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Top 5 Rotations in Baseball (When Healthy!) Right Now
Writing this piece to give my take on some of the best rotations in baseball (when healthy!). The teams below have assembled some of the best arms in the game and I want to highlight a few of these teams and their arsenal of arms for 2023. Let me be clear, all of these rotations are incredible and have massive amounts of talent. Wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them finish as the #1 staff in 2023.
Honorable Mention - Rays
At full strength, this rotation is devastating. Shane Mac might be the best lefty in baseball, and that is not an overstatement. Look for him to once again be one of the top vote-getters in the Cy Young Award chase. Interested to see Glasnow bounce back and stay healthy following TJ surgery. He came back for 2 games (6.2 IP) and struck out 10 at the end of the year last year! I am only skeptical about innings as this is Tampa and they will look to heavily monitor his innings. Glasnow has stated that he “wants to win a Cy Young” and is a competitor so wouldn’t be shocked to see him push for more work. Jeff Springs, Zack Eflin, Drew Rasmussen, Josh Fleming, Luis Patino, and Taj Bradley (#20 Prospect on MLB Pipeline Top 100) will round out the rest of the rotation and make this a tough team to beat when healthy. Imagine if they also had Shane Baz this year!
Luis Patino / Taj Bradley / Josh Fleming
Bullpen Day (had to, it’s Tampa Bay!)
Houston literally has what I would like to call “heavy artillery” throwing at you every single night. The Astros pitching was arguably a top-3 staff overall last year and was consistently at the top of all pitching statistics across the MLB. Good for a 2.90 ERA (2nd best), 106 W (2nd most), 134 HRs allowed (2nd least), 9.50 SO9 (3rd highest), 1524 K’s (4th best)...see where I am going here? Cumulatively this rotation is disgusting. They lose Verlander (a big minus) to the rotation, but this staff is ready for this. They get everyone else back, and not one of their starters had over a 4.00 ERA last year. The X-factor here is Hunter Brown. Brown is obviously no Justin Verlander, but many are looking at the youngster to pitch a lot of good innings this year. Many in the industry are also predicting him to win AL Rookie of the Year. I am a little bummed at myself for trading Brown in a dynasty league a couple of months ago but I got Matt Mervis in return who I am stoked about and 2 additional future 2nd round picks! That being said I hope Brown pans out just fine and Houston is competitive as ever because there is nothing better than competitive baseball. The reason they are being put at 5 is that I think they lack that overall apex predator leading the rotation and it is a nice thing to have someone on the roster (like a Verlander) who can go out there and throw 9 scoreless on any night.
Let us take a look at the staff that Alex Anthopoulos has put together in Atlanta. Max Fried another southpaw being the ACE in the rotation. Strider is coming off a stellar rookie year where he threw only 131.2 IP and struck out a whopping 202 batters! Morton is the veteran of the group and has one of the deadliest curveballs in all of baseball. Last year, Kyle Wright was absolutely fantastic and threw over 180 innings with a 3.19 ERA. That 5th slot would easily be Soroka’s if healthy, but yet again health hasn’t been kind to Mr. Soroka. Soroka finished 6th in NL Cy Young voting in 2019 and only pitched 3 games in 2020…he hasn’t pitched in the bigs since. If Soroka is healthy and everyone else is around, this rotation could be the best in baseball by the end of the year. Throwing Shuster on here as well as their top prospect and also a lefty. Never know how managers want to go attacking lineups and there could be some days when the Braves decide to have another lefty come up and pitch.
Bryce Elder / Mike Soroka
How did the Dodgers do it again? They have future HOFer in Kershaw coming back to lead the charge on a team-friendly deal for 1-year. Kershaw once scares me with injury concerns, but if he gets 20 starts and is still throwing quality innings with solid numbers, I am okay with that. Obviously, his health is not ideal, but it is a reality the Dodgers front office and fantasy owners must not brush off. Julio Urias has been solid once again and would likely be a #1 on a bunch of teams. Tony Gonsolin finally made it over 100 IP, and it was terrific. Gonsolin threw just over 130 innings tossing 119 K’s, only allowing a 2.14 ERA. Dustin May will be back fully from TJ and looked solid when he came back and threw 30 innings last year. I think the Dodgers have not one but multiple X-factors in this rotation. Let's start with Thor…when healthy, he is incredible and has received votes in Cy Young voting. The Dodgers have a way of turning around struggling pitchers, so Syndergaard will be on my draft radar when it comes to fantasy this year. Finally, the youth X-factor with two of LA’s top prospects in Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone. Both are very good, and both are coming off solid years in the minors. Stone especially had himself a year, so I’d expect him to get the call first to the bigs should the staff need some extra innings tossed. I would have them as the number 1 overall staff no questions asked if Walker Buehler is healthy, but sadly with his second TJ surgery, it looks like he will miss most if not all of 2023.
Bobby Miller / Gavin Stone
After all the off-season news surrounding this team, how could they not make the top 5 rotations? I know a rotation nowadays is considered 5 maybe 6 guys who are able to go out and start games for these franchises, but when you have Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander as your 1 & 2 you are already an elite staff. These two are generational-type pitchers, and most teams are an automatic 0-2 to start a series when having to face these two back-to-back games. Quintana, now on the staff, had another fantastic year last year playing for both Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Eleven years in the league and has a career 3.75 ERA, we know what we're getting, and that is a solid #3 starter. Kodai Senga is clearly the X-factor here as this will be his first year playing in America but in his time internationally owns a career 2.42 ERA with 1,486 K’s over 1,340 IP throughout 11 seasons. Carrasco also had a great year as well, tossing over 150 innings and 150 K’s. Finally, that 6 slot can go to Peterson or Megill who ever is throwing better, but my bet is Peterson, and they move Megill into a multi-inning reliever.
David Peterson / Tylor Megill
This one is tough to rank #1 as this comes off bias but let me assure you I am nervous as hell for this to go right and am looking at if this all goes well. Starting with Cole, he might be the most talented pitcher to not have won a Cy Young Award yet. Rodon comes to town bringing in another ace who is a southpaw into this rotation which I love after moving Jordan Montgomery last year to the Cardinals. Southpaw, Nestor Cortes, was an all-star last year and has maybe the most devastating 4-seam fastball in all of baseball. Severino and beyond is where this rotation gets interesting. Severino pitched great last year. I just need him and German to throw over 100 innings each, and I would feel really good. Severino is a 2x all-star (2017 & 2018 both times finished top-10 in Cy Young voting) but has had some injuries plague him in 2019-2021. Finally, we close with another arm developed from the Oakland A’s farm system and donated to the Pinstripe Empire with Frankie Montas. Not the most decorated pitcher, but as recently as 2021 finished 6th in Cy Young voting. Top to bottom, this staff is littered with talent. As a baseball fan, I would love to see it all be on display in 2023, as this staff can be special.
All in all, these teams should all be very happy with their rotations. They have all done an excellent job of putting together an extraordinary staff and will be competing for a World Series title in 2023.
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