Power pitching has taken a big place in baseball. Teams target pitchers that generate high velocity and punch out many hitters. When thinking of teams that have an army full of high-octane pitchers, teams like the Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Reds come to mind. Let’s take a deep dive into those rotations to truly find the best rotation in baseball.
Yep, the Reds actually have one of the better rotations in baseball and have their pitchers high up on most pitching statistics lists. In the winter of 2017, the Reds traded Dan Staily to the Miami Marlins for Austin Brice, Zeke White, and Luis Castillo.
Castillo was a decent pitching prospect but wasn’t a top prospect. He debuted in June 2017, going 3-7 with a 3.12 ERA. The next season, in 2018, Castillo struggled a bit but took some crucial steps in his development, going 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA. This season, Castillo has been a revelation going 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA with 190 K’s in 160 IP. His fastball can hit triple-digits and his change-up is a daily feature on Rob Friedman’s “Pitching Ninja” Twitter account. Castillo is one of baseball’s rising young stars.
The Reds have another pitcher high on the leaderboards that they acquired via trade. In January 2019, the Reds traded Shed Long and future considerations to the New York Yankees for Sonny Gray and southpaw Reiner Sanmartin. Gray has been very good for the Reds, posting a 2.92 ERA with 170 K’s through 144.2 IP with a 10-6 record. From 2013 through 2015, Gray was one of the more dominant pitchers in baseball for the Oakland Athletics. Once traded to the Yankees, he struggled, which is a factor in his trade to Cincinnati. Gray has had a very nice bounce-back season.
On the eve of the trade deadline, the Reds pulled off a sort of stunning trade with the San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Indians in which the Reds traded Yasiel Puig, Scott Moss and Taylor Trammel away, turning around and hauling in Trevor Bauer, Logan Allen, Victor Nova, and Franmil Reyes. It was a bit of a surprising move but certainly one that earned them a spot in this article. Bauer has shown many flashes of being an ace over the course of his career but has struggled in the second half of this season to the tune of a 1-4 record with an 8.40 ERA through 30 innings although he does have 37 strikeouts. The other starters are a mix of Alex Wood, Tyler Mahle, and Anthony DeSclafani. The trifecta at the top — plus the decent options at the back end — earned the Reds a spot on this list.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Well, when you have Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Dustin May, Kenta Maeda, and Ross Stripling, you have one-and-a-half elite rotations.
Dustin May has a fastball that can reach 100, and a great curve, cutter, and changeup. Dustin May can develop into an ace and he has shown many glimpses of that in his rookie campaign. Even with his 5.11 ERA so far in the show, May has other numbers that jump out for the soon-to-be 22-year-old. Through his first 24.2 innings in the majors, May has struck out 18, compared to only four walks. He also has a 0.79 HR/9 ratio, which is great for today’s game. May has a chance to be the headliner of the Dodgers rotation for years to come. Oh, and his hair is top-notch.
Walker Buehler is another arm that stands out. With a 3.03 ERA through 154.1 IP and 185 strikeouts compared to 28 walks, Walker has established himself among the elite in baseball. His presence on the mound is similar to that of a young Justin Verlander, especially with the velocity. Buehler is a great talent.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is having a career year that has gotten him some Cy Young consideration. The soft-tossing lefty has managed a 2.35 ERA with 137 strikeouts and just 20 walks through 157.1 innings. The South Korean native has established himself as a veteran lefty who can still get hitters out without power stuff, a great story of 2019.
And now, Clayton Kershaw. The name should be enough, but here are his numbers: 2.96 ERA through 155 innings with 165 strikeouts and 33 walks. He has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball over the last decade and is a slam dunk Hall Of Famer.
The Dodgers have many other arms like Maeda, Hill, and Stripling, but the ones I delved into are the pitchers that earned a spot in this piece. Heck of an organization L.A. is.
New York Mets
When you have the reigning NL Cy Young on your squad, you already get a boost to crack a list like this. And when you have four potential aces, you most definitely crack this list.
Jacob deGrom has been phenomenal in the last two years. With back-to-back 200-strikeout seasons and a 1.70 ERA last year to go along with a 2.66 ERA this year, deGrom is arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball at the moment. Looking more advanced, deGrom has a career opponent batting average of .223. He also has a career 1.06 WHIP and 2.67 ERA through 1,066.2 innings with 1214 strikeouts. Just dominant.
You thought that you couldn’t have two Cy Young candidates on one team? Well, you thought wrong. Since bursting onto the scene in May of 2015, Noah Syndergaard has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. With a 3.19 ERA through 688.1 innings and 744 strikeouts with a 1.14 WHIP, Syndergaard has been electric. He has a fastball that regularly hits 100 and a nasty slider and changeup in the mid-90s, and he may be the most powerful pitcher in baseball. Imagine a playoff series with those as your 1-2 and 4-5. Scary.
But wait, there’s more. Marcus Stroman, who was acquired right before the trade deadline for a pair of pitching, hasn’t been as dominant on the Mets as he was on the Blue Jays, partially because he’s a sinker-baller and the infield hasn’t done him many favors. He has a 3.28 ERA through 156.1 innings with a 1.31 WHIP and has induced 16 double-plays. Stro has a fabulous sinker to go with his great slider, change up, and underrated curve. He is one of the most underappreciated pitchers in the league, especially considering his 5-foot-7, 170-pound frame.
You won’t catch a break on the Mets. Next up: Zack Wheeler. This man makes a 99 MPH fastball look like he’s just tossing a light throw. Such easy velocity. His numbers aren’t as sighingly as the other starters. Through his five healthy seasons, Wheels has compiled a 3.86 ERA with 691 punch-outs through 715.1 innings. He has a 1.30 WHIP with an opponent batting average of .247. That’s very impressive for your number four starter.
And the fifth starter is making a case that he may be better than the No. 3 or 4. Mr. Long Island, Steven Matz, has been great this season besides a couple of bad starts. Overall he has a 4.04 ERA with 133.2 innings this season and 128 strikeouts. Oh, and a 1.31 WHIP with 12 induced double plays. Very good for a fifth starter. The Mets may have the best all-around rotation in baseball.
The Houston Astros:
Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Grenkie, Aaron Sanchez, Wade Miley. I think I can just end this right here. But I guess I’ll give you the statistics.
Gerrit Cole, known as the Cole Train, has been electric pumping his fastball of 101 MPH when not showcasing a nasty curve-slider-change mix. This season he has a 2.81 ERA with 266 strikeouts through 176.1 innings with a 0.95 WHIP. Just electric.
With Justin Verlander, I’m just going to show his career achievements first, and then stats. Three no-no’s, an MVP, Cy Young award, Rookie Of The Year, a World Series ring, a World Series MVP, and an eight-time All-Star. This season has been no different. He has 2.56 ERA with 257 strikeouts through 193 innings. He is the definition of a horse and still can throw 96-100. Just dominant.
At the deadline, the Stros’ pulled a stunner and pried Zack Grenkie from the D-backs for a big package of prospects. He has been phenomenal. 2.99 ERA, with a 1.01 WHIP through 177.1 innings with 158 strikeouts. Not your average No. 3 starter.
Next up, Aaron Sanchez. Just a short few years ago in 2016, Sanchez had the ERA crown in the AL for the Blue Jays with a 3.00 ERA. He has struggled this season, mainly on the Blue Jays before getting dealt with Joe Biagini for a prospect package. Since the trade, he has been a different story. He threw six no-hit innings in his first start with the Astros, which ended up being a combined no-no. He is now injured but overall he has been not so good: 5.89 ERA with 115 strikeouts through 131.1 innings.
Wade Miley is next. He has been a great story for the last couple of years. This year he has a 3.06 ERA with 134 strikeouts through 156 innings. He has been extremely good. The Astros have a very talented rotation.
Well, can you guess who is the best? The Reds have a surprisingly underrated rotation, the Dodgers have a historically good rotation, the Mets have always been great and the Astros … are the winner and have a generationally talented rotation. The Astros have aces from one to five and are unmatched by any team. Just great.