It’s no secret that pitching staffs are key to having a winning baseball team. A good offense is nice, but can only get you so far. If you want to contend for that World Series ring, pitchers are going to get you there. With that being said, these are the teams that I think have the five best pitching staffs in baseball:
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
At this point, Clayton Kershaw is indisputably the best pitcher in baseball, at least in the regular season. He hasn’t pitched since June 26 but still leads all Major League pitchers with 5.5 fWAR. But he’s not the reason that they’re on this list. It’s their bullpen that’s been getting it done, and pulled them within a game of the NL West lead.
Kelsey Jansen currently has 34 saves with a 1.81 ERA. Then there’s Adam Liberatore with a 1.62 ERA. Throw in Joe Blanton who has found a spot in the bullpen after serving as a starter for many years. His ERA is currently 2.64 with 58 innings so far. However, other than Kent Maeda, the Dodgers starters have largely struggled. Maeda, though, is currently 11-7 with a 3.31 ERA.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Most people know that the Blue Jays have a good offense, but their pitching tends to fly under the radar. Aaron Sanchez currently leads the American League in ERA at 2.85. While he’s not a strike out pitcher Sanchez is great at inducing ground balls at 57.4%. He’s pitched so well that the Blue Jays have gone to a six-man rotation after acquiring Francisco Liriano. But Sanchez hasn’t been the only one pitching well. Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ have also thrown well this year.
Their bullpen isn’t as good as their starting rotation, but Robert Osuna has shown that at 21, he’s one of the best closers in the game. He’s posted a 1.93 ERA and a 2.51 FIP. Osuna has also struck out 63 batters in only 51.1 innings.
3. New York Mets
The Mets starting rotation is scary talented. Noah Syndergaard is a legitimate ace with a 2.64 ERA and his 2.17 FIP indicates that he may be pitching even better than that. Then there are the other two guys, Jacob DeGrom and Steven Matz. DeGrom has a 2.34 ERA. And while Matz’s ERA is a bit higher at 3.60, it’s still impressive, especially for a guy in his second season. Then there’s the fan favorite Bartolo Colon, who’s turning another solid season. He leads the team with 134.1 innings pitched and has posted a 3.35 ERA so far. Not bad for a guy that 43.
As a team the Mets rank third in team ERA and first in WAR among pitchers. Consider that this was done largely without Matt Harvey and it becomes more impressive.
2. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs have had the most consistent rotation in baseball this season. Only seven pitchers have started with Adam Warren and Brian Matusz each starting one game each. That means they’ve used the same rotation since the start of the season. And it’s even more impressive when the highest ERA is 3.56 from John Lackey. Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and Jon Lester all have ERAs under 3. Also only Jason Hammel has an FIP over 4. Basically the Cubs starters have been scary good this season.
Their bullpen has been impressive as well, and gained a huge boost with the arrival of Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline. But even before he came Hector Rondon was pitching well in the closer role. He has 18 saves with a 1.70 ERA.
1. Washington Nationals
As good as the Cubs have been, the Nationals have been better. They have a team ERA of 3.21. Stephen Strasburg is 15-2 with a 2.80 ERA. He’s also striking out 11 batters per 9 innings. Max Scherzer has been just as good though. While his record is only 12-7 he also has a 2.80 ERA. He also leads baseball with 208 strike outs. Tanner Roark is also having a great season. While he’s not as flashy as Strasburg and Scherzer, he can still get guys out. His 2.88 ERA proves that.
The Nationals also strengthened their pitching staff by bringing in Mark Melancon. Melancon has appeared in five games with his new club, earning two saves. He’s yet to surrender a run.