MLB Power Rankings: Baseball’s top 10 rotations entering 2024 season with Braves, Astros, Phillies at the top

Written by on February 28, 2024

MLB spring training games are underway, but those aren’t real games and we’re left enjoying them the best we can until the actual games start here in around a month. As we kill some time, I will power rank different things each week. I already kicked off the spring with my pre-spring power rankings and then last week worked through the top 10 offenses. Now, it’s time for the top 10 starting rotations in baseball. 

This is an incredibly tough venture. We have to weigh the top of each rotation (an ace or two) along with depth, which means going six and seven — or even more — deep these days. There are bound to be disagreements and that’s cool. It’s a subjective exercise anyway. 

Injuries should matter right now. Let’s just look at the Orioles. After acquiring Corbin Burnes, I loved the promise of this rotation. Kyle Bradish was a Cy Young candidate last season while Grayson Rodríguez looks ready to take a step forward into becoming a frontline starter and John Means is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Instead, Means had a setback and now Bradish is hurt. They might emerge fine come the start of the season, but can we really feel great right now? 

Also keep in mind that Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are still available in free agency. We’re talking about an ace who just won Cy Young along with a frontline lefty who looked like an ace on the way to winning a World Series ring. That leaves these rankings possibly incomplete, but the teams and agent aren’t working on my schedule, so we’ll make do. 

Let’s get into it. 

1. Atlanta Braves

As good as the Braves were in the regular season last year, some people might be under the misconception that they had everything break right. No, the rotation was injury-riddled and they had to throw some rookies in the fire. The experience gained by Bryce Elder will pay dividends behind aces Spencer Strider and Max Fried. Veterans Charlie Morton and Chris Sale mean it’s a five-deep collection of potential studs. There’s depth, too. 

2. Houston Astros

Does Justin Verlander have one last ace-like season in him? Framber Valdez is a frontline starter. Hunter Brown in his second full season will take a big step forward. Cristian Javier is surely better than that nonsense season in 2023. Then there’s the depth provided by J.P. France, Luis Garcia, José Urquidy and the return of Lance McCullers. There are certainly question marks, but everyone has those. The Astros have multiple ace-caliber types and lots of quality depth.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Aaron Nola wasn’t very good in the regular season last year, but after signing his long-term deal and coming off an October that didn’t take nearly as much out of him as 2022, I like a strong bounce-back. It gives the Phillies a pair of aces along with Zack Wheeler. I also really think we’re finally going to get that full-season breakout from Ranger Suárez. Taijuan Walker is a perfectly capable starter from the bottom of the rotation while Christopher Sánchez looked really strong last year.

4. Seattle Mariners

They’ve got a veteran ace in Luis Castillo and young ace in George Kirby. Logan Gilbert is excellent as a No. 3 while Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo flashed some nice upside as rookies last season. Could youngster Emerson Hancock come through with a post-hype breakout (he was once a top-50 prospect, but his stock has fallen a bit)? That could be the key to moving them higher here. 

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

This rotation is supremely talented, but I’ve already laid out my concerns with workload. There’s no reason to rehash it. There will be times that the rotation looks like a Triple-A bunch, for the most part, but there will be times they have ace performances for a week straight (or more). No. 5 seems very reasonable to me. 

6. New York Yankees

Gerrit Cole is the most reliable workhorse in the league and he’s an ace on top of that. On the flip side, the rest of the group of full of volatility in terms of possible outcomes, namely from Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman and Nestor Cortes. In the last few years, though, we’ve seen ace-like runs from all three, meaning there will be stretches when the Yankees look stellar on the mound. The depth could become a big issue, though. 

7. Toronto Blue Jays

Bona fide ace Kevin Gausman sits at the top here while Chris Bassitt is a reliable innings eater in the middle of a rotation and Yusei Kikuchi broke out as a quality mid-rotation guy last year as well. Can José Berríos find consistency? And then there’s the Alek Manoah question. Is he the Cy Young contender or the guy who got demoted to the minors last season? Like several others on this list, there’s enough here to put the Jays on top or sink them below the top 10. 

8. Arizona Diamondbacks

Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly threw like a pair of aces last season. Rookie Brandon Pfaadt, the pride and joy of Bellarmine University, really started to put things together down the stretch and had a 3.27 ERA in his five playoff starts. Veteran lefty Eduardo Rodríguez was signed in the offseason, giving the D-backs a really strong top four. The five spot and the depth are question marks, but that’s a really nice big four. 

9. Cincinnati Reds

We’ve seen ace upside from Hunter Greene along with encouraging stuff at times from Andrew Abbott and Graham Ashcraft. The deal for Frankie Montas provides some veteran upside. What will they get from Nick Lodolo? If he can stick in the rotation, they can use Nick Martinez in the bullpen. If not, Martinez is fine as a fifth starter. There’s outstanding upside here, but a lot of variance in that things could totally fall off the rails for nearly everyone.

10. Chicago Cubs

Justin Steele emerged as a Cy Young candidate last season and there’s no reason to think a step back is coming. Jameson Taillon was brutal for about half the season last year, but he had a 3.38 ERA in his last 16 appearances and makes for a fine mid-rotation type. Kyle Hendricks is the wily veteran, but the upside here lies with Japanese import Shoto Imanaga and rookie lefty Jordan Wicks. Plus, there are very strong depth options like Javier Assad and Ben Brown. It’s a sneaky good group here.

Just missed the cut: Orioles, RaysMarlinsTwins

The post MLB Power Rankings: Baseball’s top 10 rotations entering 2024 season with Braves, Astros, Phillies at the top first appeared on CBS Sports.


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