With the 2023 MLB season about to get underway, this is a good time to unveil my season-opening team starting pitcher rotation rankings. For those of you just turning your attention to the diamond, there was noteworthy maneuvering in the offseason by teams bolstering their starting staffs. Unlike recent seasons, however, it doesn’t seem to be a situation where the rich got richer and vice versa. In fact, it is the Rangers that made the biggest splash, signing perhaps the game’s best hurler in Jacob deGrom, leaping all the way to #4 in my rankings. The Dodgers boast the deepest and most balanced rotation in the league and thus grab the top spot to start the season.
As you consider which teams might have the right recipe to be playing into late October, note that the last six World Series teams over the past three seasons all ranked in the top 10 at the outset of the campaign in terms of their starting pitching. Depth in the rotation is very important to sustained success, so exercises like this can be very helpful in determining futures’ wagers.
Essentially, I’ve put together a ranking of the teams’ combined starting pitcher power ratings based on the same numbers I use to generate the daily ratings on VSiN.com. They are taken from my individual pitcher ratings and their typical start length. I’ve also used the depth charts offered by MLB.com as a guide for determining a #1-#5 rotation order for each team. Naturally, the pitchers at the top of each team’s charts would figure to get the most starts and/or innings. However, for the purposes of this exercise, I have treated all the pitchers equally in an effort to focus on depth being the most important factor.
It should be noted that my power rankings are built exclusively for betting markets, meaning I tend to price the pitchers based more on how the betting markets perceive them rather than their actual stats. In other words, I tend to put more emphasis on pitchers whose talent and pitching arsenal command more respect from those setting the odds. A pitcher with a big arm who can overpower hitters with multiple dominant pitches is rated higher in my system than those that rely on craft and perhaps good fortune to manage games. I feel this line of thinking best reflects the markets that bettors face on a daily basis in baseball.
There are some specific study highlights that you’re going to want to evaluate closer if you’re hoping to find value in the season-win totals, divisional odds, or World Series prices. Let’s take a look at those.
- For the second straight season, the defending champions are not the team with the best starting pitching depth in MLB according to my numbers. Two years ago, it was the Nationals, but they wound up suffering several key injuries and eventually were left out of the postseason. Houston loses Justin Verlander for 2023, and he had a huge season a year ago. The Astros are still loaded though, checking in at #6.
- The Dodgers grab the #1 spot on the MLB list on my rankings, but that also hinges upon everyone staying healthy. Not many other franchises can lose the likes of Tyler Anderson, Walker Buehler, and Trevor Bauer, for varied reasons, and still maintain such an elite staff.
- The Mets check in at #2, having acquired Verlander in the offseason. He and Max Scherzer are a formidable and veteran pair of aces. Their durability will go a long way in determining how New York fares in ’23. However, the secret ingredient on the Mets’ staff could be newcomer Kodai Senga from Japan, as anyone who has seen his highlights knows his stuff is filthy.
- Milwaukee has a huge top 3 in its rotation with Woodruff, Burnes, and Peralta, only at a fraction of the price of most of the other teams with strong pitching staffs. However, there was some friction this offseason between returning Cy Young award winner Burnes and the franchise, and it will be interesting to see if that spills over to the field this spring. The Brewers check in at #3 on the list for a second straight season. The staff will need to be good with the relief corps having declined significantly after the trade of Josh Hader last year.
- Besides the deGrom acquisition in Texas, the Rangers also added Nathan Eovaldi to the mix. He comes over from Boston and joins Martin Perez to give Texas a big 3 of its own.
- Rounding out the top 5 is Atlanta, whose starting staff is fully intact for ’23, led by Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Wright. Strider posted phenomenal strikeout numbers last year while Wright won 21 games a year ago.
- There were several other noteworthy personnel moves made in the offseason that will affect starting rotations in ’23. Among them, the Orioles add Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin to the top of their staff, Jameson Taillon goes from the Yankees to White Sox, and Mike Clevinger goes back to the American League where he once starred for Cleveland by signing with the White Sox. Elsewhere, Noah Syndergaard joins the Dodgers, Pablo Lopez moves from Miami to the top of the rotation in Minnesota, Chris Bassitt settles in Toronto, and Corey Kluber finds another new home in Boston.
- An interesting situation to watch this year will be in Houston, where phenom Hunter Brown is expected to take over, or at the least compete for, the starting rotation spot vacated by the Verlander departure. Brown could be a solid value in the early part of the season if he shows any sign of fulfilling his promise.
- The Tigers could be a team to watch as it seems that they finally have their rotation of the future in place. They have endured the worst of luck in the last couple of seasons as some of their prized young arms and featured acquisitions have suffered injuries. Detroit is a team that could improve noticeably in 2023 if the staff comes together.
- There is a very lineup of starting pitchers for the Angels this season, as after adding Tyler Anderson to the rotation from the crosstown Dodgers, L.A. boasts four capable left-handed starting pitchers to be in support of stud ace Shohei Ohtani. No other team features this much imbalance, meaning it could be a significant gamble, regardless of the talent level put together.
- Many of the bottom-ranked teams are familiar to recent lists of this nature, as Pittsburgh (#28), Colorado (#29), and Oakland (#30) round out the rankings. It seems that most of these teams’ best options from recent years are serving other franchises now.
Here are MLB’s 30 teams ranked in order of their combined starting pitcher power ratings according to my numbers:
1. LA DODGERS - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 28.8
Average expected start length: 5.48 IP/G (#13 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Julio Urias, 2. Clayton Kershaw, 3. Tony Gonsolin, 4. Dustin May, 5. Noah Syndergaard
Steve's thoughts: The Dodgers have both the top starting staff and top-ranked bullpen in my preseason ratings for the ’23 season. This year’s rotation is deep in talent, and it doesn’t even include Walker Buehler or Trevor Bauer, or Tyler Anderson for that matter. The top four are recognizable Dodger names, but joining the fray is Noah Syndergaard, who was last with Philadelphia. He doesn’t strike fear in hitters the way he used to, but he is a solid #5, and the guys in front of him still do. Urias, Kershaw, and Gonsolin all had WHIP numbers under 0.96 last year.
2. NEW YORK METS - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 27.6
Average expected start length: 5.68 IP/G (#7 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Max Scherzer, 2. Justin Verlander, 3. Kodai Senga, 4. Carlos Carrasco, 5. David Peterson
Steve's thoughts: Any rotation that starts with Scherzer & Verlander commands respect, and despite their advancing age, both remain studs in the games. Verlander was 18-4 upon his return from injury last year for Houston. Scherzer was 11-5 in 23 starts for the Mets a year ago. Carrasco and Peterson were good in supporting roles last season. However, with the loss of ace Jacob deGrom this season compounded by the season-ending injury to closer Edwin Diaz, the overall success of this pitching staff might fall on the right arm of newly acquired Kodai Senga from Japan. At age 30, he's had a long run of success in the JPPL and his stuff is electric.
3. MILWAUKEE - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 24.8
Average expected start length: 5.34 IP/G (#19 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Corbin Burnes, 2. Brandon Woodruff, 3. Eric Lauer, 4. Freddy Peralta, 5. Wade Miley
Steve's thoughts: Milwaukee’s Big 3 atop the rotation remains intact for 2023, although it could be not for long, as the team had a public spat with its returning Cy Young ace Corbin Burnes in contract negotiations this winter. He was phenomenal last season, starting 33 games and striking out 243 hitters. Woodruff was nearly as sharp in 27 starts. Peralta had injury woes and couldn’t match his 2021 production although when on, he can still dominate hitters. A full season of his health would go a long way for the Brew Crew. Lauer and Miley are decent options as back-of-the-rotation lefties, as Miley returns to Milwaukee looking to restore his 2018 magic with the franchise. This staff will need to be solid as the bullpen for manager Craig Counsell is not what it once was.
4. TEXAS - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 24.6
Average expected start length: 5.68 IP/G (#8 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Jacob deGrom, 2. Nathan Eovaldi, 3. Martin Perez, 4. Jon Gray, 5. Andrew Heaney
Steve's thoughts: After years of having a starting rotation that ranked in the mid-to-bottom 20s in MLB, the Rangers made a huge splash in the free agency market by adding not one, not two, but three new quality starting pitchers. The prize catch is of course former NL Cy Young Jacob deGrom, who gives this franchise an entirely different respect if he stays healthy. He went just 11 starts last year, but we all know when on, there is no one better. Coming over from Boston is Nathan Eovaldi, a reliable big-arm starter that provides more stability in this rotation. And finally, Andrew Heaney arrives from L.A., where he struck out 110 hitters in 72 innings, showing top-level starter potential. Add them to Martin Perez, off a career year in which he posted a 2.89 ERA, and Jon Gray, who had a 1.131 WHIP and 9.5 K’s.9 innings and this is easily the most improved starting pitching situation in baseball.
5. ATLANTA - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 20
Average expected start length: 5.8 IP/G (#5 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Max Fried, 2. Kyle Wright, 3. Charlie Morton, 4. Spencer Strider, 5. Ian Anderson
Steve's thoughts: The core five remains intact for the Braves’ sterling rotation in ’23. All five won at least 60% of their decisions in ’22, led by Kyle Wright’s 21-5 mark. If Wright can come anywhere close to repeating that performance, the threesome of him, Fried, and Strider is as good as it gets. Morton and Anderson posted modest numbers a year ago and will be expected to perform at a higher level.
6. HOUSTON - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 17.4
Average expected start length: 6.04 IP/G (#1 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Framber Valdez, 2. Cristian Javier, 3. Luis Garcia, 4. Jose Urquidy, 5. Hunter Brown
Steve's thoughts: It’s amazing how a team can lose a talent like Justin Verlander and seemingly not miss a beat in its starting rotation. The top four for 2023, Valdez, Javier, Garcia, and Urquidy all started at least 25 games last year and all posted WHIP numbers below 1.17. They all won double-digit decisions as well. The newcomer to this group is phenom Hunter Brown, who the Astros have seen enough of to feel comfortable with letting Verlander walk. Brown gave up just 2 runs in 20 innings last season. Naturally, losing a pitcher with a top 5 power ranking will impact a collective number for Houston, but the impact won’t be that great.
7. CHICAGO WHITE SOX - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 17
Average expected start length: 5.48 IP/G (#14 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Dylan Cease, 2. Lucas Giolito, 3. Lance Lynn, 4. Mike Clevinger, 5. Michael Kopech
Steve's thoughts: The only notable move in the starting rotation for the White Sox this season is Mike Clevinger stepping in for Johnny Cueto. On the surface that should only enhance what has been one of the strongest groups in baseball the last couple of seasons. Cease is an absolute stud atop the group, while Giolito is a nice #2 option, although his season-ending ERA inflated to 4.90 a year ago. Lynn and Kopech compete, and if Chicago can get anything near the pre-injury Clevinger that put up fantastic numbers from 2017-20, this could be among the league’s best rotations.
8. PHILADELPHIA - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 17
Average expected start length: 5.76 IP/G (#6 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Aaron Nola, 2. Zack Wheeler, 3. Ranger Suarez, 4. Bailey Falter, 5. Taijuan Walker
Steve's thoughts: While Philadelphia took some big swings in the offseason at improving its bullpen, its starting staff remains stable, and that’s a good thing, as Nola, Wheeler, and Suarez all come off strong ’22 campaigns. Falter seems to have earned a spot as a full-time starting option after opening 16 games last year and posting a respectable 1.214 WHIP. The newcomer in this group is Taijuan Walker, who replaces Kyle Gibson/Noah Syndergaard, but he is on his fifth team in six years. His ’22 season consisted of 29 starts for the rival Mets while posting a 1.195 WHIP, so the Mets’ loss is also the Phillies' gain, a double-win if you will.
9. LA ANGELS - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 16.6
Average expected start length: 5.58 IP/G (#10 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Shohei Ohtani, 2. Patrick Sandoval, 3. Tyler Anderson, 4. Reid Detmers, 5. Jose Suarez
Steve's thoughts: As proven at the recent World Baseball Classic once again, Shohei Ohtani is at the top of the game in his abilities, and as the ace on the Angels staff, gives credibility to the rotation. However, for the first time in quite a while, we can also say that the entire group is solid. Sandoval had a huge ’22 season, closing with a 2.91 ERA in 27 starts. Anderson is a solid get from the cross-town Dodgers and gives this team four quality left-handed arms in the rotation. No other team can match that, but is this the opposite of the balance teams are looking for?
10. NEW YORK YANKEES - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 16.2
Average expected start length: 5.32 IP/G (#20 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Gerrit Cole, 2. Clarke Schmidt, 3. Luis Severino, 4. Nestor Cortes, 5. Domingo German
Steve's thoughts: Not included in the list of Yankees’ starting rotation right now is left-hander Carlos Rodon, who comes over from San Francisco but could miss up to a month to open the season. As a lefty stud, he adds a huge piece to an already solid staff. Cole is the top-liner and remains consistently one of the highest-priced pitchers in baseball for betting purposes. Cortes was an all-star last year, posting a 12-4 record to go with a 0.922 WHIP & 163 K’s. Severino showed signs of returning to his old self, going 19 starts and recording a WHI of 1.00 after pitching just seven games in the three prior years combined. German and Schmidt also had strong ’22 campaigns and will be more important pieces while Rodon is hurt. This group has the potential for a top 5 ranking when he is healthy.
11. SEATTLE - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 16.2
Average expected start length: 5.86 IP/G (#3 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Luis Castillo, 2. Robbie Ray, 3. Logan Gilbert, 4. Marco Gonzales, 5. George Kirby
Steve's thoughts: The entire starting rotation from last year’s very profitable Mariners’ team is back for ’23, and that is a good thing. All five pitchers were highly productive, with three of them starting 32 games each. The one who posted the best numbers was Luis Castillo, who although he was only able to make 11 starts, struck out 77 hitters in 65 innings while generating a WHIP of 1.102. Gilbert and Kirby are seemingly becoming better pitchers each year. This group has good lefty/right balance as well as solid production and should do well in keeping Seattle in the playoff hunt again this summer.
12. TORONTO - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 15.2
Average expected start length: 5.5 IP/G (#12 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Alek Manoah, 2. Kevin Gausman, 3. Jose Berrios, 4. Chris Bassitt, 5. Yusei Kikuchi
Steve's thoughts: You can’t accuse the Blue Jays of not trying to hit it big each offseason. While not all hits, Toronto continues to make noteworthy moves toward making its rotation A.L. pennant worthy. The latest acquisition finds Chris Bassitt taking the place of Ross Stripling. Bassitt had a strong season in his one-year stop in New York, posting a 15-9 record in 30 starts for the Mets. He joins ace Alex Manoah to form a very formidable 1-2 punch. Manoah, if not there yet, is approaching stardom, coming off a season in which he was 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA and 180 strikeouts. Gausman was also very good in ’22, striking out 205 hitters in just 174 innings. His 12-10 mark and 1.237 ERA may have been a bit of a disappointment however after what the franchise invested in him. Berrios and Kikuchi both posted ERA’s above 5.00 and will need to be better for this group to be a top-10 or even top-5 unit.
13. MINNESOTA - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 14.8
Average expected start length: 5.28 IP/G (#22 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Sonny Gray, 2. Pablo Lopez, 3. Tyler Mahle, 4. Kenta Maeda, 5. Joe Ryan
Steve's thoughts: Minnesota added Pablo Lopez to the rotation in the offseason, taking the place of Dylan Bundy. The team took a chance on Bundy prior to ’22, but it didn’t work out as hoped. Lopez started 32 games and posted far better numbers, including a 1.167 WHIP & 174 strikeouts. He’ll join a staff of holdovers in Gray, Mahle, and Ryan. Of the three, Ryan was arguably the sharpest a year ago. Also back in the fold figures to be Kenta Maeda, who missed all of ’22 after Tommy John surgery, but he has struggled somewhat in spring. Bailey Ober is a solid option if Maeda isn’t able to return to form. Looks like a solid but unspectacular group.
14. TAMPA BAY - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 13.6
Average expected start length: 4.6 IP/G (#30 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Shane McClanahan, 2. Drew Rasmussen, 3. Jeffrey Springs, 4. Zach Eflin, 5. Yonny Chirinos
Steve's thoughts: The Rays have done such a fantastic job in their farm system and through trades that they can seemingly handle what would be devastating personnel issues to due free agency departures and/or injuries. Last year, despite losing ace Tyler Glasnow to elbow problems, the Rays’ starting staff proved elite once again. McClanahan, Rasmussen, and Springs all stepped up big time, each starting at least 25 games and posting ERAs below 2.85. The change for this year comes from an Eflin for Kluber swap. It should be an upgrade as Kluber has declined and Eflin seems to be on the upward trend, coming off a season in Philadelphia in which he struck out 101 hitters in 75 innings. The fifth starter remains a mystery and I wouldn’t be surprised if Chirinos leads a bullpen committee approach. This starting staff goes the fewest innings in baseball on average and it may be having a positive effect on keeping the top-line guys fresh.
15. CLEVELAND - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 12.2
Average expected start length: 5.86 IP/G (#4 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Shane Bieber, 2. Triston McKenzie, 3. Cal Quantrill, 4. Aaron Civale, 5. Zach Plesac
Steve's thoughts: Status quo in Cleveland for 2023, as all five starting pitchers that threw in 20 games or more are back. Bieber is the star here, but Quantrill proved to be quite effective in ’22, going 15-5. He doesn’t overwhelm hitters however and could return to norms this summer. McKenzie had a very nice ’22 campaign, starting 30 games, and posting a WHIP of 0.951. The only lefty of the bunch, Plesac, was 3-12 a year ago and gave up 19 HRs in just over 130 innings. With Bieber having regressed a bit since his amazing ’20 season, this group is solid but not dominant.
16. ARIZONA - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 9.8
Average expected start length: 6.04 IP/G (#2 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Zac Gallen, 2. Merrill Kelly, 3. Madison Bumgarner, 4. Zach Davies, 5. Ryne Nelson
Steve's thoughts: The first four in the DBacks’ rotation started 121 games last year, and Gallen was the anchor, posting a 12-4 record while striking out nearly 200 hitters. Kelly also had a nice season, winning 13 games. The key to overall success will come from the #5 position, as Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson figure to be battling for that spot. Both put up ridiculously good numbers in limited starts in ’22.
17. SAN DIEGO - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 9.6
Average expected start length: 5.36 IP/G (#17 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Yu Darvish, 2. Blake Snell, 3. Seth Lugo, 4. Michael Wacha, 5. Nick Martinez
Steve's thoughts: For being supposedly “all-in” for 2023, the Padres starting pitching staff does not match up with the rival Dodgers or any of the other top teams in the National League. Snell has been named opening day starter but he was just 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 24 starts a year ago. Darvish was the Padres’ best performer a year ago with a 16-8 mark and a 0.95 WHIP. Wacha is a stopgap while Joe Musgrove works with way back from a foot injury. Lugo and Martinez have spent much of their careers out of the bullpen. Losing Mike Clevinger to the White Sox hurts this group and they’ll need to find starting pitching depth to stay in the hunt with L.A. in the NL West.
18. ST LOUIS - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 8.8
Average expected start length: 5.44 IP/G (#15 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Jack Flaherty, 2. Adam Wainwright, 3. Jordan Montgomery, 4. Miles Mikolas, 5. Steven Matz
Steve's thoughts: With Jack Flaherty not living up to his pre-injury woes billing, the Cardinals rotation has taken a hit. He used to be the ace of this staff, and now there really isn’t a top-line guy. Wainwright remains a solid stable option, while Mikolas and Montgomery posted the best numbers last season, the latter in a limited 11-start role. Matz was a disappointment coming over from the Mets and had just a 5.25 ERA in a mixed starter/relief role. At this point, unless Flaherty regains his ace-worthy form, the Cardinals have a starting pitching deficit to Milwaukee in the NL Central.
19. MIAMI - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 8.6
Average expected start length: 5.68 IP/G (#9 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Sandy Alcantara, 2. Jesus Luzardo, 3. Johnny Cueto, 4. Trevor Rogers, 5. Edward Cabrera
Steve's thoughts: Sandy Alcantara has established himself as a premier starting pitcher in the National League but unfortunately, some of his best cohorts of recent years have been jettisoned off. The latest to go was Pablo Lopez, who is now with the Twins. What’s left in Miami isn’t all that bad, however. Luzardo and Cabrera had solid 2022 seasons, as did Cueto, who joins the rotation after a year with the White Sox and is now on his 5th team. Rogers posted an ugly 1.505 WHIP last year after a scintillating ’21 season and the Marlins are hoping for a return to that form.
20. CHICAGO CUBS - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 7
Average expected start length: 5.18 IP/G (#23 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Marcus Stroman, 2. Jameson Taillon, 3. Justin Steele, 4. Drew Smyly, 5. Hayden Wesneski
Steve's thoughts: Keegan Thompson may have been the Cubs’ best pitcher last season, performing in a mix of starter and reliever. He started 17 games and had an overall won-lost record of 10-5. The franchise apparently likes him best in the bullpen. Stroman is a decent #3 option nowadays but not a top liner. Taillon had a couple of modest seasons with the Yankees and now returns to the N.L. He started 32 games a year ago, while no one on the Cubs was able to go more than 25, so that should be a plus in itself, as this team pitched 42 different players last year at one point or another. The #3 and #4 options are reasonable, but the key to overall success for this group may be with Wesneski, who was very sharp in four late-season starts, posting a WHIP of .939.
21. SAN FRANCISCO - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 6.6
Average expected start length: 5.14 IP/G (#25 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Logan Webb, 2. Alex Cobb, 3. Ross Stripling, 4. Alex Wood, 5. Anthony DeSclafani
Steve's thoughts: Ross Stripling takes the place of Carlos Rodon in the ’23 Giants’ starting rotation. On the surface, it would seem to be a bit of a downgrade as Rodon was ace material, and a lefty for that matter, but in looking at actual production a year ago, Stripling was nearly as good. Rodon is off to the Bronx for ’23. Webb is the ace of this staff, however, coming off a 15-9 season. Cobb and Wood were decent in secondary roles last year, combining for 54 starts and each topping the 9 K’s/9 innings benchmark. DeSclafani started just five games due to injury and was hit hard in those. He will be looking for a bounce-back season, and if he does, this rotation has the chance to be good, but probably not elite.
22. BOSTON - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 3.6
Average expected start length: 4.84 IP/G (#29 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Corey Kluber, 2. Chris Sale, 3. Nick Pivetta, 4. Tanner Houck, 5. Kutter Crawford
Steve's thoughts: It’s without argument that it can be stated that Corey Kluber’s best days were with Cleveland in the mid to latter part of last decade. Since then he has made three different stops and has performed at a lesser level. He is on his fourth team in four seasons now, and the Red Sox are apparently counting on him to be a top-line starter. #2 man Chris Sale has started 11 games since 2019. Pivetta is the sturdiest option, having started 33 games in ’22. In all, three of the four Red Sox pitchers that started 20 games last year have been jettisoned. That might not be a bad thing but what’s lined up for ’23 doesn’t look to be much improved.
23. BALTIMORE - Average Rotation Starter Rating: 2.4
Average expected start length: 5.56 IP/G (#11 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Kyle Gibson, 2. Cole Irvin, 3. Dean Kremer, 4. Kyle Bradish, 5. Grayson Rodriguez
Steve's thoughts: New addition Kyle Gibson is expected atop the rotation for Baltimore this season after coming over from Philadelphia. However, he posted just a 5.05 ERA last season, perhaps proving that his half-season with Texas in ’21 was the anomaly. If anything, perhaps Irvin, the addition from Oakland, will prove to be the more important acquisition. He was 9-13 with a 3.98 ERA for the A’s in ’22. Kremer and Bradish are in their mid-20s and have each been sharp at times for the Orioles, while 23-year-old Rodriguez has been one of the Orioles’ top performers in the minors in recent years.
24. DETROIT - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -0.4
Average expected start length: 5.3 IP/G (#21 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Eduardo Rodriguez, 2. Matthew Boyd, 3. Michael Lorenzen, 4. Spencer Turnbull, 5. Matt Manning
Steve's thoughts: After years of serving in a bullpen role for Cincinnati, Michael Lorenzen went to the Angels last year and performed admirably in the starting rotation, posting an 8-6 won-lost record with a 1.280 WHIP. He is one of three new additions to the Tigers’ rotation in ’23. Matthew Boyd also returns after spending a season in relief in Seattle. He had a decent year in ’21 in getting 15 starts. If you recognize the name Spencer Turnbull, its because he had three good seasons with this franchise before having to miss 2022 with an arm injury. If that weren’t enough, Detroit will get Eduardo Rodriguez back for this spring after he was able to go just five starts last year. Matt Manning is the only returnee that started more than 12 games for this team in 2022. On paper, this looks like the Tigers finally have what could be considered their rotation of the future. We’ll see how it turns out but there is some reason for optimism.
25. KANSAS CITY - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -0.4
Average expected start length: 5.42 IP/G (#16 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Brady Singer, 2. Zack Greinke, 3. Jordan Lyles, 4. Daniel Lynch, 5. Brad Keller
Steve's thoughts: The newcomer to the Royals’ rotation for 2023 is Jordan Lyles, who went 32 starts and 179 innings for the Orioles last year. He is a stable but not sterling addition to what is a core group of four other starters that all went 22 games or more. Singer was the best performer in ’22, posting a 10-5 record and a 3.23 ERA. Greinke also had a reasonably good season, while Singer and Keller struggled with ERAs in the 5s. Seemingly relegated to a bullpen role for ’23 is Kris Bubic, who got hit hard last year in 27 starts, going 3-13.
26. CINCINNATI - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -4
Average expected start length: 5.16 IP/G (#24 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Hunter Greene, 2. Nick Lodolo, 3. Graham Ashcraft, 4. Luis Cessa, 5. Luke Weaver
Steve's thoughts: Hunter Green has proven himself ace-worthy. The rest of the Reds' rotation is one big question mark. Lodolo has been inconsistent but at times a very capable #2. He struck out 122 hitters in 103 innings a year ago. The addition of Luke Weaver is a shot in the dark, he has posted an ERA of just under 6.00 since his career year with Arizona in ’19.
27. WASHINGTON - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -6
Average expected start length: 4.86 IP/G (#28 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Patrick Corbin, 2. Josiah Gray, 3. Trevor Williams, 4. MacKenzie Gore, 5. Cade Cavalli
Steve's thoughts: Surely baseball bettors are well aware of it by now, but the Nationals’ starting rotation has fallen off a cliff since the days of Scherzer and Strasburg anchoring the staff. The third guy from that former group is now the top starter from the current team and I use the term “top” very loosely, as Corbin comes off a season in which he was rocked for a 6.31 ERA in 31 starts. It was hoped that Josiah Gray would emerge by now as a top-line starter for this franchise, but he also had a plus-5.00 ERA last season. Cade Cavalli is a youngster whom Washington has high hopes for, but he went just one start last year. The newcomers here are MacKenzie Gore (San Diego) and Trevor Williams (NY Mets) both of whom posted far better numbers than any of the regular Nationals’ starters last year. Even still, it’s hard to envision this staff cracking the top-25 in ’23.
28. PITTSBURGH - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -6
Average expected start length: 5.02 IP/G (#27 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Mitch Keller, 2. Roansy Contreras, 3. JT Brubaker, 4. Rich Hill, 5. Vince Velasquez
Steve's thoughts: Other than losing Jose Quintana to the Mets, it seems that the Pirates at least held on to their other top three starting pitching performers from a year ago, Keller, Contreras, and Brubaker. Added to the mix for 2023 are Rich Hill and Vince Velasquez. Hill is a crafty lefty that has been pitching in the majors since 2005. His most recent team was Boston, and he started 26 games for the Sox last year, posting an ERA of 3.92. Velasquez is a long shot, as he hasn’t lived up to the billing he earned back in a solid 2016 campaign with Philly. He has a career ERA of 4.93 and is on his fourth team since 2021, perhaps his last shot here. Not a whole lot of reason to think Pittsburgh will improve much this summer.
29. COLORADO - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -6.2
Average expected start length: 5.36 IP/G (#18 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. German Marquez, 2. Kyle Freeland, 3. Jose Urena, 4. Austin Gomber, 5. Ryan Feltner
Steve's thoughts: Taking into account the obvious inflation to stats due to pitching at Coors Field, there was still plenty of reasons for Colorado to make a move or two this past offseason to improve its starting rotation. It did nothing of the sort. Freeland and Marquez anchor this rotation, having both started over 30 games last year while posting ERAs between 4.5-5.0. None of the other three were under 5.0, and again, while the home park excuse is valid, it doesn’t explain that big of a difference from league averages. Missing from this unit in 2023 is Chad Kuhl, who left for Washington after 27 starts last season. Don’t expect a whole lot of different results this summer.
30. OAKLAND - Average Rotation Starter Rating: -7.2
Average expected start length: 5.1 IP/G (#26 of 30)
Expected Rotation: 1. Paul Blackburn, 2. Shintaro Fujinami, 3. Drew Rucinski, 4. James Kaprielian, 5. Adam Oller
Steve's thoughts: The bottom-ranked team in my starting pitching rankings to start 2023 is Oakland, not surprising considering its best starting option a year ago, Cole Irvin, is no longer around. The so-called ace of this staff figures to be Paul Blackburn, who started 21 games last year and posted a 4.28 ERA. Kaprelian also posted modestly good numbers while Oller was hit hard in ’22, finishing with a WHIP of 1.628 while allowing 17 HRs in just 74 innings. Whether or not this group improves in ’23 and climbs out of the basement hinges upon the performance of the newcomers, Fujnami & Rucinski. Fujinami comes over from Japan where he served as a relief pitcher posting mediocre numbers since ’17, while Rucinski is back in the bigs for the first time since 2018 while with Miami.