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The starting rotation will be a strength for the Cleveland Indians

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The projection systems are always on the conservative side, but even with that caveat, the Indians starting pitching looks strong.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Previous entries in my position-by-position comparison of the 2014 and 2015 Indians:

In the last of our 10-part series, we take a look at the rotation. Who is in it, how much will they pitch, and how well?

Similar to what I did for the hitters, I pulled a list of every pitcher who started a game for the Tribe in 2014, listed their FIP and IP as a starter.

For the 2015 stats, you are seeing ZiPS projections for FIP and my projection for IP based on a combination of what the projection systems expect and what I think will happen.

The Indians Total line is the pro-rated average of the guys who started (or will start); the AL average line is exactly what it sounds like - the average production for a starting rotation in the league.


Starting Rotation

Player 14 FIP 14 IP 15 FIP 15 IP
2.35 235.7 2.68 210
4.01 153 4.07 180
3.52 110 3.48 160
TJ House 3.70 101 4.47 125
4.08 98
4.00 93.3 4.12 10
2.21 91 3.32 160
3.80 73 3.70 25
4.34 85
Indians Total 3.33 955 3.61 955
AL Average 3.85 960

Right off the bat, you will notice that ZiPS things the team FIP is going to get worse. In fact, it projects worse performance from everyone except Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister. But you need to take this with a grain of salt. Pitching is notoriously hard to project - things can change drastically from year to year, more so than with hitting. As a result, the projection systems are always a bit bunched in the middle compared to actual results. For example, in 2014, Clayton Kershaw posted an FIP under 2 and Kluber was second best with his 2.35 mark. ZiPS projects no one (including Kershaw) to outperform Kluber's 2014 in 2015. Kluber's projection, which looks like a big drop, actually rates 3rd in MLB, behind Kershaw and Max Scherzer, and just ahead of Felix Hernandez.

You'll also notice that I have Kluber, Bauer, Carrasco, Salazar and House all cracking 125 IP. I think these are the five best SP in the organization right now and I will always bet on talent to win out. Ask me today, and I'll tell you that I think Salazar wins the fifth starter competition, with House heading to Columbus and McAllister in the pen.

Over the course of the year, I think Gavin Floyd wears down and loses his job, and I think other guys will miss a game here and there, making room for McAllister and Tomlin to pick up a handful of spot starts between them.

All in all, I think this is an above average rotation, even based purely on ZiPS, and I think ZiPS is pessimistic, particularly on Bauer and House. I'd be surprised to see Bauer perform worse in 2015 than 2014. And while I think House will regress, I expect less of a step back than ZiPS does.

What do you think? Disappointed to see a projected step back for the supposed strength of the club? Am I too high on Salazar's ability to hold down a spot? Or too low on Floyd's? Maybe you think McAllister gets more time as a SP?