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Top 5 Rotations in MLB Entering 2023

These five teams have very impressive starting rotations and will likely compete for a championship in part due to pitching.

As teams report to Spring Training and kick off nine months of baseball, let’s take a look at the top five starting rotations in MLB.  Asterisks indicate injured pitchers who would otherwise be part of rotations. Carets refer to prospects ready to step up if another injury occurs at the major league level.

1. Yankees

1. Gerrit Cole

2. Carlos Rodon

3. Luis Severino

4. Nestor Cortes Jr.

5. Domingo German/ Clarke Schmidt

* Frankie Montas

Kicking off this list at number one, the New York Yankees take the crown for the best rotation in all of baseball. It was a tough determination to make between the masterful Dodgers, Mets, and Astros squads, but recent addition Carlos Rodon sealed the Yankees the number one spot on this list. Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, and Nestor Cortes Jr. all received Cy Young votes in 2022, and before injuries plagued his career, Luis Severino had consecutive top-10 Cy Young finishes in 2017 and 2018.

The Yankees rotation has four ace-potential starters to lock down the top of the rotation, three of whom have perennial 200+ strikeout capability. The four-man is Nestor Cortes jr. who, since breaking out in 2021, has owned a 2.61 ERA in 251.1 innings striking out 266. A Frankie Montas return to form would have made the Yankees equipped with five true aces, but a shoulder injury will sideline him for most of 2023, leaving the fifth spot open for swingmen Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German.

2. Dodgers

1. Clayton Kershaw

2. Julio Urias

3. Noah Syndergaard

4. Tony Gonsolin

5. Dustin May

*Walker Buehler ^Ryan Pepiot

The Los Angeles Dodgers rotation is headlined by veteran starter and first ballot Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw, followed by Julio Urias and Noah Syndergaard. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May shore up the back end of the rotation, and rookie Ryan Pepiot is waiting in the wings to break into the mix as well. Kershaw had a fabulous 2022, pitching to a 2.28 ERA in 126.1 innings after returning from a slew of injuries. Dustin May and Walker Buehler both battled injury in 2022, the latter suffering a UCL tear which limited him to just 12 starts in 2022 and will keep him out for all of the 2023 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Inversely, Julio Urias has been an absolute horse for the Dodgers on the bump, making 30+ starts in back-to-back campaigns, posting a 2.16 ERA in 175 innings in 2022, and finishing third in NL Cy Young. Tony Gonsolin excelled as well, posting a 2.14 ERA in 130.1 innings, striking out 119. Between Kershaw, Urias, and Gonsolin, the Dodgers have their hands on three top tier starting pitchers. Any contribution from the high-upside Noah Syndergaard or Dustin May would be the cherry on top of the best starting rotation in the National League.

3. Mets

1. Max Scherzer

2. Justin Verlander

3. Kodai Senga

4. Jose Quintana

5. Carlos Carrasco/ David Peterson

Jacob DeGrom’s departure from Queens was met with sadness from fans, and swift, bold action from the Mets front office. Five days after the All-Star signed with the Rangers, Steve Cohen and his Mets inked Justin Verlander to a two-year pact for $86 MM. Verlander threw just six innings between 2020 and 2021, but returned to form in 2022, twirling a masterful 1.75 ERA in 175 innings while striking out 185 en route to his third CY Young; all at age 39.

Verlander will join Max Scherzer atop the Mets rotation as the oldest pair of aces (40 and 38 respectively) in either league, but both are still pitching at an elite level. Japanese star Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana will shore up the third and fourth rotation spots. Overseas, Senga broke into NPB as a 19-year-old and in 11 seasons has posted a 2.42 ERA in 1,340.2 innings, striking out 1,486.

From 2017-2021, Jose Quintana was… mediocre. In 607 innings he posted a 4.51 ERA, recorded 614 strikeouts, and 607 hits. Luckily, Quintana was able to turn a corner in 2022, posting a career best 2.93 ERA in 165.2 innings while striking out 137, earning himself a two-year, $26 MM pact with the Mets this offseason. This contract has the potential to bring a solid fourth pitcher to lock down the back of the rotation or the Jose Quintana of old, taking up $13 MM and posting an ERA north of 4.00 yet again. The fifth spot will be locked down by Carlos Carrasco and David Peterson, who pitched to a 3.97 and 3.83 ERA last season, respectively.

4. Astros

1. Framber Valdez

2. Cristian Javier

3. Luis Garcia

4. Jose Urquidy

5. Hunter Brown

*Lance McCullers Jr.

Despite losing Justin Verlander to the Mets, the Houston Astros maintain one of the elite starting rotations heading into 2023. The oft-injured Lance McCullers Jr. has been shut down again. A muscle strain in his right arm makes Opening Day “out of the question“. When healthy, McCullers has elite potential, finishing seventh in AL Cy Young voting in 2021 with a 3.16 ERA in 162.1 innings.

The excellence of Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier in 2022 cannot be understated. The two combined for a 2.70 ERA in 350 innings while recording 388 strikeouts. Combined with a Cy Young campaign from Justin Verlander and sub four ERAs from Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy, the Astros were the premier staff in 2022. Now without Verlander, the Astros have an opening for prospect and Verlander clone Hunter Brown. Squint hard enough at your television screen, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking the young right hander for the ex-Astros ace. In his brief stint in 2022, Brown pitched like Verlander as well, posting a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings with 22 strikeouts. Despite not having McCullers or Verlander, the Astros remain poised for another solid season from their starting rotation.

5. Braves

1. Max Fried

2. Spencer Strider

3. Mike Soroka

4. Kyle Wright

5. Charlie Morton

The Braves are the most curious of the top five rotations. Max Fried and Spencer Strider were phenomenal in 2022, the former pitching his way to a second-place Cy Young finish with a 2.48 ERA, and the latter coming out of nowhere. Strider pitched to a second-place Rookie of the Year finish with 200+ strikeouts in just 131.2 innings.

The difference maker which distinguishes the Braves as a top five rotation is Mike Soroka.

Soroka hasn’t shouldered a full workload since 2019 when he tossed a 2.68 ERA in 174.2 innings, en route to a sixth-place Cy Young finish in his sophomore season. If Mike Soroka can contribute at ‘healthy-Soroka’ levels, the Braves have one of the most promising rotations in the National League.

Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton are also intriguing elements of this powerful Atlanta rotation. In 2022, Kyle Wright posted an uncharacteristically good 3.19 ERA in 180.1 innings, a departure from a dreadful 6.56 career ERA before that. Charlie Morton came into his own as an Astro in 2018, before following up with a third-place Cy Young finish in Tampa in 2019. In three seasons since, Morton has owned a 3.91 ERA and made 30+ starts in 2021 and 2022. At age 39, it would be foolish to expect a return to his 2019 form, but in the case of both Charlie Morton and Kyle Wright, the door is open for another great season for the both of them.

Honorable Mention Rotations

San Diego Padres

Toronto Blue Jays

Tampa Bay Rays

Cleveland Guardians


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