Comparing the NL Central Starting Rotations

March 25, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum (18) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Maryvale Baseball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have a doctor's appointment this morning, so the Mug is under delay. It should be up around noon. - KL

To recap the starting pitching projections I thought I'd go a slightly different route and compare the projected Brewer rotation to the starting pitching elsewhere in the NL Central.

Individually we begin with Zack Greinke, who we project for 204 innings and a 3.09 ERA. That's actually a slightly higher projection than ZiPS (2.98 ERA). I think either are fair projections, it's going to be awfully exciting to see what Zack can do in a full year of playing time. Last year's freak injury in spring training is a minor blemish in his generally very healthy career. I'm already very curious to see how he uses this brand new cutter in his first few starts in the regular season.

Yovani Gallardo set a career high with 207 innings in 2011, and we project him to top 200 again this year. The final line is 204 innings and a 3.34 ERA. That would be another step forward for Yo, who set a career low in walk rate last year but whose strikeout rate also fell below 9. He's an impressive starter entering a prime year and should be free to pitch as many innings as he can. I'd bet money that this is the most productive 1 and 2 starters in the division.

It's going to take a heck of a performance to shake the doubters after his implosion in the playoffs, but Shaun Marcum is still a very good pitcher, and we here at BCB seem to think he's going to be able to bounce back. The official line is 182 innings and a 3.67 ERA. Again here we're less optimistic than ZiPS.

Randy Wolf has really earned his free agent deal so far, and though this is the year we expected to have to throw away to get two good years of production, the BCB projection is still pretty good: 194 innings and a 4.04 ERA. We're actually right on ZiPS here. I wasn't as optimistic about Wolf going into last season-- his 2010 peripherals didn't exactly inspire confidence-- but he really did have an excellent year last year and when this guy is your fourth starter you're doing something right.

Finally we get to the Narve-Dog. Chris Narveson returns for his third season in the recurring role of "fifth starter" on the Milwaukee Brewers. He had a big role in 28 of the episodes last season and was impressive, putting up a 4.06 FIP, though his ERA wasn't quite that low, it gives us some room to project improvement for him again. We project 166 innings and a 4.27 ERA this year. It's easy to forget that Narveson was once a top prospect for the Cardinals, and those strikeouts and lack of walks are awfully pretty.

With that it's Compare the NL Central time. Lining them up is an overly simplistic way of looking at things, but it's all we've got before the season starts. I used 5.3 runs per 9 innings as a replacement-level starter. I really don't know if that's a good number to use for this year but it's an approximation and we're comparing all 3 teams on the same scale so that's the important thing here.

To remove ourselves from calls of bias here, the BCB projections are for higher ERAs than ZiPS on Greinke and Marcum, lower on Gallardo, and about the same on Wolf and Marcum. I faced a bit of an issue with the Cardinals due to Carpenter's health, but I just included him anyway. Feel free to downgrade them to Lynn, who projects below average. Here's the results, using ZiPS for the Cardinals and Reds:

Brewers

Greinke 204 innings, 3.09 ERA, 4.4 WAR

Gallardo 204 innings, 3.34 ERA, 3.8 WAR

Marcum 182 innings, 3.67 ERA, 2.7 WAR

Wolf 194 innings, 4.04 ERA, 1.9 WAR

Narveson 166 innings, 4.27 ERA, 1.2 WAR

Total: 14 WAR

Cardinals

Wainwright 174 innings, 3.12 ERA, 3.7 WAR

Carpenter 201 innings, 3.49 ERA, 3.3 WAR

Garcia 185 innings, 3.58 ERA, 2.9 WAR

Lohse 123 innings, 4.37 ERA, .8 WAR

Westbrook 127 innings, 4.52 ERA, .5 WAR

Total: 11.2 WAR

Reds

Cueto 174 innings, 3.63 ERA, 2.6 WAR

Latos 192 innings, 3.38 ERA, 3.5 WAR

Arroyo 169 innings, 4.84 ERA, .1 WAR

Leake 159 innings, 4.42 ERA, .9 WAR

Bailey 158 innings, 4.28 ERA, 1.1 WAR

Total: 8.2 WAR

This doesn't account for everything, especially starting pitching depth. It's overly simplistic, and it relies on some questionable math. But... I like our chances.

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