- Red Sox
- Blue Jays
The Yankees had the best starters’ ERA (3.98) in the AL East last season, and they’re bringing back all five pitchers from their season-ending rotation. CC Sabathia re-signed on a one-year deal and Masahiro Tanaka declined to opt out, so they’ll join ace Luis Severino (pictured above), Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery in a strong top-to-bottom starting staff.
David Price’s second year with Boston wasn’t what he’d hoped — elbow inflammation limited him to 11 starts — but if he can rebound in 2018, he gives the Red Sox a co-ace alongside 2017 Cy Young runner-up Chris Sale. The rest of the rotation, though, is a bit thin. Rick Porcello went from a Cy Young award in 2016 to a league-leading 17 losses last season, while lefties Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are both expected to start the year on the DL.
The Blue Jays aren’t as top-heavy as the Red Sox but have depth in the rotation from one to five. Behind ace Marcus Stroman (3.09 ERA last season) are JA Happ, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia and Aaron Sanchez. If Sanchez can avoid the recurring blisters that limited him to eight games in 2017, this could be a formidable group.
The Rays are planning an interesting experiment this year. They’ll have only four regular starters — Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nate Eovaldi and Jake Faria — and will fill the fifth spot with a rotating “bullpen day.” It’s a gamble, especially since not all of their top four are sure things; Faria doesn’t yet have a full big league season to his name, while Eovaldi is returning from Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2017 season. This is one of the weakest-looking Rays’ rotations in a while.
On paper, the Orioles’ starting staff seems much improved over last season, with Andrew Cashner and last-minute signing Alex Cobb replacing Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley. But when a staff had the worst rotation ERA in the majors and in organizational history — as the Orioles did in 2017 — I’m not going to rank them anywhere but last until they actually prove they’re better.