Spring training is gearing up, and in the American League West, the Astros and Rangers are expected to be the top two teams.
But do the Astros have enough pitching? The same question goes for the Rangers.
Seattle expects to contend as well, and Oakland, with a healthy rotation and deep bullpen, could be a surprise team.
Here's a look at the pitching in the AL West:
Houston: The Astros might have the best lineup in the American League, but the rotation appears thin. ... The X-factor is left-hander Dallas Keuchel, 29, who won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA. But his ERA jumped to 4.55 last season with fewer innings and strikeouts. He's a location pitcher without dominating stuff, so that could be a concern. ... The No. 2 starter is power pitcher left-hander Lance McCullers, 23, who was limited to 81 innings last season (3.22 ERA) because of shoulder and elbow injuries. ... The back of the rotation is righties Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Charlie Morton, who, despite a history of injuries, signed a two-year, $14 million contract. ... Fiers is an average pitcher and McHugh's 2.73 ERA in 2014 has gone up to 3.89 in 2015 and 4.34 last season. ... Ken Giles, acquired from the Phillies in a trade before last season, is the closer with right-hander Luke Gregerson the key setup guy. Giles had 102 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings last season, but his ERA was 4.11. He saved 15 of 20.
Los Angeles: The Angels rotation has been over-run with injuries in the last couple of years and they're still trying to recover. .... Righty Garrett Richards, rehabilitating a torn ulnar collateral ligament, is expected to be ready for the start of spring training, but the Angels aren't sure how much they can get from him. He had six starts last year. ... Right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who was hit in the head with a line drive in September, is expected to be fine. He had a 3.88 ERA and 160 innings pitched last season. ... Righty Ricky Nolasco had injury issues with the Twins, but after a trade to the Angels, he had a 3.21 ERA in 11 starts in 2016. ... The rest of the rotation is left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who had Tommy John surgery in 2014, and right-hander Jesse Chavez, who was a bullpen pitcher for the Blue Jays and Dodgers last season. Chavez is a former starter with Oakland. Skaggs pitched in 10 games last season. ... Right-hander Alex Meyer, a former Nationals prospect, has a chance to make the rotation. ... The closer, right-hander Huston Street, is coming off an injury season where he posted a career-low nine saves and a career-high 6.45 ERA. The Angels expect health for Street.
Oakland: The Athletics rotation is led by right-hander Sonny Gray, one of the best pitchers in the AL from 2013-15 before injuries derailed him last season, and right-hander Kendall Graveman, a pitcher manager Bob Melvin says has turned into "top-of-the-rotation'' talent. ... Gray made one start after Aug. 7 last year, but comes into camp ready to redeem himself. ... Graveman led the team with 10 wins and 186 innings pitched. ... The other three slots in the rotation are taken by promising prospects the Athletics received in midseason trades: Righty Sean Manaea, who had a 3.86 ERA in 25 games, 24 of them starts last season, came from the Royals in a 2015 trade for Ben Zobrist. ... Right-hander Jharel Cotton, who made five starts last season (2.15 ERA) came from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill trade in 2016. ... And righty Dave Mengden, who had good and bad games last season, came in a 2015 trade from Houston for lefty Scott Kazmir. ... Right-hander Ryan Madson saved 30 of 37 games last season, but who closes will be decided in spring training. Other pitchers with closing experience include left-hander Sean Doolittle and right-handers Santiago Casilla and John Axford.
Seattle: The Mariners are expecting to contend in the AL West, and their rotation is key to a team that bulked up on speed and defense. ... Will King Felix Hernandez, 30, ever get to pitch in postseason games? The wear-and-tear over the years on his arm has transformed him from a power to a finesse pitcher. He's the ace of the staff. A calf injury last season put him on the disabled list for six weeks, ending his streak of eight consecutive seasons of at least 200 innings. ... Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, 36 in April, is a solid No. 2. He pitched 199 innings with a 4.23 ERA last season and was strong in the final three months with ERAs of 3.77, 3.28 and 3.68. ... Left-hander James Paxton has a blazing fastball, but injuries have slowed his progress. This is the year the Mariners need him to break out and be injury-free. The most innings he's thrown in a season is 121. ... A former Oriole, righty Yovanni Gallardo, and a former Ray, lefty Drew Smyly, 26, are the likely pitchers at the back of the rotation. ... Left-hander Ariel Miranda, who had a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts after the Orioles traded him last season for left-hander Wade Miley, will compete for a rotation spot. So will former Giant Chris Heston, who had a strong season in 2015 but was limited by injuries in 2016. ... The Mariners have re-tooled their bullpen with power arms and their closer, right-hander Edwin Diaz, at 22, can hit 100 mph with his fastball. Last year, he struck out 15 batters per nine innings and with a strikeout rate of 41 percent. He saved 15 of 21 games with 88 strikeouts and 15 walks. ... Righty Steve Cishek is the most experienced pitcher in the bullpen, but the power arms to watch are righties Dan Altavilla and Shae Simmons.
TEXAS: The Rangers rotation is led by right-hander Yu Darvish and left-hander Cole Hamels, who was 15-3 with a 3.32 ERA last season. Darvish, 30, was limited to 17 starts and 100 innings last season, a season in which he was coming back from elbow surgery. He also spent time on the disabled list with neck and shoulder injuries. ... The Rangers will try to fix two pitchers, right-handers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. ... Cashner, 30, who had a neck injury last year and a 5.25 ERA with the Padres and Marlins. From 2012-15, Cashner, with his 95 mph fastball and slider, had a 3.43 ERA for the Padres. ... A shoulder injury limited Ross, 29, an All-Star in 2014, to one start last season with San Diego. ... The other two starters in the mix are lefty Martin Perez, 25, who struggled with walks and a 4.39 ERA last season, and righty A.J. Griffin, who threw 200 innings with 177 strikeouts for Oakland in 2015, but slipped to a 5.07 ERA for Texas last year. Griffin is on the bubble. ... The closer is right-hander Sam Dyson, 28, who saved 38 of 43 games last season. He's not a power pitcher, considering he had 55 strikeouts and 23 walks in 70 innings.