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Ranking All 30 MLB Rotations, Part 4: The Good

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Check out part 1 (teams 30-25 here), part 2 (teams 24-19 here), and part 3 (teams 18-13 here) and let me know what you think on twitter 

red sox12. Boston Red Sox – David Price is a gigantic game-changer for Boston and, while the rest of the rotation isn’t anything special, it isn’t as bad as you think

The David Price mega-deal could be mutually beneficial and the Cy Young runner-up has volted this rotation from bottom 10 all the way up to 12th. Clay Buchholz can be good and he can be bad but he’ll always get injured. Soon-to-be 23 year old Eduardo Rodriguez proved that he could handle Major League opposition but also indicated that he has a pretty wide range of performance – his 3.85 season-end ERA isn’t all that good but if one were to give him a mulligan on his 4 worst starts, he’d have a 1.86 ERA. I don’t know about you but I would take ace performance 80% of the time (and complete, utter crap in the other 20%) from my #3 starter any day. Something must’ve clicked for Rick Porcello during the all-star break because he came into the game with a 5.90 earned run average but pitched to the tune of a 3.53 ERA and almost a k per inning after the mid-summer classic. Joe Kelly probably isn’t a starter and I don’t buy his impressive stretch of outings in August but young lefty Henry Owens could replace him in the rotation once Kelly starts to falter.

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Drew Smyly

rays11. Tampa Bay Rays – Chris Archer careers this Rays rotation but Smyly and Odorizzi are very capable as well. This rotation ranks so highly not because of high upside but because of a high floor.

Chris Archer’s is one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game and his 12-13 record doesn’t do him justice but he did seem to break down towards the end of the year (20 walks in his final 31 IP); I’m curious to see how Archer responds to his break-out 2015 campaign. Jake Odorizzi seems like he has been around for ever – he was in the Royals haul for Zack Greinke back in 2010 – but he is still only 25 but he has developed into a capable yet unspectacular mid-rotation arm. You heard it here first but Drew Smyly will receive Cy Young votes in 2016; Smyly was rearing up for a breakout 2015 before injuries too most of his season but he will turn into a true force this year. Matt Moore ranked ahead of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout on prospect lists in 2012 but I’m sure he’d prefer to have some sustained Major League success rather than carrying the weight of being the answer to a disappointing baseball trivia question. Moore could bounce back and if I had to bet, I’d say he’ll turn into a mid-rotation thrower but I wouldn’t be surprised if he either became a perennial all-star or if he were out of the game in 4 years. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you have never heard of Erasmo Ramirez. His lackluster K-rate and 3.75 ERA isn’t anything noteworthy but, if you remove his first 2 outings of the season, Ramirez’s earned run average deflates to 3.02, good enough for 4th best in the entire American League. Prospect Blake Snell and injured #2 Alex Cobb should both be in the rotation by mid-season. i might be a bit optimistic on the Rays but this should be a capable and stable overall pitching staff.

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Carlos Rodon

white sox10. Chicago White Sox – Its a tale of 2 ends with Chicago’s rotation: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Rodon could make for one of the best top 3s in baseball but there is a big step down before Danks and Latos

I am high on the team from the South Side and a lot of this optimism has to do with youngster Carlos Rodon. Chris Sale’s 2nd half era of 4.33 is unlike him but he is also too good for numbers north of 3.50 to become a regular thing – this guy is (and will remain) one of the leading Cy Young candidates. 27 year old Jose Quintana may be the most under-appreciated SPs in the game – in the past three seasons, the lefty has thrown at least 200 IP and maintained a mid-low 3s ERA – I don’t see any reason for Quintana’s production to change. John Danks is not good and Mat Latos is an asshole who broke his rib sneezing. Carlos Rodon, the 3rd overall pick in 2014, has a filthy repertoire and could join Chris Sale as co-aces of the rotation in a couple of years. Rodon struggled with his control in his rookie year but he did finish strong and can boast a 1.81 ERA in his final 8 outings. Erik Johnson, 26 now, might start in AAA but is a valuable depth option.

astros9. Houston Astros – Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, and Mike Fiers all have the talent to shut down opposing line-ups and while whoever the 5th starter will be is a huge step down, the front 4 is excellent.keuchel

Reigning Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and his sexy blend of effectiveness and inning-eating should be able to build on his incredible campaign by continuing to limit walks and  induce grounders. Lance McCullers Jr. scraped together a promising rookie year and would’ve had a 2.80 ERA and more than a strikeout an inning if it weren’t for one forgettable outing against Texas. McCullers might be on an innings limit but, when he does pitch, he will be $$$. Collin McHugh won 19 games but actually digressed from his great 2014 – even if he pitches like he did last season, he will be a great #3 but if he can harness his 2014 skills, he might be the best 3rd starter in the game. Mike Fiers got some pussy after tossing a no-no last year and held batters to a .202 batting average after the ASB. After seeing Doug Fister pitch for the Nats last season, I really don’t think he has the stuff to trot out there every 5th day but Scott Feldman probably isn’t much better.

dodgers8. Los Angeles Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw is the lone top starter in this lefty-heavy rotation but LA has some of the best depth in the game

LHP Clayton Kershaw may not have three-peated on Cy Young victories but this guy is just so dominant that 1 Kershaw and 4 mid-rotation starters = 8th best rotation in the game. Kershaw certainly carries LA’s rotation now that Zack Greinke has left for Arizona but the Dodgers still have plenty of depth. Lefty Scott Kazmir might not be your idea of a #2 starter on a playoff team but the drop-off from Kazmir to the 3, 4, and 5 starters is so minimal that it might not matter in the regular season. LHP Brett Anderson stayed healthy for the first time in … ever? and pitched very effectively (he had a 3.06 season ERA through early August). Lefty (noticing a trend?) Hyun-Jin Ryu missed all of 2015 but had been very effective in his 1st two MLB seasons and I don’t see any reason why the Korean (who has reportedly lost 20+ lbs this offseason) won’t produce again this year. Kenta Maeda, the lone righty, signed an incredibly complicated contract with LAD after being posted out of Japan this offseason seems like he could be a valuable and consistent back-end arm. Alex Wood, another fucking lefty arm, is one of the most talented 6th starters in baseball.

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Madison Bumgarner

giants7. San Francisco Giants – The Giants are banking on FA acquisitions Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija pitching effectively and I think they will. Bumgarner is a stud and Jake Peavy isn’t bad though the team could use more depth.

The Giants absolutely revamped the front of their rotation this off-season and only time will tell whether it worked out or not. I think ranking them 7th might be a little on the high side because there are real scenarios where the rotation might be worse than 15+ teams but I also see some real scenarios where San Francisco’s 5 go head to head with almost any other rotation in the game. I LOVE Madison Bumgarner but that might be because I’ve never had to bat against him. Opposing batters hit below the Mendoza line in the 2nd half of the season and the 26 year old (seriously, how the fuck is he 26? he has been around for ages – for comparison, Giants breakout star SS Brandon Crawford is 29) will be dominant as ever in the upcoming 162. Johnny Cueto is better than we realize and even though he has had injury issues in the past and did not do too well with Kansas City during the season’s homestretch, his track record speaks for itself and he spent the majority of his career in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark (Reds) so a switch to run-suppressing AT&T Park could also bolster his 2016 performance. Jeff Samardzija was bad, very bad, with the White Sox last year and I don’t really have any stat-packed reasons for Shark to rebound but he will. Trust me. Jake Peavy had a 3.58 ERA last year so while he might not be the ace that he once was, he isn’t a non-factor either. The 5th spot in the rotation is a bit less certain: Matt Cain shouldn’t start in the majors and opposing batters really started to figure Chris Heston out at the end of the year.

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Be on the lookout for the top 6 rotations tomorrow and let me know what you think on twitter .