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How does the Cleveland Indians back of the rotation compare with the rest of the AL Central?

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Unsurprisingly, the Tribe is projected to be the best front end of the rotation. Will that hold true for the back end of the rotation as well?

Will the enigmatic Trevor Bauer make the next step in 2016?
Will the enigmatic Trevor Bauer make the next step in 2016?
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With a top three of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, the Cleveland Indians will have ample opportunities for quality starts, likely a few no hit bids, but more importantly, a great shot at multiple Madduxes this year. If each of them pitched like they are capable of, they all could be in the discussion for the Cy Young.

But alas, those three will occupy only sixty percent of the rotation and maybe just fifty-five percent of all the starts (assuming an average of thirty starts between them). That means other pitchers will have to throw, and sometimes pitch against the other rival aces and top starters. Let's see how the back of rotation (BOR) stacks up.

Cleveland Indians

Interestingly enough, the projections (if averages) seem to like Tomlin as much as Bauer in just over half of the starts. Bauer may get the starts, but is projected to not even average 6 innings a start due to that high walk rate. Tomlin fares pretty well, but is slated to get even fewer starts than Anderson. ZIPS likes Anderson to get 27 starts, but does not like his overall stats all that much which seems odd because I think Tomlin's numbers would get him ore leeway, especially as Anderson has options..

Averaging out the FOR and BOR starts, this leaves about a dozen starts unaccounted for (I am discounting the ZIPS projection of 27 starts for Anderson). My guess is that those are split between T.J. House and Mike Clevinger.

Trevor Bauer

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

28

28

159.0

8.26

3.80

4.14

4.39

1.3

ZIPS

29

28

164.3

8.93

4.05

4.33

4.23

1.7

Marcel

163.0

8.6

3.6

4.25

Josh Tomlin

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

21

21

124.0

7.21

1.70

3.79

4.08

1.5

ZIPS

19

16

85.0

7.52

1.48

3.88

4.17

0.9

Marcel

95.0

7.9

1.9

3.98

Cody Anderson

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

13

13

75.0

5.55

2.76

4.39

4.66

0.4

ZIPS

27

27

141.7

5.65

2.54

4.38

4.41

1.1

Marcel

106.0

6.2

2.6

3.48

Chicago White Sox

Mat Latos was the top starter picked up by the White Sox this season. Only Marcel likes Latos to be close to average, although both Steamer and ZIPS like him to be a 1.5 WAR pitcher even with those poor peripherals. Danks feels like he has been around forever and that's true, he has been in the White Sox rotation since 2007. He hasn't been real effective since 2011 but is in his final year of his deal.

Erik Johnson has been on the shuttle the past three seasons starting a total of 16 games. He is likely the first choice as all of the top prospects are projected to arrive in 2017 or later. Other options include Chris Beck, Jacob Turner or Scott Carroll. So basically, the White Sox can ill afford any down time to their top five guys.

Mat Latos

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

26

26

149.0

7.05

2.85

4.34

4.40

1.5

ZIPS

24

23

131.7

7.38

2.80

4.65

4.20

1.6

Marcel

126.0

7.6

2.6

4.00

John Danks

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

24

24

143.0

6.26

2.91

4.66

4.76

0.9

ZIPS

28

28

166.0

6.18

2.71

4.88

4.65

1.2

Marcel

168.0

6.5

2.9

4.66

Erik Johnson

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

8

8

46.0

7.33

3.82

4.63

4.86

0.2

ZIPS

27

26

141.7

7.62

3.88

4.70

4.53

1.2

Marcel

80.0

7.7

3.5

4.05

Detroit Tigers

After three underwhelming years in Minnesota, Mike Pelfrey jumps into the Tigers rotation, essentially replacing Alfredo Simon. The fifth spot will likely be split between Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, both of whom were the centerpieces in the David Price deal, but Norris has been battling injuries while Boyd has rarely shown anything at the MLB level to date. If the three of these guys pitch as they are projected too, the Tigers are going to struggle in almost half of their starts this season.

Similar to the White Sox, the Tigers do not have a lot of pitching prospects close to the majors. That is why if the above three are ineffective, either Shane Greene or Buck Farmer could be summoned again. Greene got off to a hot beginning last year, but vaporized pretty quickly. Farmer has not been good either. Unlike the White Sox, they actually do have one top prospect who could debut and that is Michael Fulmer who pitched very well in AA last year for the Mets before arriving in the Yoenis Cespedes deal.

Mike Pelfrey

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

21

21

117.0

5.10

2.72

4.66

4.61

0.7

ZIPS

21

21

112.7

4.79

2.88

1.95

4.48

0.9

Marcel

145.0

5.7

2.9

4.59

Daniel Norris

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

24

24

132.0

7.57

3.74

4.27

4.44

1.1

ZIPS

282

28

145.7

7.72

3.77

4.45

4.31

1.4

Marcel

85.0

7.6

2.9

3.81

Matt Boyd

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

13

13

71.0

7.01

2.79

4.28

4.57

0.5

ZIPS

24

24

125.7

7.23

3.01

4.66

4.46

1.0

Marcel

26.0

7.6

2.9

5.23

Kansas City Royals

The projections didn't like Volquez, Ventura and Kennedy all that much. And they don't really like these next three guys either, especially Chris Young. Which is odd, because Young was fairly effective the past two seasons. Medlen should be finally healthy heading into this year and if he does return to form, likely becomes the three over Kennedy. Duffy has bounced up and down the past five years. I think he ends up in the bullpen. Also, it is worth noting that both Medlen and Duffy fare quite closely with the Volquez and Kennedy projections with the exception of fewer starts.

With the back of  the rotation up for grabs, there are many faces that could end up here. Other options include the former Met Dillon Gee, Chien-Ming Wang, #4 Royal MLB Pipeline Miguel Almonte, or Brian Flynn. Mike Minor could be another option, but hasn't pitched since 2014 and will open the year on the 60 day DL.

Kris Medlen

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

24

24

140.0

6.08

2.43

3.98

4.23

1.4

ZIPS

21

17

109.0

6.28

2.31

4.54

4.41

0.8

Marcel

79.0

7.2

2.7

3.76

Chris Young

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

43

18

125.0

6.16

3.18

4.43

5.09

-0.3

ZIPS

25

20

110.7

5.94

3.33

4.23

4.72

0.4

Marcel

127.0

6.4

3.2

3.61

Danny Duffy

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

60

15

126.0

7.59

3.12

3.54

4.10

0.9

ZIPS

28

21

125.0

7.20

3.38

3.82

4.16

1.2

Marcel

137.0

7.2

3.3

3.55

Minnesota Twins

The back end of this rotation is a bit of a mixed bag. Tyler Duffey made his debut last year and did very well. But the projections are still a bit leery of him. Tommy Milone is still around and a fringe starter. He is left handed so he will definitely get a long look. Ricky Nolasco still has two years on that head shaking deal the Twins gave him. So he will also be given a shot to prove if can pan out.

I honestly think Milone ends up in the pen like Steamer does. And even though Nolasco has two years left, I think he is done. Trevor May is still on the 40 man roster but is more suited for a long relief role. That means the Twins may showcase two of their top pitching prospects this season. The first guy is likely Jose Berrios their number one pick from 2012 who is #3 on the Twins MLB Pipeline. The other is Alex Meyer, their #1 pick from 2011 who is #8 on the Twins MLB Pipeline

Tyler Duffey

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

19

19

111.0

6.66

2.51

4.19

4.09

1.3

ZIPS

27

26

151.3

6.54

2.38

4.58

4.16

1.7

Marcel

89.0

8.1

2.9

3.64

Tommy Milone

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

46

6

78.0

7.37

2.14

3.71

3.93

0.6

ZIPS

27

26

148.0

6.93

2.43

4.62

4.33

1.3

Marcel

134.0

6.8

2.7

4.10

Ricky Nolasco

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

18

18

100.0

6.46

2.34

4.38

4.27

1.0

ZIPS

19

19

105.7

6.90

2.21

4.94

4.18

1.2

Marcel

93.0

7.3

2.6

4.84

My take

This is the toughest one to rank as the back end of a rotation is notoriously fickle. It is the Tribe fan in me that is leaning towards putting them first. I really think Detroit has the worst of the lot. And then the other three are all jumbled together. I do like the Twins more than most here, but only if the rookies get their shots.

1. Cleveland

2. Minnesota

3. Kansas City

4. Chicago

5. Detroit

Please post your rankings in the comments.

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