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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Ranking the AL East Starting Pitchers

The starting rotations for each team at this point are starting to come into view.  Not necessarily what order the five players will pitch in, but certainly who those five players are likely to be. Now, a signing of Ervin Santana by one of the two teams in this division would change their rotation, but I don’t think it would change where either of them are ranked at this point. To start things off, the World Series champs. 1. Boston Red Sox Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Chris Capuano, Allen Webster These three combined for 52 wins last year for the Red Sox, and that was with Buchholz spending significant time injured and Peavy only pitching 64.2 innings for the Red Sox.  In looking at the main five listed, because barring injury that will be their rotation, you have four guys who are proven pitchers in the majors.  You know what you are going to get from each of them.  And a full season from a bulldog like Peavy, who will eat innings no matter how good his stuff is that night, and his stuff is usually pretty good.  Doubront, 26, has started 27 and 29 games the last two years, The one thing that jumps out at you is his WHIP near 1.5, but from a fifth starter in the AL East, you kind of learn to deal with that. If there would be an injury, free-agent signing Chris Capuano or Allen Webster would likely bump into the rotation, although both are certainly a step down from these five. 2. Tampa Bay Rays David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Jeremy Hellickson, Erik Bedard The young guns.  David Price is the elder statesman of this group, and he is 28.  The All-Star and Cy Young award winner (2012) is a career 71-39 in the majors.  With a WHIP under 1.2 for his career and an ERA of 3.19, Price is one of the best pitchers in the game.  These five amassed 47 wins in 2013, mainly due to Odorizzi not being in the majors.  And it wasn’t exactly a top year for them.  Price struggled with a lack of run support to his worst record of his career, Despite the fewest walk per nine innings and best strikeout to walk ratios of his career.  Moore, 24, was a sterling 17-4 last season.  Cobb, 26, was a fantastic 11-3 while missing considerable time after taking line drive off the head.  Archer, 25, finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote after going 9-7.  However, he also had to deal with a lack of run support, with a 3.22 ERA. Hellickson and Bedard are both proven pitchers in the majors, but Hellickson’s struggles in 2013 have him currently without a spot in the rotation.  However, he could be the long man in the bullpen for the Rays. 3. Baltimore Orioles Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman Some may say putting the Orioles ahead of the Yankees is a homer pick.  But not in my eyes.  Tillman, 25, went 16-7 last year, and several of his no-decisions were due to the bullpen blowing his games.  His starts weren’t always pretty, as his ERA was 3.71 and there were a few games in which he struggled.  But, he pitched long enough to keep the team in it and let the offense win the game, something that likely won’t be an issue this year.  Ubaldo is a welcome addition to the staff who was desperately in need of another top of the line starter.  It takes some of the pressure off of Chen, Gonzalez and Norris.  Chen needs to stay healthy, as the 28-year-old Taiwanese pitcher only appeared in 23 games last year.  However, Gonzalez is a sneaking good pitcher with really impressive numbers for a number 4.  As for Norris, many feel he may blossom under the tutelage of new pitching coach Dave Wallace.  Britton is out of options and could be the long reliever, while Gausman will likely go to AAA and start every day and beat on the door to the majors.  Both Britton and Gausman are having excellent springs for the Birds. 4. New York Yankees CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno The questions abound with the Yankees pitching, and just like their lineup, a lot has to do with age.  The slimmed-down Sabathia, 33, has pitched over 200 innings each of the last 7 seasons, and some in baseball are beginning to wonder how much longer his arm will be as effective as it has been for so many years.  Kuroda is 39 years old, and is a career 69-70 pitcher.  Even last year he only went 11-13.  He isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, and with some of the lineups in the division that can make it hard at times.  Tanaka got the huge contract from the Yankees, but is he another Yu Darvish?  No one knows, and no one will know until he pitches a few games.  Pineda hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011.  At only 25, he is still young enough to blossom with the potential he once had, but after major surgery it isn’t a guarantee.  Nova went 9-6 last season in 23 games, but he had some real gems in there, including one against the Orioles.  Phelps and Nuno are both more likely to help a questionable bullpen than compete for a starting slot. 5. Toronto Blue Jays R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, J.A. Happ, Esmil Rogers, Ricky Romero, Drew Hutchison, Todd Redmond The Jays first four pitchers are pretty solid as far as making the rotation.  However, Dickey struggled last year in his first year with the team, going 14-13.  The knuckleballer is 39 years old, and the move to the AL East has not been as easy as it was pitching in the NL.  Buerhle is another veteran who has been successful, he went 12-10 last season and both guys had ERAs over 4.  Morrow is a guy with really good stuff, but can he put it all together?  He is 33-28 with the Jays over a four-year stretch, also with an ERA over 4.  Happ was another player who missed significant time after taking a line-drive to the head last year.  He is a sub .500 pitcher with a career ERA over 4.  And he is the Jays number 4, the 5 will be any of the above.  Or they could get Ervin Santana, but even with Santana, I still think their rotation is the worst in the AL East. Disagree with me?  Good, let me hear why you think I am wrong! And for all the previous rankings, click the links below Designated Hitter, Right Field, Center Field, Left Field, Third Base, Short Stop, Second Base, First Base, Catcher

Tags: Baltimore Orioles CC Sabathia Chris Tillman Clay Buchholz David Price Jon Lester R.A. Dickey Ubaldo Jimenez

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