Which New York staff is No. 1? Way-too-early 2023 MLB starting rotation rankings


Starting pitching used to be everything in baseball, or at least that’s the way it was billed.

That has never been entirely true, but it used to be more so than it is now. The simple reason for that is the workloads even of ace starters have shrunk steadily over the years as reliance on bullpens has expanded.

Still, as this evolution has taken place, with fewer innings on average coming from a team’s rotation, more starters have been needed to navigate a season. In 2022, 367 different players started games. In 1998, when Tampa Bay and Arizona joined MLB to give us 30 teams, just 283 pitchers got the nod.

Yet premium starting pitching is still valuable. Of the 13 top free agent contracts signed this offseason by average annual value, five of them were inked by starters, all of whom will earn at least $20 million next season. It seems that starting pitching at least still has some cachet in 21st century baseball.

While starting pitching guarantees neither a win in any given game much less a title, it sure helps you get a good way down the road. And so with that in mind, today we take a look at how the rotations around baseball stack up as teams enter the stretch drive of the hot stove season and gear up for spring ball.

Here is our list of all 30 MLB teams’ current starting rotations, from best to worst.

To read our methodology for these rankings, as well as a glossary of the terms we use, click here.

Game score W/L: 107-55, .660

Average game score: 57.2

Dominance rank: 1 | Consistency rank: 6

Gems: 47 | Eggs: 19

Rotation: Gerrit Cole (23-7), Carlos Rodon (25-7), Nestor Cortes (20-9), Luis Severino (18-8), Frankie Montas (11-8), Clarke Schmidt (3-7), Domingo German (6-7), Deivi Garcia (1-3)

The depth of the Yankees’ power-laden rotation is underscored by Severino landing as the fourth starter here, followed by Montas. With the Yankees, the question will center around health. Can Severino put up a full season? Will Montas’ right shoulder keep him on the sideline? There are potential issues, sure, but the Yankees are starting from a very good place.

Game score W/L: 99-63, .611

Average game score: 55.4

Dominance rank: 8 | Consistency rank: 5

Gems: 42 | Eggs: 23

Rotation: Corbin Burnes (25-6), Brandon Woodruff (24-7), Eric Lauer (16-14), Freddy Peralta (17-7), Aaron Ashby (9-5), Wade Miley (5-15), Adrian Houser (3-9), Bryse Wilson (0-1)

Projection systems generally favor power pitching and its defense-independent attributes, and you can see that with the Brewers, whose real-life depth in the rotation is likely even better than these numbers suggest if you think Miley and Houser are being shortchanged. Even if the forecasts are right, the Milwaukee rotation is once again loaded, headed up by the top two of Burnes and Woodruff, who compose as good of a one-two punch as you’ll find.

Game score W/L: 98-64, .605

Average game score: 55.5

Dominance rank: 2 | Consistency rank: 7

Gems: 43 | Eggs: 23

Rotation: Max Scherzer (23-6), Justin Verlander (24-8), Jose Quintana (15-15), Carlos Carrasco (11-13), Kodai Senga (12-11), David Peterson (7-3), Tylor Megill (4-5), Joey Lucchesi (2-3)

No team can challenge the Mets’ top two in terms of a combination of their totality of accomplishment along with the fact that they are both still really good. But the Mets’ rotation is more than that. Their depth chart is chock-full of hurlers even beyond Scherzer and Velander who will be able to keep them in games most nights.

Game score W/L: 96-66, .593

Average game score: 54.9

Dominance rank: 6 | Consistency rank: 4

Gems: 41 | Eggs: 21

Rotation: Max Fried (23-9), Kyle Wright (16-16), Charlie Morton (21-10), Spencer Strider (22-6), Mike Soroka (7-12), Bryce Elder (4-6), Ian Anderson (3-5), Jared Shuster (0-1)

As good as this looks for the Braves, it could be a whole lot better. Wright’s projections haven’t quite yet caught up to his breakout 2022 season. Soroka is a one-time ace who has been battling to get back from injury for a long time. We don’t know how that will work out, but if he’s 90% of the pre-injury Soroka, that makes an excellent rotation even better. Even Anderson was looked at as a rising star before taking a step back last season. Even if he gets back on track, the Braves’ rotation might be too good for him to get much of a run.

Game score W/L: 96-66, .593

Average game score: 54.8

Dominance rank: 10 | Consistency rank: 9

Gems: 38 | Eggs: 22

Rotation: Aaron Nola (25-8), Zack Wheeler (25-8), Ranger Suarez (16-16), Taijuan Walker (13-16), Bailey Falter (8-7), Andrew Painter (8-7), Mick Abel (0-2), Michael Plassmeyer (1-1)

The addition of Walker and the expected rise of Painter make this a deeper unit. And Suarez might be ready to take his place alongside Nola and Wheeler to give the Phillies a powerhouse rotation trio for a full season.

Game score W/L: 96-66, .593

Average game score: 54.3

Dominance rank: 16 | Consistency rank: 2

Gems: 41 | Eggs: 23

Rotation: Framber Valdez (22-9), Cristian Javier (21-8), Luis Garcia (16-11), Jose Urquidy (10-19), Lance McCullers Jr. (16-11), Hunter Brown (10-6), Shawn Dubin (1-2), Forrest Whitley (0-1)

The dynamic Brown could be used in any number of ways for a Houston staff deep in both starters and relievers. But if he holds down a frequent rotation slot, he could well offer some of what the Astros lost in Verlander’s departure. If any staff could withstand the loss of someone of Verlander’s stature, it’s this one.

Game score W/L: 96-66, .593

Average game score: 53.8

Dominance rank: 9 | Consistency rank: 21

Gems: 41 | Eggs: 22

Rotation: Dylan Cease (24-8), Lance Lynn (22-8), Lucas Giolito (20-10), Mike Clevinger (12-16), Michael Kopech (13-13), Davis Martin (2-4), Jimmy Lambert (2-4), Jonathan Stiever (1-4)

There are mostly slight differences between the pecking order of rotations generated by this method and by the forecast at Fangraphs, with teams generally landing within a handful of ranking spots from one approach to the other. The White Sox were one of the bigger departures — in Chicago’s favor. The projections see bouncebacks for Lynn and Giolito, which has to happen for Chicago to really land here in the rotation hierarchy. The issue though is depth: The White Sox don’t have it, and these numbers don’t know what’s going to happen with the recent investigation concerning newcomer Clevinger.

Game score W/L: 95-67, .586

Average game score: 54.4

Dominance rank: 4 | Consistency rank: 3

Gems: 43 | Eggs: 21

Rotation: Alek Manoah (22-8), Kevin Gausman (23-9), Chris Bassitt (22-10), Jose Berrios (13-14), Yusei Kikuchi (7-11), Nate Pearson (5-6), Mitch White (2-5), Hyun Jin Ryu (3-4)

The addition of Bassitt gives the Blue Jays a strong core trio with three potential 20-game winners (well, “game score” winners, anyway, but I love the old-timey nomenclature). There are questions with some possible exciting answers even after Manoah, Gausman and Bassitt. Can Berrios get back on track? Can Ryu return by midseason, as he says he wants to do? This rotation has a chance to not just be good, but to be really, really deep.

Game score W/L: 94-68, .580

Average game score: 53.8

Dominance rank: 12 | Consistency rank: 14

Gems: 40 | Eggs: 23

Rotation: Julio Urias (22-10), Clayton Kershaw (21-8), Tony Gonsolin (19-12), Noah Syndergaard (8-21), Dustin May (15-7), Ryan Pepiot (5-7), Gavin Stone (2-1), Michael Grove (1-2)

The last three pitchers listed are wild cards — they’re included on the depth charts but might also just be placeholders if the Dodgers unveil depth elsewhere, either by the ascension of someone such as Bobby Miller or a trade acquisition. The overall ranking is held back by Syndergaard’s subpar projection. The question: Can the Dodgers “fix” Thor like they have helped so many other second-chance players?

Game score W/L: 93-69, .574

Average game score: 54.1

Dominance rank: 5 | Consistency rank: 18

Gems: 39 | Eggs: 23

Rotation: Shane McClanahan (22-8), Drew Rasmussen (19-13), Tyler Glasnow (23-7), Zach Eflin (12-15), Jeffrey Springs (13-10), Luis Patino (1-4), Yonny Chirinos (2-7), Josh Fleming (1-3)

An already good rotation gets a full season from Glasnow and is bolstered by the signing of Eflin, whom the Rays seemed to like more than most. The Rays usually have a good reason for liking the players they do — one underused strength that they’ve spotted. If would be less than surprising if Eflin found another gear with his new team, since that’s pretty much what happened with Glasnow, Rasmussen and Springs.

Game score W/L: 91-71, .562

Average game score: 53.7

Dominance rank: 7 | Consistency rank: 26

Gems: 38 | Eggs: 23

Rotation: Nick Pivetta (15-17), Corey Kluber (14-16), Chris Sale (21-7), Garrett Whitlock (13-7), Brayan Bello (7-7), James Paxton (15-9), Tanner Houck (4-2), Kutter Crawford (2-6)

Could be way too optimistic about Sale here, both in quantity and quality. But the fact that he’s started only 11 games in three seasons and the projection systems still love him is a reminder of just how good he is when he’s right. There’s a lot of optimism in this ranking in general — Whitlock joining the rotation, Paxton staying healthy for that many starts, etc. But there is some good material to work with at least.

Game score W/L: 90-72, .556

Average game score: 53.8

Dominance rank: 3 | Consistency rank: 11

Gems: 37 | Eggs: 24

Rotation: Martin Perez (13-19), Jon Gray (16-14), Jacob deGrom (20-6), Nathan Eovaldi (15-12), Andrew Heaney (16-7), Jake Odorizzi (5-10), Dane Dunning (3-4), Glenn Otto (1-2)

The White Sox were the big risers from other forecasts, while the Rangers were the big fallers. The method might have something to do with that. DeGrom is off-the-charts good when he gets on the mound. But when you get into a turn-by-turn look at the rest of the rotation, you see a solid, deep group that will help the Rangers move toward .500. It could do more than that if Perez is closer to what he was last season than what the forecasts think he’s going to be this season.

Game score W/L: 90-72, .556

Average game score: 53.6

Dominance rank: 17 | Consistency rank: 13

Gems: 38 | Eggs: 22

Rotation: Sandy Alcantara (23-8), Johnny Cueto (8-16), Jesus Luzardo (18-9), Trevor Rogers (14-12), Edward Cabrera (14-11), Braxton Garrett (8-10), Eury Perez (3-4), Sixto Sanchez (3-3)

Pablo Lopez‘s game score record for Minnesota is 19-11, so that’s a big loss, and yet the Marlins still land in the upper half of the majors. This rotation has all kinds of untapped upside, both in many of the names listed here and in many who are not.

Game score W/L: 90-72, .556

Average game score: 53.1

Dominance rank: 14 | Consistency rank: 12

Gems: 41 | Eggs: 24

Rotation: Yu Darvish (22-9), Joe Musgrove (23-8), Blake Snell (21-8), Nick Martinez (8-17), Seth Lugo (8-11), Adrian Morejon (4-6), Jay Groome (3-8), Julio Teheran (1-5)

Well, you can see what’s going on here. The top three of Darvish, Musgrove and Snell look elite. But when it comes to the Padres overcoming the Dodgers in 2023, which could certainly happen, it’s what comes after that top three that might make the difference. A key to that will be the fortunes of Martinez, whom the projections don’t love but the Padres certainly do, as evidenced by the deal they gave him after the season.

Game score W/L: 86-76, .531

Average game score: 52.6

Dominance rank: 19 | Consistency rank: 10

Gems: 37 | Eggs: 22

Rotation: Logan Webb (21-10), Alex Cobb (15-14), Sean Manaea (14-11), Ross Stripling (12-14), Alex Wood (13-10), Anthony DeSclafani (5-9), Jakob Junis (3-3), Kyle Harrison (4-6)

Once again the Giants look like they have plenty of quality depth, though the rotation looks less glitzy without Carlos Rodon. Given the Giants’ propensity for extracting improvement from veterans, newcomer Manaea is one to watch. Another item of interest will be how quickly Harrison can make his ascension to the big league club.

Game score W/L: 86-76, .531

Average game score: 52.2

Dominance rank: 11 | Consistency rank: 16

Gems: 35 | Eggs: 25

Rotation: Pablo Lopez (19-11), Joe Ryan (16-13), Tyler Mahle (15-15), Sonny Gray (16-12), Kenta Maeda (12-10), Bailey Ober (5-4), Josh Winder (1-6), Louie Varland (2-3)

A solid, uninspiring group looks a lot better with Lopez in the fold. Yet while you can see capable starters well into the depth chart, you also see the lack of an ace. Lopez represents Minnesota’s best combination of dominance and consistency, but as the new face in a new place, it could really use him to up the dominance ante and become the No. 1 the club needs. Maybe the Twins’ program will help Lopez do just that. If not, it’s still a rotation the Twins can win with.

Game score W/L: 84-78, .519

Average game score: 52.6

Dominance rank: 15 | Consistency rank: 20

Gems: 35 | Eggs: 26

Rotation: Tyler Anderson (12-17), Shohei Ohtani (22-8), Patrick Sandoval (16-10), Reid Detmers (17-12), Jose Suarez (10-15), Chase Silseth (3-4), Griffin Canning (2-6), Tucker Davidson (2-6)

The Angels have struggled for so long to put together a productive and stable rotation that this outlook is actually pretty exciting. Anderson, if he does what he did for the Dodgers last year, will soar past this outlook. (Or maybe he regresses to the mean outside the Dodgers’ program.) Ohtani gives the rotation dynamism, but the real progress is evidenced by the presence of Sandoval, Detmers and Suarez.

Game score W/L: 84-78, .519

Average game score: 52.4

Dominance rank: 13 | Consistency rank: 1

Gems: 40 | Eggs: 25

Rotation: Luis Castillo (23-9), Robbie Ray (20-12), Logan Gilbert (15-14), Marco Gonzales (6-21), George Kirby (17-10), Chris Flexen (3-11), Taylor Dollard (0-1), Emerson Hancock (1-2)

The Mariners are underrated here, I think, as the FIP-challenged dossiers of Gonzales and Flexen don’t fare well in the forecast machinery. They should be better than this, but in the meantime, a big four of Castillo, Ray, Gilbert and Kirby is as exciting a rotation foundation the Mariners have had for at least the past decade.

Game score W/L: 81-81, .500

Average game score: 51.2

Dominance rank: 21 | Consistency rank: 17

Gems: 32 | Eggs: 27

Rotation: Miles Mikolas (17-12), Jordan Montgomery (17-13), Adam Wainwright (12-14), Jack Flaherty (15-13), Steven Matz (13-9), Dakota Hudson (3-6), Matthew Liberatore (2-6), Jake Woodford (2-9)

Seems like the Cardinals’ style of pitching never holds up well in the forecasting systems. In fact, the previous version of these rankings used a method designed to account for projection-challenged pitchers like, well, most of the Cardinals, and others such as Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. How did it work? Well, you’re looking at a new method today. This baseline for the St. Louis rotation, combined with its always-stellar defense, is likely as ever to be a winning combination — better than the .500 profile suggested here.

Game score W/L: 77-85, .475

Average game score: 51.6

Dominance rank: 18 | Consistency rank: 8

Gems: 33 | Eggs: 27

Rotation: Shane Bieber (24-7), Triston McKenzie (22-10), Cal Quantrill (9-21), Zach Plesac (6-19), Aaron Civale (9-14), Xzavion Curry (2-8), Konnor Pilkington (2-5), Cody Morris (4-3)

It’s not a vintage outlook for an organization that seems to churn out pitchers like they are made on an assembly line. The pitching staff overall still looks elite because of Cleveland’s dynamic bullpen. And even this group will be bolstered by the Guardians’ elite defense. And, not for nothing, the projections might be shortchanging Quantrill and Plesac, who aren’t big strikeout guys.

Game score W/L: 75-87, .463

Average game score: 51.1

Dominance rank: 22 | Consistency rank: 27

Gems: 31 | Eggs: 28

Rotation: Nick Lodolo (21-8), Hunter Greene (23-7), Graham Ashcraft (8-17), Luis Cessa (7-15), Connor Overton (5-6), Justin Dunn (3-18), Luke Weaver (8-13), Levi Stoudt (1-4)

If you’re a Reds fan, you’ll want to focus on the top two and imagine that you’ll be seeing Lodolo and Greene atop the rotation for a long time to come. Ashcraft will look to build on his rookie campaign, during which he showed some flashes. Prospects Stoudt and Brandon Williamson also offer some hope.

Game score W/L: 73-89, .451

Average game score: 50.9

Dominance rank: 23 | Consistency rank: 15

Gems: 33 | Eggs: 28

Rotation: Merrill Kelly (22-13), Zac Gallen (23-8), Madison Bumgarner (6-21), Zach Davies (7-19), Ryne Nelson (8-15), Drey Jameson (6-9), Brandon Pfaadt (2-2), Slade Cecconi (1-3)

Big two and little six? Kelly and Gallen are fabulous, and Bumgarner, forecasts aside, still has presence. But for the Diamondbacks to move up the rotation ladder, they need the kids to hit the ground running, starting with Nelson, Jameson and, perhaps, Pfaadt.

Game score W/L: 64-98, .395

Average game score: 49.4

Dominance rank: 25 | Consistency rank: 23

Gems: 28 | Eggs: 28

Rotation: Marcus Stroman (15-15), Jameson Taillon (11-20), Justin Steele (15-12), Drew Smyly (11-15), Kyle Hendricks (5-17), Adrian Sampson (2-6), Keegan Thompson (3-7), Hayden Wesneski (3-6)

The overhaul of the Cubs’ pitching processes paid off with a solid season in 2022 and featured a rotation that really gathered momentum as the season went along. The hope for a move toward .500 this year, at least for this group, means repeating those improvements in a way the projections don’t see as likely. It also means for free agent signee Taillon to find a new level in his new team’s revamped program. You could go deeper than eight on the Cubs’ rotation depth chart with viable options for the coming season, which is always a good sign since there are always injuries and shortfalls. It’s not an exciting ranking, but I think it has a chance to be an exciting group.

Game score W/L: 63-99, .389

Average game score: 49.6

Dominance rank: 26 | Consistency rank: 22

Gems: 29 | Eggs: 28

Rotation: Eduardo Rodriguez (12-17), Matthew Boyd (11-17), Michael Lorenzen (9-16), Matt Manning (7-18), Spencer Turnbull (10-10), Joey Wentz (5-11), Tarik Skubal (7-5), Beau Brieske (2-5)

If Manning can reverse that projected game score record, it will be a good season for the Tigers’ rotation, at least in relation to these low expectations.

Game score W/L: 63-99, .389

Average game score: 49.1

Dominance rank: 24 | Consistency rank: 30

Gems: 23 | Eggs: 29

Rotation: Mitch Keller (10-17), JT Brubaker (13-18), Roansy Contreras (13-14), Vince Velasquez (7-16), Johan Oviedo (6-14), Rich Hill (8-11), Luis Ortiz (4-6), Michael Burrows (2-3)

About the league-worst consistency ranking … this is kind of what happens when you turn to Hill to stabilize a rotation. Don’t get me wrong — I love me some Rich Hill and I feel like he’s going to figure out a way to get hitters out until he’s 50 years old. But he’s very low volume in both number of starts and innings per start. Still, if his presence can pay off in some guidance for Keller, Brubaker and other young hurlers on the roster, that’s a win for the Bucs.

Game score W/L: 62-100, .383

Average game score: 49.7

Dominance rank: 20 | Consistency rank: 19

Gems: 28 | Eggs: 29

Rotation: Cole Irvin (8-21), Kyle Gibson (10-19), Dean Kremer (8-19), Kyle Bradish (11-15), Tyler Wells (4-6), Grayson Rodriguez (12-13), DL Hall (6-3), John Means (3-5)

It doesn’t look good on paper, but the Orioles have been putting their systems in place under Mike Elias for a few years now. You hope there is a reason they identified Irvin and Gibson as the veterans who can provide stability as Rodriguez, Hall, Bradish and all the young hurlers find their way. The Orioles showed some real strength in the way they built their bullpen last season, so maybe they can make a similar leap in the starting pitching department.

Game score W/L: 52-110, .321

Average game score: 48.1

Dominance rank: 29 | Consistency rank: 25

Gems: 24 | Eggs: 30

Rotation: German Marquez (22-11), Kyle Freeland (8-24), Antonio Senzatela (6-22), Jose Urena (4-21), Austin Gomber (9-12), Ryan Feltner (2-7), Peter Lambert (1-8), Connor Seabold (2-6)

Yes, the game scores are park-adjusted, so don’t blame Coors Field. Freeland is a solid pitcher who doesn’t have a big strikeout rate, so the algorithms show him little love. But let’s face it, even if you make Freeland, and even Senzatela, something close to .500, you’re still looking at a long season. But, hey, Marquez is really good.

Game score W/L: 52-110, .321

Average game score: 48.0

Dominance rank: 28 | Consistency rank: 24

Gems: 25 | Eggs: 33

Rotation: Brady Singer (20-13), Jordan Lyles (6-20), Kris Bubic (8-21), Zack Greinke (7-19), Daniel Lynch (6-13), Ryan Yarbrough (4-14), Jonathan Heasley (2-7), Brad Keller (2-4)

I don’t really get the decision to add Lyles and Yarbrough to the mix, though I applaud the move to bring back Greinke. He throws a fastball that would have looked slow 100 years ago and he still gets hitters out, even if no forecasting system is going to like him ever again. Anyway, the story is the same as entering 2022, when the Royals got a positive development in Singer’s improvement. But they need the same from Lynch, Bubic and Jackson Kowar. They need it bad.

Game score W/L: 50-112, .309

Average game score: 47.9

Dominance rank: 30 | Consistency rank: 29

Gems: 23 | Eggs: 31

Rotation: Paul Blackburn (7-21), James Kaprielian (6-19), Ken Waldichuk (12-12), Kyle Muller (9-14), Shintaro Fujinami (4-19), Drew Rucinski (4-14), JP Sears (6-8), Adrian Martinez (3-6)

I have no idea if the forecasts for Fujinami and Rucinski are even in the ballpark. But it won’t be a good sign if Oakland’s newly signed rotation duo really do combine for a game score record of 8-33. Fujinami comes over from the Hanshin Tigers, while Rucinski pitched in Korea. Muller is one to watch as a former top prospect who couldn’t get over the hump in Atlanta.

Game score W/L: 48-114, .296

Average game score: 47.6

Dominance rank: 27 | Consistency rank: 28

Gems: 22 | Eggs: 31

Rotation: Josiah Gray (10-18), Patrick Corbin (6-22), Trevor Williams (6-20), MacKenzie Gore (10-14), Cade Cavalli (7-15), Stephen Strasburg (6-10), Joan Adon (2-10), Jake Irvin (1-4)

Well, at least you have some younger pitchers massing together around vets Corbin — who is coming off a terrible season — Williams and — maybe, just maybe — Strasburg, perhaps, at some point. The other five hurlers listed are on the young side, with Gore a particular focus in his first full season with the organization. Also keep an eye on Cole Henry, the Nats’ top pitching prospect, who could push up toward D.C. sooner than later.

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