5. Ranking the Best AL Pitching Staffs
1. Indians: In 2017 the Indians pitching finished 20.9 Wins Above Average. The next closest team was the Yankees, who finished with 10.3. The starters and bullpen both led the AL in WAA. They return all five starting pitchers but did lose some key bullpen pieces. Still, they finished so far ahead of everyone else that losing guys like Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith will only put a small dent in their lead.
2. Astros: The Astros pitchers were pretty average last season, as evident by their -0.4 WAA, which ranked seventh in the AL. So what makes them jump up to second in my rankings? As mentioned earlier, they’ll get the benefit of having Justin Verlander for a full season, along with the addition of Gerrit Cole. Giving the Astros the second best rotation in the AL.
3. Yankees: The Yankees pitching is the reverse of the Astros, weak starting pitching bolstered by a deep and dominant bullpen. I’ve already gushed over how great their bullpen is, but the rotation is surprisingly good as well. Severino turned himself into an ace and Cy Young caliber pitcher last season and the rest of the rotation is filled out with average to above average starters, like Sonny Gray and Jordon Montgomery.
4. Red Sox: Had Corey Kluber not lit the world on fire from June on, Chris Sale would have won the Cy Young. If David Price can get past his injury-plagued 2017, him and Sale could make for a great one-two combo. They’re a little light on depth and the bullpen is a little thin once you get past Craig Kimbrel, but having guys like Sale and Kimbrel go a long way in making for a top pitching staff.
5. Blue Jays: Maybe a bit of a surprise team to some people, but the Jays pitchers finished with 5.0 Wins Above Average last season, fourth in the AL. That ranking came with Aaron Sanchez missing all but 36 innings in 2017. If he returns to his 2016 form, the Jays could have a top three rotation in the AL. Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ give the Jays a solid top of the rotation. Pair that with an above average bullpen, and the Blue Jays could be in a fight for the Wild Card.