Tampa exorcism

It’s one thing to forecast the 2008 season as the start of something good for the Tampa Bay Rays. Duly noted.

It’s another thing entirely to label their starting rotation as possibly the “class of the AL East.” Say, what?

Yet, that’s what The Sporting News’ David Pinto forecasts, using PECOTA and eqERA to claim the Rays’ starting five of Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, and Jason Hammel is better than that of Boston’s Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz.

Although Boston has an overall better five-man rotation in terms of eqERA, Toronto’s rotation has more experience in the No. 4 and No. 5 slots, leading to a higher prediction of innings pitched. That keeps poor starters out of a job, and boosts the Blue Jays over the Red Sox. In a way, the Blue Jays are the Baby Bear of the AL East. The backend of the Blue Jays’ rotation isn’t too old, too young, but just right age to provide plenty of innings.

The wide range of possibilities for each team shows the difficulty in choosing the best rotation. Most teams will experience a mix of good and bad performances and probably end up near their midpoint.

Tampa Bay, however, stands a good chance of becoming the class of the AL East. The Rays show strength in eqERA and innings pitched at every level. With only three-tenths of a run separating the top from the bottom, these four teams should produce great pitching matchups as they face each other 108 times during the 2008 season.

I really don’t know whether I can believe any of this or not, but I do know that I continue to be fascinated by the prospects of the Rays this season.

Of course, they actually play today so that’s subject to change.

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