March 30, 2012; Bradenton, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (55) reacts before he pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Where Do the Rays Rank Among the Top Rotations in Baseball?


Everyone all around baseball knows that the Rays have an incredible rotation. But just how good are they? Today we’ll attempt to find out. We’ll grade all 30 MLB rotations based on four categories, each worth 10 points. Here are how the criteria are defined:

Upside: level of performance if everything goes right

Experience: experience playing in pennant chases, specifically in the playoffs

Depth: how deep the rotation is from 1 to 5 and how ready and able starter beyond the first 5 are to fill a rotation spot

Consistency: how good of a track record the members of the rotation have in terms of performance year in and year out

These ranking are for the 2011 season only, meaning you don’t get credit for prospects who won’t make a major impact in the rotation this season. With all this in mind, let’s start the rankings.

T1. Tampa Bay Rays

Rotation: James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Jeff Niemann

Upside: 10

No team in baseball has more ability from 1 to 5 in their rotation than the Rays.

Experience: 8

Four of the five members of the rotation have made at least one postseason start (Niemann is surprisingly the exception), but this is still a very young rotation.

Depth: 10

Not only are these five starters impressive, Wade Davis is a proven major league starter stuck in the bullpen, and Alex Cobb is stranded at Triple-A.

Consistency: 8

You have regression possibilities here from Shields and Hellickson, but David Price and Matt Moore are primed for big years to mostly offset that.

Sum: 36

T1. San Francisco Giants

Rotation: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong (DL), Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito

Upside: 10

Even with Zito at the bottom of this rotation, this rotation has four potential Cy Young candidates.

Experience: 10

Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner led the Giants to the 2010 World Series, and they also were in playoffs races in 2009 and 2011.

Depth: 8

The Giants are stacked from 1 to 4, but they’re in trouble if they face a long-term injury.

Consistency: 8

Lincecum and Cain are about as good as it gets (but even LIncecum had an off year in the regular season in 2010) and Bumgarner has been very good the past two years. But Vogelsong has just one great year under his belt and we’ll have to see what he does this year, and we can’t expect anything from Zito.

Sum: 36

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Rotation: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton

Upside: 9

Three aces, but Worley and Blanton don’t have the same type of ability.

Experience: 10

Do I need to say anything more?

Depth: 9

You can add Kyle Kendrick to the starting mix and 1 to 4 are outstanding.

Consistency: 9

I definitely don’t trust Blanton, and Worley could be due for at least somewhat of a sophomore slump.

Sum: 35

4. New York Yankees

Rotation: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda (DL), Freddy Garcia (Andy Pettitte)

Upside: 8

You have CC at the top and nice ability from Hughes, Pineda, and Nova. Kuroda and Garcia don’t reach that same level of upside.

Experience: 10

CC, Pettitte, and Garcia are grizzled veterans with extensive playoff experience and Kuroda is a veteran himself, although the other three still need to prove they can be consistent big league starters for a contending team. This rating goes down to a 9 if Pettitte is unable to come back.

Depth: 8

The Yankees have a stellar top 2 but questions afterwards. Signing Pettitte did wonders to help the Yankees’ depth, but who knows how good he’ll be when he comes back. We already saw Pineda down with an injury, and another one could be costly. The Yankees do have a bunch of decent guys at Triple-A, but the big-time prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are not ready and you don’t want to have the other guys starting for you for any extended period of time.

Consistency: 8

Sabathia and Kuroda are great at the top of the rotation, but there are some questions surrounding the remainder of the rotation.

Sum: 34

5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Rotation: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards

Upside: 9

Weaver, Haren, and Wilson have outstanding ability, but Santana is a step back and Richards even more so.

Experience: 8

The top two just have so much experience, but Wilson’s horrendous showing in the 2011 postseason, Santana’s 5.56 career post season ERA, along with Richards’ lack of any experience at all brings this down to a 8.

Depth: 8

1 to 4 are great, but after that you have questions.

Consistency: 8

Weaver and Haren are ridiculous and even Santana had been pretty good three of the past four years, but for Wilson his 2011 postseason is a worrying factor and Richards is a complete question mark.

Total: 33

6.. Atlanta Braves

Rotation: Tim Hudson (DL), Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Randall Delgado

Upside: 7

This rotation is filled were more consistency than upside, although Beachy and Hanson have electric arms.

Experience: 7

After faltering late in 2011, this rating can’t be too high.

Depth: 10

You have all these guys plus Arodys Vizcaino on the DL and Julio Tehran at Triple-A

Consistency: 8

These guys should be dependable (when healthy) but they still have to prove themselves to be consistent big league starters.

Sum: 32

T7. Texas Rangers

Rotation: Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz

Upside: 9

Darvish and Feliz are beaming with upside and Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have shown the flashes as well. Lewis keeps this from being a 10.

Experience: 6

Darvish and Feliz are complete unknowns but the other three were integral parts of the Rangers’ 2011 World Series run.

Depth: 10

You have five nice starters and then Martin Perez just about ready at Triple-A.

Consistency: 6

You have to worry at least somewhat about Darvish and Feliz, and Holland was hit-or-miss in 2011.

Sum: 31

T7. Milwaukee Brewers

Rotation: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson

Upside: 8

Greinke can be absolutely lights-out, but I don’t think anyone else in this rotation can be scintillatingly good.

Experience: 7

Other than Wolf, most of this group’s experience is from 2011, but they played really well when it was on the line only to fall short to the Cardinals.

Depth: 8

We have a nice starting five here, but the Brewers’ top pitching prospect, Wily Peralta isn’t quite ready for the Show yet in case of injury.

Consistency: 8

We have some injury risk with Greinke, but he should be great. Wolf could be due for a worse season and I don’t think Gallardo and Marcum are that great, but they’re certainly good enough to make this a top-of-the-line rotation if not exactly a scary one to face.

Sum: 31

T9. St. Louis Cardinals 

Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter (DL), Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn

Upside: 8

With a healthy Wainwright and Carpenter pairing, Garcia pitching well, and Lohse pitching like he did on Opening Day, this rotation will definitely be worth watching.

Experience: 7

Carpenter and Wainwright are more than battle-tested, but it trails off after them.

Depth: 8

You have these 6 guys plus Shelby Miller just about ready for the big leagues. Maybe the back end of the rotation is a little weak, but there’s plenty of depth

Consistency: 5

Injury risk and worry about 3-6 in the rotation bring this down to a 5.

Sum: 28

T9. Arizona Diamondbacks

Rotation: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Josh Collmenter, Joe Saunders

Upside: 8

The top three could be outstanding.

Experience: 6

Other than for Saunders, all of this groups’ experience comes from 2011, but they did on quite a run.

Depth: 8

These five guys make a nice rotation already, and then we will see Trevor Bauer later in the year.

Consistency: 6

All these guys have some risk involved, but I’ll take my chances with the top 3 and Collmenter will be at least a solid pitcher.

Sum: 28

11. Detroit Tigers

Rotation: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly

Upside: 9

Verlander won the Cy Young and MVP in 2011 and could still have room for improvement, and Scherzer has dynamic stuff. Fister, Porcello, and Smyly are a step back but still have impressive ability.

Experience: 5

You have Verlander, but then everybody else got their pennant chase experience in 2011 (and Smyly wasn’t on the team).

Depth: 7

The top 3 is outstanding, but 4 and 5 are question marks. Justin Turner and Andy Oliver are talented pitchers on the cusp of the big leagues, though.

Consistency: 6

Verlander, Fister, and to a lesser extent Scherzer are rock solid, but who knows what you’re going to next from the other two.

Sum: 27

12. Boston Red Sox

Rotation: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard

Upside: 10

Four of these five have electric arms and the ability to blow away the opposition.

Experience: 7

Having Lester and Beckett at the top of your rotation is outstanding, but the rest have little to no big league starting experience, let alone for a contender, and the bottom two have definite question marks surrounding them.

Depth: 4

Four and five remain huge questions marks, and the Red Sox’ other pitcher competing for a starting job, Alfredo Aceves, has been installed as the closer.

Consistency: 5

You know what you’re getting with Lester and Beckett, but Buchholz is an injury risk and as a Red Sox fan, you have to be nervous about the 4 and 5 spots.

Sum: 26

13. Miami Marlins

Rotation: Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano

Upside: 8

Is Johnson and Sanchez can stay healthy and Zambrano can keep his head screwed on straight, this rotation could be extremely effective.

Experience: 6

You have Buehrle, and Zambrano with significant playoff experience. The other three have actually never pitched in the playoffs, although they have been part of failed playoff chases.

Depth: 7

The Marlins are solid 1 to 5, but if Johnson or Sanchez gets injured, they’re in trouble.

Consistency: 4

You have to worry about Johnson and Sanchez’s injury concerns, you never know what you’re getting from Zambrano, and Nolasco hasn’t had an ERA under 4.50 since 2008.

Sum: 25

T14. Chicago White Sox

Rotation: John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Chris Sale, Phil Humber

Upside: 7

With a healthy Jake Peavy, a repeat of 2011 from Phil Humber, and Chris Sale’s great arsenal, this rotation could be intriguing.

Experience: 4

The top three are veterans while the last two have zero contending experience.

Depth: 6

I like this rotation, but the White Sox’ Triple-A depth is pathetic.

Consistency: 7

Danks and Floyd are solid and if Peavy is healthy, he should be great. We’ll have to see what happens with Sale and Humber, but they look promising.

Sum: 24

T14. Washington Nationals

Rotation: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detweiler

Upside: 9

If Strasburg can stay healthy and the rest of these guys can pitch to their talent level, this rotation will be scary.

Experience: 1

When Edwin Jackson is your only pitcher to pitch in the postseason, you’re in serious trouble.

Depth: 9

This rotation is pretty darn good 1 to 5, and even after trading away Tom Milone and Brad Peacock in the Gonzalez deal, the Nats still have loads of rotation depth, with John Lannan stuck at Triple-A and Tom Gorzelanny or Craig Stammen ready to slide in from the bullpen if needed.

Consistency: 4

This might be the most volatile rotation in the majors. Strasburg is ridiculous- when healthy, Jackson is an eternal wild card, Gonzalez walks too many guys, Deweiler is unproven, and Zimmermann has one good year in the majors under his belt.

Sum: 24

16. Cincinnati Reds

Rotation: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey

Upside: 8

Cueto and Latos definitely have Cy Young upside, and Bailey has considerable ability as well. Leake also has some upside.

Experience: 2

Only Arroyo has playoff experience, although Latos was a key part of the season where the Padres nearly made the playoffs.

Depth: 7

You have these five plus Aroldis Chapman. That’s pretty good.

Consistency: 5

Cueto appears to have turned a corner and Latos is great, but you don’t know what you’re going to get from the rest of the rotation.

Sum: 22

17. Los Angeles Dodgers

Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly (DL), Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano

Upside: 8

Kershaw and Billingsley have excellent upside while the others are slightly above-average at best. But the Dodgers will definitely take that.

Experience: 5

These guys barely have any playoff experience at all, although they are battle-tested veterans.

Depth: 4

The Dodgers are able to survive until Lilly comes back thanks to April off-days, but they have no clear replacement if anyone is out for longer. Their rotation is solid from 1 to 5, though.

Consistency: 3

Kershaw is great, but everyone else has been hard to predict in recent years.

Sum: 20

T18. Cleveland Indians

Rotation: Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez

Upside: 6

You have excellent ability from Masterson and Jimenez and some upside from Tomlin and Gomez as well. You know what you’re getting from Lowe.

Experience: 5

Lowe has a ton of experience to buoy this crowd of young pitchers, but they get some credit for their 2011 run.

Depth: 5

The Indians have a solid rotation up and down but their starting depth beyond the first five is questionable.

Consistency: 3

The only pitcher I completely trust is Masterson.

Sum: 19

T18. Pittsburgh Pirates

Rotation: Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett (DL), Charlie Morton (DL), Jeff Karstens, James McDonald, Kevin Correia

Upside: 7

This guys don’t exactly instill fear in opposing players, but they can pitch and this rotation could be decently above-average.

Experience: 2
Burnett has some playoff experience. That’s it.

Depth: 7

The Pirates have these six guys, but Gerrit Cole doesn’t appear to be ready yet. Still, they have good depth.

Consistency: 3

You have injury risk and performance risk. The Pirates could have a nice rotation, or it could be terrible yet again.

Sum: 19

T20. Minnesota Twins

Rotation: Scott Baker (DL), Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Liam Hendriks, Nick Blackburn

Upside: 3

You have upside from Baker (when healthy) and Liriano. That’s it.

Experience: 7

If you can remember that far back, the Twins used to be a consistent contending team. Four of the five have legitimate experience.

Depth: 4

This rotation is pretty solid, but the Twins currently don’t have a 5th started listed on their official depth chart with Baker on the DL. that’s a problem.

Consistency: 4

You kind of know what you’re getting from Baker (when healthy) and Pavano, and Hendriks should be a solid big league 4th starter, but Blackburn could be horrendous and Liriano is a wild card.

Sum: 18

T20. Oakland Athletics

Rotation: Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson (DL), Bartolo Colon, Tom Milone, Grant Godfrey, Tyson Ross

Upside: 7

Anderson and Ross have outstanding upside while everyone else won’t exactly excite you- unless you want to count Colon when he’s actually healthy a pitches like the ex-Cy Young Award winner he is.

Experience: 3

At least you have Colon!

Depth: 7

You have these six plus Brad Peacock just about ready for the big leagues. Pretty good.

Consistency: 5

McCarthy, Milone, and Godfrey should be relatively stable, but Anderson, Colon, and Ross are high-risk guys.

Sum: 18

T20. New York Mets

Rotation: Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jonathan Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee

Upside: 7

You have Santana, who we know is a multiple Cy Young Award winner and is apparently healthy, you have Niese, whose FIP suggests he could be primed for a big year, and the NL still hasn’t figured out Dickey. Pelfrey and Gee, not so much.

Experience: 3

There’s Santana, and that’s it.

Depth: 4

The Mets don’t have a good 4th starter, with Pelfrey and Gee being more 5th starter-types, and the Mets have little depth behind them at this point, with Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey not yet ready for the big leagues. If Santana gets injured, the Mets are in serious trouble.

Consistency: 4

Santana is a major injury risk and the four and five spots in the rotation are major question marks.

Sum: 18

23. Colorado Rockies

Rotation: Jeremy Guthrie, Jaime Moyer, Jhoulys Chacin, Drew PomeranzJuan Nicasio

Upside: 7

Chacin and especially Pomeranz are teaming with the upside, and Guthrie could pitch well even at Coors’ after leaving the lowly Orioles. I don’t think Moyer has much upside.

Experience: 3

All of the playoff experience in this rotation is rom Moyer, although Guthrie did pitch and often pitch well in the AL East for quite a while.

Depth: 5

This rotation is decent from 1 to 5, and the Rockies have guys like Alex White and Tyler Chatwood able to immediately slide into the rotation if needed. Those guys also have some upside as well.

Consistency: 2

No one on this team is a sure bet to have a good year, although Chacin is probably the most likely and Guthrie should have a nice year heading out of the AL East.

Sum: 17

24. Seattle Mariners

Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan, Kevin Millwood

Upside: 5

Only Hernandez is a real upside guy.

Experience: 5

It’s nice to have Felix and Millwood for experience, and Vargas has some as well. Noesi was with the Yankees for the 2011 stretch run but not really as a starter.

Depth: 3

The Mariners have a lot of pitchers, but only Hernandez and maybe Vargas and Noesi are actually good. The trio of Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton aren’t ready yet.

Consistency: 4

You have Felix, but there’s no one else you can completely trust.

Sum: 16

25. Chicago Cubs

Rotation: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad, Paul Maholm

Upside: 7

Dempster and Garza could be great, but even in the best-case scenario, this rotation is only slightly above-average.

Experience: 3

You have Garza and that’s basically it for playoff experience as a starting pitcher.

Depth: 2

I don’t trust any of the guys from 3 to 5, and if there’s an injury, the have no dependable option to turn to.

Consistency: 2

Only Garza has displayed any sort of consistency as a starting pitcher among these five.

Sum: 14

26. Toronto Blue Jays

Rotation: Rickey Romero, Brandon Morrow, Henderson Alvarez, Kyle Drabek, Joel Carreno (Dustin McGowan)

Upside: 7

You have loads of potential from Romero, Morrow, and Drabek, but Alvarez and Carreno were never highly-regarded prospects.

Experience: 1

You have a nice leader in Romero atop the rotation, but three of these guys are rookies and even Romero has never been on a serious contending team.

Depth: 2

The Blue Jays depth was exposed following the Dustin McGowan injury, and it tells you something that they actually signed McDowan, who missed from 2008 to 2011, to an extension this offseason. The Jays have great pitching prospect, but they’re not ready for the big leagues.

Consistency: 3

Romero is great, and Morrow should put together a nice season, but you have no idea what you’re getting from the rest of these guys.

Sum: 13

T27. Bonus: Tampa Bay Rays “Second Five”

Rotation: Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Alex Torres, Alex Colome

Upside: 6

Davis has shown what he can do as a big league starter and Archer, Torres, and Colome have dominating stuff, even though they don’t have the control to be elite starters at this point.

Depth: 1

You can’t have depth for your depth.

Experience: 2

Davis and Cobb played important roles in the Rays’ playoffs runs the past two years.

Consistency: 3

You have Davis and Cobb and here, so there’s definitely some stability.

Sum: 12

T27. San Diego Padres

Rotation: Edinson Volquez, Corey Luebke, Dustin Moseley, Clayton Richard, Tim Stauffer

Upside: 4

The Padres’ current rotation features a bunch of low-upside soff-tossers, with Volquez being the exception. He’s the only reason their upside is as high as 4, although Luebke does have nice stuff.

Experience: 2

Volquez got absolutely shelled in his only postseason start, although these guys do have experience from the 2010 run that fell short.

Depth: 2

The Padres have these five guys but they definitely don’t have a stable 1 to 5. Casey Kelly and Joe Wieland are on the way.

Consistency: 4

Other than Volquez and maybe Luebke, this team’s pitchers will be what they are, a bunch of soft-tossers who don’t walk many guys but don’t strikeout many either.

Sum: 12

29. Kansas City Royals

Rotation: Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Luis Mendoza, Danny Duffy

Upside: 5

You have nice upside from Duffy, Sanchez, and maybe even Hochevar, but Chen is solid and no better while Mendoza is filler.

Experience: 2

You have Chen and Sanchez, but no one else has even come close to high-leverage pitching.

Depth: 3

You have a hallway decent top 3 (I guess), and Duffy has some nice ability, and then you have Mark Montgomery on the cusp of the big leagues.

Consistency: 1

Chen is relatively consistent and to some extent Sanchez is as well. Everybody else? Not so much.

Sum: 11

30. Houston Astros

Rotation: Wandy RodriguezBud NorrisLucas Harrell, J.A. Happ, Kyle Weiland

Upside: 5

Rodriguez and Norris can be great pitchers, but no one else has significant upside.

Experience: 1

Rodriguez and Happ have some playoff experience, all in relief. Weiland was part of the Red Sox’ failed stretch run in 201 and completely faltered.

Depth: 1

You have guys like Jordan Lyles who could replace someone if necessary, but there are only two pitchers the Astros can trust to any extent, Rodriguez and Norris

Consistency: 3

Rodriguez and Norris should be pretty good, but the other three could be horrible.

Sum: 10

31. Baltimore Orioles

Rotation: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Brian Matusz

Upside: 4

Arrieta and Matusz have some nice upside, but none of these other guys will be anything special even in the best-case scenario.

Experience: 2

Hunter and Hammel do bring the O’s a smidget of experience.

Depth: 1

They have some pitchers, but who do you trust? No one.

Consistency: 1

Don’t even get me started.

Sum: 8

 

By no means do the Rays have the clear-cut best rotation in baseball. But they’re definitely up there. The Rays combination of ability and depth in their starting rotation is tantalizing and will help them go far this season. Opening Day may have been an exception, but look forward to seeing outstanding pitches by the Rays all season.

Tags: CC Sabathia Cliff Lee Cole Hamels David Price Featured James Shields Jeff Niemann Jeremy Hellickson Matt Cain Matt Moore Popular Roy Halladay Tim Lincecum Wade Davis