USA Today ranks D-backs’ projected rotation 10th-best in MLB

Jan 26, 2016, 2:33 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke talks to the media during a press conference, Friday, Dec...
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke talks to the media during a press conference, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. Greinke could have stayed with the Los Angeles Dodgers or gone up the coast to the San Francisco Giants. Instead, he signed a massive contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, dramatically shifting the landscape in the NL West. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Few teams did more than the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason to improve their starting pitching rotation.

In a span of five days in December, the D-backs shocked the baseball world by inking prized free agent ace Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206 million deal and trading away a good package of big-league talent and prospects to Atlanta for right-hander Shelby Miller.

The duo, along with Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray, team to form a potentially impressive rotation.

USA Today’s Ted Berg ranked all 30 MLB rotations heading into 2016, and has the D-backs at number 10.

Arizona committed a ton of resources in terms of money and prospects to revamp their rotation this offseason, and they may ultimately end up regretting giving up the package they traded for Shelby Miller. But for 2016, at least, the additions of Zack Greinke and Miller to a staff that already included good young starters Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray gives the Diamondbacks a great group. And top prospect Archie Bradley is ready to compete for a full-time job in the Arizona rotation after a 2015 season derailed by injuries.

It is interesting to note that Berg didn’t mention right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, the 26-year-old who led the D-backs in wins (14), innings (188.2) and strikeouts (150) last season. He could be in the rotation, although many project De La Rosa to be moved into a bullpen role.

It’s also interesting that despite the massive additions to the D-backs’ roster, Berg still only has Arizona as the third-best rotation in the National League West. He’s got the San Francisco Giants, who spent $220 million on two pitchers in free agency, at No. 9.

Every club from this point forward on the list can make some reasonable claim at having the game’s best rotation, as the Giants can for adding Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to a rotation that already includes Madison Bumgarner. But it’s hard to guess what the Giants can expect from Matt Cain or Jake Peavy at this phase in their careers, and Samardjiza’s nightmarish 2015 campaign should be at least mildly concerning.

And topping the division list is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are ranked seventh.

Speaking of top heavy: Clayton Kershaw is the difference between the Dodgers and a second-division starting rotation, but Kershaw’s so good that the Dodgers land squarely within the Top 10 here. The lefty should open the year as the obvious favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award even after finishing third in 2015 because no pitcher in baseball can match Kershaw’s recent track record. Behind him, the Dodgers will hope for good health from Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brett Anderson. They’re all good pitchers when healthy, but all have struggled at times to stay healthy.

The Chicago Cubs top Berg’s rankings, followed by the New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals.

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USA Today ranks D-backs’ projected rotation 10th-best in MLB