A look at AL East starting rotations

While there has been a lot of focus on what the Orioles have lost since the 2014 season ended, their starting rotation is intact. In fact, they have six starters for five spots heading into spring training.

The Orioles rotation was good last season. It should be again and good pitching keeps you in games. The Orioles ranked fifth in the American League and were second among AL East teams with a 3.61 rotation ERA in 2014.

How do they fare in the rotation against the rest of the East right now?

Here is a look around the division at what the rotations would look like today and the pitchers’ 2014 stats:

Boston

Rick Porcello: 15-13 with 3.43 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with Detroit.
Wade Miley: 8-12 with 4.34 ERA and 1.40 WHIP with Arizona.
Justin Masterson: 7-9 with 5.88 ERA and 1.63 WHIP between St. Louis and Cleveland.
Clay Buchholz: 8-11 with 5.34 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
Joe Kelly: 6-4 with 4.20 ERA and 1.35 WHIP between St. Louis and Boston.

Some fans assumed Jon Lester would re-sign with Boston. That didn’t happen and now the Red Sox lack a true ace. Porcello stepped up his game in 2014 and the Red Sox will need more of that this year. Masterson was added via free agency. Will former O’s prospect Eduardo Rodriguez have a shot at the majors this year?

New York

Masahiro Tanaka: 13-5 with 2.77 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 20 starts.
CC Sabathia: 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP in eight starts.
Michael Pineda: 5-5 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 13 starts.
Chris Capuano: 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 12 starts.
Nathan Eovaldi: 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.33 WHIP for Miami.

Hiroki Kuroda is gone and the Orioles are glad for that. Sabathia has been shaky for the last two years and Tanaka is coming off an injury. The Japanese right-hander went to the DL last July with right elbow inflammation and returned to start twice in September, but gave up eight runs over seven innings. Ivan Nova is coming off Tommy John surgery from early last year and should return at some point. Eovaldi came in a deal with Miami in December.

Toronto

R.A Dickey: 14-13 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.
Mark Buehrle: 13-10 with 3.39 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
Drew Hutchison: 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
Marcus Stroman: 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.17 ERA.
Daniel Norris: 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in five big league games in September.

This rotation is a mix of age and youth with Dickey at 40 and Buehrle, who will turn 36 in March, heading it up. Hutchison is 24, Stroman 23 and Norris turns 22 in April. It’s an intriguing mix and the Blue Jays are sure counting on the youngsters. Norris is Toronto’s No. 1 prospect who began last year in high Single-A and ended it in the majors.

Tampa Bay

Alex Cobb: 10-9 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 27 starts.
Drew Smyly: 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA and 1.16 WHIP for Detroit and Tampa Bay. He was acquired in the three-team trade that sent David Price to Detroit in July.
Chris Archer: 10-9 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Jake Odorizzi: 11-13 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Alex Colome: 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in five big league games in 2014. Is the Rays’ No. 2-rated prospect.

Yeah, this is a solid rotation, featuring youth and talent. Smyly pitched to an ERA of 1.70 in seven starts after the trade and may be ready to take off. Cobb and Archer could pitch for anyone. The talented Matt Moore, coming back from Tommy John surgery, could return in June and provide a big boost. There is no Price, but this five is still formidable.

Orioles

Chris Tillman: 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA. He went 20 straight starts allowing three earned runs or fewer. He went 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA and .218 average against after the All-Star break. The Orioles went 11-1 in his last 12 regular season starts.

alcs-chen-pitching-gray-sidebar.jpgWei-Yin Chen: 16-6 with a 3.54 ERA. He posted the most wins and lowest ERA of his three seasons with Baltimore. He was 7-3 with a 2.76 ERA after the All-Star break and was 13-4 in 25 starts beginning May 9. Chen walked 35 in 185 2/3 innings, the fewest walks in a single season in club history for a pitcher with at least 175 innings.

Bud Norris: 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA, posting career-bests in wins, ERA, WHIP and walks per nine innings. He went 8-2 with a 3.27 ERA after the All-Star break. Norris went 9-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts against the AL East and the Orioles were 13-1 in those games.

Miguel Gonzalez: 10-9 with a 3.23 ERA that led all O’s starters. In 13 starts beginning July 1, he was 6-4 with a 2.09 ERA. He went 5-2 with a 2.78 ERA against the AL East. Some still doubt him, but it is hard to understand why.

Kevin Gausman: 7-7 with a 3.57 ERA. He allowed three earned runs or fewer in 16 of his 20 starts and posted a 3.18 ERA in nine road starts. He did this in six different stints on the big league club, making one wonder what he could do with a full season in the majors and off the Baltimore-to-Norfolk shuttle.

Yep, I left Ubaldo Jimenez out for the moment. He was not in the rotation at the end of last season and will have to earn his way back in.

Last year, O’s starters pitched to an ERA of 4.06 before the All-Star break and that number was a most impressive 2.94 after the break. The AL average was 3.92 last year. Right now, it appears the O’s rotation is solid and might be the best among AL East teams. The Orioles’ five can certainly hold its own.

2014 AL East starting rotation ERAs (with AL ranking):
3.48 - Tampa Bay (2)
3.61 - Orioles (5)
3.77 - New York (7)
3.96 - Toronto (11)
4.36 - Boston (13)

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