Over the past two weeks we've taken a look at the NL East infields and outfields, with the Phillies being the clear viewers pick for both. Today we check out the rotations, in what will likely be the closest of all the polls and the deciding factor of who actually wins the NL East this season.
1. Derek Lowe: 14-11, 211 ip, 147 k, 3.24 era, 1.13 whip. Lowe is easily the new ace of the staff with Tim Hudson out for the majority of the season with injury. He's durable and consistent and will help keep the Braves in contention all summer longer.
2. Javier Vazquez: 12-16, 208.1 ip, 200 k, 4.67 era, 1.32 whip. Vazquez had a terrible 2nd half for the ChiSox last season and his manager Ozzie Guillen publicly bad-mouthed him. He's a strikeout pitcher prone to giving up homeruns, but he should be fine this year with the Braves.
3. Jair Jurrjens: 13-10, 188.1 ip, 139 k, 3.68 era, 1.37 whip. Atlanta stole this kid for high-priced washed-up Edgar Renteria...bastards! Jair is only 23 years old and has a world of talent. His stuff translates into top of the rotation, so winning 15+ games this season is easily within reason.
4. Kenshin Kawakami: in Japan previously. All reports that I've read point to Kenshin transitioning relatively easily into American baseball.
Up For 5: Tom Glavine (returning from injury), Jo-Jo Reyes (returning from sucking), and Jorge Campillo (returning from what could have been a career year) give the Braves depth in the rotation. Youngster Tommy Hanson and swingman Buddy Carlyle will probably get a start or two during the season as well.
1. Ricky Nolasco: 15-8, 212.1 ip, 186 k, 3.52 era, 1.10 whip. Nolasco is one of the best pitchers most people have never heard of. Seriously, look at the innings pitched, strike outs, low era, and he barely puts more than 1 runner per inning on base...scary good!
2. Josh Johnson: 7-1, 87.1 ip, 77 k, 3.61 era, 1.35 whip. If JJ is healthy then that will go a long way towards assuring the Marlins will be a rotation to reckon with. He responded well in the 2nd half last season coming off of injury, but still has to prove he can make 30+ starts in '09.
3. Chris Volstad: 6-4, 84.1 ip, 52 k, 2.88 era, 1.33 whip. Made his MLB debut last year and was very impressive. This 22 year old has upside by the bucket load and teamed up with Nolasco and Johnson make a terrible trio to face for opposition.
4. Anibal Sanchez: 2-5, 51.2 ip, 50 k, 5.57 era, 1.57 whip. Don't let his '08 stats fool you, this 25 year already has a no-hitter in his trophy case and is ready to bounce back to '06 form (10-3, 2.83 era) now that he's supposedly healthy.
Up For 5: Andrew Miller is the frontrunner for the gig, but Dan Meyer wants to give it a go too. Burke Badenhop is around should the Fish need a spot starter once in a while.
New York Mets:
1. Johan Santana: 16-7, 234.1 ip, 206 k, 2.53 era, 1.15 whip. Darth Santana came as advertised, as yet another late season collapse by the choke artist Mets was not his fault. Recent news has Johan questionable for the season opener due to a sore elbow...excuse me if this appalls you, but that news is fan-freakin-tastic.
2. Mike Pelfrey: 13-11, 200.2 ip, 110 k, 3.72 era, 1.36 whip. The Mets and others around baseball seem to think he's primed for the big time, but I see over a hit per inning allowed with low strikeout totals and have comparisons to Kyle Kendrick dance through my head. Now, that doesn't mean I see him fighting for a spot in the rotation this year, nor having an era see-sawing near a mortgage rate, but greatness is not what I predict for him either.
3. Oliver Perez: 10-7, 194 ip, 180 k, 4.22 era, 1.40 whip. The enigma known as Ollie K.O.'s the Phillies, but not much of anybody else. He becomes incredibly wild at times, and can never seem to harness the ability that so many people see in him. I think the Mets were foolish to sign him to the big bucks this offseason, but hey, I'm just a wannabe GM.
4. John Maine: 10-8, 140 ip, 122 k, 4.18 era, 1.35 whip. Maine is coming off of a season ending injury that required surgery, so there's speculation about his health. However, he's proven he's a quality pitcher when not ailing, so the Mets are banking on him making 30+ starts.
Up For 5: Freddy Garcia, Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, and Jonathan Niese are competing for the 5th spot in the rotation this spring. Niese has plenty of minor league options left, Freddy G and Livan are on minor league deals, and Redding has the only guaranteed contract. Reports have Garcia as the early favorite.
1. Cole Hamels: 14-10, 227.1 ip, 196 k, 3.09 era, 1.08 whip. Cole stepped into superstardom last October and "Hollywood Hamels" won't be relinquishing that status anytime soon as he's my pick for NL Cy Young this season. His goal that past 2 seasons has been to win 20 games, and this year it comes true.
2. Brett Myers: 10-13, 190 ip, 163 k, 4.55 era, 1.38 whip. Just like the Mets have their enigma of Ollie Perez, well the Phils have theirs in the version of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde aka Bad Brett/Good Brett. He's a workhorse and firecracker waiting to explode. It is a contract year, so I'm expecting 200+ innings with 15+ wins.
3. Joe Blanton: 9-12, 197.2 ip, 111 k, 4.69 era, 1.40 whip. Jo-Bla had a rough season with Oakland but fit in nicely once he came way of the National League. He's a solid middle of the rotation pitcher that won't be spectacular, but won't leave the team in a lurch either.
4. Jamie Moyer: 16-7, 196.1 ip, 123 k, 3.71 era, 1.33 whip. Grand Pappy is 46 years old, and looking back at last season's stats I still can't believe he was that good. Expecting more of 2008's success from him seems silly, but that's what Moyer does- makes people look silly.
Up For 5: Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park, Carlos Carrasco, and JA Happ are all viable candidates. Happ seems to be the blogsphere's pick, Kendrick has Dubee's blessing, and Carrasco is a top prospect to keep an eye on.
1. Scott Olsen: 8-11, 201.2 ip, 113 k, 4.20 era, 1.31 whip. Miscast as an ace, but a decent pitcher nonetheless. He's durable and should win more games with better run support.
2. John Lannan: 9-15, 182 ip, 117 k, 3.91 era, 1.34 whip. Young and lefthanded with a quality pitching repertoire, definitely a good piece of the Nationals rebuilding puzzle.
3. Daniel Cabrera: 8-10, 180 ip, 95 k, 5.25 era, 1.61 whip. Has what scouts call a "live arm", but that hasn't translated into MLB success. He's walked 478 batters in 841.1 career innings, so control isn't part of his game plan.
4. Shawn Hill: 1-5, 63.1 ip, 39 k, 5.83 era, 1.75 whip. Was injured most of '08, so looking solely at those numbers isn't quite fair, but he has a lot to prove this season as far as taking his regular turn in the rotation or it could soon be the end of his days in Washington.
Up For 5: Collin Balester, Jason Bergmann, Shairon Martis, and Jordan Zimmermann are the 5th spot hopefuls. Balester has the most upside, Zimmermann likely needs more time in the minors, and Bergmann has to prove he doesn't suck.