It’s hard to hide a dominant pitching staff in baseball. Rotations like the ones in Washington, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Boston are all known for employing big name pitchers. Somehow a few pitching staffs have remained near invisible on how talented they are or at least could be.
A pitching staff that strikes fear in no one, the Baltimore Orioles have an incredibly underrated group of five men in their rotation.
Their first starter is Chris Tillman who in 2013 earned an opportunity to start full-time. Given this chance he won 16 games and had a respectable 3.71 ERA. The staff also has an international core of Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, and Wei-Yin Chen. None of them will ever win a Cy Young, but quality starts are frequent.
Ubaldo Jimenez joined the rotation at the beginning of 2014. Although things have started off poor, Jimenez seemed closer to his old ways in 2013 when he won 13 games and posted a 3.30 ERA while with the Cleveland Indians. He will probably never challenge for 20 wins in a season again like he did in 2010, but Jimenez will supplement the rotation well.
The “Moneyball” strategy has yet to win a World Series for the Oakland Athletics. If they do win take home the championship it may be through their pitching.
The 2014 Athletics will be completely absent of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin has already had a trip to the disabled list in the first month. Stepping in are youngers Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily, and Tommy Milone. All have taken advantage of pitching in “The Coliseum” and have shown little fear when facing off sluggers on the division rival Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.
Newcomer Scott Kazmir may have finally gotten back to his old ways as a dominant left-handed pitcher following a few rough seasons. If he continues this then the odds of October baseball in Oakland raises exponentially.
San Diego Padres
One reason why the starting rotation for the San Diego Padres looks so good might be because their offensive is so bad. A team that will surely finish near the bottom in runs scored will need a lot of help from their pitching.
Thankfully they have a few very talented pitchers. Andrew Cashner has become the team’s ace after a 10-9 season in 2013 with a 3.09 ERA. Tyson Ross an Eric Stults are two more young pitchers with high upsides. On a better team they would probably be guaranteed to win 15 games. Josh Johnson has started the 2014 season on the disabled list. One he returns the rotation may get even better as long as Johnson forgets about his time with the Toronto Blue Jays.
A lot of the team’s success though will depend on Ian Kennedy. A former 20-game winner whose career seemed to flash before his eyes, Kennedy may have one last chance to prove he was worth the Arizona Diamondbacks trading Max Scherzer to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team deal.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have had a couple of hard-luck seasons. Being in the same division as the dominant Detroit Tigers has done little to help. Somehow they have established a quality starting rotation with veterans and one particularly dangerous rookie.
James Shields is the unquestioned ace. They had to give up Wil Myers to get him and so far the trade looks to have benefit the Royals a bit more. Shields led the league in innings pitched in 2013 while going 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA. The staff also has Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, and Bruce Chen. Vargas and Guthrie are both streaky pitchers capable of pitching a gem at any moment while Chen is a seasoned veteran that has always managed to win games while pitching for the Royals.
Maybe the best of all though is still a mystery. Yordano Ventura is now with the team, his fastball living up to its name. Ventura could end up being one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. For a Royals team hungry to win, a little bit of extra offense could easily turn him into a 20-game winner.