This column came from a Tweet from fellow Fire Brand columnist Timothy Brooks:


So how does a rotation of Red Sox prospects stack up against a real MLB club?

I went with the Fangraphs/Dave Szymborski ZiPS projection system for consistency. ZiPS projects a rotation of five Red Sox prospects listed below to total 5.6 WAR (I subbed Henry Owens for Rubby De La Rosa).

Matt Barnes


Anthony Ranaudo


Brandon Workman


Henry Owens


Allen Webster





I compared this to the projected five man rotations (using depth charts on for some of the weaker teams in the majors. For a lot of these clubs, the problems don’t project to come from the starting rotation. Miami might be bad this season, but with Jose Fernandez leading their rotation the starting pitching should be ok. Same goes for the Phillies and Cliff Lee.

I also looked at the Rockies and Cubs, but both teams look to have enough rotation depth to project solidly ahead of the Red Sox prospects.

So which clubs have the worst starting pitching staffs according to ZiPS projections?

Toronto Blue Jays                            

Poor pitching was one of the major reasons Toronto struggled in 2013, and ZiPS predicts more of the same this season. The combined WAR for the projected starting rotation is 6.7, one win ahead of the Red Sox prospects.

R.A. Dickey


Brandon Morrow


Mark Buehrle


JA Happ


Esmil Rogers





R.A. Dickey would be my pick to exceed his season projections, but it would take improvements from all of these pitchers for the Blue Jays pitching staff to match their potent offense. If the Blue Jays once again end up in the American League East basement, the starting pitching is the likely culprit.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins spent some money on free agent pitching this offseason, signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. This was an attempt to bolster a pitching staff whose ERA of 4.55 in 2013 was the second worst in baseball. ZiPS doesn’t see much improvement for 2014, with the five starters combining for 3.2 WAR, well behind the staff of Red Sox rookies.

Ricky Nolasco


Carlos Correia


Phil Hughes


Mike Pelfrey


Vance Worley





Rookie Alex Meyer could improve the rotation if he makes the majors this year, as he projects for a 1.1 WAR. Overall, though, it would be a surprise if the Twins competed in the AL Central this season with this rotation.

Houston Astros

I hate to kick a team while they’re down, but the Astros rotation doesn’t project well once again this year. The lineup and bullpen might be better, but ZiPS has low expectations for the starters.

Scott Feldman


Brett Oberholtzer


Dallas Keuchel


Jarred Cosart


Brad Peacock





I think Jarred Cosart will be better than what ZiPS projects, and  Brett Oberholtzer is the type of pitcher who tends to exceed expectations. Besides that, the Astros have several pitching prospects of their own who could contribute. Help is on the way, but 2014 looks like a year of small improvements rather than large ones for the Astros.

This project was fun to do, but results on the field matter most. If any of the Red Sox rotation falter or get hurt this year, the rookie pitchers seem primed to help out.