Its been one crazy off-season for the AL Central! With just under three weeks until pitchers and catchers report, here is a comparison of the speculated starting rotations of each team.
Although the AL Central is now known for it’s arms, KC and Minnesota are lacking a dependent ace. Phil Hughes had a great 2014 year(3.52 ERA), the last time he has had such a year was way back in 2009 when he posted a 3.03 ERA. If Hughes can repeat what he did last year, he is the Minnesota Twins’ ace. KC has a similar yet very different situation. Although Yordano Ventura had a fantastic rookie campaign(3.20 ERA), he is still a 23 year old with only one full year in the majors under his belt. Neither Ventura or Hughes make for a guarantee ace, however, if they repeat what they did in 2014, they will be their teams’ ace. Remember, they also have to pitch against David Price, Corey Kluber, and Chris Sale!
For second starters, we have Justin Verlander, Jason Vargas, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Carrasco, and Ervin Santana. Verlander and Santana must have bounce back years. If they do not, this will leave a hole in Detroit’s an Minnesota's rotations. If Carlos Carrasco and Jason Vargas can repeat their 2014 stats, they will be just fine. The standout pitcher in the second starting spot, is right hander Jeff Samardzija. This ace worthy pitcher adds great depth in the White Sox’s rotation and will excite Chicago fans for the 2015 season.
Third starters can pivot a rotation. With a solid third starter a team can sweep teams with more ease and can go out 3/5 days and not have to worry about their starter. In the AL Central we have Anibal Sanchez, Jeremy Guthrie, Jose Quintana, Trevor Bauer, and Kyle Gibson. This is where we see some starting pitcher depth going away. Kyle Gibson and Trevor Bauer just came off of rookie years. Not exactly the depth division winning teams have. Both will be great starters in the near future, however, this is one reason Minnesota and Cleveland are not expected to contend this year. Jeremy Guthrie almost repeated his 2013 year, yet it was a bit worse. If he can pitch like he did in 2007, 2008 and 2010, he will help pitch KC to a possible playoff berth. Jose Quintana has been on fire for the last couple of years. He is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and you can expect the same degree of pitching from him in the year to come. Last but not least, is Anibal Sanchez. After winning the ERA title in 2013, he too, is underrated. Anibal must stay healthy to keep Detroit from losing their middle pitcher. All and all, pitching depth is deepest in Detroit and Chicago, each with a three headed monster at the front of their rotations.
Most teams do not have the luxury of having three aces in their lineup like Detroit and Chicago, however, this can be deterred with a solid back rotation. Just having a fourth starter that gets ten wins can be crucial. For the Twins, their fourth starter is Rickey Nolasco. After not pitching the brightest 2014, posting a 5.38 ERA and getting 6 wins, he needs to improve a bit or he could see himself in triple A this year. Gavin Floyd is the Indians fourth starter. He put together a 2-2 record with a 2.65 ERA in a short run with the Braves last year. If Floyd can repeat this, it will easily slot him into the second or third spot in the Indians’ rotation. Danny Duffy has pitched great in his young career. Duffy posted a 9-12 record with a 2.53 ERA for KC last year. This gives KC better depth than Cleveland and Minnesota. Chicago’s fourth starter, John Danks, has not had a sparkling career. Throwing a 4.74 ERA and winning 11 games, he was just good enough for this spot but, if Chicago is expecting to contend, they need his ERA to go down. Last but not least, is Detroit. Shane Greene had an above par rookie campaign posting a 5-4 record, 3.78 ERA in 15 games with the Yankees last season. If Greene can repeat, Detroit may have a fourth head to their monster.
Alfredo Simon, Edinson Volquez, Hector Noesi, Danny Salazar and Tommy Milone all must have good years to solidify the end of the rotation. The fifth rotation spot is easily switched out with minor league starters if the current one is not performing well. In the postseason, as many know, teams do not use a fifth starter and move them to the bullpen. For the one, or possibly two, teams that make it that far, these starters need to work hard to not be in the bullpen. In my opinion, Detroit’s rotation has the highest floor, while Cleveland’s has the highest ceiling. Chicago and KC will have the second and third best rotations in the AL. Unfortunately, the Twins are still a few years from contending and their rotation is sitting last in an arm packed division. The AL Central truly is, an “Arms Race.”
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Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.