NL East Ratings, Part 2: The Pitching Staffs

Yesterday I went over the entire starting rosters of each NL East team, and after giving 5 points for having the best player and 1 point for having the worst, I came up with this score:

SCORE: Phillies (29), Mets (26), Nationals (26), Braves (20), Marlins (19)

It leads me to believe that the Nats lineup aint so bad. Let’s see what happens when we keep going. On to the pitching staffs!

In terms of what number a starter falls under,  obviously that is something that can be debated ad nauseum. It’s clear who the #1 is for NY and Philly, but the others are up in the air. Lannan is starting opening Day for the Nats, Nolasco was the most consistent last year, and Lowe is listed first on the depth chart. Blah blah blah. I’m going with what I think they would list as their depth chart for each team, aided by ESPN.com, MLB.com and cbs.sportline.com’s depth charts.

#1 STARTERjohan

1. Mets – Johan Santana
2. Phillies – Cole Hamels
3. Braves – Derek Lowe
4. Marlins – Ricky Nolasco
5. Nationals – John Lannan

Johan speaks for himself, and if you don’t know Cole Hamels, you better recognize. The only real question I had to decide here was whether Nolasco was better than Lowe. I’m not quite ready to go that far, but I’m pretty close.  I was debating putting Nolasco in the #3 slot, but Baseball Prospectus forecasts Lowe with a higher VORP and lower ERA, so I’m giving Lowe the edge. John Lannan is an effective pitcher, but he’s not a #1, and he doesn’t compare to the other guys.

SCORE: Phillies (33), Mets (31), Nationals (27), Braves (23), Marlins (21)

#2 STARTERvazquez

1. Braves – Javier Vazquez
2. Phillies – Brett Myers
3. Marlins – Josh Johnson
4. Mets – Mike Pelfrey
5. Nationals – Scott Olsen

Vazquez and Myers’ numbers are pretty comparable in alot of ways. Almost the same ERA+, they’re both strikeout pitchers, walked almost the same amount of guys. But Vazquez had almost 40 more Ks, making his K/BB almost identical to his career mark of 3.34. Myers, on the other hand, has a career mark of 2.4, and was at 2.5 last year. That, plus the move from the AL to the NL, puts Vazquez first. Johnson is an extremely good pitcher, but needs to show he’s effective for a full season. Pelfrey looks to be a pretty good young pitcher, and last season he was effective for a full year. Olsen has a poor year last year, but his drop in velocity was allegedly due to a problem with his motion, and is getting fixed. We’ll see. In the meantime, he’s down at the bottom.

SCORE: Phillies (37), Mets (33), Nationals (28), Braves (28), Marlins (24)

#3 STARTERjurrjens

1. Braves – Jair Jurrjens
2. Mets – Oliver Perez
3. Marlins – Chris Volstad
4. Phillies – Joe Blanton
5. Nationals – Daniel Cabrera

Jair Jurrjens looks like a talented pitcher, he was #3 in the ROY voting last year and won 13 games. If he stays the same, he’s probably the best of this bunch. If he improves at all, he’s at the top for sure. Oliver Perez can pitch when he’s on, but he isn’t on enough. Volstad is a very good young pitcher, seems to have started to put it all together, and has had a very strong spring. Blanton isn’t anything special and has never impressed me, I’m going to bet he’s not gonna have a great season. Cabrera should be an improvement from his O’s days, between facing pitchers, the big parks and switching to the NL, I expect him to be adequate albeit nothing special.

SCORE: Phillies (39), Mets (37), Braves (33), Nationals (29), Marlins (27)

#4 STARTERjmaine

1. Mets – John Maine
2. Marlins – Andrew Miller
3. Nationals – Shairon Martis
4. Phillies – Jamie Moyer
5. Braves – Kenshin Kawakami

John Maine was a true bright spot for the Mets in 2007, but he faded a bit in ’08. His recovery is important for the Mets to be successful Andrew Miller has been pretty bad in the majors so far, and has had a bad spring. Meanwhile Martis has pitched his way into this spot with a great spring (1.42 ERA in 22 IP). But Miller is the bigger prospect, and has the higher ceiling, so I’ll assume he end up slightly better in 2009 than Shairon. I’m sure Phillies fans will take issue with putting Moyer fourth. While nearly 150 years old, he was rock solid for the Phillies last season. I’m not banking on Moyer being too old to pitch, but last season was something of a statistical aberration, and I just can’t see him doing it again in that park. I can’t trust a Japanese pitcher to come over and be successful at first, although in a year he may be great, who knows.

SCORE: Mets (42), Phillies (41), Braves (34), Nationals (32), Marlins (31)

#5 STARTERzimmermann

1. Nationals – Jordan Zimmermann/others
2. Phillies – Chan Ho Park/JA Happ
3. Marlins – Anibal Sanchez
4. Mets – Tim Redding/Livan Hernandez
5. Braves – Tom Glavine

The fifth starter situation is usally going to be a mess. Zimmermann probably won’t start right away, but even with arbitration clocks he should be up by late May. He’s probably not going to be an Ace, but unless some of these vets have a renaissance, he looks to be the best of the group. As for the other teams, Park stands the best chance of making the spot for the Phillies, but Happ is a decent second option. As for the Marlins, despite the no hitter, I’m not convinced that Sanchez is going to be a great pitcher. But not bad at all for the back end here. I don’t know what the Braves expect to get out of Tom Glavine, but it’s more than I do. The only reason I listed the Mets above Glavine is that with a carousel of available vets, they might be able to get something out of someone, but I don’t expect much for more than a few starts at a time. And I’m not sure that the Tim Redding of last season wasn’t anything but lucky. At least the Mets are trying to use as many ex-Nats as possible.

SCORE: Phillies (46), Mets (44), Nationals (37), Braves (35), Marlins (33)

CLOSERlidge

1. Phillies – Brad Lidge
2. Mets – Francisco Rodriguez
3. Braves – Mike Gonzalez
4. Nationals – Joel Hanrahan
5. Marlins – Matt Lindstrom

The Mets don’t get bonus points for having 2 closers, especially since the better one isn’t their closer. Lidge had 93 Ks and 35 BBs, a 1.95 ERA and zippy blown saves. K-Rod, while also great, wasn’t quite as great, with 77 Ks and 34 BBs, a 2.24 ERA and 7 blown saves. Despite the saves totals last year, I’ll take Lidge first. The dropoff is pretty big to Mike Gonzalez, and then again to the duo at the bottom. Hey, at least they played on team USA. I went with Hanrahan over Lindstrom, mostly because Baseball Prospectus seems to think he’s ever so slightly better. But I wouldn’t take issue with switching those two around.

TOTAL SCORE FOR FULL TEAMS:
Phillies (51), Mets (48), Nationals (41), Braves (38), Marlins (34)

It’s only one way to look at the league. But does highlight some of the talent coming from the Nats side. Now, you could easily drop Zimmermann and Martis down on the list and the Nats would plummet. But even if you rank all of their 3-5 starters as the worst in the league, the Nats would be tied with the Marlins, according to the rankings I put together. Regardless, this is a league with some talent. If the Braves can turn some of their question marks into exclamation points, these rankings will look like they are quite off. But other than that, I don’t think there is too much argument that the Phillies and the Mets have the most talented teams.

Applying the alternative scoring discussed yesterday, here’s the other possible total:

WILLINGHAM SCORE:
Phillies (52), Mets (47), Nationals (41), Braves (38), Marlins (34)

The order stays the same, and so does the message: This will definitely be the order that they finish at the end of the season. Kidding, kidding, much more goes into this. First, there’s the fact that it doesn’t take into account when some teams have great players but only finish 2nd or 3rd in a category and other teams are significantly worse. This is apparent at SS, where Rollins is worth 1 point less than Reyes, and only 1 point more than Guzman. The spacing in real life is very different. So take this for what it’s worth, and feel free to correct me on this.

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3 Responses to NL East Ratings, Part 2: The Pitching Staffs

  1. Paul says:

    Hi there,

    I am writing from Quebec and I was a fan of the… Montreal Expos. So, I am now rooting for the Nationals who are now my Nationals.

    I thought you were kind of right when you wrote about the players. But when it is the time to talk pitching, you are… walking.

    1) Santana and Hamels are not healthy and Nolasco is a way better than has been Derek Lowe. So, I don’t think your pics are wright.

    2) There is no way that Vasquez could be the best no 2 starter… I follow his career since his major league debuts. He does not know how to win, he is a choker and allow tons of HR.The only reason why major league teams give him big contract is because he « gives you many innings »

    3) Cabrera is better than you thing. Who are these no-names in front of him ?

    For tthe 4 and 5 fifht spots, I agree.

    And in the caseof the relievers, I think that Hanrahan is not the solution. Compare him to the best of the division… Wow we are way behing the front teams.

    Thank you for your opinion et for your love devote to the sport. I like to share my passion with yours.

    Paul
    p. s. sorry for my english, it is not my natural language.

    • Charlie says:

      Paul,
      Merci pour le commentaire. Continuer a lire, s’il vous plait, et Merci pour votre soutien
      Obviously my french isn’t great either. Thanks for reading…

      -Charlie
      The Nationals Review

  2. [...] Nationals Review goes in depth, looking at the pitching staffs for the NL East.  We actually ended up okay. [...]

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