Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay

Ranking the rotations: 2012 edition

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Last year’s attempt was quite a hit, so let’s try it again, with a somewhat different methodology. Here’s how the 30 rotations stack up, according to my projections. I’ll go strictly by ERA here, taking the top five pitchers on the staff. Along with the ERA totals are the combined inning projections for the five starters.

1. Phillies: 3.39 (1001 1/3)
2. Cardinals: 3.648 (942 1/3)
3. Giants: 3.649 (994)
4. Angels: 3.68 (990 2/3)
5. Rays: 3.69 (995 2/3)
6. Nationals: 3.70 (908 2/3)
7. Red Sox: 3.70 (869)
8. Braves: 3.71 (974 1/3)
9. Marlins: 3.74 (953 1/3)
10. Dodgers: 3.77 (927 2/3)
11. Brewers: 3.81 (952 1/3)
12. Tigers: 3.83 (939)
13. Yankees: 3.89 (991)
14. Mariners: 3.93 (923 2/3)
15. Diamondbacks: 3.93 (991 1/3)
16. Reds: 3.94 (916 1/3)
17. Padres: 3.97 (863 1/3)
18. Rangers: 3.98 (951 2/3)
19. White Sox: 4.04 (860)
20. Athletics: 4.07 (800)
21. Cubs: 4.08 (967 1/3)
22. Mets: 4.08 (926)
23. Blue Jays: 4.10 (880 2/3)
24. Indians: 4.12 (942)
25. Pirates: 4.18 (820 1/3)
26. Rockies: 4.24 (818)
27. Astros: 4.24 (953)
28. Twins: 4.28 (900)
29. Royals: 4.32 (890 2/3)
30. Orioles: 4.36 (915 1/3)

Of course, there’s no factoring for league and ballpark there. There’s also no accounting for depth beyond the top five. So, while the Rays come in ever so slightly behind the Angels here, the quality of the Rays’ sixth and seventh starters would push them ahead in a subjective ranking. In fact, let’s do a more subjective ranking:

1. Phillies
2. Rays
3. Angels
4. Giants
5. Cardinals
6. Braves
7. Yankees
8. Tigers
9. Rangers
10. Red Sox
11. Marlins
12. Brewers
13. Nationals
14. Diamondbacks
15. Dodgers
16. Reds
17. Mariners
18. Indians
19. White Sox
20. Cubs
21. Blue Jays
22. Mets
23. Rockies
24. Padres
25. Athletics
26. Orioles
27. Pirates
28. Twins
29. Royals
30. Astros

The top five was pretty easy, but six through 12 was a mess. I have the Red Sox with a nice ERA, but that’s partly because of a generous Daniel Bard projection (3.53 ERA in 155 1/3 IP) and because I don’t have them with a certain fifth starter dragging them down (right now it’s Vicente Padilla with a 4.31 ERA in 131 2/3 IP). So, they drop here. The Nationals are kind of in the same boat, since their best starter, Stephen Strasburg, is projected to throw 168 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Rangers, both getting held back by their ballparks in the ERA projections, rise here. The Rangers certainly come with some risk — I have Yu Darvish and Nettali Feliz finishing with the best ERAs on the staff — but they also have more depth than most. The Yankees also get bonus points for having seven major league starters.

I’m sure fans of teams at the bottom will be annoyed. Kansas City’s rotation actually looks better than it has in years, and the Orioles at least have some upside after importing a couple of NPB pitchers to battle their youngsters. As for the Twins, well, I really don’t think much of Jason Marquis or Nick Blackburn. The Padres are getting dinged because I’m not sure any of their starters are a good bet to throw 190-200 innings.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.

Report: Jeff Manship signs with NC Dinos

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Jeff Manship #53 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.

Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.

The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.