Top MLB Pitching Staffs (03/31/16)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Who has the best pitching staff in baseball?

We are less than a week away from the first pitch of the 2016 MLB season. After looking at the Playoff Probabilities, Team Over/Under season win totals, World Series Future Picks and top offenses, we rank the top ten pitching staffs in baseball.

The pitching staff rankings including starters and bullpens and are relative to the league based on our strength-of-schedule-adjusted statistics and current rosters.

10. Miami Marlins

Jose Fernandez is one of the game's best pitchers and looks to return for a full healthy season more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery. The addition of Wei-Yin Chen gives the Marlins two quality starters at the front of the rotation. A.J. Ramos (32 saves) returns as the closer but Miami has lost Carter Capps for the season and will need to find a replacement for the eighth-inning setup role.

9. Washington Nationals

“Best rotation in baseball,” that is what everyone said last year but it didn't quite pan out that way. Still the Nats have Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez to run out. Scherzer and Strasburg are the only teammates to each average more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings over the last five seasons. The nation's capital might not have the best pitching staff in baseball but it is pretty darn good.

8. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals enjoyed a historically great performance from its pitching staff last season. The starters posted a 2.99 ERA helping the club win 100 games. Young studs Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha are back as is former ace Adam Wainwright. The return of Jaime Garcia and the addition of Mike Leake round out the rotation. The bullpen had the third best ERA in the majors a season ago and will be anchored by Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist once again.

7. Houston Astros

Dallas Keuchel, defending AL Cy Young winner, and Collin McHugh are a solid one-two punch. The Astros have depth behind their starters up front with Scott Feldman and Lance McCullers being joined by free agent Doug Fister and a full season from Mike Fiers. Houston's bullpen took a step forward last year (from 30th in ERA in 2014 to 6th in 2015) and should improve again with the addition of Ken Giles as the closer.

6. New York Yankees

Just go six innings. That is all the Yankees need from their starters. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman will shorten games in the bullpen. The starting five has question marks due to injuries and inexperience. Still, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda give the Yanks' rotation a lot of upside if it breaks right for New York this season.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

It is tough when you lose a pitcher like Zack Greinke in the offseason but the Dodgers still have three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw holding down the rotation. LA added solid arms in Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to give depth to the rotation. In the bullpen, the Dodgers have Kenley Jansen, an elite closer, and J.P Howell who is a good setup man.

4. Cleveland Indians

Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar make up one of the best pitching trios in baseball. The Indians were 1st in the American League in strikeouts, 2nd ERA and 3rd in quality starts last year. Barring an injury, Kluber, Carrasco and Salazar will be innings eaters again and put the Tribe in position to win with each start.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona won the offseason for what that is worth. The Diamondbacks threw $206 million at Zack Greinke and traded Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, for Shelby Miller. Arizona now has its ace and a strong No. 2 starter to chase after the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West. Brad Ziegler is returning as the closer after an impressive performance in 2015 (30 saves and a 1.85 ERA). Tyler Clippard joins the team to take on the eighth-inning duties, which gives the D-backs a formidable bullpen.

2. Boston Red Sox

Boston overhauled its pitching staff in the offseason. The addition of David Price would boost any rotation and the Red Sox were in desperate need of a true ace. Behind Price is Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz. If you are going to add an ace you might as well get a stud closer as well. Craig Kimbrel joins the team and gives the Red Sox a shutdown pitcher to finish games

1. Chicago Cubs

No one can match the Cubbies talent up front as well as its depth. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey are an excellent trio up front and Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks give Chicago the depth that few teams enjoy. Plus the bullpen returns setup man Pedro Strop and closer Hector Rondon (30 saves in 34 attempts last season­­­­­).

Ranking every Pitching Staff in Baseball

Team Offense Rank
Chicago Cubs 1
Boston Red Sox 2
Arizona Diamondbacks 3
Cleveland Indians 4
Los Angeles Dodgers 5
New York Yankees 6
Houston Astros 7
St. Louis Cardinals 8
Washington Nationals 9
Miami Marlins 10
Chicago White Sox 11
New York Mets 12
Kansas City Royals 13
Colorado Rockies 14
San Francisco Giants 15
Pittsburgh Pirates 16
Texas Rangers 17
Toronto Blue Jays 18
Tampa Bay Rays 19
Los Angeles Angels 20
Philadelphia Phillies 21
Baltimore Orioles 22
Seattle Mariners 23
Cincinnati Reds 24
Oakland Athletics 25
Detroit Tigers 26
Minnesota Twins 27
San Diego Padres 28
Milwaukee Brewers 29
Atlanta Braves 30