- Blue Jays
- Red Sox
Let’s get the most obvious ranking out of the way first — the Orioles’ starting rotation was unequivocally the worst, not just in the division but in all of baseball. The starters’ 5.70 ERA was dead last in MLB and the worst in franchise history.
It’s funny to think that in April, I thought it would be a two-team race between the Orioles and the Yankees for the worst rotation in the division. So, I was half right! And half incredibly wrong. The Yankees finished 2017 with the best rotation ERA in the AL East at 3.98.
To further prove that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I wrote in April that the only reason the Yankees were better than the Orioles was that they had “a bona fide ace, the stellar Masahiro Tanaka.” So, of course, Tanaka ended up as the worst starter in the Yankees’ regular rotation (4.74 ERA). Their true ace (pictured above) was Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98), while veteran CC Sabathia and rookie Jordan Montgomery also contributed ERAs below 4.00.
You could make an argument for the Red Sox as the best rotation in the division, thanks to the Cy Young-caliber efforts of Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA and MLB-leading 308 strikeouts) and a strong season from lefty Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32). But Boston didn’t have as much success elsewhere in the rotation, with 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello regressing to a 4.65 ERA.
The Rays always seem to have a solid rotation, regardless of whether the rest of their team is any good, and 2017 was no exception. Their four most-used starters — Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi and Blake Snell — all had better than league-average ERAs, and rookie Jacob Faria posted a 3.43 ERA in 16 games.
My April ranking of the Blue Jays as No. 1 ended up being a massive overestimate. On paper, they entered the season with five strong starters, but only Marcus Stroman stayed healthy and effective all year. J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez missed time with injuries — with Sanchez’s blistered finger limiting him to eight starts — while Marco Estrada and especially Francisco Liriano struggled.
- Red Sox
- Blue Jays