Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Pitching Rankings

In the coming days I'll be taking a look at each of the teams in baseball and their current (as of the day of the post) pitching rotations. Why? Because I found myself wondering "if I was a Pirates fan, should I be excited"? Since you have to be an ESPN Insider to see Keith Law's rankings of MiLB systems, I've decided to use AOL's Frankie Piliere's rankings.

I will tackle one division at a time over the next week or so.

Today we look at the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles (Currently 8-12, 5th in AL East)
1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. Chris Tillman
3. Zach Britton
4. Jake Arrieta
5. Brad Bergesen
(Currently on the disabled list - Brian Matusz)

The Orioles sport the second youngest starting 5 (25.6) in the division and a collective ERA of 4.56 and a WHIP of 1.27. With a minor league system ranked 25th overall it would appear that these pitchers are the foundation of their rotation for quite awhile. Barring major injury or blockbuster trades we can expect to see these guys for awhile at Camden Yards. Jeremy Guthrie is the elder statesman of the bunch at the ripe old age of 32. In 2010 the Orioles farm system was ranked 6th in baseball, so this year's ranking may be indicative that the kids have moved from the farm system to the big show.

Boston Red Sox (currently 10-11, 3rd in the AL East)
1. Jon Lester
2. John Lackey
3. Clay Buchholz
4. Josh Beckett
5. Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Red Sox have the second oldest rotation (29) within the division and a collective ERA of 4.05 and a 1.26 WHIP. Not unlike the O's, the Sox have recently cleaned out the high end prospects in their system (Lester, Buchholz) and have most of their players in their most productive years (in terms of age). Seeing a modest fall from 11 to 14 in the AOL Rankings shows the impact of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Anthony Ranaudo is their next "ace in the making", albeit at least 2 seasons away, the 21 year old has averaged 10.22 K/9 at LSU. He's currently playing for the A level Greenville Drive.

New York Yankees (currently 12-7, 1st in the AL East)
1. C.C. Sabathia
2. A.J. Burnett
3. Bartolo Colon
4. Ivan Nova
5. Freddie Garcia
(currently on the DL - Phil Hughes)

New York was hit hard in the past couple years with prospect problems. Joba Chamberlain was supposed to become Roger Clemens lite - he didn't. Phil Hughes was an 18 game winner in 2010 - and now has a dead arm. The Yankees currently sport the oldest starting 5 in the division (31.8) with a collective ERA of 3.78 (but if you include Hughes starts that goes to 5.47) and a WHIP of 1.27 (going to 1.44 with Hughes). What you've got here is a fragile rotation that has been moderately effective in so far. Sabathia is a work horse, but to expect consistency from Burnett, or Freddie Garcia to continue to post a 0.69 ERA/0.69 WHIP is simply asinine. What they do have is a system that sports a fine collection of young arms and made a jump from 15th to 4th in the offseason. Names to watch out for: Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman.

Tampa Bay Rays (currently 11-11, 2nd in the AL East)
1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Wade Davis
4. Jeff Neimann
5. Jeremy Hellickson

By now everyone knows that Tampa is insanely talented. They're young, fearless and potentially androids from another planet. With the third youngest rotation in the division (26.2) they're posting absolutely obscene numbers. Collectively an ERA of 3.93 and a WHIP of 1.24, both of which were escalated by a poor first week. This rotation is good...really good. They're also really young. Stud in the making, Jeremy Hellickson, has 4 pitches that he can use to get batters out and pinpoint control. The scary thing about this team is that they're only going to get better. They dropped from the #1 system to #3 in 2011, but have a new influx of impact arms that they gathered in the Matt Garza trade. Names to look out for: Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Alex Colome.

Toronto Blue Jays (Currently 9-12, 4th in the AL East)
1. Ricky Romero
2. Kyle Drabek
3. Brandon Morrow
4. Jo-Jo Reyes
5. Jesse Listch
(recently demoted - Brett Cecil)

The Blue Jays currently sport the youngest rotation in the division (25.4) with a collective ERA of 4.31 and a WHIP of 1.32. Those first three names will be the top of this list for quite some time. This rotation is another product of the highly ranked minor league system. Romero and Listch are both draft picks, and Drabek came to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade with Philadelphia. Morrow, a reclamation project from Seattle, has turned into what A.J. Burnett would have been if he had control (also, without the history of injury). In 2010, AOL ranked the Jays system 26th, where in 2011 they jump all the way up to 5th. The 2010 draft class was particularly strong for the Jays (no longer adhering to the slotting system) and it's a matter of when not if, that Zach Stewart will be called up for his shot.

Top 5 Pitchers NOW
1. C.C. Sabathia
2. Jon Lester
3. David Price
4. Brandon Morrow
4. Ricky Romero

Top 5 Pitchers FUTURE
1. Jeremy Hellickson
2. Kyle Drabek
3. Brian Matusz
4. Wade Davis
5. Jake Arrieta

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