NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates after Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees grounds out in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium on May 28, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City.MLB players across the league are wearing special uniforms to commemorate Memorial Day.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Best Pitching Rotations Heading Into the MLB Playoffs

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Pitching is crucial to winning any playoff series, but first, you need to get there. With some spots clinched and others still just a magic number away, let's take a look at the pitching rotations we're likely to see in October.

11. Colorado Rockies

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The Colorado Rockies rotation is average, at best. With a 4.35 ERA and 52-41 record in 150 games, the Rockies starters rank in the middle or bottom-third of the league in most major pitching categories. Behind ace Kyle Freeland (15-7, 2.96 ERA), the rest of the rotation shouldn't scare you in a five or seven-game series.

10. Oakland Athletics

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The Athletics just keep on winning, and by the looks of their starting rotation, some might wonder exactly how they're doing it. Led my Mike Fiers, who was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in a mid-season trade, the A's rotation as a whole sports a 4.17 ERA. Veterans like Brett Anderson, Edwin Jackson, and Trevor Cahill are good to get you through the regular season, but the A's will have to rely on their stacked bullpen in the playoffs.

9. Atlanta Braves

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Similar to the A's, the Braves are winning games without a true ace. With Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz atop its rotation, Atlanta quietly has the fifth-best starters' ERA in the Majors at 3.57. They're also Top 5 as a group, allowing just 1.03 HR/9 and a league-leading .269 BABIP. Their biggest issue is they don't have a true No. 1. 

8. New York Yankees

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The Yankees have an ace in Luis Severino, a playoff-tested Masahiro Tanaka and two seasoned veterans in C.C. Sabathia and J.A. Happ. Their rotation is 60-40 this year with a 4.08 ERA, meaning their names are better than their numbers.

7. Milwaukee Brewers

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When you hear names like Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley, and Gio Gonzalez, most pundits wouldn't think of that as a playoff rotation. However, the Brewers top four starters all quietly have an ERA below 3.85 with the team this season, and a 3.91 ERA overall a group.

6. St. Louis Cardinals

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The St. Louis Cardinals rotation is Top 5 in the league for starters' ERA (3.44) and allows a league-low 0.83 home runs per nine. With a top three in their rotation of Miles Mikolas (3.01 ERA), Jack Flaherty (2.86 ERA), and Jon Gant (3.53 ERA), it's tough to find a more impressive young trio in baseball.

5. Chicago Cubs

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The Cubs rotation got a big bump when the team acquired Cole Hamels at the trade deadline. With an ERA of 3.85, the team's starters have gone 54-45 this season. With Jon Lester and Hamels followed by Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana, the Cubs have four potential stoppers to carry them through the NL playoffs.

4. Boston Red Sox

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The Boston Red Sox rotation has two former Cy Young award winners in David Price and Rick Porcello, but their best pitcher is clearly left-handed ace Chris Sale. With Sale still building back up his arm strength, the Sox will need a full-strength version of himself to make a run in the playoffs. His 1.92 ERA and 222 strikeouts are key to the overall pitching unit's 66-36 record and 3.72 ERA.

3. Cleveland Indians

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Indians’ starting pitching lead all of baseball with 71 wins and a WAR of 21.2. The rotation is headlined by reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who has an 18-7 record to go along with a 2.91 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. Let’s not dismiss Carlos Carrasco (16-9, 3.43 ERA) and Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.06 ERA) either; these guys put the Indians in an excellent position going against other teams' No. 2 and 3 starters. Lastly, Trevor Bauer should be back before the playoffs start, and that's a nice bump considering he was a Cy Young candidate before getting injured. 

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers have the NL's lowest ERA (3.25) this season. Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.51 ERA) had a rough start to the season, but he was able to rebound after the All-Star break with a 5-1 record and 2.26 ERA in 10 starts. That's the Kershaw the Dodgers hope they get in the playoffs. The Dodgers bullpen has always been active under manager Dave Roberts, so guys like Rich Hill, Walker Buehler, Alex Wood and Ross Stripling can pitch efficiently early on before turning it over to those guys.   

1. Houston Astros

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The defending champs are absolutely loaded with talent in their starting rotation. Good luck dealing with the combination of Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.67 ERA), Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.88 ERA), Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.15 ERA) and Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.57 ERA). This unit has the lowest ERA (3.18) of any starting rotation in the Major Leagues.   




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