... and with the insane options we've gotten throughout the year, this is no small feat.
So, in my opinion, Justin Verlander is the best starting pitcher in this game, for my money anyway -- so yeah, he's my clear and definitive ace. After Verlander, I kinda struggled finding reliable options after some of the newer cards came out as I was pretty stubbornly sticking to Al Leiter and Vida Blue (I still love those cards). I was expecting guys like Greg Maddux (my ace last year), Bob Feller, Tom Seaver, Kerry Wood or Bob Gibson to eventually find their way into my permanent rotation. SDS really did Maddux, Seaver, Gibson and Feller dirty with the low H/9's.
Eventually, I was just forcing guys I had success with last year in my rotation and it just wasn't working. I decided to give Nolan Ryan a go and I was shocked that I was able to make him work; he was someone that I could never get a hang of in prior years but this year SDS did a great job of making some of the guys who weren't very good in past years a lot better and this describes Nolan to a T. Obviously he's got the nasty heater that a ton of players struggle hitting, but then he also has a devastating circle-change and sinker combination that allows you to tunnel and keep your opponents guessing. Not to mention the 12-6 curveball that just drops off the table (assuming you don't hang it) and he has been filthy for me.
So with two kind of similar righty flamethrowers with Verlander and Ryan, I knew that I would need to find a different archetype to fill out the rest. I've always done well with "finesse-types" that are more about control than anything else but this year, that hasn't worked as well. However, one guy has exceeded all expectations I could've had for him and then some -- and that player is Cole Hamels. In my opinion, he has the perfect repertoire for a guy who doesn't throw any gas. I love pitching with him as he's one of those guys you can get into a trance-like rhythm with when you start sequencing with him properly. On paper, he scares no one and then you play someone who knows how to use him.
With my fourth and final spot, I wasn't expecting to run out to two more lefties but that's what happened as Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale are just reliable guys that the majority of players have a hard time adjusting to the way I pitch them. I know everyone thinks that the new Sale is trash but they couldn't be further from the truth and while Kershaw is probably my least effective member of the rotation, I've had him pitch too many gems to replace him with anyone. Although, if I can manage to find my way to another 500K in Stubs after buying Billy Wagner, I may end up replacing Kershaw with Jake Arrieta in the not too distant future.
So yeah, I've finally figured out my "end-game" rotation:
Ace - Justin Verlander
SP2 - Nolan Ryan
SP3 - Cole Hamels
SP4 - Chris Sale
SP5 - Clayton Kershaw (Jake Arrieta someday?)
Spot Starters: Greg Maddux, Al Leiter and Jacob deGrom
Pretty solid five. I have yet to get Sale. I picked Banks and sold high and am just waiting for them to drop a bit so I can grab all three. Looking forward to Sale.
Verlander is definitely the ace. Hamels is also a strong new addition. I'll always dig Vida and have really enjoyed some of the future stars. Nate Pearson is amazing with outlier, great change of speeds, quick windup and solid break. Lack of pitch selection drags him down for me a bit. Gioloto is another strong option for me as are the older pitchers from TA4 like Feller and Walter Johnson. I just need a quicker delivery.