It has always been said that good pitching beats good hitting. That couldn’t apply more than it does to the AL East heading into 2014. Multiple teams in the division have above average rotations. The Yankees wanted to keep up with the rest of their rivals, thus signing Masahiro Tanaka and adding him to the mix. However, did the Yankees do enough? How does their rotation compare with the rest of the division? Starting from the bottom…
5- Toronto Blue Jays – The rotation will consist of R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, J.A. Happ, and Esmil Rogers. The Blue Jays starting rotation was not only one of the worst in the division, but one of the worst in the league. Coming off a Cy Young Award, R.A. Dickey pitched to a 4.21 ERA while going 14-13. Brandon Morrow is a walking injury and never lived up to his potential. Mark Buehrle could be solid but he is not the same pitcher in the East as he was in the Central. Happ has been awful for three straight years and Rogers has good stuff but is way too inconsistent. The Blue Jays rotation has little hope heading into 2014 unless they sign one or both of the remaining top-tier free agents in Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.
4- Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles will likely have Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, and Kevin Gausman as their starters. There is no clear ace on the staff although Tillman and Gonzalez were pretty solid last year, but who knows if they’ll be able to do it again. You then get to Chen who is a 4+ ERA pitcher and Norris who is a ticking time bomb in the AL East. To cap off the rotation, Kevin Gausman has potential through the roof but is another one of those players who has yet to put it together in the big leagues pitching to an ERA of 5.66.
3- Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox have a solid rotation. How do you not after winning the previous year’s World Series? However, they did not make any major changes to their pitching. That leaves them with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Ryan Dempster. Besides 2012, Lester is usually a stud. No one knows what type of player Buchholz will be or if he can even stay healthy. Lackey did very well last year but that was only his first productive year with the Red Sox. Peavy can be very good but is not nearly what he used to be and Ryan Dempster has only enjoyed success in the National League. The Red Sox starting rotation is good but could’ve added another starter.
2- New York Yankees – The Yankees were desperate for pitching and inked Japanese superstar Masahiro Tanaka to a massive contract. With the signing, the rotation includes C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and a battle for the fifth spot between Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, and David Phelps. Pineda will likely win the fifth spot. Sabathia had a very rough year last year but you can only hope he bounces back. Kuroda has been nothing but brilliant since coming to the Yankees. Tanaka has really great stuff but has never pitched in the majors. Nova has shown signs of greatness like he did last year posting a 3.10 ERA in 139 innings. As for the fifth spot, it will be a battle but I think the young Pineda will take it but for a guy who has not pitched in two years, the fifth spot is still up in the air.
1- Tampa Bay Rays – This is a no brainer. The Rays are always stacked with pitching. Unfortunately for the Rays, Jeremy Hellickson will miss the first 6-8 weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. Hellickson is a crucial part of their staff but they have plenty of others to make up for his loss to start the season. The rotation will be David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi. Once Hellickson returns, he’ll take Odorizzi’s spot. How good is the Rays rotation? Four of their starting five posted an ERA below 3.50 last year. Woah! The only guy to not have an ERA that low was Hellickson. He means a lot to the club but if the Rays were to have one starter go down via injury, it certainly would have been Hellickson. You can never have enough pitching and that’s a motto the Rays definitely abide by.