skilled pitcher but age (35 in April) and durability (Career high 185 IP) are working against him: De la Rosa just won’t stack up to some of the other #1s in baseball. Chad Bettis isn’t the worst #2 but Jordan Lyles, Tyler Chatwood, and Eddie Butler straight up don’t deserve to be starters in an MLB rotation. Former top prospect (and 3rd overall pick) Jonathan Gray can throw hard but has struggled in 40 innings last year and shouldn’t be counted on for much in 2016.
The Brewers’ rotation is bleh. Wily Peralta is more of a #4/#5 starter than a #1, Jimmy Nelson is bleh, Taylor Jungmann is bleh, Matt Garza is worse than bleh, and Chase Anderson isn’t too good either. No one in the Brewers’ starting 5 is completely awful but they also don’t amount to anything more than a collection of back-end starters. SP prospect Jorge Lopez struggled in two starts for the Brew Crew last year but could provide a boost to the rotation when he gets called up mid-season.
The Braves are in full rebuild mode and, while trading away #1 RHP Shelby Miller was the right decision, the team’s 2016 rotation is in shambles. Julio Teheran, still just 25, has the raw ability to put together #1 starter-caliber seasons (like his 221 inning, 2.89 ERA 2014) but in 2015, he gave up a few too many homers and his 2 seam fastball and changeup both lost their effectiveness. Bud Norris imploded to a 6.72 ERA last year and he shouldn’t be counted on for anything but still probably ranks above 23 year old Matt Wisler (and his 5.9k/9), 24 year old Williams Perez (who just isn’t an MLB starter), and Mike Foltynewicz (also 24) who throws hard but could benefit from a transition to the bullpen. Prospect Aaron Blair could be up by May and would instantly become the team’s #2.
Phil Hughes parlayed his great 2014 into a 5 year 58 million contract but his 4.40 ERA didn’t deliver early returns on the Twins’ investment. Hughes still limits the walks but if he doesn’t strike batters out (5.45 k/9), he isn’t going to be the #1 that the team needs. Ervin Santana’s return from a PED suspension could have been a lot worse but he really picked it up (to the tune of a 1.88 ERA) in September and October. Santana and 25 year old Tyler Duffey both have some potential to produce in ’16 but Kyle Gibson and Tommy Milone were each playing above their heads last year (and they still weren’t good).
Rookies started 110 games for the Reds in 2015 and the lack of experience showed. The Reds rotation should be even worse this season with departures from Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, sure 29 year old Homer Bailey might be ready for the start of the season but he isn’t anything special. Cuban-import Raisel Iglesias struck out 104 batters in just 16 starts and could really turn some heads with his slider in his first full MLB season. Anthony DeSclafani is a generic back-end starter while young 5’11 leftie Brandon Finnegan has a live fastball but must prove he can deal with MLB batters multiple times through the order. Former top prospect John Lamb is trying to revive his once-promising career but should limit his walks if he wants to make it in a Major League rotation.
Aaron Nola is one of the better young pitchers in the game but he slowed down a little in September (3.26 MLB ERA prior to 9/1 and 4.18 after). Jerad Eickhoff, part of the Cole Hamels trade, came out of nowhere to toss a 2.65 ERA and K almost a batter an inning in 51 frames and his fastball, slider, and curveball are all pretty effective offerings. Vince Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer were each acquired from the ‘Stros for RP Ken Giles and while Velasquez has some legitimate long-term potential, Oberholtzer should be nothing more than a 6th starter. Neither Jeremy Hellickson nor Charlie Morton deserve to be on a team’s 25 man roster.
Be on the lookout for part 2 tomorrow and let me know what you think on Twitter