April 30, 2009

You call that a rotation? Who’s got the best?

So maybe the NL East is not the greatest of divisions this year… at least in April and since we are talking about it lets examine the rotations. It is still a good division (yes the Nationals hinder the credibility of the division) with power lineups, good managing and some great pitchers. The thinness of these clubs boils down to the starting rotations. By no means should every team have pitching depth from 1-5 in the rotation, but the sputtering of the Mets, instability of the Phillies and ineffectiveness of the Marlins ace, it begs the question: Do the Braves have the best rotation in the division?

Your 2009 rotations from worst to first… right?

#5 – Washington Nationals – Sorry – casual fans do not know anyone on this pitching staff. The bigger question for the Nationals is going to be which middle reliever will take the “Lance Carter –your team is really bad but MLB says we have to have an All-Star representative” award. For brevity sake, yes we will skip the Nationals.

#4 – New York Mets-

Yes Santana is great, and perhaps the best pitcher in the league. The Twins did not get much in return for the great Johan, but the Mets have very little past him and there has been talk about a rotation shake-up.

Santana – The best there is.

John Maine – Has never lived up to potential is a three-four starter at best.

Mike Pelfrey – At 25 still has room to improve, especially with command of his pitches. Pelfrey is a solid guy with a sub 4.00 ERA last season. A good not great option

Oliver Perez – walked 105 last season and 15 already this year. Has great stuff, but the Pirates actually knew that and still would not hang onto him. Perez has been up and down and if you were a Mets fan you would know how tough it would be to watch him pitch

Livian Hernandez… great…circa 1999.

#3 – Philadelphia Phillies

Perhaps the number one rotation to begin the season but with an ailing Cole Hamels this rotation is considerably weaker. Brett Myers is what he is and well… Chan Ho Park? Really?

Hamels – Great when 100% and a real ace. Once he gets back this is a much better rotation, of course.

Brett Myers – I have always like Myers. A solid arm that can give you some quality starts. However he has not had a sub 4.00 ERA in two seasons.

Jamie Moyer – still getting it done…. But not all that intimidating

Joe Blanton – Since being the A’s opening day starter it has been spotty for Blanton and he has even been roughed by those pesky Nationals. At one point was projected as a front end rotation but has faded.

Chan Ho Park – Well, I don’t really know what to say on this one.

#2 Atlanta Braves –

So how do you like that? Your Braves have the second best and a close first rotation in the division. I certainly did not feel Lowe was a savior by any means, but he holds up with the others in the East (expect Santana of course) and much more experience that you will need if things come down to the wire in September. The Braves are deep and just need some production from Kawakami and Reyes to contend with the Marlins for the best rotation in the league. If by season’s end Reyes and Kawakami are viable options with quality starts, then Atlanta might have the best rotation in the division.

Florida Marlins. –

Yeah so they got off to a hot start and then faltered, but it has surely not been the rotation blowing games in 8th and 9th. Florida as per usual has good, young arms and have the best depth in their starting rotation.

Ricky Nolasco – Looking to improve on his break-out 2008 season. Has struggled to start the year but is a legitimate threat. Again not the Santana Ace, but who is.

Josh Johnson – Arguably better than Nolasco, Johnson provides a legitimate 1-2 punch for Florida.. the Marlins bullpen on the other hand is a whole different story

Chris Volstad – At 22 years of age and having been compared to Roy Halladay by MLB scouts, Volstad is a real threat in the rotation. With nearly a strikeout per inning this season, things are looking up indeed for Volstad.

Anibal Sanchez – Ok, so not a great option but he has battled some injuries and has shown signs this season that he could get back to the Sanchez of 2006.

#5 – Take your pick…the five slot for Florida has been weakened with the injury to Andrew Miller who should be back after a rehab start. Miller is still all potential and ha flashed signs of ability that would warrant the trade of Cabrera. Miller may not be the best, but you would want to watch him over an aging vet (Chan Ho Park? Livian Hernandez?) any day,

I guess the point of this little breakdown is to contemplate that the Braves starting pitching is better than most think. Second best rotation in the division and while the Braves have been inconsistent so has the rest of the division.



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