Grading on the Curve: Projecting Each MLB Starting Rotation

Spring Training games have officially begun, so Grading on the Curve projects each MLB team’s starting rotation for the 2016 season.

Spring is in the air, and baseball is back, with Spring Training games beginning this week. As Spring Training begins, each MLB team starts the year off with a fresh slate, hoping to become a playoff team for the year ahead. Staring pitching plays a major role in determining whom makes the playoffs and who does not.

For some teams, starting pitching is the backbone to their organizational success, and for others, starting pitching is just part of a puzzle necessary to create a successful team. In the MLB, several teams have stellar starting rotations; while, other clubs have lackluster rotations. Major League Baseball is turning into a pitcher’s league, but not every team has the pitching to capitalize on the shift.

So, here at Grading on the Curve, we wanted to project each and every MLB team’s starting rotation for Opening Day in 2016. Take a look and see who cracks the rotation and who might become relievers in the upcoming season. Without further adieu, here is every teams’ projected starting rotation, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks spent most of their offseason bolstering their starting rotation. The Diamondbacks went out and signed Zack Greinke to a multi-year contract, and the team went out and traded for Shelby Miller. Both deals raised some eyebrows, but one thing is for certain, the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation will be better than next season. However, the Arizona Diamondbacks gutted their farm system to compete now. The question remains, will it work?

  1. Zack Greinke – RHP
  2. Patrick Corbin – LHP
  3. Shelby Miller – RHP
  4. Robbie Ray – LHP
  5. Archie Bradley – RHP

Atlanta Braves

Unlike the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Atlanta Braves are in the midst of a total rebuild; however, they are close to the end-goal. This offseason, the Atlanta Braves continued to ship players out, including fan-favorite Andrelton Simmons. In addition to the Simmons trade, the Braves made headlines by trading Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks for an unfathomable return. 2016 might be another down season for the Braves, but their future looks bright, headlined by a pitching-heavy farm system.

  1. Julio Teheran – RHP
  2. Matt Wisler – RHP
  3. Bud Norris – RHP
  4. Manny Banuelos – LHP
  5. Ryan Weber – RHP

Baltimore Orioles

No one questions the Baltimore Orioles’ ability to hit; however, in recent years, the Orioles have struggled to put together a solid starting rotation to complement their stout lineup. Moreover, this offseason, the Baltimore Orioles lost their best starting pitching due to free agency. But, the Baltimore Orioles were able to snag up Yovani Gallardo in the process. The Orioles might be a playoff team just based off their bats, but if their starting pitching proves to be serviceable, watch out.

  1. Yovani Gallardo – RHP
  2. Ubaldo Jimenez – RHP
  3. Chris Tillman – RHP
  4. Kevin Gausman – RHP
  5. Miguel Gonzalez – RHP

Boston Red Sox

With the addition of Dave Dombrowski to the Boston Red Sox’s front office, the team decided to head in a new direction, starting with the acquisitions of David Price and Craig Kimbrel. The Boston Red Sox are built to compete now, and their 2015-2016 offseason further illustrated that mindset. With the addition of Price, the Boston Red Sox’s starting rotation makes a giant leap forward; however, do the Red Sox have enough pitching behind Price to be competitive in the American League East?

  1. David Price – LHP
  2. Clay Buchholz – RHP
  3. Rick Porcello – RHP
  4. Eduardo Rodriguez – LHP
  5. Joe Kelly – RHP

Chicago Cubs

2015 marked the year of Jake Arrieta. After a stellar second half to his 2014 season, Jake Arrieta built off that momentum to have one of the seasons ever. Initially, Jon Lester figured to be the Chicago Cubs’ workhorse, but Jake Arrieta conquered that title last season. With the Chicago Cubs making it to the NLCS in 2015, their eyes are set on the World Series in 2016. The Chicago Cubs figure to be a force in the National League Central, with a nice mix of pitching and hitting.

  1. Jake Arrieta – RHP
  2. Jon Lester – LHP
  3. John Lackey – RHP
  4. Jason Hammel – RHP
  5. Kyle Hendricks – RHP

Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox continue to hover in between relevancy and tanking, but with their offseason centered around acquiring Todd Frazier and Mat Latos, the White Sox intend on competing in the short-term. With an ace like Chris Sale, the Chicago White Sox would be smart to sell out and try to chase a title before Sale hits free agency. The Chicago White Sox have a nice blend of young and veteran pitching, but 2016 might be another year of limbo in the A.L. Central.

  1. Chris Sale – LHP
  2. Mat Latos – RHP
  3. Jose Quintana – LHP
  4. John Danks – LHP
  5. Carlos Rodon – LHP

Cincinnati Reds

Last season, the Cincinnati Reds saw their rotation explode, with rookies headlining nearly the entire starting rotation. With the Reds trading Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Aroldis Chapman, they are currently in a rebuilding process, but that allows their younger starting pitchers to gain invaluable experience at the MLB level. Homer Bailey is not supposed to be back until mid-May, so the younger pitchers will have a chance to show their worth.

  1. Anthony DeSclafani – RHP
  2. Raisel Iglesias – RHP
  3. Michael Lorenzen – RHP
  4. John Lamb – LHP
  5. Keyvius Sampson – RHP

Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians have a chance to take the American League by storm in 2016; however, their competitive edge is contingent on whether or not the bats show up on a regular basis. The Cleveland Indians have one of the best, young starting rotations, with a solid options from top to bottom. The Indians have a chance to either take a big step forward in 2016, or they might flounder with the lack of impact bats in the lineup.

  1. Corey Kluber – RHP
  2. Carlos Carrasco – RHP
  3. Danny Salazar – RHP
  4.  Trevor Bauer – RHP
  5. Cody Anderson – RHP

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies struggle to put together a capable starting rotation year-in, year-out. The Colorado Rockies, over the past few seasons, have one of the most potent lineups in baseball; however, their pitching lacks the quality to make the team a serious contender in the National League West. Over the past season, the Colorado Rockies made a known effort to bolster their bullpen. But, with most of their starting pitching prospects still years away from contributing, it might be a long season in 2016.

  1. Jorge De La Rosa – LHP
  2. Jon Gray – RHP
  3. Chad Bettis – RHP
  4. Tyler Chatwood – RHP
  5. Chris Rusin – LHP

Detroit Tigers

Entering the 2015 season, the Detroit Tigers looked poised to make a run at the American League Central title; however, injuries and underperforming led to a down season for the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers shipped David Price to Toronto, and Miguel Cabrera hit the disabled list for the first time as a Tiger. However, the Tigers brought in new talent for the 2016 MLB season, but did they do enough to help their starting rotation next season?

  1. Jordan Zimmerman – RHP
  2. Justin Verlander – RHP
  3. Anibal Sanchez – RHP
  4. Mike Pelfrey – RHP
  5. Daniel Norris – LHP

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros were the laughing stock around the MLB just a few short seasons ago, but after an intelligent rebuild, the Astros find themselves as a front-runner to win the American League West, behind an impressive starting rotation. Dallas Keuchel won the American League Cy Young Award last season, and he enters the 2016 season as a favorite to reclaim the prize. With solid complements to support Keuchel, the Houston Astros have one of the better rotations in the MLB.

  1. Dallas Keuchel – LHP
  2. Collin McHugh – RHP
  3. Scott Feldman – RHP
  4. Doug Fister – RHP
  5. Lance McCullers – RHP

Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals have a knack for finding consistency out of pitchers whom are a work-in-progress. With the addition of Ian Kennedy, the Royals hope to do just that in 2016. After having Johnny Cueto for just half of a season last year, the Kansas City Royals must figure out what to expect from their starting rotation next season. Also, the Royals’ bullpen took a hit in 2015 after Greg Holland succumbed to Tommy John surgery. So, will the starting rotation be enough to make the playoffs again in 2016?

  1. Ian Kennedy – RHP
  2. Edinson Volquez – RHP
  3. Yordano Ventura – RHP
  4. Chris Young – RHP
  5. Danny Duffy – LHP

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB, and they further depleted it by acquiring Andrelton Simmons from the Atlanta Braves. The Los Angeles Angels have every intention of competing now; however, their position players outside of Mike Trout lack impact, and the pitching rotation looks to be in shambles. But, if the Angels can get production out of their starting rotation, they are in the mix to win the American League West.

  1. Garrett Richards – RHP
  2. C.J. Wilson – LHP
  3. Jered Weaver – RHP
  4. Hector Santiago – LHP
  5. Andrew Heaney – LHP

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers made a strong playoff push last season due to the duo of Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. With two Cy Young caliber players on the roster, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the pitching to contend for a World Series; however, their hitting never showed up. This offseason, Zack Greinke headed south to Arizona, but the Dodgers made a splash by signing Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda, who figure to fill the void left by Greinke. Also, Hyun-Jin Ryu is not expected back until May..

  1. Clayton Kershaw – LHP
  2. Scott Kazmir – LHP
  3. Kenta Maeda – RHP
  4. Alex Wood – LHP
  5. Mike Bolsinger – RHP

Miami Marlins

With both Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton missing extended time last season, the Miami Marlins struggled to gain traction in the National League East. However, the duo of superstars enters Spring Training fully healthy, and Jose Fernandez wants nothing to do with an innings limit. No one questions Fernandez’s ability, but can the Miami Marlins’ starting rotation take a step forward in 2016? With the addition of Wei-Yin Chen, the Marlins hope to trend in the right direction.

  1. Jose Fernandez – RHP
  2. Wei-Yin Chen – LHP
  3. Jarred Cosart – RHP
  4. Tom Koehler – RHP
  5. Justin Nicolino – LHP

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are currently in rebuild mode, and more trades are probably looming in the near future. The Milwaukee Brewers just shipped Jean Segura to the Diamondbacks for Chase Anderson and Isan Diaz. With Jonathan Lucroy still on the roster, he likely gets traded before the deadline in 2016. The Milwaukee Brewers’ starting lineup lack impact options, but they are a young rotation. So, while the Brewers might not be in contention this season, they are making the right moves moving forward.

  1. Matt Garza – RHP
  2. Jimmy Nelson – RHP
  3. Wily Peralta – RHP
  4. Chase Anderson – RHP
  5. Taylor Jungmann – RHP

Minnesota Twins

By being a smaller market club, the Minnesota Twins must effectively spend money to generate wins; however, the signing of Ervin Santana did not help much. The Minnesota Twins’ starting rotation is quite mediocre, but they have one of the best, young pitchers in their farm system who looks ready to make an impact at the MLB level. The Minnesota Twins lack impact on both sides of the ball, but with some prospects in the farm system, the Twins could make a run in 2016.

  1. Ervin Santana – RHP
  2. Phil Hughes – RHP
  3. Kyle Gibson – RHP
  4. Tommy Milone – LHP
  5. Tyler Duffey – RHP

New York Mets

The New York Mets enter Spring Training as the odds-on favorite to win the National League East. Moreover, they have, probably, baseball’s best starting rotation. After losing the World Series, the New York Mets hope to replicate 2015’s magic and make it again in 2016. No one doubts their starting pitching prowess; however, can their offense supply enough support to make this team elite? The New York Mets’ rotation should be enough for a playoff push, but can this team live up to the expectations?

  1. Matt Harvey – RHP
  2. Jacob deGrom – RHP
  3. Noah Syndergaard – RHP
  4. Steven Matz – RHP
  5. Bartolo Colon – RHP

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees quietly had an impressive offseason, making several moves to fill holes on the roster. Most notably, the New York Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds, which figures to make the Yankees have the most potent bullpen in the MLB. The Yankees hope for a full season from Masahiro Tanaka, and they hope C.C. Sabathia can bounce back from a disappointing 2015 season. The New York Yankees’ starting rotation will not have to do much pitching in front of a dominant pen.

  1. Masahiro Tanaka – RHP
  2. C.C. Sabathia – LHP
  3. Michael Pineda – RHP
  4. Luis Severino – RHP
  5. Ivan Nova – RHP

Oakland Athletics

Year-in, year-out, the Oakland Athletics piece together a team due to their small-market orientation. They intend on buying-low on players and flipping them to keep the MLB team afloat. This season, the Oakland Athletics will lean on Sonny Gray and company to help the team out. However, the Athletics lack the position players to be taken as a serious contender in the American League West. With Billy Beane at the helm, anything is possible, but 2016 might not be a playoff season for the A’s.

  1. Sonny Gray – RHP
  2. Henderson Alvarez – RHP
  3. Rich Hill – LHP
  4. Jesse Hahn – RHP
  5. Kendall Graveman – RHP

Philadelphia Phillies

The days of the Philadelphia Phillies dominating the MLB are long gone, and the team is almost finished shedding contract weight from their former superstars. Over the past couple of seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies began a rebuilding process, and they seem close to becoming relevant in the National League East. However, this might not be the case for 2016, but they are getting closer. The Phillies’ starting rotation looks bland heading into 2016, but they do have Aaron Nola, who could be a future ace.

  1. Jeremy Hellickson – RHP
  2. Aaron Nola – RHP
  3. Charlie Morton – RHP
  4. Jerad Eickhoff – RHP
  5. Vincent Velasquez – RHP

Pittsburg Pirates

The Pittsburg Pirates have a knack for transforming pitchers that struggled in other organizations. This season, the Pirates figure to compete for a National League Central title, but they are stuck in a three-headed race in 2016. The Pirates have one of the better starting rotations in the MLB; however, there was conflict between the front office and Gerrit Cole regarding wages. The conflict should not affect his play in 2016, but is something worth noting. The Pirates have a nice blend of pitching and hitting.

  1. Gerrit Cole – RHP
  2. Francisco Liriano – LHP
  3. Jon Niese – LHP
  4. Jeff Locke – LHP
  5. Tyler Glasnow – RHP

San Diego Padres

Before the 2015 season, San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller attempted to piece together a contending squad at the MLB level. However, that plan backfired rather quickly, and Preller was caught retreating on his original plan, parting ways with Craig Kimbrel. The San Diego Padres hope to have Andrew Cashner and James Shields. The Padres have a nice team, but their farm system is mostly depleted. With the Giants and Diamondbacks upgrading this offseason, the Padres might be a middle-of-the-pack team.

  1. James Shields – RHP
  2. Andrew Cashner – RHP
  3. Tyson Ross – RHP
  4. Drew Pomeranz – LHP
  5. Colin Rea – RHP

San Francisco Giants

If the San Francisco Giants’ pattern of World Series titles holds true, they should be holding the trophy at the end of the 2016 MLB season. The San Francisco Giants made a notable effort to bolster their starting rotation this offseason, with the additions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Interestingly, Madison Bumgarner becomes the lowest paid starting pitcher in the rotation for the 2016 season. The San Francisco Giants look like a favorite to make the playoffs with their balanced roster.

  1. Madison Bumgarner – LHP
  2. Johnny Cueto – RHP
  3. Jeff Samardzija – RHP
  4. Jake Peavy – RHP
  5. Matt Cain – RHP

Aug 15, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners continue to be seen as a favorite in the American League West, but their pitching and hitting struggles to be comparable to other teams within the division. The Seattle Mariners remained relatively quiet this offseason, but they did bring back Hisashi Iwakuma after he failed the Dodgers’ physical. The Seattle Mariners hope to see improvements from Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. If the starting rotation pans out, the Mariners might be in contention heading into September. We shall see.

  1. Felix Hernandez – RHP
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma – RHP
  3. Wade Miley – LHP
  4. Taijuan Walker – RHP
  5. James Paxton – RHP

St. Louis Cardinals

Even with Adam Wainwright missing the majority of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals managed to have baseball’s best record and narrowly won the National League Central. Each year, the Cardinals remain competitive in the National League, and 2016 should be no different. The St. Louis Cardinals’ success hinges on their prospect development, and with Alex Reyes knocking on the door, the Cardinals should not miss a beat this upcoming season. The starting rotation should do its part to lead the way, without Lance Lynn.

  1. Adam Wainwright – RHP
  2. Mike Leake – RHP
  3. Michael Wacha – RHP
  4. Jaime Garcia – LHP
  5. Carlos Martinez – RHP

Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are getting closer and closer to winning the American League East, and with one of baseball’s best rotations entering the 2016 MLB season, they should be in the fold for a title at season’s end. The Tampa Bay Rays will be without Alex Cobb until mid-May, but Chris Archer and company should hold down the fort for the time being. Do not sleep on the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting rotation; they could easily be the engine that carries the Rays to the playoffs in 2016.

  1. Chris Archer – RHP
  2. Jake Odorizzi – RHP
  3. Drew Smyly – LHP
  4. Matt Moore – LHP
  5. Erasmo Ramirez – RHP

Texas Rangers

Somehow, the Texas Rangers continue to fly under the radar in the American League West. In 2016, the battle for the A.L. West should lie between the Astros and Rangers. With the addition of Cole Hamels at last season’s deadline, the Texas Rangers should be competitive throughout the year. If the Texas Rangers can get consistency out of the back-end of their rotation, they should be in position to make a run. Do they have enough starting pitching after losing Yovani Gallardo? That is another question.

  1. Cole Hamels – LHP
  2. Yu Darvish – RHP
  3. Derek Holland – LHP
  4. Nick Martinez – RHP
  5. Chi Chi Gonzalez – RHP

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have a modern-day murderers row, with Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup. The Toronto Blue Jays ended up winning the American League East, but they lost David Price at the end of the season due to free agency. The Toronto Blue Jays will have their workhorse, Marcus Stroman, back for the entire season, and this should benefit their rotation moving forward. Will the Blue Jays’ starting rotation have enough in 2016?

  1. Marcus Stroman – RHP
  2. Marco Estrada – RHP
  3. R.A. Dickey – RHP
  4. J.A. Happ – LHP
  5. Drew Hutchison – RHP

Washington Nationals

Last offseason, the Washington Nationals made headlines by signing Max Scherzer, and he did not disappoint. Many experts believed the Washington Nationals were the team to beat in the National League East; however, after acquiring Jonathan Papelbon, the wheels fell off the wagon. Thus, the Nationals missed the playoffs. In 2016, Stephen Strasburg enters the final season of his contract, and the Washington Nationals need to win now. Will the chemistry be there heading into 2016?

  1. Max Scherzer – RHP
  2. Stephen Strasburg – RHP
  3. Gio Gonzalez – LHP
  4. Joe Ross – RHP
  5. Tanner Roark – RHP