As we look at the post season contenders in the MLB, it’s possible to gain further insight into their playoff chances, simply by looking at their starting rotations. At this stage of the year, it’s easy to narrow down the best teams into a list of 18.In this two-part series we’re going to take a look at the 18 teams that are the top playoff hopefuls, and rank the starting rotations from the least powerful, all the way to the top spot.

Baltimore Orioles 18th Best Starting Rotation

The Orioles are in a good position in the race for a wild card slot in the American League. They’re performing strong with average home runs per game, but their pitching lacks anything special, and this could be their undoing as we get closer to the playoffs. The only noteworthy pitcher on this team with a respectable era, is Dylan Bundy. The good news in his case is that he’s in the early years of his career and continues to improve. The bad news is that this team is right down at the bottom of our list of the best starting rotations heading into the post season.

Los Angeles Angels 17th Best Starting Rotation

It would be a long shot to pick the Angels to win the World Series in 2017. Pitching is essential to win a championship, and, unfortunately, the Angels just don’t have a strong pitching rotation to carry them all the way through the playoffs. Ricky Nolasco and Jesse Chavez are not making headlines with their pitching. Chavez is better with a bat in his hand and it’s questionable why he’s even in the rotation at this point. Parker Bridwell is the best pitcher that they have, but it’s not enough to carry the team and paints a bleak picture for their playoff hopes.

Seattle Mariners 16th Best Starting Rotation

The Mariners have seemed to lack direction all throughout the season, going through no fewer than 17 different pitchers in their starting rotation throughout the year. The problem here is not that they can’t settle on a lineup is good enough, but that they don’t even seem to have the talent available to them in the team. They did improve their depth by bringing in Erasmo Ramirez and Mike Leake, and they do have a couple of their better pitchers going through rehabilitation. Still, it’s only just enough to keep them out of the very bottom of this list.

Kansas City Royals 15th Best Starting Rotation

The Royals are not impressive by the strictest standards, but what they lack in stars they make up for in numbers. Having so many options helps them to keep the rotation moving, and it also helps to avert the risk of injury and burnout. Jason Vargas originally looked like one of the best that they would have this season, but at this stage of the year his 4.23 ERA is looking average at best. Danny Duffy will make the team look much better whenever he can get off of the disabled list, but whether that happens soon is an unknown at this point.

Texas Rangers 14th Best Starting Rotation

Texas would have looked much better in this ranking if they hadn’t of traded Yu Darvish away before the deadline. Now they’re left with some veterans like Andrew Cashner and Cole Hamels, who are both competent if not spectacular, as well as Miguel Gonzalez, a trade from the White Sox who could prove important to this team in the post season. Gonzalez’ 93 MPH fast ball is something to see.

Minnesota Twins 13th Best Starting Rotation

The Twins are looking good at least for the early stages of a playoffs campaign. With starters like Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, they’ll be able to get by against some similarly ranked teams. Ervin has a 3.35 ERA for the season, which is better than many of the starters that you’ll find at this end of our ranking. Berrios hasn’t been as impressive, with a 4.01 ERA for the season, but he has had consistent months where he’s got that down to around 3.5 – 3.7. Bartolo Colon is back in the rotation but with a 6.06 ERA, it’s a massive drop off from the best hurlers in this team, and their other starting options don’t fare much better.

St. Louis Cardinals 12th Best Starting Rotation

There’s both new and old talent in the Cardinals’ starting rotation, giving them plenty of depth and a fair amount of firepower. Look at a pitcher like Carlos Martinez and you’ve got a 3.34 ERA pitcher who can manage under pressure – something which is essential for the playoffs. Jack Flaherty has been promoted to the rotation, so he’ll get a chance to prove himself over the coming months. He was ranked the 53rd best prospect mid-way through this season, so it will be interesting to see whether the risk in promoting him will pay off.

Tampa Bay Rays 11th Best Starting Rotation

Outside of Chris Archer, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about with this Rays team. None of the pitchers are exceptional, but they can all do ‘good enough’. That’s perhaps the problem with this team. If they want to go further than just making the playoffs, they’re going to need some star talent on their side. Archer can’t carry the whole team, so it’s going to be interesting to see if the likes of Blake Snell and Matt Andriese can take things up to another level as we approach the end of the season.

Colorado Rockies 10th Best Starting Rotations

Colorado has plenty of depth available in the starting rotation, which makes this year’s team much better than what we’ve seen in the past. Although the team is lacking in earned run average statistics, there’s a lot of potential in this young team, and although their playoff campaign may not be long this year, we feel that the rotation is creating good experience which should carry over to next season.

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