The starting pitching in the the National League East is deeper than in many divisions. The NL East Dream Rotation for 2013 reflects that, with quality starters left off the roster.
Stephen Strasburg Washington Nationals RHP
The former top overall pick had an impressive return from Tommy John surgery. Picking up without a hitch, the 6’4” flamethrower posted a record of 15-6 while striking out 197 batters in only 159.1 innings. He averaged more than four K’s per walk. Strasburg was shut down due to an innings limit early in September 2012, but general manager Mike Rizzo was wise in preserving Washington’s ace for future pennant drives.
Cole Hamels Philadelphia Phillies LHP
Hamels has been among the most effective pitchers over the last three years.The 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP has three straight sub 1.20 WHIP seasons and averaged a strikeout per inning in 2010 and 2012. Hamels went 17-6 with a 3.05 ERA in 215.1 innings in 2012.
Kris Medlen Atlanta Braves RHP
Medlen began the 2012 season in the bullpen, after missing most of 2011 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Once Fredi Gonzalez called on Medlen to join the rotation, the results were incredible. Beginning on July 31, Medlen won 10 of 12 starts, with two no decisions. His 2012 ratios were Koufaxian, a 0.91 WHIP and 1.57 ERA in 138 IP. A career 7.9 K’s per nine innings suggest Medlen may be a long term quality starting pitcher.
Gio Gonzalez Washington Nationals LHP
Escaping the Hamiltons and Beltres of the American League West probably helped Gonzalez post career numbers in all the major pitching categories. In 2012, Gonzalez won a major league high 21 games with a 2.89 ERA. His 2012 WHIP of 1.13 was well below his career number and his 9.3 K’s per nine IP was tops in the NL among pitchers who threw more than 162 innings.
Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies RHP
I thought long and hard about Matt Harvey in the fifth slot, his ratios and K’s per IP were as good as any on the staff. But Cliff Lee gets the call based on his consistency and pedigree. His 6-9 record in 2012 was deceiving, the Phillies scored two or fewer runs in eight of the losses. In three no decisions, Lee was supported by only one run. Lee still managed to finish ninth in the NL in ERA, and his strikeouts to IP was above his career average.
Eric O’Flaherty Atlanta Braves LHP
Fredi’s LOOGY. Since 2010, O’Flaherty has pitched to a 1.59 ERA in his role as left handed specialist. He had a sub 1.20 WHIP in both 2011 and 2012.
Mike Adams Philadelphia Phillies RHP
Adams has had a fine eight year career out of the pen, and joins the Phillies in 2013. In 363.2 career innings his ERA is 2.28. Coming to the National League from the AL West should help Adams numbers.
Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves Closer
The best closer in baseball since the start of the 2011 season, nobody is really close. In the past two seasons Kimbrel has saved 88 games, striking out a ridiculous 15.7 batters per nine innings over that span. The two time All-Star’s WHIP in 2012 was 0.65.