The pitchers have been classified and grouped according to their PECOTA weighted mean projected EqERAs (not necessarily because PECOTA is the end and be-all of projections systems, but because they come in a spreadsheet and include a park-neutral version). I worked up what seems to be a very viable rule of thumb to turn those projections into subjective rotation slots:
#1: < 3.85
#2: 3.85 - 4.25
#3: 4.25 - 4.50
#4: 4.50 - 4.75
#5: 4.75 - 5.00
#6: 5.00 - 5.25
#7: 5.25 - 5.50 (i.e, the first guy you'd call up from AAA)
Sucks: > 5.50
(Note that because the projections are regressed to the mean, this rule of thumb is probably too generous for actual ERAs.)
I included every pitcher who was listed on the team's MLB web site depth chart, or in Baseball Weekly's chart, or who had a PECOTA projection better than 5.50.
The players in red have their rotation slots locked up, according to reports. The guys in green are prospects (as is David Price, the only prospect to be ceded a slot already). Players in brackets are rehabbing from an injury but expected back after the start of the season. Players in italics are NRI. The guys in blue are potential reliever conversions (or re-conversions) that PECOTA doesn't know about and may not project as well if they were projected as starters. I may have missed one or two of those.
(The multiple lines for each slot are just there to accommodate the teams that have 3 or 4 pitchers of that caliber and do not correspond to good / average / borderline for that role.)
|X||Liz||Burres||Poreda||Z. Jackson||Willis||Swarzak||Moseley||G. Gonzalez||Feierabend||Harrison|
|X||Penn||R. Romero||Richard||Porcello||J. Jones||Adenhart||Outman||Diamond|
|X||Pauley||Clement[td=*]Marquez [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]Ortega [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td]|
(Note that by using the weighted mean projections rather than the 50% projections, you do get some seemingly strange results. Sergio Mitre and Brett Tomko project to be 5th starters? Actually, no, of course not -- PECOTA thinks they'll be 7th starters, but that they have about a 10% chance of being excellent, which lifts their weighted mean well above their 50%. That's why the Yankees took a shot on them.)
Here's what I find remarkable: most of the clubs do not even have five guys who project as 1 through 5 starters (hereafter "capable starters").
The Orioles don't, all of the teams in the Central don't, the Rangers don't.
The A's only do if NRI Edgar Gonzalez makes the rotation, which seems unlikely.
The Blue Jays only do if PECOTA is right about major longshots Brett Cecil (only 6 starts above AA) and / or Davis Romero (not even an also-ran prospect according to BA, but PECOTA likes him) and they make the rotation.
The Mariners do, sort of, in the sense that if Carlos Silva is as bad as projected, he will eventually lose his job to the loser of the Ryan Rowland-Smith / Jarrod Washburn 5th starter battle, and PECOTA thinks they're both capable.
The Angels do once Escobar gets back, but project to struggle badly in his spot until he does.
Which brings us to the Beats of the East, and the remarkable contrast to the rest of the league.
The Rays have a set rotation of 5 guys who all project to be 4th starters or better and two more capable guys in case of injury.
Assuming Joba Chamberlain is in the rotation, the Yankees are in the exact same position (plus have the aforementioned two NRI guys, and more 6 and 7 starter types than most).
The Red Sox' situation is complicated by numerous factors that we all know about . . . but there you see it neatly, nine capable starters, two more than even the Rays or Yankees (if you go by 50% percentile projections, I think).
(Note that we do have X (projected suckage) starters -- Hansack just missed being a 7, for instance -- it's just that because we have 9 capable ones, no one is listing those guys as being in the mix. Same for the other clubs that have no X's listed.)
So, you've got a league where 11 clubs have, on average 4 capable starters each ... and three clubs in the same division that have 7-9 capable starters each. Just eye-opening.
Edited by Eric Van, 01 March 2009 - 12:33 PM.