Best rotations in the NL West
In today’s MLB it’s all about pitching, pitching, pitching. The league averaged 4.25 runs per game last season, down almost 20 percent from the 5.14 average in 2000. The N.L. West, top to bottom, has some of the best pitching of any division. Here’s the definitive, end-all, bombshell rankings of each team’s rotation:
- Jorge De la Rosa: 149.0 IP/9-7/4.17 ERA/134 SO/112 ERA+/4.19 FIP
- Chad Bettis: 115.0 IP/8-6/4.23 ERA/98 SO/110 ERA+/3.85 FIP
- Tyler Chatwood (2014): 24.0 IP/1-0/4.50 ERA/20 SO/96 ERA+/3.85 FIP
- Jordan Lyles: 49.0 IP/2-5/5.14 ERA/30 SO/91 ERA+/3.79 FIP
- Jon Gray: 40.2 IP/0-2/5.53 ERA/40 SO/85 ERA+/3.63 FIP
This ranking is partially due to Coors Field and partially do to their rotation having no talent. The Rockies rotation is headlined by Jorge De la Rosa, a quintessential “good-but-not-great” journeyman. Chad Bettis fits the same bill. Tyler Chatwood could become the team’s best pitcher if healthy; he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 142 ERA+ in 2013 before undergoing Tommy John surgery the following year. Jon Gray flashed some promise last season, strinking out 40 batters in 40.2 innings as a rookie. Overall, while Chatwood and Gray show promise, this is a pretty paltry rotation.
- Tyson Ross: 196.0 IP/10-12/3.26 ERA/212 SO/112 ERA+/2.98 FIP
- James Shields: 202.1 IP/13-7/3.91 ERA/216 SO/93 ERA+/4.45 FIP
- Andrew Cashner: 184.2 IP/6-16/4.34 ERA/165 SO/84 ERA+/3.85 FIP
- Brandon Maurer: 51.0 IP/7-4/3.00 ERA/39 SO/122 ERA+/3.31 FIP
- Colin Rea: 31.2 IP/2-2/4.26 ERA/26 SO/86 ERA+/3.45 FIP
The first three options for the Padres are not bad. Ross is an underrated starter and Shields has been consistently solid– though he experienced a marked dip in production last season. Cashner had a down year last year but is still just 29, and could still build on the 2.87 ERA he posted from 2013-2014. After Cashner, the rotation has very little experience.
- Madison Bumgarner: 218.1 IP/18-9/2.93 ERA/234 SO/129 ERA+/2.87 FIP
- Johnny Cueto: 212.0 IP/11-13/3.44 ERA/176 SO/117 ERA+/3.53 FIP
- Jeff Samardzija: 214 IP/11-13/4.96 ERA/163 SO/79 ERA+/4.23 FIP
- Jake Peavy: 110.2 IP/8-6/3.58 ERA/78 SO/105 ERA+/3.87 FIP
- Matt Cain: 60.2 IP/2-4/5.79 ERA/41 SO/65 ERA+/5.54 FIP
- Chris Heston: 177.2 IP/12-11/3.95 ERA/141 SO/95 ERA+/4.02 FIP
The Giants spent $220 million on their rotation this season with the acquisitions of Cueto and Samardzija. Although Cueto holds a 3.21 National League ERA, he struggled to the tune of a 4.76 ERA after his trade to Kansas City. Whether this is the start of a long-term regression or just a slump remains to be seen.
The rest of their rotation does not look all that good. Samardzija’s $90 million contract was amongst the worst signings of the offseason. He had a 4.96 ERA last season and lead the American League in hits, earned runs and home runs allowed. You could make the case he was the worst player in the league and yet, he gets a $90 million contract. Jake Peavy is solid, but he will turn 35 in May and started just 19 games last year due to injuries. Matt Cain is recovering from cyst surgery and has not played a full season since 2013. It remains to be seen where Chris Heston, who was arguably the team’s most consistent pitcher outside of Bumgarner last season, will be used in 2016.
- Clayton Kershaw: 232.2 IP/16-7/2.13 ERA/301 SO/175 ERA+/1.99 FIP
- Scott Kazmir: 183.0 IP/7-11/3.10 ERA/155 SO/130 ERA+/3.98 FIO
- Kenta Maeda (Japan): 206.1 IP/15-8/2.09 ERA/175 SO
- Mike Bolsinger: 109.1 IP/6-6/3.62 ERA/98 SO/103 ERA+/3.91 FIP
- Alex Wood: 189.2 IP/7-6/3.54 ERA/90 SO/106 ERA+/3.45 FIP
It’s genuinely hard to predict how the Dodgers’ rotation will perform. If all goes right– which it very well might– they could have the best rotation in the entire division. If all goes wrong–which it very well might– they could have the worst.
Kershaw represents a virtual lock to win every fifth day, but it’s murky waters after that. Kazmir has been pretty solid over the last three seasons with a 3.54 ERA but he has an extensive injury history. Maeda is a complete unknown; he was dominant in Japan, but imported Japanese pitchers have a very, very mixed record. There have been guys like Yu Darvish and Hideo Nomo who have done well, and guys like Daisuke Mastuzaka and Hideki Irabu who have not. Injuries to Brett Anderson and Hyun Jin Ryu leaves the team without both players until at least mid-May. This injury-plagued rotation has a high celing, but a very low floor.
- Zack Greinke: 222.2 IP/19-3/1.69 ERA/200 SO/225 ERA+/2.76 FIP
- Shelby Miller: 205.1 IP/6-17 3.02 ERA/171 SO/124 ERA+/3.45 FIP
- Patrick Corbin: 85.0 IP/6-5/3.60 ERA/78 SO/113 ERA+/3.35 FIP
- Rubby De la Rosa: 188.2 IP/14-9/4.67 ERA/150 SO/87 ERA+/4.81 FIP
- Robbie Ray: 127.2 IP/5-12/3.52 ERA/119 SO/116 ERA+/3.53 FIP
The Diamondbacks paid a steep price to acquire Greinke and Miller, and these acquisitions have formed the best rotation in the division. Each of their top three starters has made an All-Star team.
Greinke gives the team a legitimate ace, someone who’s coming off three consecutive top-ten Cy Young finishes and one of the best seasons in recent memory. Miller is a solid No. 2; for all they gave up for him, the move does help them in the short-term. Patrick Corbin was an All-Star in 2013 before missing all of 2014 and half of 2015 with Tommy John. De la Rosa still has some potential and Ray had the second-best ERA amongst NL rookies last season. The team also has top prospect Archie Bradley, the No. 7 overall pick in 2009, waiting in the wings should anyone falter.
If everything goes right for the Dodgers, they could have the best rotation in baseball. But the Diamondbacks’ rotation looks like a much, much safer bet coming into the season.