David Price

Reviewing the rotations; Nats, Dodgers lead the way


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.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Getty Images

After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.