Ranking the Projected Starting Rotations of All 8 MLB Playoff Teams

Source: Getty Images Sport
Source: Getty Images Sport

On a yearly basis, the phrase “pitching wins championships” becomes one of the most regurgitated clichés in all of professional sports come October, and it’s hard to argue against it. Not to downplay the importance of defense and scoring runs, but statistics would suggest that pitching is the biggest factor in playoff success versus playoff failure. Here is a ranking of all eight projected starting pitching rotations as we head into the Divisional round of the playoffs tonight.

Source: Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

8. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have a strong and deep rotation, but lack a true staff ace. The O’s success depends largely on this group’s ability to last long enough to give their bullpen, which is arguably the best bullpen in the playoffs, a chance to finish and close the game.

Projected Rotation:

  1. Chris Tillman — 13-6, 3.34 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
  2. Bud Norris — 15-8, 3.65 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
  3. Miguel González — 10-9, 3.23 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
  4. Wei-Yin Chen — 16-6, 3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

7. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels have one of the best offensive lineups in the postseason, so their playoff fate will likely be determined by their starting pitching. Manager Mike Scioscia has toyed with the idea of using a three-man rotation, but nothing has been finalized as of yet. If this group performs well, the Angels are serious World Series contenders.

 Projected Rotation:

  1. Jered Weaver — 18-9, 3.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
  2. J. Wilson — 13-10, 4.51 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
  3. Matt Shoemaker — 16-4, 3.04 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
  4. Hector Santiago — 6-9, 3.75 ERA, 1.36 WHIP
Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

6. San Francisco Giants

The Giants have had excellent starting pitching carry them to two World Series titles since 2010. If they expect another title in 2014, this group will have to lead the way again. Without Matt Cain (injury) and Tim Lincecum (demotion), the Giants rotation will have a different look in the 2014 postseason.

Projected Rotation:

  1. Madison Bumgarner — 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
  2. Jake Peavy — 7-13, 3.73 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
  3. Ryan Vogelsong — 8-13, 4.00, 1.28 WHIP
  4. Tim Hudson — 9-13, 3.57 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

5. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are no strangers to the postseason and have a starting rotation with loads of postseason experience. Michael Wacha is absent from the postseason rotation, but the Cards still have one of the best in the business in Adam Wainwright. If John Lackey reverts to his old self, the Cardinals rotation would instantly become one of the best in the postseason.

Projected Rotation:

  1. Adam Wainwright — 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
  2. Lance Lynn — 15-10, 2.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
  3. John Lackey — 14-10, 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
  4. Shelby Miller — 10-9, 3.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

4. Kansas City Royals

The Royals rotation consists of a proven big-game pitcher in James Shields and a trio of young, talented hurlers with no playoff experience. Shields pitched in the Royals Wild Card victory over the Oakland A’s, so Yordano Ventura will start Game 1 of the ALDS against the LA Angels. The Royals need this group to be strong given their season-long bullpen struggles.

Projected Rotation:

  1. James Shields — 14-8, 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
  2. Yordano Ventura — 14-10, 3.20, 1.30 WHIP
  3. Jason Vargas — 11-10, 3.71, 1.27 WHIP
  4. Danny Duffy — 9-12, 2.53 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Source: Leon Halip/Getty Images
Leon Halip/Getty Images

3. Detroit Tigers

On paper, it was hard to not rank a starting rotation with three Cy Young Award-winning pitchers as the top unit in the postseason. I will say this, though: the Tigers will be tough to beat with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and David Price as their top three starters.

Projected Rotation:

  1. Max Scherzer — 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
  2. Justin Verlander — 15-12, 4.54 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
  3. David Price — 15-12, 3.26 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
  4. Rick Porcello — 15-13, 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Source: Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

2. Washington Nationals

The Nationals starting rotation was at their best in the last month of the season capped by Jordan Zimmerman’s no-hitter in the team’s final game of the regular season. The trio of Stephen Strasburg, Zimmerman, and Doug Fister have arguably been the best 1-2-3 in baseball in 2014.

 Projected Rotation:

  1. Stephen Strasburg — 14-11, 3.14 ERA, 1.12 WHIP
  2. Jordan Zimmermann — 14-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
  3. Doug Fister — 16-6, 2.41 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
  4. Gio González — 10-10, 3.57 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and any game he starts is almost a guaranteed win. Zach Greinke is good enough to be an ace on nearly any other team in the league. If Hyun-Jin Ryu is completely healthy, this rotation can carry the Dodgers deep into the playoffs.

Projected Rotation:

  1. Clayton Kershaw — 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP
  2. Zack Greinke — 17-8, 2.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
  3. Hyun-Jin Ryu — 14-7, 3.38 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
  4. Dan Haren — 13-11, 4.02 ERA, 1.18 WHIP