Major-league starting rotations seem to get thinner and thinner each year, but there are still several elite rotations among the top teams that are predicted to make the playoffs.

So, who has the best rotation, top to bottom, in MLB at the start of this season? I ranked all 30 teams’ rotations and provided a snapshot of each one, including a look at their respective injury situations and how starters returning from the injured list, along with the development of young pitchers and other factors, could elevate some teams’ position in the coming months.

In general, MLB rotations have more velocity and spin than ever before and raw stuff that matches any generation of pitchers. However, as a group, they’re also logging fewer innings than ever before, so in this list, most of the top-ranked rotations are led by a pitcher or pitchers who register 30-plus starts and 180- to 200-plus innings per season. It’s a quality that is increasingly scarce and the demand for those types of workhorses is off the charts.


Starting rotation: Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Chris Sale, Reynaldo López

The Braves’ rotation is headed by 2024 NL Cy Young Award favorite Spencer Strider, who led the majors in strikeouts last season with 281. Fried is healthy again after posting a 2.55 ERA in 14 starts last year. He has registered a sub-3.00 ERA in three of the past four years. However, this rotation’s overall performance will likely come down to Chris Sale and Charlie Morton, and whether they can stay healthy and pitch to their potential. Both veterans looked great in spring training and have started the season well. López is the fifth starter to begin the year, with Bryce Elder and AJ Smith-Shawver ready in Triple-A as solid depth.

Starting rotation: Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock, Bryan Woo (injured list)

The Mariners have the best trio at the top of their rotation — Castillo, Kirby and Gilbert — all of whom made between 31 and 33 starts and logged at least 190 innings last season. Miller, Hancock and Woo have the potential to be solid middle-of-the-rotation starters. One early concern is Woo, who started the season on the IL with right elbow inflammation.

Starting rotation: Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, Cristopher Sánchez, Spencer Turnbull, Taijuan Walker (IL)

The best part of the Phillies’ offseason was the nine-figure contract extensions they gave to their top two starters, Wheeler (three years, $126 million) and Nola (seven years, $172 million). They each provided 32 starts and more than 192 innings last season. Suárez is a solid mid-rotation southpaw and Sánchez seems primed for a breakout season. The Phillies’ depth has been tested early as Walker (right shoulder soreness) began the season on the IL and was replaced by Turnbull, the former Tiger, as the fifth starter.

Starting rotation: Zac Gallen, Jordan Montgomery, Merrill Kelly, Brandon Pfaadt, Ryne Nelson, Tommy Henry, Eduardo Rodriguez (IL)

The Diamondbacks jumped up the rotation rankings this offseason by signing Montgomery and Rodriguez in free agency. Gallen has finished in the top five in the NL Cy Young Award voting the past two years and should be a candidate again thanks to his elite control and command. Kelly is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and posted a 3.33 ERA over 63 starts from 2022-23. Montgomery proved last year with the world champion Rangers that he could perform in the biggest games and moments. Rodriguez, although sidelined with a lat strain, should be a difference-maker when he returns from the IL. Pfaadt’s nasty stuff was on display last October and I expect him to be that pitcher for a full season this year; I included him on my All-MLB Breakout Team in a predictions piece published last month.

Starting rotation: Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Gavin Stone, James Paxton, Walker Buehler (IL), Clayton Kershaw (IL), Tony Gonsolin (IL), Dustin May (IL), Emmet Sheehan (IL)

The Dodgers traded for an ace (Glasnow) and signed arguably the best free-agent starter on the market (Yamamoto) this offseason, giving them a strong 1-2 punch. Miller and his triple-digit fastball should be ready to dominate but the rest of the rotation depends on everyone’s health status. Paxton and Stone started the year as the fourth and fifth starters, but at some point they’ll be replaced by Buehler, Kershaw, Gonsolin, May and/or Sheehan if and when they can pitch again. If they’re all healthy and pitching up to their potential, this could be the best rotation in baseball.

Starting rotation: Logan Webb, Blake Snell, Kyle Harrison, Jordan Hicks, Keaton Winn, Robbie Ray (IL), Alex Cobb (IL), Tristan Beck (IL), Sean Hjelle (IL)

The Giants were wheeling and dealing this offseason and they significantly improved their rotation by signing the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner (Snell) and trading for 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner (Ray, who had Tommy John surgery last May and could return in the second half of this season). They also bolstered their depth by signing the hard-throwing Jordan Hicks, who is being converted from a reliever to a starter. Webb led the majors in innings pitched (216) last year and is my pick to win the NL Cy Young Award this year. But the key for this rotation will be the development of rookie Kyle Harrison, who has the raw stuff to become one of the best lefty starters in the league in time. Cobb is working his way back after undergoing hip surgery last October and will be an important addition when he returns if he can pitch to his accustomed level.

Starting rotation: Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Dylan Cease, Michael King, Matt Waldron

The Padres lost several key starting pitchers in free agency including Snell, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo and Nick Martinez, who combined to make 91 starts for San Diego last year. However, they did an excellent job of attempting to replace them by acquiring Cease in a trade with the White Sox and landing King from the Yankees in the Juan Soto deal. Remember, Cease finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting in 2022 and will have a much better defensive team behind him this year than he had last year with Chicago. Darvish and Musgrove remain solid starters who should provide around 180 innings each if they can make 30 starts.

Starting rotation: Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt, Yusei Kikuchi, Bowden Francis

The Blue Jays’ top four starters — Gausman, Berríos, Bassitt and Kikuchi — each made between 31 and 33 starts last year, logging between 167 and 200 innings while posting ERAs under 4.00 and double-digit wins. There is no reason to believe they can’t repeat that success this year, especially considering the elite defensive team playing behind them. Francis started the year as the fifth starter but 21-year-old lefty Ricky Tiedemann could be a factor sometime this summer.

Starting rotation: Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer, Cole Irvin, Kyle Bradish (IL), John Means (IL)

The Orioles finally landed their ace when they acquired Burnes in a trade with Milwaukee this offseason, although that addition was somewhat offset by the early elbow injuries to Bradish and Means. Rodriguez is primed for a breakout season as he demonstrated last August through September when he performed like an ace. If Bradish can get healthy and return to form, the starting pitching trio of Burnes, Bradish and Rodriguez should be the best in the AL East. However, that’s a big if. Wells and Kremer form a solid back of the rotation and are able to keep the Orioles in games. Baltimore would be ranked higher on this list if Bradish and Means were healthy.

Starting rotation: Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, Ronel Blanco, JP France, Justin Verlander (IL), Lance McCullers Jr. (IL), José Urquidy (IL), Luis Garcia (IL)

Verlander still leads the rotation when he’s healthy, but he started the season on the IL with right shoulder inflammation. Valdez is one of the best sinkerballers in the league and he collected a career-high 200 strikeouts last season over 198 innings. Javier will look for a bounce-back year after posting a 4.56 ERA in 2023 following a 2.54 in 2022. Brown could be poised for a breakout season after making 29 starts and two relief appearances as a rookie last year. Blanco threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in his first start of the season, showing an above-average changeup and slider. France will be counted on as a placeholder as the Astros wait for McCullers, Urquidy and/or Garcia to eventually come off the injured list. The potential of this rotation is much higher than its 10th-place ranking, but injuries dragged it down.

Starting rotation: Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil, Gerrit Cole (IL)

If the Yankees’ rotation were healthy and pitching to their potential, it would be approximately fifth in these rankings. But Cole, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, started the season on the IL with elbow nerve inflammation and will miss six to eight weeks, Rodón had an inconsistent spring training, and the Yankees are hoping he can perform as he did in 2022 with the Giants rather than how he did last year for them. However, his long history of shoulder issues makes him a high risk. Cortes, their Opening Day starter, dealt with shoulder problems last year. And Stroman spent time on the IL last season, although with a chip on his shoulder, I think he’s meant to be a Yankee and should have a strong year. Schmidt and Gil are solid back-of-the-rotation options. But if the Yankees have rotation injuries, I’d worry about the lack of major-league-ready depth in their farm system.

Starting rotation: Shane Bieber, Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, Carlos Carrasco, Triston McKenzie, Gavin Williams (IL)

The strength of the Guardians’ team will once again be their rotation with Bieber as the anchor. He has looked dominant in his first two starts and will be a free agent after this season so if the Guardians don’t stay in the pennant race, don’t be surprised if they trade him while he’s still pitching like a No. 1 starter. Allen, Bibee, McKenzie and Williams should continue to develop into strong No. 2 or No. 3 type starters in the future, although Williams (right elbow inflammation) started the year on the IL. Carrasco made the rotation because of the injury to Williams and his veteran leadership should help their young pitchers regardless of whether he’s starting or relieving. The Guardians’ rotation has significant upside if their young starters are developed properly.

Starting rotation: Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Zack Littell, Tyler Alexander, Ryan Pepiot, Shane McClanahan (IL), Shane Baz (IL), Taj Bradley (IL), Drew Rasmussen (IL), Jeffrey Springs (IL)

This winter the Rays did what they always have done — trading one of their star players who was nearing free agency — and they repeated that formula with ace Tyler Glasnow last December. They’re hoping Pepiot, their headliner in that trade with the Dodgers, can be a solid starter by the end of the season. This rotation will be led by Eflin and Civale, two veterans who should provide innings, while Littell and Alexander will try to make a name for themselves this year. McClanahan, their best starting pitcher, underwent Tommy John surgery last August and is likely out for the entire season, but the Rays are expected to get Baz, Bradley, Rasmussen and Springs back from the IL at some point, which would be a huge lift for them.

Starting rotation: Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, Jacob deGrom (IL), Max Scherzer (IL), Tyler Mahle (IL)

The Rangers are going to miss Jordan Montgomery, who went to the Diamondbacks in free agency despite wanting to re-sign with Texas, but ownership wouldn’t allocate the funds to bring him back because of uncertainty surrounding its television and streaming revenue. The Rangers’ rotation is still a solid, middle-of-the-pack group led by Eovaldi, who when healthy remains one of the best starters in the league. Gray has a big arm, Heaney and Dunning can keep you in games, and Bradford (who ranked in the 98th percentile in extension) has some upside. The key question is whether this rotation can hold up until deGrom, Scherzer and Mahle return from the IL, and the next important question is how effective they’ll be once they’re back.

Starting rotation: Jesús Luzardo, A.J. Puk, Ryan Weathers, Trevor Rogers, Max Meyer, Sandy Alcantara (IL), Eury Pérez (IL), Edward Cabrera (IL), Braxton Garrett (IL)

When healthy, the Marlins’ rotation has the potential to be in the top four of these rankings. However, they’re just missing too many quality arms at the moment: Alcantara, the 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner, is out for the year after Tommy John surgery; Pérez, the 20-year-old sensation, started the year on the IL with right elbow inflammation; and Cabrera and Garrett both have shoulder issues that have sidelined them. Therefore, Luzardo opens the season as the temporary ace and is the most likely Marlin to make the All-Star Game this year, while former first-rounders Puk, Weathers and Meyer will try to live up to their draft pedigree, something none of them have been able to do to date. Rogers might end up being the key to this rotation if he can be the pitcher he was prior to his shoulder injuries. Bottom line, there are too many health questions to rank this rotation any higher, at least to start the year.

Starting rotation: Pablo López, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, Louie Varland, Anthony DeSclafani (IL)

The Twins lost Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda in free agency, but still have a strong rotation led by López, my preseason pick for AL Cy Young Award winner this year. Ryan and Ober are quality No. 2 and No. 3 type starters. However, the back of the rotation, where they’ll need Chris Paddack and Louie Varland to step up, is somewhat of a concern. DeSclafani’s season-ending flexor tendon surgery is a huge disappointment as it seems likely starting pitching depth will be an issue for them.

Starting rotation: Frankie Montas, Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, Nick Martinez, Andrew Abbott, Nick Lodolo (IL), Brandon Williamson (IL)

The Reds’ rotation could be really good, really bad or somewhere in the middle, which is where I’m putting them. Cincinnati has more questions than any other rotation in the sport, but also a high ceiling. Montas will try to be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate and hopes to find the form he had with the A’s three years ago rather than repeat his injury-filled tenure with the Yankees. He’s off to a nice start. Greene, Ashcraft and Abbott will try to have breakout seasons while Martinez will be able to at least keep the Reds in games and should give them five solid innings per start. The Reds need Lodolo and Williamson to get healthy and contribute as well.

Starting rotation: Kyle Hendricks, Jordan Wicks, Shota Imanaga, Javier Assad, Justin Steele (IL), Jameson Taillon (IL)

The Cubs’ rotation is anchored by Steele, who finished fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting and third in the league in ERA (3.06) last year. However, he suffered a left hamstring strain in his Opening Day start against the Rangers and was placed on the IL. Imanaga had an impressive spring and carried that success into the regular season as he’s locating his 92-94 mph fastball better than expected while his slider and split-finger were both wipeout pitches in his first start. Hendricks can still own the bottom of the strike zone but with low velocity and the veteran will be vulnerable to hard-hit balls. Wicks and Assad have the potential to be solid. Taillon (back) started the year on the IL and the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, Cade Horton, will start the season in the minors but should be a factor when he’s promoted at some point in 2024.

Starting rotation: Freddy Peralta, DL Hall, Colin Rea, Jakob Junis, Joe Ross, Wade Miley (IL), Brandon Woodruff (IL)

The Brewers traded their ace, Corbin Burnes, to the Orioles this offseason and their other ace, Woodruff, is expected to spend all, or most of, the season on the IL as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Peralta now leads this staff and he possesses one of the game’s best wipeout sliders. Miley (left shoulder impingement), once healthy, should overachieve and again show his ability to add and subtract. Therefore, this rotation will ultimately be judged by the performance of Hall, a former first-round pick who was acquired in the Burnes trade, and journeymen starters Junis, Ross and Rea.

Starting rotation: Miles Mikolas, Zack Thompson, Lance Lynn, Steven Matz, Kyle Gibson, Sonny Gray (IL), Drew Rom (IL)

The Cardinals spent $99 million on free-agent starting pitchers this past offseason, landing Gray (three years, $75 million), Gibson (one year, $13 million) and Lynn (one year, $11 million). Gray (hamstring strain), a three-time All-Star, started the season on the IL but is expected back relatively soon. Mikolas provides innings (201 1/3 in 2023), as do Gibson (192) and Lynn (183 2/3), while Thompson and Matz round out the rotation. The Cardinals have the position players to win the division but do they have the starting pitchers after Gray? It’s an aging rotation that has to be considered a huge question mark, even after the money they spent.

Starting rotation: Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Casey Mize, Reese Olson

Skubal leads the Tigers’ rotation and he is ready to be a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate this year. Maeda and Flaherty provide experience but also inconsistency and they come with high injury risk. Mize has promise because of his new four-seam fastball locations. Olson beat out Matt Manning, their 2016 first-round pick, for the final rotation spot, but expect Manning to get another shot at some point this year.

Starting rotation: Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, Kutter Crawford, Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, Lucas Giolito (IL)

The Red Sox did an excellent job of extending Bello to a six-year, $55 million deal. He ranked in the 92nd percentile last season in ground-ball rate and in the 95th percentile in offspeed run value, thanks to his changeup (.196 batting average against). Pivetta has come into his own — he had a career-best 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings last year — while Crawford, Whitlock and Houck will all get the opportunity to prove themselves this year. The Red Sox front office believes this rotation is much better than the consensus. However, their biggest blunder this offseason was signing Lucas Giolito to a two-year, $38.5 million deal despite his poor showing with the Angels and Guardians at the end of last year. He’s had elbow surgery since and is out for the year.

Starting rotation: Cole Ragans, Seth Lugo, Brady Singer, Michael Wacha, Alec Marsh, Kyle Wright (IL), Kris Bubic (IL)

The Royals have made significant changes to their rotation, which started last June when they dealt Aroldis Chapman to the Rangers for Ragans, who is now their best starter. He has great stuff and could develop into a top 10 starter in the AL. They delved into free agency in the offseason to land two veteran starters, former Padres Wacha and Lugo, coming off solid seasons. The rest of the rotation includes Singer, who can eat innings, and Marsh, who made eight starts as a rookie last season. Wright and Bubic are coming off surgeries, with Bubic expected to return at some point this year and Wright not until 2025.

Starting rotation: Jose Quintana, Luis Severino, Sean Manaea, Adrian Houser, Kodai Senga (IL), Tylor Megill (IL), David Peterson (IL)

Senga started the season on the IL with a right posterior capsule strain in his shoulder, which is a huge setback for New York because he’s an ace when healthy. The Mets are encouraged by Senga’s recovery so far and are hopeful he’ll return early in the season. The rest of the active rotation is made up of pitchers who are over 30 years old and all of them project to have ERAs this year closer to 4.50 than 4.00. Severino had a strong spring training but comes with a high risk of injury, Quintana knows how to pitch, and Manaea is inconsistent but flashes strong outings. Megill was placed on the IL after the season started with a right shoulder strain.

Starting rotation: Mitch Keller, Martín Pérez, Jared Jones, Bailey Falter, Marco Gonzales, Johan Oviedo (IL)

The Pirates would have been much higher on this list if Paul Skenes, last year’s first overall pick, had made the team, as he looks like the first ace they’ve been able to draft and develop since Gerrit Cole. Keller is coming off a breakout season that led to a five-year, $77 million extension and he should be solid again. Rookie Jared Jones has a 100 mph fastball and looked great in his big-league debut, striking out 10. Veteran lefties Pérez and Gonzales were offseason acquisitions who should be able to at least keep the Pirates in games the first time and a half through opposing lineups.

Starting rotation: Patrick Sandoval, Griffin Canning, Reid Detmers, Chase Silseth, Tyler Anderson

Sandoval is the best starting pitcher on the Angels’ roster and is really underrated. Canning and Detmers have more upside than they’ve shown thus far in their careers. Anderson was solid with the Dodgers two years ago when his pitch selection was better and Silseth has shown flashes. However, at best, this is a mediocre rotation and the Angels appear headed for a fourth-place finish again this year.

Starting rotation: Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore, Patrick Corbin, Jake Irvin, Trevor Williams, Cade Cavalli (IL), Stephen Strasburg (IL)

The Nationals hope Gray and Gore take another step forward in their careers this year and that their top two pitching prospects, Cavalli (who is working back from Tommy John surgery) and Jackson Rutledge, join them in the second half of the season. Corbin is in the last year of his expensive contract and has led the league in losses the past three seasons but at least provided 31 or more starts each year. Williams posted a 5.55 ERA over 30 starts last season but can still trick batters once in a while. Strasburg last appeared in a game in 2022 and his pitching career is over due to his injury (nerve damage), according to the team’s orthopedic physicians.

Starting rotation: Kyle Freeland, Cal Quantrill, Austin Gomber, Ryan Feltner, Dakota Hudson, Germán Márquez (IL), Antonio Senzatela (IL)

Two of the Rockies’ best starters, Márquez and Senzatela, are coming off Tommy John surgery and on the IL. Marquez could return in the second half of the season. Freeland was their Opening Day starter and he’s been pounded in two outings thus far. Quantrill, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Guardians, should be a positive addition. The Rockies hope Gomber can be more consistent from start to start and that Hudson will better harness his sinker at Coors Field, while Feltner will try to improve on his numbers after beginning the season with a career 6.06 ERA in his first 33 appearances (32 starts).

Starting rotation: Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, JP Sears, Paul Blackburn, Joe Boyle, Ken Waldichuk (IL)

The A’s acquired two veteran starters, Wood and Stripling, to help them be more competitive this season. Sears and Blackburn have the most upside in this rotation while Boyle hopes to build off the three starts he made for Oakland last year, but control will be an issue for him. Waldichuk, who is working back from elbow surgery in October, started the season on the IL but should provide help at some point this year.

Starting rotation: Garrett Crochet, Mike Clevinger, Michael Soroka, Erick Fedde, Chris Flexen, Nick Nastrini

The White Sox have a rebuild, hodgepodge rotation that looks the riskiest of any of the 30 teams. Crochet has a huge arm and unlimited potential, as he’s shown in his first two starts, but before this year he’d pitched only 12 2/3 innings in the majors since 2021, making it unlikely he gets to 130-150 innings this season. They recently re-signed Clevinger, who posted a respectable 3.77 ERA last year over 24 starts. Soroka has pitched just 32 1/3 innings in the majors since 2020, Fedde pitched overseas last year, Flexen hasn’t had an ERA under 6.00 since 2002 and Nastrini will be a rookie making his big-league debut when he’s called up. Sounds like another 100-loss season for the White Sox to me.

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(Top image photos: Spencer Strider: Bill Streicher / USA Today; Luis Castillo: Kiyoshi Mio / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Zack Wheeler: Rob Tringali / MLB Photos via Getty Images)



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