I posted this back in late March to show that it's important that a team have 8 starters they can go to throughout the year because one way or another they're going to need them.
Go ahead and judge, analyze, rip it apart, add your own assessments, etc. to how the Central ended up being shaped. Milwaukee's going to test their #5-6 starters again with Sheets out, something they never had to do last year.
How many starts did each team get out of their #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8 starting pitchers?
Below is a list of each team from the National League in 2006 excluding the Top-3 pitchers' number of starts.
Keep in mind that many of these #4 and #5 pitchers didn't even begin the season with the club, but because of injuries and ineffectiveness they were vaulted into these roles as call-ups, waiver-wire pickups, trades, and injury recovery themselves.
The purpose is to show that few teams have a true #4 or #5 starter and that after the #3 starter a team is constantly trying to find someone who can pitch effectively or stay healthy. This is true for nearly every club, so it helps if you can have more quality depth at AAA to pull from when looking for these replacements.
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Mets
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
COMPARING THE NL CENTRAL'S #4, #5, & #6 STARTERS:
Last year on April 5th, the projected starting rotation for them was #1 Zambrano, #2 Prior, #3 Maddux, #4 Wood, and #5 Marshall. Their #5 Marshall ended up with the second most starts with 24, Prior ended up with only 9 starts, Maddux with only 22 before he was traded, and Wood had only 4 starts. Based on # of starts, their rotation ended up being Zambrano, Sean Marshall, Maddux, Rich Hill, and Carlos Marmol.
As of now their Top-3 starters are Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and Jason Marquis. So, who's their 4-5-6? Rich Hill has been given the #4 spot and deservedly so. He pitched 100 innings in the minor leagues and tore them up and another 99 innings in the Majors with good results. He's the Cubs 2nd best pitcher, but is in the #4 spot. Wade Miller was given the #5 spot over Mark Prior today. From Matthew Pouliot of Rotoworld: "Even though Mark Prior was quite a bit more impressive in his last outing, it's only a matter of time until Wade Miller is named the Cubs' fifth starter. My guess is that Miller won't last in the role; the lost velocity due to his shoulder problems has made his fastball more hittable and he's never had a very good changeup to aid in keeping left-handed hitters off balance. If he remains free of injury, Prior will probably find himself in the rotation by May 1. It's doubtful that Prior will flash All-Star-type form at any point during the season. Prior is the #6 starter.
Rotoworld's 2007 projection for:
#4 Rich Hill: 193IP, 13W, 187K, 4.10 ERA, 1.35WHIP
Scouting report by Stats, Inc.
#5 Wade Miller: Miller has a complicated delivery that has to be just right for him to be effective. When he's right, Miller has as much stuff as practically anyone on the staff, throwing his fastball in the mid-90s and his slider around 90 MPH.The slightest deviation, however, and he not only has troubles pitching, but can be prone to injury. In mid-May, he was having problems and came out of a game with a strained neck, which was similar to a problem he had in the past. He seemed to be back on track in June before the shoulder began to bother him too much. An ironman who had pitched an average of 188 innings per year since 2000, Miller never was his former self last year.
Rotoworld's 2007 projections for:
#6 Mark Prior 116IP, 8W, 118K, 3.72 ERA, 1.28WHIP
But, if he never gets healthy, it doesn't matter. Per Rotoworld Friday, March 21st...Mark Prior, who reported normal stiffness Friday after throwing four innings the day before, has been scheduled to take Carlos Zambrano's spot in the rotation on Wednesday. "I think it's more important for Prior to pitch under that circumstance than sending him down to the minor-league club," manager Lou Piniella said. "Obviously, it's more competitive, and there's going to be more scrutiny to perform." ....Four days later, today, the day before his next scheduled start, Piniella named Wade Miller the #5 starter.
#7 & #8: Per Rotoworld, March 21st....Cubs optioned LHP Sean Marshall and RHP Carlos Marmol to Triple-A Iowa. A healthy Marshall might have been able to break into the mix for a rotation spot this spring, but he only made his debut Monday after overcoming his shoulder difficulties. Both he and Marmol should be factors later on. Marshall had 24 starts, Marmol 13 last year. Marshall said Feb 18th that he was a little slower last year, but that now "my throws are crisp, flat ground felt good, and my stride was back in line. My throwing has been going really well." Despite those words the Cubs brought him along slowly this spring, hoping to get a healthier Mashall than the one that pitched last year (24Starts, 5.59ERA, 1.52WHIP, and 77K's in 126IP)
Last year on April 5th, the projected starting rotation for them was #1 Harang, #2 Claussen, #3 Arroyo, #4 Milton, #5 Williams. To recap what everyone already knows... #2 Claussen made only 14 starts (4 QS), and #5 Williams was even worse in his 8 starts. Arroyo stepped up and became a stud, getting to the All-Star game, and being voted the REDS' Pitcher-of-the-Year. Milton did what he could winning as many games as he lost. No other REDS' starter could claim that other than Bronson and Aaron. Though he had some rough outings, he had more good ones than bad ones, turning in 14 QS out of 26 starts, as Ramirez did also, posting 10 QS in his 19 Starts, but Elizardo was unfortunately on the losing end of most of his games going 4-9, and Joe Mays' attempt failed in his 4 starts. There just wasn't anyone to choose from in our Minor League system to replace Milton who replaced Arroyo, who replaced Claussen. There also wasn't anyone to replace Williams until we went out and got Lohse (11 starts), who pitched well enough to keep him in the rotation last year and this year, too. Michalak's 6 starts proved he wasn't the answer, either. Based on # of starts, their rotation ended up being Harang, Arroyo, Milton, Ramirez and Claussen.
So, as of now, the Top-3 starters are #1 Arroyo, #1A Harang, and #3 Lohse. So, our 4-5-6? #4 is Milton, #5 has to be Bobby Livingston, mainly because Belisle pitched less than 60 innings total last year at all levels, and only about 85 innings the year before. It's a long season and Belisle would be better off getting spot starts now and then. #6 is Saarloos as that's what he was brought over here to do, and again for the same reason as Livingston, he has the ability to throw 160+ innings. If Kirk and/or Bobby fail, then we have Belisle to fall back on, and Bailey later on. Per Rotoworld, March 26th.... Bobby Livingston allowed just a single in five scoreless innings Monday in the Reds' 5-0 shutout of the Red Sox. With a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings, the soft-tossing Livingston is still technically in the running to be the Reds' fifth starter. He'll probably be optioned to Triple-A later this week, but he could be the first start called up by the Reds.
Obviously, Ramirez and Santos can throw innings, but Santos is proving himself this spring to be a valuable reliever.
Per Rotoworld 2007 projections:
Eric Milton: 190IP, 10W, 134K, 4.64ERA, 1.34WHIP
Bobby Livingston: Really, no one has any idea what we're going to get from him. If he can keep his ERA under 5.00 then we're getting more than we could have hoped for and a really quality pitcher for the #5 rotation spot. Any ERA under 5.00 for the #5 spot is excellent, better than 4/5th's of all Major League Clubs. Spring stats: (1.23 ERA in 14-2/3 innings; 12/2 K/BB)
Kirk Saarloos: He's not only more than adequate, but a genuine asset for the #5 spot, or the #4 spot if it becomes necessary, having proved he can start and keep his ERA under 5.00, not having had it above that in any of the last four years.
Matt Belisle: Belisle on the other hand doesn't have a track record of showing he can start effectively, having an ERA of nearly 6.00 in Louisville in 2004 (his last meaningful time as a starter), and an ERA nearly 7.00 in Greenville in 2003 as a starter. With that history, he's not someone you want to begin April with as your #5 starter no matter how well he pitches in Spring Training (2.08 in 13 innings; 6/3 K/BB). He's better suited spot starting during the middle of the season when the need arrives, or being sent to AAA as a starter to see if he can develop some consistency and build up his arm strength back to his 2004 level.
Elizardo Ramirez' future with the Major Leauge club may be over. He was rushed through the REDS' organization and it shows. Maybe spending a couple of years at AAA will give him a chance to work on some of his issues, or make him enticing enough for trade offers since he is still young.
Last year on April 5th, the projected starting rotation for them was #1 Oswalt, #2 Pettitte, #3 Brandon Backe, #4 Wandy Rodriquez, and #5 Ezequiel Astacio (he was 2 years older than Buchholz and Nieve and had double-digit starts with Houston the year before, so it was said at the time that he'd be with the club), and then there was Clemens who would fill in three months later. Well, their #3 Backe was injured and needed Tommy John surgery at the end of the year, and Astacio was instead replaced by Buchholz (who had the most innings pitched during Spring Training in 2006, but was still sent to the minors for a several starts first). Buchholz had 19 starts. Rodriquez came through with 24 starts. Houston actually did pretty well in this area. Their offseason negotiating though is going to cost them. They let Pettitte walk only $2M apart (35 starts last year). Clemens won't be back (19 starts last year and their #1 when he played). Based on # of starts, their rotation ended up being Pettitte, Oswalt, Rodriguez, Clemens, and Buchholz.
As of now, their Top-3 starters are: #1 Oswalt, of course, #2 Jason Jennings acquired in a trade with the Rockies, and #3 Woody Williams (24 starts with the Padres last year). Williams' Innings-Pitched and Strikeout-Ration has fallen each of the past three years. Per Rotoworld from March 21st: Woody Williams was lit up by the Devil Rays on Wednesday, allowing nine runs and 12 hits in four innings. The Astros are primarily concerned about their fourth and fifth starters, but their No. 3 is a 40-year-old who threw 160 innings in 2005 and 145 last year. There's a good chance Williams won't be the 12- or 14-game winner the Astros believe he'll be.
So, who's their 4-5-6? #4 Rodriguez, #5 Fernando Nieve, #6 Chris Sampson , and perhaps #7 Brian Moehler. Rodriguez' ERA is over 5.50 over his last 46 starts the last two years, but the Astros are giving him the #4 spot as they simply have no other lefthander. Rodriguez is the only left-hander that Garner has and he'll need to put him in there if he wants a left-hander in his rotation. Nieve's numbers this Spring are much better than Rodriguez': 2.81 ERA in 16 Innings and 12/4 K/BB ratio. Nieve pitched alright for Houston last year with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.33WHIP with 70K's in 96 IP. He is much better than Rodriquez. Per Rotoworld today (March 27): Chris Sampson allowed just one run and three hits over five innings Tuesday in a start versus the Indians. It was the first time all spring that he's pitched more than 2 1/3 innings. Maybe the Astros are giving serious thought to putting him in the rotation after all. Still, with a 5.62 ERA, he's been outpitched by Fernando Nieve, and there's been no indication that the Astros will abandon plans to make Wandy Rodriguez their No. 4 starter. Sampson is another pitcher that's better than Rodriguez. He pitched great his small time with Houston last year and great while he was at Round Rock. He's 28, done all he can do in the minors, and Garner just needs to go with the five best pitchers and not worry about if he has a left or not. Moehler's there as insurance as every team needs someone that can throw innings and save the bullpen.
#4 Wandy Rodriguez: He's going to have a WHIP of 1.50 and an ERA of 5.50 no matter how many times he starts. In 11-2/3 IP this spring he has a 8/12 K/BB ratio. How long will Garner grace the rest of the National League Central by putting this guy out there? Of course, there wouldn't be this problem, if they had given Pettitte $2M more.
#5 Fernando Nieve: His biggest issue is his command of his pitches, as it is for most pitchers. But if he duplicates his 4.20 ERA as a starter this year, the Astros will have one of the best #5 pitchers. Unfortunately, he's probably their #4 pitcher, but that's still a great one at that. One problem. He only pitched 100 innings last year. Though he had 166 each of the two previous years, they'll injure him if they try to ask more than that of him this year. He'll either have to come out of games after five innings or they'll have to skip one of his starts every month.
#6 Chris Sampson: Sampson's WHIP's his last three stops have been 1.11, 0.98, 0.88 at AA, AAA, and Houston in that order. He's gotten better the tougher the competition. I like what he did March 16th: He faced 6 Yankees and struck out 5 of them. He's thrown 150 innings each of the last three years with a 4-1/2 to 1 K-BB ratio.
#7 Brian Moehler: Emergency innings eater. The Astros are in trouble when he has to start. Hope the REDS are facing him at the time. The 6.57 ERA last year was no fluke.
Last year on April 5th, the projected starters were #1 Sheets, #2 Davis, #3 Capuano, #4 Ohka, and #5 Bush. Sheets had his injury of course and finished with 17 starts, while Ohka had only 18 himself, but the rest of the crew didn't miss any starts at all. Capuano became the #1 when Sheets wasn't available with his 34 starts, while Davis stepped up to #2 with 34 starts, also. Dave Bush responded admirably as a #3 or #4 with 32 starts. Consequently, the Brewers pen was well rested, so no blame could be assessed as their having been overworked. Based on # of starts, their rotation ended up being Capuano, Davis, Bush, Ohka, and Sheets.
So, their Top-3 this year? Sheets, Suppan, and Capuano. Doug Davis and his 34 starts and 200 innings flew South to Arizona. This leaves as their 4-5-6 starters #4 Dave Bush, #5 Claudio Vargas, & #6 Carlos Villanueva.
Projected Rotoworld stats for Dave Bush for 2007: 207 IP; 13W; 150K; 4.22ERA; 1.28WHIP. I think other than innings, he'll pitch better than that in all categories. I see him as 225IP; 17W; 190K; 3.66ERA; 1.18WHIP
#4 Dave Bush: There's nothing to not like about him. He's never had a bad WHIP anywhere he's ever pitched. The Blue Jays should have kept this guy. His sophomore year last year was not a slump but an improvement as he went from 136 to 210 IP (he also pitched 55 innings in AAA in 2005), 75 Strikeouts to 166, while only increasing his Walks from 29 to 38. He could be anyone's #2 pitcher. Don't ask me why the Brewers are listing Suppan as their #2. I doubt if Suppan's ERA will even be among the Top-5 of Brewers that start at least 10 games this year. FWIW, in 2006 Bush tied for 3rd in the NL in Shutouts, 5th in the NL in Complete Games, 14th in the NL in K's, and 20th in the NL in wins. Batters hit a miniscule .634 OPS against him in Milwaukee. He could be had on the road. If he figures that out this year, he'll be nearly unbeatable.
Projected Rotoworld stats for Claudio Vargas for 2007: 181 IP; 11W; 123K; 4.38ERA; 1.37WHIP I doubt if his ERA gets that low, but the new Brewers stadium might make that much of a difference.
#5 Claudio Vargas: 30 starts for the Diamondbacks last year. An ERA just under 5.00 over 532 innings. Healthy. Pitching well going into the season (He's allowed eight earned runs in 23 1/3 innings over his last five starts, giving him a 3.09 ERA). Excellent for a #5 starter. If/when Sheets goes down, he'll still be OK for a #4.
Projected Rotoworld stats for Carlos Villanueva for 2007: 115IP; 8W; 80K; 4.15ERA; 1.33WHIP
#6 Carlos Villanueva: On the rise. Excellent rookie campaign last year. We can only hope Homer Bailey does as well his first year. WHIP of 1.01, ERA of 3.69, while hitters batted .216 against him in 54 innings. 23 years old. His last three years innings totals: 114, 130, 180 (54 Majors). Spring stats this year: 2.25 ERA in 12 IP with a 14/0 K/BB ratio.
#7 Elmer Dessens (just picked up for Brady Clark) could fill in in an emergency
Last year on April 5th, the projected starting rotation for the Pirates was #1 Oliver Perez, #2 Duke, #3 Paul Maholm, #4 Snell, #5 Victor Santos. Perez was totally ineffective in 15 starts. Duke stepped up to #1 and had 34 starts. Maholm stayed at #3 with 30 starts, and Snell moved up from #4 to #2 with 32 starts. Santos turned in 19 starts, about what you'd expect from a #5 starter, though you wouldn't have hoped that batters would hit .321 off of him all year. He made everyone he pitched to look like an All-Star. But, we've got him now. He doesn't look like the same guy, but then one inning at a time is a lot different than starting. Based on # of starts, their rotation ended up being Duke, Snell, Maholm, Santos, and Ol. Perez.
The Top-3 starters this year will be #1 Duke, #2 Snell, and #3 Tom Gorzelanny (they could be rushing him as he's having control problems this spring, but then they're the Pirates....they have no choice...he walked a batter every other inning last year in his 61 IP, but was extremely successful at AAA). 4-5-6 will be Maholm, Tony Armas Jr., and Shawn Chacon.
Projected 2007 stats per Rotoworld for Paul Maholm: 195 IP; 11W; 126K; 4.29ERA; 1.39WHIP That will probably be better numbers than Milton.
#4 Paul Maholm: Spring stats for Maholm: 1.98 ERA in 13-2/3 IP with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Maholm went from 60 IP in 2004 to 160 IP in 2005 where he was dynmite in 41 innings in the bigs. Then he threw for 176 IP in 2006 and his WHIP jumped to 1.61. Just saying that there could be an effect to add 100 innings to a pitcher in one year. I'm not convinced that his WHIP will drop down to the 1.39 that Rotoworld projects if there's any issues of a tired arm or anything. I'm going to watch Maholm vs Milton all year and see who performs better, what with both guys starting out as #4's.
#5 Tony Armas, Jr. He's too consistent, consistently bad. He's going to have an ERA of Five and a WHIP of One-and-a-Half. That's a #5 starter for you. Spring stats: He leads the Pirates in IP with a 3.70 ERA in 24-1/3 innings and a 16/6 K/BB ratio. A grizzly veteran at soon-to-be 29. He can handle the #4 spot if pressed, tossing in a quality start every other game.
#6 Shawn Chacon: In 12 starts with the Yankees in 2005 he had a 2.85 ERA. What happened? Per Rotoworld, Feb 19, 2007: Shawn Chacon revealed he was diagnosed with arthritis in his right knee, but he expects to be able to pitch through soreness this year. Chacon has had two surgeries on the meniscus inside the knee, and he strongly considered having another after last season. However, a doctor advised him that doing so would only exacerbate the problem. Chacon has made his scheduled pitching sessions and run through all fielding drills this spring. He has a 2.31 ERA in 11-2/3 IP with a 8/3 K/BB ratio.
#7 The Pirates always need a number seven starter, but I don't know who it would be.
The REDS will face Maholm, then Duke, then Armas in the 2nd series of the year.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Last year on April 5th, the projected starting rotation was #1 Carpenter, #2 Mulder, #3 Suppan, #4 Marquis, #5 Ponson. Carpenter had 32 starts, but Mulder only had 17 starts and almost cost them the pennant (7.17ERA!...batters hit .327 against him). Suppan got his 32 starts, and Marquis 33 starts. Ponson did what he was expected to do as a #5 with 17 starts, but couldn't close the gap as a #4 with his 5.24 ERA....they had to let him go, almost too late. Based on # of starts, their rotation ended up being Marquis, Carpenter, Suppan, Reyes, and Mulder.
As of now, their Top-3 starters are #1 Carpenter, #2 Kip Wells (Per Rotoworld, Nov 28th: Cardinals signed RHP Kip Wells, who had been with the Rangers, to a one-year, $4 million contract. Wells has had three poor years since his two good ones, but we still like this signing. The 29-year-old ended last season 2-5 with a 6.50 ERA in 44 1/3 innings after March surgery to repair a blocked artery in his shoulder and then a foot injury that shut him down in August. He should be 100 percent for 2007, and while there's no guarantee he'll do any better than Sidney Ponson did last year, he has as much upside as some of the pitchers who will get big three-year contracts.) and #3 Braden Looper. Wells' Spring numbers: 1.06 ERA in 17 IP with a 15/7 K/BB ratio. Maybe he's healed. Looper's never pitched 90 innings in his career. His arm will be dead by the All-Star break. LaRussa doesn't care. That's about the time Mulder is due back.
The 4-5-6 starters for the Cardinals are Anthony Reyes, Adam Wainwright and Ryan Franklin. OK, so there's nothing pretty about Franklin, but he may do better in St. Louis than he did in Cincinnati.
Projected stats for 2007 for Anthony Reyes per Rotoworld: 190IP; 14W; 154K; 4.07 ERA; 1.30 WHIP.
#4 Anthony Reyes: The 2nd best pitcher on the staff. He's mastered the minors.....now he's trying to be solid as a Major Leaguer. He looked like Eric Milton during his rookie year last year....always turning around looking up at homeruns being hit. The difference is that he made more people miss than Milton (and quite a few other things are different, too). He's been a strikeout pitcher during his career, and in just 3 years of Pro Ball already has 420 IP w/ 100 of them in the Majors. Spring stats: He was cruising along with a 0.59 ERA in 16 innings giving up only 6 hits until he gave up 5 earned runs on 8 hits in 4 innings in his last outing. Per Pantagraph, Jan. 14th: Anthony Reyes is still struggling to master the sinker that pitching coach Dave Duncan had him focusing on last March, but he plans to work on it again this spring. "I always want to work down. But going through the ranks my game has always been up in the strike zone," Reyes said. "It’s one of those things where I’m trying to work down but I’m effective up. If I pitch down in the zone that will get me more groundballs and more outs. That’s something I want to strive for." He's really their #2 starter.
Projected stats for 2007 for Adam Wainwright per Rotoworld: 200IP; 14W; 149K; 4.05 ERA; 1.35 WHIP. If LaRussa pitches him on a pace for 200 innings, his arm will fall off before August.
#5 Adam Wainwright: The 3rd best pitcher on the staff. Same age as Reyes, but he came up through the ranks instead of through College. Spring stats: 0.98 in 27-2/3 IP with a 19/6 K/BB ratio. A future #2 or #1 starter. Excellent rookie season last year with a WHIP of 1.15, an ERA of 3.12, and 72K in 75 IP. Best thing for the REDS?....after averaging 155 IP 2001-2003, his next three years were 64IP, 184IP, and 75 IP. If LaRussa uses him too much, he could tire out his arm by mid-season, or especially during the pennant race.
#6 Ryan Franklin: Per Rotoworld, Jan 10th: Cardinals signed RHP Ryan Franklin, who had been with the Reds, to a one-year, $1 million contract. He can earn up to $2 million if he makes 29 starts this season. Franklin had a 4.54 ERA in 77 1/3 innings as a middle reliever for the Phillies and Reds last season. He's the type of pitcher that Dave Duncan tends to have quite a bit of luck with, but we still don't see him functioning as anything more than a fifth starter. "Ryan's a durable pitcher who can help us in a number of ways," GM Walt Jocketty said. "We'll bring him to camp and see where he is best suited to help our staff." Well, let us hope he earns $2M this year.
Projected stats per Rotoworld for Ryan Franklin for 2007: 102 IP; 5W; 59K; 4.15 ERA; 1.34WHIP
The Cardinals are good, but they aren't deep. Injuries to a couple of starters and they don't have anyone decent to bring in to pitch.