This year’s MLB trade deadline was crazy. Never before have so many big-time names moved teams. And certainly I cannot remember so many big-time pitchers relocating mid-season as well.
Lets look at the playoff contender rotations as they stand right now, with Trade deadline acquisitions highlighted in blue.
- Washington: Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmerman, Fister, Roark
- Atlanta: Teheran, Minor, Santana, Harang, Wood
- Milwaukee: Lohse, Garza, Gallardo, Peralta, Nelson
- Cincinnati: Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Leake, Simon
- St. Louis: Wainwright, Masterson, Lackey, Lynn, Miller
- Pittsburgh: Liriano, Morton, Locke, Volquez, Worley
- Los Angeles: Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Beckett, Haren
- San Francisco: Bumgarner, Hudson, Lincecum, Vogelsong, Peavy
St. Louis clearly did the most in the NL, acquiring two mid-rotation guys to help cover for the injured Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, but it is hard to look at their rotation and say they’d have the advantage over some of their potential playoff rivals. San Francisco lost its ace (thought he hasn’t pitched like an Ace since signing his new deal) Matt Cain, and his replacement was not inspiring confidence (Yusmiero Petit), so they added former Cy Young winner Peavy (who is pitching better than his 1-11 W/L record .. but not a lot better). Otherwise the NL playoff contenders mostly stood pat. There was some small surprise that the free-spending Dodgers wouldn’t try to improve upon the suddenly underperforming Josh Beckett and/or the “fool-me-once” Dan Haren. They’ll struggle to get through the #3 and #4 starts of their planned playoff rotation to get back to their co-aces Kershaw and Greinke (who was good but not shut-down in last year’s playoffs). The home-town Nats may find themselves with an uncomfortable decision to make if they make the playoffs; which starter to send to the pen? Roark is the least renound and the least tenured … but he has clearly been more effective than other rotation members.
It continues to amaze that the Braves are competing, given the losses they’ve faced in their rotation. They are missing (arguably) their planned #2, #3 and #5 starters in Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Gavin Floyd but are getting by thanks to two mid-spring acquisitions (Santana and Harang) and the surprise performances of youngsters Wood and David Hale (who didn’t merit his demotion to the bullpen).
- Baltimore: Tillman, Norris, Chen, Gonzalez, Gausman
- Toronto: Buehrle, Dickey, Happ, Strohman, Hutchinson
- New York: Kuroda, Phelps, Capuano, Greene, McCarthy
- Detroit: Scherzer, Verlander, Sanchez, Price, Porcello
- Kansas City: Shields, Duffy, Ventura, Guthrie, Vargas
- Oakland: Grey, Samardzija, Lester, Hammel, Kazmir
- Los Angeles: Weaver, Wilson, Richards, Shoemaker, Santiago
- Seattle: Hernandez, Iwakuma, Paxton, Elias, Young
I didn’t include fringe playoff contenders such as Cleveland or Tampa Bay here; both of those rotations were purged and weakened, and their odds of catching one of these listed WC contendors is long. Oakland completely re-made their rotation here, attempting to keep up with Detroit, who now features the last three AL Cy Young winners to go along with Sanchez (who finished 4th last year in a season where he led the league in both ERA and FIP). That’s quite a lineup. Meanwhile Seattle likely finishes 10 games back of the Angels and could end up facing them in the coin-flip wild-card game … and could end up throwing the best pitcher in the AL at them (which has been noted as a significant down-side to the 2nd wild-card matchup; who wants to see a team lose out to a divisional rival that they bested by so many games in a play-in game?).
New York is the “Atlanta” of the AL this year; they currently have four planned rotation members on the D/L and (likely) out for the year (CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka). Their 4th and 5th starters were a 14th and 15th round pick respectively. They’ve been outscored by nearly 30 runs on the year yet somehow have a winning record. It seems like just a matter of time before their luck runs out and they settle back below .500.
Who would you rather go to war with, Detroit or Oakland’s rotation? Probably Detroit’s rotation, given its depth one to four. But the ALCS could be one heck of a series.