Tuesday, March 03, 2009

NL East Rotations

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.

Atlanta Braves:
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.

Florida Marlins:
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.

Philadelphia Phillies:
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.

Washington Nationals:
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.

Who has the best rotation?
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GM-Carson said...

It hurt, but I voted Mets as the best rotation. This is the East's strong point, as every staff by the Nationals is pretty good. The Marlins have ridiculous upside in theirs.

Kevin McGuire said...

I voted for the Phillies after strongly considering the Mets. From top to bottom though I have more faith in the potential of the Phillies' rotation opposed to the Mets'.

Of course injuries can totally derail either rotation but I'll take the Phillies' mix of young and veteran arms over anybody in this division today.

GM-Carson said...

If Happ, Kendrick, or Carrasco step up and pitch decently in the 5th slot, then the Phils have the deepest rotation for sure. Is deepest the best though?

PWHjort said...

OK, I know I'm biased, but I honestly believe that the Braves will have the best rotation in the NL East in 2009. I know Derek Lowe is no Johan Santana or Cole Hamels, but he's a very useful pitcher that's going to have a ton of success with a very defensively talented infield behind him. As far as number 2 goes, I don't think there's ever been a better set of circumstances for a pitcher to see more improved success than Vazquez's. He's switching from the AL where he has to face a DH and the hitters are better to the NL, he's switching from Ozzie Guillen's tirades to Bobby Cox's management, switching from a TERRIBLE defense behind him to a significantly above-average defense behind him, and he's switching from a hitter's park to a pitcher's park. It is extremely difficult to strike out 200 batters in the American league, only 4 people did it last year Vazquez being one. He's a great pitcher that is going to have a huge year in 2009, I'm way more excited about him than I am Derek Lowe. We all know about Jurrjens, I won't talk about him here. I do think walks could be a problem for him and I wouldn't be surprised if his ERA goes up a full run next season, but if it doesn't we know what he's capable of. Kawakami is a former MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year in Japan. Expect numbers similar to Hiroki Kuroda's 2008 season 9-10, 3.73 ERA, 116 K's, 1.22 WHIP in just over 183 innings. In the 5th spot you've got Glavine, who I'm a believer in, you don't win 300 games because you got lucky. Tom was hurt for all but 3 starts last year, and in the 3rd start, the one he injured himself in, he failed to get an out. I think he'll return to something close to his 2007 form when he pitched 200 innings with a 4.45 ERA. I'd be surprised if he threw 200 innings but wouldn't be surprised if he threw 150 with a 4.45 ERA. If anything, it's good to have a first ballot Hall of Famer in the clubhouse. Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson figure to get some starts too. We know what Hudson's all about and have heard all the hype about Hanson. If you didn't watch Hanson on TV last Thursday, he's something special that National League East hitters are going to dread facing for at least the next 6 years. Reyes, Morton, Campillo, and swingmen Carlyle and Jeff Bennett could also see some starts this season. I'm going to have to disagree with the commenters that say the Phillies have the deepest rotation. They certainly have all the depth they need to get through the season (unless the injury bug bites them like it did the Braves in 2008), but they're nowhere near as deep as the Braves, who will have 7 legitimate starters that belong at the big-league level on their active roster, none of them being worse than a number 4 starter on most clubs, as well as 2 swingmen, 2 AAA starters, and 1 ace returning from injury. Lowe, Vazquez, Jurrjens, Kawakami, Glavine, Hanson, Hudson, Campillo, Bennett, Carlyle, Morton, and Reyes is the second deepest starting staff in the game, behind Boston. Question marks include Kawakami's transition, Hudson's return, and Glavine's return. Really, I would go to war with any of the starting staff's in the National League East. Florida's, like you said, has entirely too much upside for anyone to feel comfortable facing (I think Volstad hit 100 on the radar gun last season), I don't hate Washington's, the Mets have some depth and talent, but I wonder if Pelfrey can repeat and Maine is the real deal. I'm not a fan of Oliver Perez either. The person I'm most excited to see in the Phillies' rotation is JA Happ. I always liked watching him pitch and I think he'll do well for yall in the 5th spot. This is how I'd rank the starting staffs, which are all pretty close apart from Washington, 1) Atlanta, 2) Philadelphia, 3) Florida, 4) New York, 5) Washington. Any way, pick 1 of the first 4 I listed and they could easily be the best rotation in the NL East. I think the Braves have the best chance at being the best, but 1 injury or the Marlins' young staff realizing their potential puts them out of the running for best rotation. We'll see, going to be a great season. GO BRAVES

GM-Carson said...

Thanks for the comment, and it very well may be the longest one on WSBGM's yet. The rotations of the NL East are very debatable obviously.

Superman said...

On Mike Pelfrey: "I see over a hit per inning allowed with low strikeout totals and have comparisons to Kyle Kendrick dance through my head." This is the worst comparison I've ever seen.

Kendrick gave up 11.2 H/9
Pelfrey gave up 9.4 H/9 and display better control, he also has a great fastball and has been a better strikeout pitcher in the minors.

I'm not saying Pelfrey is going to be a K per IP guy but hes 6 times a better pitcher than Kendrick will ever be.

Pelfrey has also been a top 20 prospect and labeled as a front of the rotation guy, he might settle in as a #3 but heck Kendrick shouldnt even sniff the majors hes a AAAA/filler at best.

PWHjort said...

By the way, this is an excellent piece and I really like yall's work. Keep it up. Please continue to drop by The Launching Pad and let me know whenever you write new posts.

GM-Carson said...

Superman- I can see I struck a nerve. I know I was harsh in my Pelfrey/Kendrick comparison, but I did so to show that I don't think he's as great as people are making him out to be. He may prove me wrong and prove everyone else right, but I'm very unimpressed with him, especially since he has that weird tongue thingy.

Bob D said...

I picked the Fish with the Braves, Phils, and Mets in that order behind them. Yes I feel the Braves are better than the Mets and Phils in rotation but the Fish have tremendous potential.

GM-Carson said...

J-Roll and Vic both on the bench for Team USA today against the Yankees in favor of Jeter and Granderson.

Mr. A-Hole said...

I live in Jersey and want to punch every Met fan I see, but I have to admit that Johan is the shit and the rest of them are pretty good too.

furiousBall said...

while i think the Braves improved their rotation a little bit from last year, they are only the third best in the division or tied for third with the Mets. Phils still have the best rotation (I think just over the Marlins)

GM-Carson said...

Phils might land Will Ohman.

Here's a link to an article suggesting their in negotiations.

PWHjort said...

I looked at what PECOTA and CHONE thought about the NL East rotations. For starters 1-5, PECOTA has the Braves in front at 114.9, the Mets at 114.5, Phillies 106.5, Marlins at 83.4, and Nats at 53. CHONE has the Braves at 138, the Mets at 117, the Phillies at 114, the Nats at 73 and the Marlins at 72. I think CHONE takes age into account because it wasn't high on the Marlins young pitching or Jamie Moyer. Anyway, that's what the projections say. I think PECOTA is probably closest to right. Braves, Mets, and Phillies pretty much knotted at the top and unless the Marlins youngsters tear it up they'll be 4th with Washington bringing up the rear.

GM-Carson said...

Thank you for that PWHjort, that helps sorts things out a bit. What about the NL East outfields and infields?

PWHjort said...

By both accounts, (PECOTA 189.1, CHONE 60) the Braves have the best infield. In PECOTA they're followed closely by the Mets at 176.6 and the Phillies at 153.9. The Marlins are at 151.4 and the Nationals are at 131.3. In CHONE the Braves are trailed by the Mets at 29, Phillies at 15, the Marlins at 9, and the Nationals at 3. In the outfield rankings, the Phillies are in the lead in PECOTA with 82.5, the Nationals second with 81.3, Mets third with 76.4, Marlins fourth with 69.9, and a huge drop off to the Braves at 27.4. In CHONE, the Nationals have the best outfield with 35, the Mets second with 10, the Phillies third with 9, the Marlins fourth with -4, and the Braves 5th with -20. Overall offense goes Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, and Nats in PECOTA, all pretty close. The CHONE order is Braves, Mets, Nats, Phillies, and Marlins. CHONE hates the Phillies outfield and PECOTA loves it.

SirAlden said...


GM-Carson said...

I like to read the projection systems predictions, but I still don't trust them.

PWHjort said...

Yeah they're not worth much. They certainly don't tell the whole story. Even if they were very good at forecasting everyone's statistics, they still can't take into account luck. Luck is a huge part of the standings. The 2008 Braves, for example, were 8 games under their 3rd order Pythagorean expectation and the 2008 Angels were 12 games over theirs. The Angels actually won 28 games more than the Braves last year but all luck removed they would've won 8 more. The projections are all about luck-removed numbers so you really can't put much stock into them. Although they're usually right within 1 standard deviation.