"Top Four" for Each Contender

With around 50 games left in the season, we are right in the thick of the 2015 playoff hunt. And it’s shaping up to be a great race, as 18 of the 30 teams find themselves within 5 games of the playoffs. Once a team reaches the postseason, nothing is guaranteed. From the best team in baseball to the worst wild card winner, every team has a chance in the glorious crapshoot that is October.

One factor that can help a team the most in the playoffs is great starting pitching. To win in the postseason, you have to get great performances from your starting staff. So, which 2015 contenders have the best rotations? More specifically, which teams have the best “Top Four”? The last team to use a three-man rotation in the playoffs was the 2009 Yankees (Sabathia, Burnett, Pettittte). Since then, every team to make the World Series has used at least four starters. Listed below is a ranking of the 18 remaining contender’s Top Four based on WAR (Fangraphs). This isn’t a perfect barometer of future playoff success, but it does give you an idea for what teams might be dangerous. And after all, can anything really predict October?

TeamPlayoff Odds*Starter 1Starter 2Starter 3Starter 4Total WAR
Dodgers93.5%Clayton Kershaw (5.4)Zack Greinke (4.4)Alex Wood (2.0)Brett Anderson (1.4)13.2
White Sox7.9%Chris Sale (4.8)Jose Quintana (3.1)Jeff Samardzija (2.5)John Danks (1.5)11.9
Nationals45.4%Max Scherzer (5.0)Jordan Zimmerman (3.0)Gio Gonzalez (2.4)Stephen Strasburg (1.2)11.6
Cubs86%Jake Arrieta (4.1)Jon Lester (3.1)Kyle Hendricks (2.2)Jason Hammel (2.1)11.5
Mets64.1%Jacob deGrom (4.1)Matt Harvey (2.8)Noah Syndergaard (2.5)Bartolo Colon (1.8)11.2
Astros83%Dallas Keuchel (4.4)Scott Kazmir (2.5)Collin McHugh (2.2)Lance McCullers (1.9)11
Cardinals99.8%Lance Lynn (2.9)Michael Wacha (2.7)John Lackey (2.4)Carlos Martinez (2.1)10.1
Pirates93.7%Gerritt Cole (3.7)Francisco Liriano (2.6)A.J. Burnett (2.6)Jeff Locke (1.0)9.9
Rays22%Chris Archer (4.4)Jake Odorizzi (2.2)Erasmo Ramirez (1.6)Nate Karns (1.4)9.6
Blue Jays92%David Price (4.1)Drew Hutchison (1.9)Marco Estrada (1.8)Mark Buehrle (1.7)9.5
Giants16.3%Madison Bumgarner (3.3)Chris Heston (1.8)Mike Leake (1.7)Jake Peavy (0.5)7.3
Royals99.7%Johnny Cueto (3.8)Edinson Volquez (1.8)Yordano Ventura (0.9)Danny Duffy (0.5)7
Yankees84.8%Michael Pineda (3.0)Nathan Eovaldi (2.1)Masahiro Tanaka (1.1)C.C. Sabathia (0.7)6.9
Rangers9.6%Cole Hamels (2.5)Colby Lewis (1.7)Yovani Gallardo (1.7)Martin Perez (0.7)6.6
Orioles18.3%Ubaldo Jimenez (2.0)Chris Tillman (1.5)Wei-Yin-Chen (1.2)Kevin Gausman (1.0)5.7
Angels57.8%Garrett Richards (1.6)Hector Santiago (1.1)Andrew Heaney (0.9)Matt Shoemaker (0.8)4.4
Twins8.6%Mike Pelfrey (1.5)Kyle Gibson (1.3)Phil Hughes (0.6)Ervin Santana (-0.1)3.3
Tigers4.8%Alfredo Simon (1.1)Anibal Sanchez (0.9)Justin Verlander (0.5)Matt Boyd (0.5)3

* Playoff odds come from Fangraphs and were calculated on Thursday, August 13.