Athletics have the edge in West rotations

The American League West has two of the most dominant pitchers in the game in Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver.

West teams may also have some of the deepest rotations, with Oakland’s starting five giving the Athletics the nod in the West.

Here’s a look at the rankings of the West rotations.

Oakland – Names like Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily aren’t exactly the first ones that come to people’s minds when it comes to great pitchers. But the four of them each had ERAs under 3.74 last year in Oakland’s surprising run to the AL West title. Throw in Brett Anderson, who had a 2.57 mark in six late-season starts after a return from the disabled list, and you have the best rotation in the West based on potential and depth one through five. Anderson, a left-hander, has struggled this spring but is still just 25 and will draw the Opening Day start. Bartolo Colon won 10 games last year and is back again but will be hard-pressed to repeat his numbers from 2012. Milone and Parker each won 13 games last year in their first full seasons in the majors and Griffin went 7-1 in his 15 starts and will likely get the No. 5 spot over Straily. The most difficult task for the Oakland rotation might be living up to the lofty expectations that a season like last year brings. The guess here is they’re up to the task.

Texas – The Rangers get the edge over the Angels for the No. 2 spot based on the expectation that Colby Lewis will be back in the rotation sometime in May. With Lewis, the Rangers have a rotation that’s deep enough to make up for all the offensive changes the team has undergone. The Rangers don’t like handing out the ace label, but right-hander Yu Darvish certainly fits the bill. He won 16 games last year and should be better in his second year. Matt Harrison, the Opening Day starter, is hoping to build off his first All-Star campaign. Derek Holland missed time last year because of injuries and feels like he’s got something to prove after a disappointing 2012 season. The key to the rotation could be Alexi Ogando. If he’s the same type of starter he was in 2011, the rotation will be solid 1-5. If he struggles and has to move back to the bullpen, that opens the door for pitchers like Nick Tepesch, the current No. 5 starter, Justin Grimm and Derek Lowe. That might not be a door the Rangers want to open if they’re pushing for a playoff spot down the stretch.

Los Angeles –
There’s little doubt that Jered Weaver is the ace of the staff for the Angels. The right-hander went 20-5 last year and had a no-hitter to boot. He is the rock of the rotation, but probably wished the club would have done a little more to support him. Lefty C.J. Wilson, a free-agent signee last year, was an All-Star in the first half of the season but went 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA after the All-Star break and was in jeopardy of losing his rotation spot. The Angels are rebuilding the rotation around those two. Right-hander Tommy Hanson game over from Atlanta with a big upside and an injury history. He’s been slowed already this spring by triceps tightness but should be able to be in the rotation by Opening Day. Joe Blanton won 10 games last year for Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers but his ERA was close to 5.00 for the season. Lefty Jason Vargas should help. He won 14 games last season and could wind up being the second-best starter the Angels have by the end of the season.

Seattle –
The Mariners have locked up one of the best pitchers in baseball through the 2019 season by giving perennial Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez $175 million. Hernandez is a workhorse ace, making at least 33 starts in each of the last four seasons, winning at least 13 games in each of those seasons and posting an ERA of now higher than 3.47 in any of those years. It’s a shame he can’t pitch every game for Seattle as the Mariners have failed to upgrade their rotation behind him. Former Rangers first-round pick Blake Beavan and Hisashi Iwakuma are also rotation holdovers from last season, but they totaled just 20 wins between them. Lefty Joe Saunders, who pitched well down the stretch for Baltimore last year and beat Texas in the wild-card game, is a new addition. But he’s not a top-of-the-rotation candidate. The same goes for Erasmo Ramirez, the leading candidate for the final rotation spot.

Houston – There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the major-league credentials of Houston ace Bud Norris. But the fact that Norris is the No. 1 starter for the Astros tells you all you need to know about the Houston rotation. Norris has been a rotation member for Houston for the last three years. His best season was 2011 when he had a 3.77 ERA to go along with a 6-11 record. His career win-loss record (28-37) is skewed by the fact he pitches for one of the worst teams in baseball. But Norris, who could be dealt by the trade deadline, is definitely the ace when you consider the rest of the Houston staff. Lucas Harrell and Philip Humber are the No. 2 and 3 starters for Houston with retreat Erik Bedard also likely a rotation member along with Alex White. Houston’s final four starters accounted for 25 major-league wins last season.