|Who's tops among NL playoff rotations? (AP)|
Now that the NL wild-card game is in the books, we have our full field of NLDS combatants. Needless to say, this time of year much attention is paid to playoff rotations, as they have a long-standing habit of determining playoff outcomes.
So speaking of the NL fray, how do those (possibly determinative) rotations rank? Let's have a quick look at how they grade out from best to not-quite-the-best ...
1. Reds: Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78) Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74), Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48), Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68)
What distinguishes the Reds is their depth. Cueto is a genuine shutdown ace, and, as you can see, every other playoff starter has a sub-4.00 ERA on the season. As well, Latos has been on fire since the break. Among the 16 NL rotations, the Reds rank fourth in quality-start percentage and second in average game score. They're doing all this despite playing in a home park that inflates run scoring.
2. Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89), Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94), Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03), Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40)
The Nats probably have the best one-two playoff punch with Gonzalez and Zimmermann. Jackson has the potential to dominate in any given outing, but he's also been a bit inconsistent. As for Detwiler, he's been strong this season, but his peripherals don't quite justify the sub-4.00 ERA. Can he keep it up?
3. Giants: Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79), Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37), Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18), Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15)
Cain and Bumgarner are exceptional, and Lincecum has been quite solid since the break. Zito's been better than expected. Still, given the run-suppressing nature of AT&T Park, Linceum's and Zito's unadjusted numbers are far from impressive. Cain and Bumgarner match up well with anyone, but the Giants could be in trouble when their vulnerable back end takes the mound.
4. Cardinals: Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71), Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92), Kyle Lohse 16-3, 2.86), Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94)
It remains to be seen how manager Mike Matheny will slot his rotation, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him position Garcia to start at Busch, where he's been much, much better over the course of his career (2.48 ERA at home, 4.47 on the road). There's certainly name value here, but Carpenter and Wainwright, post-injury, aren't the known quantities they once were. There's "feast or famine" potential here.