MLB Power Rankings: The best and worst starting rotations heading into 2024

Pitchers play a pivotal role on any championship team. With the 2024 MLB season approaching, here's a look at the best and worst starting rotations across the league.

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Spring training has opened across the league, and the 2024 MLB season is just around the corner. On Opening Day, the competition for the pennant will be in full swing. While eyes will be focused on the debuts of emerging young talents and superstars on new teams, the championship will likely be decided on the mound. The pitching rotation is the backbone of a team and often the deciding factor in the quest for a World Series.

Teams have focused on building an elite pitching rotation during the offseason. The reason is simple: history has shown time and again that teams with dominant pitching staffs often find themselves in the playoffs. Every team that led their league in fWAR in the last five seasons has made the postseason.

While elite talent is important, the significance of depth cannot be overstated. There are over 1,400 innings in a 162-game season. Last year, 22 teams received at least 800 innings from their starting pitchers, which is slightly under 60 percent of the season's total innings. Teams would prefer as many of those innings to come from their starters rather than from the bullpen, which makes depth a vital component of any rotation.

Here's a look at the best and worst starting rotations heading into the 2024 MLB season.

Best 2024 MLB season starting rotations

1. Atlanta Braves

Rotation: Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Chris Sale, Bryce Elder

The Atlanta Braves solidified their starting rotation with the acquisition of Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale. He will join a group that already boasts Spencer Strider, who has established himself as one of the league's best pitchers, and Max Fried, who has Cy Young potential. Charlie Morton is still able to pitch a great curveball at age 40, and Sale could make a significant impact if he can stay healthy. The group is rounded out by Bryce Elder, who finished his rookie season with a 3.81 ERA in 174.2 innings. The incredible depth of this group earns them a slight edge over the rest of the competition. The Braves can use their strong rotational depth to get through the regular season and enter the postseason with their starters healthy.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Rotation: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller, James Paxton, Walker Buehler

Last year's Los Angeles Dodgers rotation was hampered by injuries and ranked 20th in ERA (4.57), 23rd in FIP (4.63), and 21st in fWAR (9.1). The lone bright spot was rookie Bobby Miller, who recorded a 3.76 ERA in 124.1 innings. This winter, the Dodgers took an aggressive approach to bolstering their roster. While Shohei Ohtani won't be pitching in 2024, the Dodgers starting rotation should be improved. Japanese superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed the largest contract ever for a pitcher after he racked up three consecutive Pacific League MVPs and Eiji Sawamura Awards. The Dodgers also acquired ace Tyler Glasnow in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Including the signing of 35-year-old James Paxton, the return of two-time All-Star Walker Buehler and a sophomore season for Miller, the Dodgers are set up to have one of the most intriguing and dangerous starting lineups in baseball. The downside of this rotation is that it carries heavy risk. Glasnow, Buehler and Paxton all have an extensive history of injuries, and Buehler is still working his way back from a Tommy John surgery. Yamamoto has a chance to turn into one of the league's best pitchers, but it's unknown how the 25-year-old rookie will adapt to the major league.

3. Seattle Mariners

Rotation: Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo

The emergence of the Mariners' young stars shocked the league last year, and the group will remain intact. Seattle posted the American League's best ERA (3.74) as Luis Castillo cemented himself as one of the league's best starters. Kirby is just 26 years old and has only gotten better, while Gilbert has put together consecutive solid seasons. Miller and Woo round out this group after rocky starts in their rookie seasons. Miller had a dominant run but was inconsistent throughout the remaining season. Woo didn't have impressive results, but his 3.45 xERA provides reasons for optimism. Seattle also added right-hander Anthony DeSclafani in a trade with the Giants, and he could take a spot from either Miller or Woo, depending on their performance.

4. Philadelphia Phillies

Rotation: Zach Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker, Cristopher Sánchez

Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola have anchored Philadelphia's rotation for the last half-decade. All five of the Phillies' starters are returning from last year. The unit showed growth throughout the 2023 season, but they struggled with consistency. Wheeler, Nola, and Suarez form a formidable trio, but Walker will need to return to form after struggling last season. If Walker doesn't round into shape, there could be a lot of pressure on Sanchez, who currently holds the No. 5 spot. Sanchez has never played a full season, but the 27-year-old has performed well when he's played.

Worst 2024 MLB season starting rotations

27. Chicago White Sox

Rotation: Dylan Cease, Erick Fedde, Michael Kopech, Michael Soroka, Chris Flexen

The White Sox attempted to improve their starting rotation during the offseason. They acquired starters Mike Soroka and Jared Shuster to provide some high-upside depth. Soroka is a former All Star, while Shuster was a former first-round pick. Erick Fedde, who formerly played for the Korean Baseball Organization, also signed a two-year deal. Chris Flexen was another value addition, who had some decent years prior to an awful 2023 campaign. The 27-year-old Kopech showed up to spring training 20 pounds lighter and healthier than he was in 2023, when he made a career-high 27 starts.

28. Oakland Athletics

Rotation: JP Sears, Paul Blackburn, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Luis Medina

The best thing to say about Oakland's roster right now is that it's not projected to be the worst team in the MLB. There's a lack of upside and high-end talent throughout the team as it prepares to relocate to Las Vegas.

29. Washington Nationals

Rotation: Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin, MacKenzie Gore, Jake Irvin, Trevor Williams

Since 2019, Corbin has compiled a 25-57 record. The addition of Trevor Williams adds a pitcher who posted an abysmal 5.55 ERA and allowed 34 home runs in 2023. On the other hand, 24-year-old left-hander MacKenzie Gore had flashes of brilliance last year. Gore had his growing pains, and those will likely continue, but he should show improvement. Josiah Gray will also need to work on his consistency, and he has managed to show steady improvement each year. Jake Irvin could develop into a serviceable player that finds a role as the fourth or fifth starter. This rotation will likely experience a lot of continued struggles and growing pains throughout the season.

30. Colorado Rockies

Rotation: Kyle Freeland, Cal Quantrill, Austin Gomber, Ryan Geltner, Dakota Hudson

The Rockies pitching staff had periods of solid performances in their careers, but even if the stars align perfectly in 2024, they'll still be a very bad team.

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