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Ranking the starting rotations for every MLB team

March 29, 2022 08:04 PM
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With the 2022 MLB season getting started next week, this is a good time to unveil my rankings of the 30 projected starting rotations. 

There was a ton of maneuvering this offseason by teams looking to bolster their starting pitching. Unlike recent seasons, however, I’m not sure if the rich got richer. It seems the Dodgers were poached and the Yankees and Red Sox stayed the course, which leaves a new No. 1 at the top of my rotation rankings. That team is the Mets, who just might have the best 1-2 starting punch in baseball history.

As you consider which teams might be playing into late October, note that both the Braves (my No. 5 preseason rotation in 2021) and Astros (No. 9) appeared in my top 10 in this space last year. Both World Series teams were in my top 10 in 2020 as well.

In this exercise, I’ve come up with each team’s combined starting-pitcher power ratings (based on the same numbers I use for my daily ratings at VSiN.com), derived from my individual pitcher ratings and their typical start length. I’ve used the depth charts offered by MLB.com as a guide for determining each team’s rotation (Nos. 1 through 5). The pitchers at the top of each team’s chart have a greater likelihood of getting more starts and innings, but for the purposes of this exercise, I’ve treated all pitchers equally in an effort to make depth the most important factor.

My power rankings are built exclusively for betting markets, meaning I tend to price pitchers based more on how the betting markets perceive them rather than actual statistics. In other words, I tend to put more emphasis on pitchers who command more respect from oddsmakers. A pitcher with a big arm who can overpower hitters with multiple dominant pitches is rated higher in my system than one that relies on craft and perhaps good fortune. I feel this line of thinking best reflects the markets that bettors face on a daily basis.

First, here are some specific highlights I found that might help you find value for season win totals, divisional odds or World Series futures. Let’s take a look at those:

— For the first time in three seasons, the defending champions are not the team with the best starting pitching depth, according to my numbers. Two years ago, my No. 1 rotation was the Nationals, but they had several key injuries and eventually missed the postseason. Last year, my top spot went to the Dodgers, but injuries and other off-the-field issues left the end-of-year rotation a shell of what it was on Opening Day. That’s what the Mets, my No. 1 rotation, must avoid in 2022, especially with Jacob deGrom coming off a season-ending injury last year. With the addition of Max Scherzer, this pitching staff, if healthy, should be dominant.

— The Dodgers take the No. 2 spot, but that ranking also hinges on everyone staying healthy. The numbers could be bolstered if Trevor Bauer ever emerges from his legal woes, but for now, the Dodgers have three top-line arms ready to anchor the rotation. Nos. 4 and 5 on the staff aren’t at the same level as in recent years, which could pose problems if Clayton Kershaw or Julio Urias run into problems ahead of them.

— The Brewers also have a dominant top three with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, and at a fraction of the price. The Brewers check in at No. 3 on my list after beginning 2021 at No. 12.

— The other New York rotation might wind up being one to watch as well, with the Yankees rolling with Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery at the top ahead of Nestor Cortes Jr. and Jameson Taillon. They are banking on the healthy return of Luis Severino, who has only started three games since 2018 but has unlimited potential.

— Last year at this time, the Blue Jays had numerous question marks on their staff. This year’s group should be one of the best in the American League with the emergence of Alek Manoah last year, the midseason addition of Jose Berrios and the offseason adds of Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi.

— The White Sox boast a formidable staff, even after losing left-hander Carlos Rodon to the Giants. They still have five solid starters and should once again be a team to watch in 2022. 

— In addition to trading for some nice lineup pieces from Cincinnati recently, the Mariners also added Robbie Ray to the rotation. He was superb for the Blue Jays last year and could push the Mariners back to the postseason this year.

— Washington started the 2020 season ranked No. 1 on this list, fell to No. 11 in 2021 and check in at No. 28 entering 2022. With Stephen Strasburg expected to be out until May, this starting staff has the look of a bottom feeder.

Here are all 30 teams listed in order of their combined starting-pitcher power ratings, according to my numbers:

1. New York Mets

Average rotation starter rating: 34.2

Average start length: 5.58 innings (No. 8 of 30)

Steve's thoughts: Only two pitchers started more than 18 games for the Mets last year, so this No. 1 ranking will hinge on the durability of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Replacing Marcus Stroman with All-Star Chris Bassitt certainly cushions the blow. This team will contend for the NL East if they can get at least half of their starts from that top three. 

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