Who's the best OD starter? We rank all 30

February 4th, 2020

Last week, the excellent beat reporters at MLB.com predicted the starting rotations for each team in Major League Baseball. It’s vital, even in this reliever-heavy age, to have a deep rotation, but at the end of the day -- or, say, Opening Day -- it all comes down to the ace. Everybody wants their best guy when they need him most.

So today, with the Super Bowl behind us and people starting to think about baseball season (hurrah!), let’s start dreaming of Opening Day. We’ll work off the list of rotations provided by our beat reporters to try to rank the No. 1 starters for each team, with the assumption that basically all of them will be the guys getting the nod in each team’s first regular-season game on Thursday, March 26 (if healthy). These are the best each team has to offer:

1) Yankees: , RHP. The true, dominant No. 1 starter the Yankees have been trying to find since … early Sabathia? Roger Clemens?

2) Mets: , RHP. Can you believe last year was the first time he’d ever started Opening Day for the Mets?

3) Astros: , RHP. With Cole on the Yankees, Verlander is now obviously the best pitcher in Houston, though he’s been the Opening Day starter since he arrived.

4) Nationals: , RHP. If he had stayed healthy down the stretch, he could have won a fourth Cy Young Award last year. But he’s getting older -- how long can he he still contend for another?

5) Red Sox: , LHP. If history repeats itself, Sale will struggle early, freaking everybody out, before figuring it out and being Sale again.

6) Cardinals: , RHP. He may have been the most dominant pitcher in baseball for the last three months of the 2019 season. Can he do it again?

7) Rays: , RHP. It lets you know just how terrific Morton was in 2019 that he’s the best starter on this team over the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner.

8) Dodgers: , RHP. He’s passed Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, and all indicators continue to point up, up, up. It’s possible Kershaw still gets the ball in the opener as a nod to his status, but make no mistake, Buehler is the Dodgers' best starter right now.

9) Rangers: , LHP. Minor and Lance Lynn were both so much better pitchers than most of baseball realized last year … and now they have Corey Kluber, too.

10) Twins: , RHP. Berríos was the solid pitcher the Twins had been hoping for last year, and if he can build even further on that, look out.

11) Indians: , RHP. With another year like last season, he’ll zoom ahead of several starters above him on this list.

12) White Sox: , RHP. His ceiling is being the best pitcher in this entire division, but he’s going to have to do it for more than one season.

13) Blue Jays: , LHP. You might not be able to count on him for 200 innings, but few pitchers give you a better chance to win on a given night.

14) Phillies: , RHP. This is as pivotal a season for the Phillies as any in recent memory. They need Nola to be a top-shelf ace.

15) Braves: , RHP. Another young pitcher who could zoom up this list once he gets some more innings under his belt.

16) D-backs: , LHP. It will be quite an experience to see him in this uniform for the first time.

17) Padres: , RHP. The pitch-count shackles are now off. It’ll be nice to have some swagger on the mound for Opening Day.

18) Reds: , RHP. He lost some effectiveness down the stretch, and Sonny Gray might have surpassed him in this rotation anyway.

19) A's: , RHP. One thing is certain: Few pitchers will garner closer attention than Fiers, given this offseason’s happenings.

20) Angels: , RHP. We’ve seen what he can do in spurts, when healthy. But how much can the Angels, a team desperate for pitching, truly rely on him?

21) Marlins: , RHP. He was the team’s All-Star representative last year, and he has proven an ability to put together many innings for such a young pitcher.

22) Cubs: , LHP. Yu Darvish is the best pitcher they have, but Lester will probably be the Opening Day starter here as long as he’s wearing the uniform.

23) Tigers: , LHP. They never ended up trading him, but maybe they should have. He lost considerable effectiveness down the stretch last year.

24) Brewers: , RHP. Woodruff made the National League All-Star team last year; he’ll be the seventh different Opening Day starter for the Brewers in as many turns.

25) Orioles: , LHP. He was a surprise last year, but now he’s called upon to be the best they’ve got. (For now.)

26) Mariners: , LHP. Gonzales has been perfectly average, or even a little bit above, for the Mariners, and he’s the only reliable starter they have.

27) Rockies: , RHP. This might be as healthy as he has been in years, so let’s see if it allows him to take off.

28) Giants: , RHP. Cueto is not the old Cueto, but then again, these aren’t the old Giants either.

29) Pirates: , RHP. It is a very bad sign that Chris Archer hasn’t taken the No. 1 spot in Pittsburgh by this point.

30) Royals: , RHP. Keller’s season ended a month early in 2019, but he should be ready to go Opening Day.