Buster Olney of ESPN.com ranked the top rotations in all of baseball Friday, with some interesting results. Without boring you with the whole list, his top 5 went as followed: 5. Cardinals 4. Pirates 3. Nationals 2. Dodgers 1. Detroit. Needless to say, I have some qualms with this. You’d probably have a tough time arguing the Dodgers for the #1 spot, but here goes.
The rotation as currently constructed reads 1. Clayton Kershaw 2. Zack Greinke 3. Hyun-Jin Ryu 4. Dan Haren 5. Josh Beckett/Chad Billingsley. No one is on the same planet as Clayton Kershaw, he’s having himself one of the most productive stretches ever, and if he decided to call it quits right now, he’d be the active leader in terms of ERA (Starting Pitcher, >1,000 IP, post dead ball era). He’s simply incredible and at age 26 (in March) he is just getting started on his dominance.
That Zack Greinke fellow is pretty good too, this past season was one of his best seasons ever, he compiled a 2.9 fWAR in only 28 starts, he most certainly would have had a chance at 20 wins, unfortunately, Carlos Quentin was a psycho. Of course wins are pretty irrelevant, but I do like that round number of 20. This was his best season since his Cy Young season, and it’s not to farfetched that he can keep up this type of production playing in a pitchers park/division. He’s a sure ace and one the Dodgers are lucky to have.
When ranking the best Asian pitchers right now in baseball, Hyun-Jin Ryu is probably the 4th best (including Tanaka). He was absolutely stellar in the second half. As he figured out the american ball, and the american game, he showed the Dodgers and the rest of the league just how good he is. Post all star break he had a 2.88 ERA with a 61:10 K/BB. Next season will be crucial to his success as a major league baseball pitcher. However, he is the real deal, with quite possibly the second best changeup in the NL (just behind Cole Hamels). Lets see where another year of development takes him, I think Ryu is meant for huge success here.
Of course, this is where it starts to go a bit awry and probably the reason I have such a hard time saying this is the best rotation in the game. I like Dan Haren, he makes the Dodgers better. He’s a perfectly fine #4 starter on a decent team, but you have to wonder. He’s 33 this year, sits at 87-89 MPH, was worth a combined 3.3 fWAR the past two season. He’s been so bad recently in giving up fly balls (12.9 HR/FB the past two seasons) in some parks that lend themselves to pitching (Angels Stadium and Nationals Park). I don’t know if he can make it back close to the pitcher he was in 2011 where he was worth 6.2 fWAR. Honestly, if he was anywhere between 2-3 fWAR (Steamer projects 2.2 fWAR and a regressed HR/9 rate) i’d be ecstatic. Still a pretty big IF though.
And of course the 5th starter. I’m going to go ahead and assume that Masahiro Tanaka wont be a Dodgers, simply because like Scott said, Beckett is being paid 15.75 million dollars this year, and there isn’t much else to do considering the crowded bullpen, the nonexistent trade value, and the unbelievable injury he sustained. So I happen to agree when people say the Dodgers probably wont be too hot on Tanaka. This of course isn’t very good news considering how bad he was last season. I don’t know how good he’s going to be, so assuming he actually can throw a baseball fast and good enough to get batters out consistently, then he’ll slot in the #5 spot. He had good strikeout stuff last year, and steamer has a really optimistic projection on him, 3.77 ERA with a .7 fWAR compiled, I hope he pitches in more than 77 innings (steamer projection), but if he provides that over the course of potentially 25 starts, the rotation definitely has a case for best in the league. Also I expect Chad Billingsley to come back and be one of the better starters on the team.Everybody has forgotten about Bills, but I think he’ll be good, people coming back from Tommy John often work on their core and legs in order to increase their velocity, and I think this is going to really help Billingsley, this is of course complete speculation, but what if he finally reaches that potential that all the scouting pundits gave him, they all said he was a #2 starter, and while there is nothing wrong with what he’s been, he’s fallen short of that, maybe he’ll be that rock in the rotation. I love me some Bills so of course i’m going to be irrational about him.
This rotation is of course non including some very promising starters in Ross Stripling and Zach Lee which I think we’ll see this upcoming season. I’d rank a rotation of Fister-Strasburg-Gio Gonzalez- Jordan Zimmermann-Jordan above the Dodgers, but this rotation the Dodgers have has some incredible potential. I can’t fault Olney too much, but the Dodgers rotation is surely better than the Tigers