Today, ESPN's Buster Olney listed his top 10 rotations on his blog. They are as follows...
5. Red Sox
10b. White Sox
You can't really argue with the Phillies and Giants at one and two. The Phillies have four aces now: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels. The Giants have Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner (despite the inconsistencies of Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito). While I wouldn't have thought to put the Athletics at number three, Olney made a great move by putting them there. As always, A's GM Billy Beane has managed to put together a great young rotation. Before it was Hudson, Mulder, Zito and Harden and now its Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden. You probably wouldn't guess this, but the A's had the lowest starter' ERA last season at 3.47. The A's just recently resigned Rich Harden and, if healthy, he could thrive where he started his career and be a great number five starter.
The four slot is where I start to disagree with Olney. No way the Rays are the fourth best rotation in baseball. Yes, they have 2010 Cy Young candidate David Price at the top of the rotation and number two Matt Garza was solid last season with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts (however, he may be on the trading block). However, last season James Shields had a terrible 5.18 ERA in 33 starts and young pitchers Wade Davis and Jeff Neimann recorded 4.07 and 4.39 ERAs, respectively. Davis and Neimann are good young pitchers, but I would still put the Red Sox ahead of the Rays. Boston's Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are both aces and I expect Josh Beckett and John Lackey to have bounce back years. Beckett only managed to start 21 games last season because of injuries and Lackey's ERA was 0.50 point higher than his career average. A healthy Beckett and Lackey are a pretty good three and four combination. Daisuke Matszaka, while inconsistent, is still a pretty good number five starter.
I agree with Olney and his number six team, the Brewers. Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Yovani Gallardo should be great in the NL Central and Randy Wolf had a surprisingly good season last year, posting a 4.17 ERA. No way the Tigers should be at number seven. Both the Braves and Cardinals should be ranked ahead of them. Sure, Justin Verlander is filthy, but the rest of the of the rotation is questionable. Max Scherzer may finally have turned the corner, but is still a little inconsistent. Rick Porcello regressed in his second season and Armando Galarraga, besides his near perfect perfect game, was pretty average. On the other hand, the Braves combo of Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson helped the Braves to the third best ERA in the National League. If Jair Jurrjens is healthy and Mike Minor is as good as advertised, the rotation could be even better next season. The Cardinals also should fall ahead of the Tigers, as they have both Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and NL Rookie of the Year candidate Jaime Garcia.
Unlike Olney, I think the Angels should get the tenth spot. Jered Weaver pitched extraordinarily last season, registering a 3.01 ERA, and Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro provide a good two, three, four. If Scott Kazmir can somehow pull out a decent season, he'll be a good number five option.
My Top Ten:
4. Red Sox