David Price

Reviewing the rotations; Nats, Dodgers lead the way

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A couple of months before the season, I used my Rotoworld projections to rank the rotations, based strictly on ERA, from 1-30. Let’s look at that list now and see where each team starters’ measure up about 40 percent of the way through the season.

Projected rank – Team – Current rank

1. Phillies: 3.39 – 10
2. Cardinals: 3.648 – 7
3. Giants: 3.649 – 3
4. Angels: 3.68 – 4
5. Rays: 3.69 – 5
6. Nationals: 3.70 – 1
7. Red Sox: 3.70 – 27
8. Braves: 3.71 – 17
9. Marlins: 3.74 – 8
10. Dodgers: 3.77 – 2
11. Brewers: 3.81 – 14
12. Tigers: 3.83 – 22
13. Yankees: 3.89 – 16
14. Mariners: 3.93 – 23
15. Diamondbacks: 3.93 – 12
16. Reds: 3.94 – 11
17. Padres: 3.97 – 18
18. Rangers: 3.98 – 9
19. White Sox: 4.04 – 19
20. Athletics: 4.07 – 20
21. Cubs: 4.08 – 21
22. Mets: 4.08 – 6
23. Blue Jays: 4.10 – 15
24. Indians: 4.12 – 25
25. Pirates: 4.18 – 13
26. Rockies: 4.24 – 30
27. Astros: 4.24 – 26
28. Twins: 4.28 – 29
29. Royals: 4.32 – 28
30. Orioles: 4.36 – 24

Not too shabby, right? Eight of the teams projected to be in the top 10 are currently in the top 10. The exceptions there are the Braves and Red Sox. I was expecting good things from Mike Minor and Daniel Bard, but both have been major disappointments. The Red Sox, all of the way down at No. 27, don’t have a single starter with a sub-4.00 ERA, though Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett have been much better lately. They won’t get back into the top 10 this year, but they’re sure to keep improving.

Obviously, the Mets have really exceeded expectations, thanks to a healthy Johan Santana and a superb R.A. Dickey. The Rangers have overcome their hitter friendly ballpark so far, but typically, ERAs do rise throughout the summer in the heat of Texas. The Pirates have been another nice surprise, but with Erik Bedard struggling of late and Charlie Morton down, they no longer crack the top 10.

The Dodgers, up at No. 2, are a team I thought would be much better last year (I had them third then behind the Phillies and Giants), but I wasn’t very optimistic about the Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang additions and I was down on Chad Billingsley headed into this season. Indeed, all of the non-Clayton Kershaw starters are outpitching their projections. They’ve even gotten a 1.82 ERA from Nathan Eovaldi with Ted Lilly out the last few weeks.

And then there’s the Nationals in first. Their top four starters have ERAs of 2.45, 2.52, 2.92 and 3.02 at the moment. I was pretty high on that group going in; the weakest of the bunch, Edwin Jackson, was the No. 42 starting pitcher in my fantasy rankings. But the consistent excellence from the rotation has been remarkable. Even Ross Detwiler, who was (wrongly) pulled from the rotation to give Chien-Ming Wang a shot, had a 3.88 ERA in his nine starts. Wang is at 5.02 after three turns.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.

Report: Tyson Ross not expected to pitch in April

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Petco Park September 29, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.

The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:

We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.

Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.