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.

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.

The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.

Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.