2009 Preview: Who’s got the best rotation in the East?


The New York Yankees have completely rebuilt their rotation with the signings of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett this offseason. Are these two pitchers enough for them to overtake the best rotations in the East?

Using my own FantasyScope projections, here is a basic analysis:

New York Yankees (896.2 IP, 363 ER, 3.64 ERA)

Sabathia, 228.2 IP, 3.27 ERA
Burnett, 173.2 IP, 3.70 ERA
Wang, 170.1 IP, 4.07 ERA
Chamberlain, 140 IP, 2.79 ERA
Hughes, 110 IP, 4.51 ERA
Kennedy, 74 IP, 4.18 ERA

The Yankees added some much needed stability and innings with their two big pitcher signings. If Chamberlain proves to be as dominating as he’s been so far, it could be enough to make the Yankees’ rotation number 1. They’ll need one of their youngsters to step up, however, if they don’t re-sign Andy Pettite.

Tampa Bay Rays (754.2 IP, 327 ER, 3.90 ERA)

Shields, 184.2 IP, 3.83 ERA
Kazmir, 167.2 IP, 3.67 ERA
Garza, 137.2 IP, 4.00 ERA
Sonnanstine, 162 IP, 3.79 ERA
Price, 102.2 IP, 4.48 ERA

The Rays were somewhat lucky last year in that they had four starters top 180 IP, and the other one was Scott Kazmir for 152.1 IP. David Price could better that projection easily, but I don’t think he’ll be the lefty Joba. The Rays have talented pitchers, there’s no doubt, but as you can see from these projections, their durability is still somewhat in question. They would do well to sign a decent veteran starter on a one-year deal. If they get healthy seasons from all of these guys, they could go deep in the playoffs once again.

Boston Red Sox (1022.1 IP, 474 ER, 4.17 ERA)

Beckett, 193.1 IP, 3.84 ERA
Lester, 176 IP, 4.23 ERA
Matsuzaka, 186 IP, 3.90 ERA
Wakefield, 173.2 IP, 4.37 ERA
Penny, 163.1 IP, 4.26 ERA
Buchholz, 130 IP, 4.64 ERA

Epstein likes his depth, and the Red Sox are kings in that department. With Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden also ready to contribute quality outings on the hill, they should have their innings well covered this year. While their top three are not as impressive with ERA compared to some of these other pitchers, any or all three could be mentioned in the race for the Cy Young this year. Lester could easily better that projection this season, and so could Buchholz.

Toronto Blue Jays (645.2 IP, 290 ER, 4.04 ERA)

Halladay, 229.2 IP, 3.54 ERA
McGowan, 129 IP, 3.78 ERA
Marcum, 145 IP, 4.48 ERA
Litsch, 142 IP, 4.66 ERA

The Blue Jays are sitting on a pretty good stash of Major-League ready pitchers (David Purcey, Ricky Romero, Davis Romero, etc), and will need at least one of them to break through this year. The loss of Burnett is a big one, but I would be surprised if the Jays didn’t sign at least one free agent starter this offseason to help make up those innings. Gustavo Chacin could return to the rotation after an injury year.

Whose rotation is the best?

Apologies to the Orioles, but you’d rather not see the numbers I have on you anyways. On paper, I’d have to give it to the Yankees for now, though any of them could potentially break out. As it always seems to be, it will be the healthiest rotation which will be the strongest in 2009. The Yankees have a very good chance to be that this season, especially with their improved defense.

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6 Responses to 2009 Preview: Who’s got the best rotation in the East?

  1. scoty32 says:

    Hey, I was just wondering what you do for your projections? Are those just you making an educated opinion, do you use someone else’s numbers like Marcel or PECOTA, or do you have some sort of formula?

    Thanks

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Hey, thanks for reading.. There’s no way I could just pull these numbers out of thin air; I take Marcels as a base and adjust using secondary stats and various batted ball data. I am currently working on aging and playing time modifiers as well to make these more accurate. What you see here is kind of a mean expected line, given these factors.

    A short description of my method is here, at one of my other baseball blogs:
    http://fantasyscope.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/2009-fantasyscope-early-projections/

  3. jim says:

    how can u have sonnantine w/ an era under sheilds..and close to kazmir..

    ain’t happenin

  4. redsoxtalk says:

    Hi Jim, I understand your skepticism about a guy with a 4.97 career ERA. But you have to look at his age (25) and development; his stuff is not overwhelming at all, but he succeeds because he doesn’t give up too many HRs and he hardly walks anyone. His poor rookie season stemmed from the horrid Tampa defense, a higher-than-average HR rate (for him) and a pretty poor LOB%, which is bound to come up. Sonnanstine is a pretty good player who was consistently putting up ERAs in the twos at Double- and Triple-A.

    Bill James projects him for a 3.92 ERA for this season in 195 IP, so I’m not alone on this one.

  5. wesley says:

    The last thing the rays would spend money on is a veteran pitcher. They have a number of prospects in the minors who would easily be no.5’s on half the staffs in the majors.

  6. redsoxtalk says:

    Wesley, the Rays have loads of talent at the minor league level, but as you see here, they could need as many as 250 IP out of them. If they need that many innings out of some rookie starters who are “probably” #5 starters this year (Jeff Niemann, Jae Kuk Ryu and Wade Davis), they will be in trouble, that was my point. Given that, a relatively cheap veteran arm might be worth their while.

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