In baseball, there’s nothing more important than having solid pitching that’s why you see them being paid the big bucks. The demand is always high for pitching which leads to teams paying $100 million-plus for a guy who is probably a third or fourth starter, but clubs need to have as much pitching depth as possible so they almost have to do it. Pitching has been dominant in recent years and it’s about time to countdown the five best rotations in the bigs.
- Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays rotation had a fair amount of injuries last year, but they still managed to own the fourth best ERA in the American League. Chris Archer is a workhouse on the mound pitching 212 innings and struck out 252 batters. With a better record, Archer could for sure be a Cy Young candidate in 2016. Jake Odorizzi seems to improve each year and look for him to win at least 14 games this year. Drew Smyly in limited time last year posted a 3.11 ERA and he will be well rested for this season after only pitching 66 innings in 2015. Erasmo Ramirez had his first ever full workload as a starter and he responded well with an 11-6 record with a decent 3.75 ERA. Matt Moore will look to be a full go this year after starting 12 games at the end of 2015 and he will be a big boost for this Rays rotation. They will only get better this year because now they will have a full year of Drew Smyly and Matt Moore. This rotation is one of the deepest in the league from top to bottom and that’s crucial in an offensive minded American League.
- Chicago Cubs
Reigning National League CY Young award winner, Jake Arrieta heads the rotation and aims to have another dominant year. Now it is likely impossible Arrieta will completely repeat what he did last year because regression is just apart of the game, but look for him to be in the Cy Young conversation once again. Jon Lester quietly had respectable 3.34 ERA which was kind of overshadowed by the fact he had a losing record and only 11 wins. Hopefully the Cubs can help him out a little more this year and tack on a few more wins to their total. The Cubs poached Mr. consistency John Lackey from the Saint Louis Cardinals in free agency. Lackey has won at least 10 games in 12 straight seasons and he’s a great guy to have to stabilize the rotation. Jason Hammel had a good year in 2015 and you basically know what you’re going to get from him year in and year out. Kyle Hendricks participated in his first full MLB season last year and his numbers were impressive. He didn’t have many decisions, but he held his opponents to a .244 average against him and only walked 43 batters in 180 innings. A lot of people believe Hendricks can win 15-plus games in 2016 and he will be by far one of the best back end of the rotation starters.
- Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer is flat-out ridiculous. The guy threw two no-hitters last year and held opponents to a miniscule .208 batting average against him. Scherzer is obviously the ace of the rotation and look for him to do much of the same in 2016. We are all waiting for Stephen Strasburg to take the next step and maybe this year could be it. Strasburg has been a good pitcher in the MLB so far, but he has yet to become that bonafide ace who wants the ball in the games that matter. Gio Gonzalez hasn’t been as dominant as he was earlier in his career, but he is still quite a good pitcher and has five straight seasons of 10 wins or more. He is a guy you know you can count on and he balances out the rotation nicely with being the only lefty. Joe Ross will look to build upon his successful rookie season and after losing Jordan Zimmerman, Ross’ performance will definitely be one of the keys to the Nationals’ success in 2016. Tanner Roark will be making his return to the rotation this year after spending 2015 coming out of the bullpen appearing in 40 games including 12 starts. Roark spent a full year in the Nats rotation in 2014 going 15-10 with an 2.85 ERA and pitched almost 200 innings.
- Saint Louis Cardinals
Keep in mind last year the Cardinals quietly led all of baseball with a starter ERA of 2.71 and was the only team in 2015 not to allow 500 runs. Also Adam Wainwright only pitched in seven games last year and yet the Cardinals were still able to effective as a rotation. Now they will have a full year of Adam Wainwright who is poised for a big year. Michael Wacha has been fantastic in his first three years in the show and it didn’t gain a lot of attention, but Wacha had 17 wins last year. A lot of people believe Carlos Martinez is an ace in the making. Martinez is coming off a 14-7 season with 3.01 ERA, he has nasty stuff, but can be erratic at times. Jaime Garcia is your typical southpaw who is unhittable at times and difficult to get a read on. Garcia started 20 games last year posting a 2.43 ERA to go with 10 wins. The Cardinals did lose John Lackey, however, they did sign Mike Leake in free agency who is a fairly consistent pitcher that you know what you’re going to get from him.
- New York Mets
The Mets by far have the best rotation in baseball, like most teams the Mets have great one-two punch, but they take it to a new level with an unprecedented one-two-three-four-five punch. Jacob DeGrom is just as good as any other team’s number one starter and then there’s Matt Harvey, the dark knight, who has untouchable stuff. The theme of superhero names continues with Thor aka Noah Syndergaard who made his debut last year and has been lightning in a bottle ever since. He is absolutely electric on the mound and not to mention that gold mane of his. The Mets will get a full year of Syndergaard and they will also get a full of year of Steven Matz. Matz impressed in only six starts in the regular season 2.27 ERA and a 4-0 record. His strong performances carried over in the postseason where the Mets trusted the 24-year-old enough to be in the postseason rotation. Rounding out the Mets rotation is fan-favorite around the league Bartolo Colon who is entering his 19th year in the major leagues and he is still going strong. Zach Wheeler could overtake the fifth starter spot from Colon at some point, but no timetable has been set on that with Wheeler still recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Mets can basically be carried into the postseason just by their pitching like they pretty much did last year before Yoenis Cespedes arrived on the scene.