Last month, I took on the task of ranking all 30 MLB starting rotations based on their performance this year. Now that the weather is warming up, some players have returned from injury while others have been sent to the disabled list, it’s time to look at the list again. Here are the latest rankings:
*Note – all pitching stats are as a starter.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Previous rank: 1
Best pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, 12-2, 2.32 ERA, 135 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Rich Hill, 4-4, 4.60 ERA, 50 strikeouts
Dodgers remain No. 1 while Kershaw continues his push for his fourth Cy Young Award (we have him ranked behind Max Scherzer at the moment). Los Angeles starters have won a league-leading 38 games, surrendered a league-low 187 runs and own a 3.41 ERA, the best in baseball. Their collective WHIP of 1.154 is also the best in the league. The Dodgers rotation ranks in the top 10 of every major pitching category.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
Previous rank: 5
Best pitcher: Robbie Ray, 8-3, 2.87 ERA, 119 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Patrick Corbin, 6-7, 4.76 ERA, 78 strikeouts
Arizona’s emergence as an under-the-radar Cy Young candidate has propelled the Diamondbacks to move up three slots. Ray and Zack Greinke are the best 1-2 combo in baseball and this staff not only gobbles up innings, but they rarely surrender runs. They trail just the Dodgers in staff ERA and their 1.00 home runs allowed per nine innings is the best in baseball.
3. Washington Nationals
Previous rank: 7
Best pitcher: Max Scherzer, 9-5, 2.06 ERA, 151 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Tanner Roark, 6-5, 5.15 ERA, 64 strikeouts
Scherzer has just been on a whole other level, and that’s why he leads our Cy Young rankings. His ERA and strikeout totals are the best in the National League and teammate Gio Gonzalez is just five strikeouts away from giving Washington the only rotation in baseball with three pitchers in the triple digits on strikeout totals along with Stephen Strasburg. In fact, their 500 strikeouts as a team is the best in baseball.
4. Houston Astros
Previous rank: 3
Best pitcher: Dallas Keuchel, 9-0, 1.67 ERA, 69 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Joe Musgrove, 4-7, 6.01 ERA, 56 strikeouts
Keuchel was looking like our lead horse for the AL Cy Young before he landed on the disabled list. The Astros rotation isn’t bad, but losing your best pitcher is a significant loss no matter who you are. Nevertheless, Houston is weathering the storm. The rotation has lost a league-low 16 games and are third in the league in hits and earned runs allowed. Their strikeouts per nine innings are second only to Cleveland.
5. New York Yankees
Previous rank: 9
Best pitcher: Luis Severino, 5-3, 3.15 ERA, 107 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka, 6-7, 5.56 ERA, 90 strikeouts
While Tanaka continues to be inconsistent, the rest of his rotation has risen to the occasion each night that they take the hill. Severino, who had a disaster campaign in 2016, has bounced back nicely with a stellar 10.21 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and a 1.071 WHIP. The staff is also stingy with the free passes, allowing the fewest walks in the league.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
Previous rank: 2
Best pitcher: Carlos Martinez, 6-6, 2.88 ERA, 121 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Adam Wainwright, 8-5, 5.17 ERA, 74 strikeouts
Martinez has finally hit his groove and is starting to look like the staff ace he was advertised to be with a strong showing in June that saw him pitch to a 2.43 ERA and 0.990 WHIP for the month. Even Wainwright had a bit of a resurgence in late May through early June before falling back to the norm. The 3.90 staff era is the fifth-best in baseball and the team is stingy in allowing hits and home runs. Consistency has been key too as the main five pitchers have remained in the rotation all season lone aside from a spot start by Marco Gonzales.
7. Cleveland Indians
Previous rank: 20
Best pitcher: Corey Kluber, 7-2, 3.02 ERA, 105 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Josh Tomlin, 4-9, 6.09 ERA, 61 strikeouts
If you want to see a lot of batters swing and miss, watch an Indians game. Cleveland’s pitchers are striking out opposing batters at a 9.86 rate per nine innings, the best in baseball and they have three pitchers who have a clip of 10.00 or better. Kluber is finally healthy and has been dominant since his return.
Since returning from the DL, Kluber is 4-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 12.52 K/9 across 46 frames. #tribe
— Justin Worsley (@jtworsley) June 30, 2017
The reason for Cleveland’s meteoric rise, however, is their sudden stinginess with allowing runs. Last month, their 5.15 ERA was the second worst in baseball. Now, they are a middle-of-the-pack 16th with a staff ERA of 4.52.
8. Kansas City Royals
Previous rank: 4
Best pitcher: Jason Vargas, 11-3, 2.29 ERA, 70 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Jake Junis, 1-2, 6.82 ERA, 26 strikeouts
Vargas continues to shine for Kansas City and may be the best available pitcher on the open market. Last month, I mentioned that Vargas was on pace to allow just eight home runs on the year, but teams were able to knock them on the park in June and Vargas has officially surrendered eight home runs on the year. While the Royals don’t particularly excel in one area, they also haven’t shown any glaring weaknesses either.
9. Boston Red Sox
Previous rank: 22
Best pitcher: Chris Sale, 10-3, 2.77 ERA, 155 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Rick Porcello, 4-10, 5.06 ERA, 99 strikeouts
Red Sox pitchers are winning games and eating up innings, but they are still surrendering the second-most hits in baseball. They are balanced out by a low walk rate, second only to the Yankees, are are third in strikeouts, which is why they have the best strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sale is still having a monster season, striking out opposing batters at a 12.27 clip and owning a WHIP of just 1.003. After winning the Cy Young last year, Porcello has been nothing but a disappointment. Nobody has allowed as many hits as Porcello’s 138. With Price back and the Red Sox rotation finally healthy, we are seeing what they are fully capable of.
10. Milwaukee Brewers
Previous rank: 14
Best pitcher: Chase Anderson, 6-2, 2.89 ERA, 85 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Wily Peralta, 4-2, 6.09 ERA, 32 strikeouts
Anderson is having a breakout year, but can he keep it up? He has never posted a ERA below 4.01, but a big reason for his success is the fact that he has cut his home runs allowed per nine innings in half after surrendering 28 last year. Milwaukee pitchers also don’t lose games. Their 19 losses are the second best in baseball and their staff ERA of 4.21 ranks eighth.
11. Tampa Bay Rays
Previous rank: 6
Best pitcher: Chris Archer, 6-5, 3.92 ERA, 131 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Blake Snell, 0-5, 5.36 ERA, 40 strikeouts
Don’t let Archers ERA fool you, he is the best pitcher on this team. He;s punching out 10.69 batters per nine innings and owns a respectable 1.205 WHIP. Tampa’s 4.04 ERA is the sixth best in baseball and the team is efficient as a whole. Their WHIP ranks eighth as well as their strikeouts per nine innings. Snell spent most of the month in the minors, only making one start, but still struggled.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates
Previous rank: 16
Best pitcher: Jameson Taillon, 4-2, 2.97 ERA, 50 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Tyler Glasnow, 2-6, 7.45 ERA, 50 strikeouts
Ivan Nova has still been solid this year, but Taillon has actually been better, though in less action. Pittsburgh has surrendered a ton of hits, but their balls rarely leave the park and the biggest problem on this team was Glasnow, who was demoted when Taillon returned to the rotation. The team doesn’t punch out batters well, however, as their 6.88 strikeouts per nine innings ranks 25th.
13. Chicago Cubs
Previous rank: 15
Best pitcher: Jon Lester, 5-4, 3.69 ERA, 104 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: John Lackey, 5-9, 5.24 ERA, 83 strikeouts
Chicago sent Brett Anderson to the minors and Eddie Butler has been much better in his place. The entire staff is still laboring through the hangover of winning a championship last season, as they rank around the middle in every category except for hits, where they have allowed just 418, the fourth best in baseball.
14. Colorado Rockies
Previous rank: 21
Best pitcher: Jeff Hoffman, 4-1, 3.95 ERA, 42 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Tyler Anderson, 3-5, 6.21 ERA, 60 strikeouts
Last month, Antonio Senzatela was the darling of the Rockies lineup. Now, he has been demoted to the bullpen following a dreadful June. Hoffman has only made seven starts, but had been solid in Colorado, owning a team-best 9.22 strikeouts per nine innings, a respectable ERA of 3.95, and just 0.44 home runs allowed per nine innings. The Rockies staff are also winning games, their 35 wins are the fourth best in baseball, but they have issued a ton of free passes.
15. Toronto Blue Jays
Previous rank: 17
Best pitcher: J.A. Happ, 2-5, 3.71 ERA, 51 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Joe Biagini, 2-6, 4.93 ERA, 39 strikeouts
J.A. Happ is back and he is better than his record indicates. He owns a healthy 1.176 WHIP, a great 5.67 strikeouts to walk ratio and punches out 9.00 batters per nine innings. Toronto is failing to eat up innings like last year, and their staff WHIP is still sub-par.
16. Texas Rangers
Previous rank: 10
Best pitcher: Yu Darvish, 6-6, 3.11 ERA, 115 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Nick Martinez, 3-3, 4.79 ERA, 32 strikeouts
Injuries forced the Rangers to shuffle their rotation a bit, with A.J. Griffin and Cole Hamels missing significant time. Hamels finally return from the disabled list after two months, but his first start was a poor outing. Strikeouts are hard to come by as well, as the staff’s 6.48 strikeouts per nine innings is the second worst in baseball. The staff’s ERA took a nosedive over the past month, falling from the best in baseball to 10th.
17. Miami Marlins
Previous rank: 27
Best pitcher: Dan Straily, 5-4, 3.44 ERA, 90 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Jeff Locke, 0-4, 5.52 ERA, 24 strikeouts
Miami has risen up 10 spots due to the fact that they have allowed the least amount of hits in the league, but they are still hindered by their rotations inability to eat innings (only one team has pitched less innings this season) and the high amount of free passes they give out. Edinson Volquez improved last month while Straily continues to show that he’s the best pitcher in the rotation. Miami has also surrendered a league-low 51 home runs, though it hasn’t helped their 4.75 ERA, which is ranked 21st.
18. San Francisco Giants
Previous rank: 18
Best pitcher: Jeff Samardzija, 3-9, 4.63 ERA, 117 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Matt Moore, 3-8, 6.04 ERA, 76 strikeouts
Even without their best pitcher, the Giants continue to tread water. Samardzija is a lot better than his 3-9 record indicates. He punches out batters at an alarming rate and has a WHIP of just 1.048. They are the victim of a terrible team, however, as they have the most losses in baseball, but they also don’t help their own cause, as they have surrendered the most hits and total runs. This is somewhat balanced by the fact that they eat up innings and allow the fewest walks per nine innings.
19. Detroit Tigers
Previous rank: 19
Best pitcher: Michael Fulmer, 7-6, 3.19 ERA, 78 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Matthew Boyd, 2-5, 5.69 ERA, 37 strikeouts
This Tigers rotation is a far cry from the 2014 squad that featured four players who had (or eventually would) win the Cy Young. Fulmer has shown no signs of a sophomore slump while Justin Verlander continues to be inconsistent. Jordan Zimmermann has improved over the past month as well, owning a 3.82 ERA in June. The staff is 28th in hits allowed and 26th in WHIP, but they are third in home runs allowed per nine innings pitched.
20. San Diego Padres
Previous rank: 23
Best pitcher: Dinelson Lamet, 3-2, 5.35 ERA, 50 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Luis Perdomo, 3-4, 4.71 ERA, 65 strikeouts
Lamet’s ERA looks bad, but it is heavily skewed by two bad outings, where he allowed 14 runs in eight total innings. Without those appearances, he is 3-0, with a 2.48 ERA and 12.72 strikeouts per nine innings. He has shown a ton of upside since unseating Jered Weaver in the rotation. The Padres don’t have a truly bad pitcher, but don’t exactly have someone who is a staff ace. The only category they rank in the top 10 in is home runs allowed, where they rank eighth.
21. Los Angeles Angels
Previous rank: 13
Best pitcher: Alex Meyer, 3-4, 3.74 ERA, 62 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Jesse Chavez, 5-7, 4.90 ERA, 67 strikeouts
Last month, Meyer was the worst pitcher in the Angels rotation. After a strong June, where he posted a 2.25 ERA and opposing batters hit just .181 against him, he has emerged as the rotation’s best. The Angels are still eating up innings (fourth in the league) and the staff ERA is 4.35 (11th), but the long ball is killing them, where only one team has surrendered more home runs.
22. Minnesota Twins
Previous rank: 11
Best pitcher: Ervin Santana, 10-4, 2.80 ERA, 81 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Kyle Gibson, 4-6, 6.11 ERA, 46 strikeouts
It seems like almost every time Santana gets lit up, he bounces back with a complete game shutout, which he owns a league-leading three of this year. The rotation also got a boost form Jose Berrios but there are serious depth issues after him and Santana. The Twins are just 27th in innings pitched, strikeouts and strikeout-to-walk ratio. They have allowed just 418 hits, but it may be a byproduct of pitching such few innings, shown by the staff WHIP of 1.407 ranking just 23rd.
23. Oakland Athletics
Previous rank: 8
Best pitcher: Sean Manaea, 7-4, 3.87 ERA, 84 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Jesse Hahn, 3-5, 5.62 ERA, 46 strikeouts
Sonny Gray is back, but still not in full form. Oakland has also struggled without Kendall Graveman, who has been one of the team’s better pitchers this season. Last month, Andrew Triggs was the best pitcher in Oakland, but he was lit up in a pair of June starts before a hip injury took him down for the year. Oakland still keeps opposing teams from knocking it out the park, but it hasn’t done anything to help their 24th-ranked 4.84 staff ERA.
24. New York Mets
Previous rank: 26
Best pitcher: Jacob deGrom, 7-3, 3.71 ERA, 113 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Robert Gsellman, 5-5, 6.29 ERA, 53 strikeouts
The Mets are starting to get healthy, and could finally be back at full strength after the All-Star break when Noah Syndergaard returns. DeGrom has continued to get better as the weather warmed up and the return of Steven Matz has given the team a much needed boost. There are still issues in the back end of the rotation, but the Mets are out of contention so they could stand pat for the remainder of the year. Their overall stats are still poor, but has slightly improved from last month.
25. Seattle Mariners
Previous rank: 12
Best pitcher: James Paxton, 5-3, 3.44 ERA, 79 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, 3-7, 6.30 ERA, 57 strikeouts
Seattle has dealt with injuries all year, in fact, 13 different pitchers have started a game for the Mariners, but the team is finally healthy and could push to rise back up the ranks. Paxton, however, has not been the same since returning from the disabled list. The Mariners have also given up 74 home runs this season, the third-most in baseball.
26. Philadelphia Phillies
Previous rank: 25
Best pitcher: Aaron Nola, 5-5, 4.13 ERA, 64 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Jerad Eickoff, 0-7, 5.09 ERA, 63 strikeouts
As the Phillies continue to be ravaged by injures, it shows more and more that this team’s prospects aren’t ready for the major leagues. Nola has been good since returning from the disabled list, and Nick Pivetta has shown promise, but both has also been hit hard at times as well. Jeremy Hellickson, meanwhile, continues to kill his trade value. The Phillies starters have won only 15 games all season, the worst mark in baseball and having a 4.99 ERA (28th) is a big reason why.
27. Cincinnati Reds
Previous rank: 29
Best pitcher: Scott Feldman, 6-5, 4.07 ERA, 73 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, 3-6, 7.35 ERA, 45 strikeouts
The Reds still struggle to chew up innings. Their 380 1/3 innings pitched is the worst mark in baseball and they have also surrendered a league-high 266 earned runs, due to the 93 home runs they surrendered (also a league-worst). The combination easily gives them the worst staff ERA in baseball, which is a pitiful 6.29. Only one other team has an ERA north of 4.99. There is some relief, however, as Homer Bailey is finally back.
28. Atlanta Braves
Previous rank: 30
Best pitcher: Mike Foltynewicz, 5-5, 3.97 ERA, 64 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Bartolo Colon, 2-8, 8.14 ERA, 42 strikeouts
Colon was finally designated for assignment last week and it could be the end of the road for the former Cy Young winner. Prospect Sean Newcomb has shown some promise across four starts. While the team still isn’t punching out many batters, they have improved over the past month.
29. Chicago White Sox
Previous rank: 28
Best pitcher: Mike Pelfrey, 3-6, 3.79 ERA, 38 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Dylan Covey, 0-4, 8.12 ERA, 22 strikeouts
The fact that Pelfrey is somehow the rotation’s best pitcher should be enough to show how bad this staff is. The White Sox are dead last in strikeouts and 28th in WHIP, but has an encouraging 4.65 ERA.
30. Baltimore Orioles
Previous rank: 24
Best pitcher: Dylan Bundy. 8-6, 3.73 ERA, 73 strikeouts
Worst pitcher: Chris Tillman, 1-5, 8.39 ERA, 31 strikeouts
Baltimore’s rotation has been horrific this year and at one point, the team allowed five or more runs for 20 consecutive games, tying an MLB record. Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez have all started at least 10 games and all have an ERA above 6.00. Baltimore ranks last in walks allowed and WHIP.