Ranking five converted relievers
The numbers suggest Chris Sale has the best chance of success
Five talented young pitchers are attempting to enter the rotation this spring after making their first marks in the majors in relief: Neftali Feliz, Daniel Bard, Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman and Aaron Crow. They have all excelled in the bullpen, but they don't have a single big league start among them. However, they do have starting experience, as all but Sale, who started in college, have pitched out of the rotation in the minor leagues. Chapman also started in Cuba before signing with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010.
If those pitchers have all bid their final farewells to the bullpen, sabermetricians will celebrate because statistics suggest that starters are the most essential members of the pitching staff. The best reliever in baseball last season (according to wins above replacement player), Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves, had a 2.2 WARP. In comparison, there were 70 pitchers who made at least 30 starts in 2011, and they had an average 2.1 WARP, primarily because of all the extra innings they threw. Bottom line: A decent starter is much more valuable than an excellent reliever.
To read the full story, plus gain access to all of ESPN Insider's daily MLB content, sign up today and become an Insider.
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Washington defends Darvish's pitch count
- Yankees put Pettitte on DL with strained muscle
- Yankees win as Kuroda dominates Blue Jays
- Harvey moves to 5-0 as Mets slip past Cubs
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Future Power Rankings
Keith Law's top prospects
FeaturesMarch 30: Szymborski: AL standings | NL
March 29: BP: Four fading Phillies
March 27: Szymborski: Five non-flukes
March 26: Cameron: Top 500's underachievers
March 23: Cameron: Will Strasburg be the same?
March 22: BP: Smoak underrated by Safeco
March 21: Szymborski: The next Bautista
March 19: Cameron: Controlling Bryce's price
March 15: Goldstein: Prospects making waves
March 15: BP: Who's starting the wrong guy?
March 12: Cameron: Tribe's nasty rotation
March 10: Lindbergh: Sale a good bet to succeed