How The AL Playoff Starters Were Acquired

As important as it is during the regular season, starting pitching becomes even more crucial in the postseason. Rotations are trimmed to three or four pitchers, and – particularly in a short series, when an ace can start twice in five games – the team with the starting pitching advantage is often the favorite.

Between unpredictable weather conditions and the possibility of three-game sweeps, there's no guarantee these are the 16 starters we'll see in the ALDS. However, at the moment, they're the guys penciled in to attempt to win at least one playoff game this week. So let's take a look at how the four American League postseason qualifiers assembled their October rotations.


Matt Moore: Selected in the 2007 draft (8th round).
James Shields: Selected in the 2000 draft (16th round).
David Price: Selected in the 2007 draft (1st round, 1st overall).
Jeremy Hellickson: Selected in the 2005 draft (4th round).

Not only are the Rays the only AL playoff team with four homegrown pitchers expected to start – no other club has more than two. Of the four Rays starters, only Price was a first round selection, a testament to the team's ability to make the most of its mid-round picks.


C.J. Wilson: Selected in the 2001 draft (6th round).
Derek Holland: Selected in the 2006 draft (25th round).
Colby Lewis: Signed for two years, $5MM in January 2010.
Matt Harrison: Acquired from the Braves in July 2007.

The Rangers may have assembled the most unlikely rotation of the four AL contenders. As recently as 2009, Wilson was a setup man and Lewis was pitching in Japan. Meanwhile, Holland was a 25th-round pick and Harrison was often the forgotten man in the Mark Teixeira trade that also sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Texas.


C.C. Sabathia: Signed for seven years, $161MM in December 2008.
Ivan Nova: Signed as amateur free agent in 2004.
Freddy Garcia: Signed a minor league deal in January 2011.
A.J. Burnett: Signed for five years, $82.5MM in December 2008.

After last night's postponement, it appears the Yankees will have to scrap their plan for a three-man ALDS rotation, meaning that one December 2008 signing (Sabathia) may log significant innings in Game 3 only, while their other '08 signing (Burnett) could be pressed into a Game 4 start.


Justin Verlander: Selected in the 2004 draft (1st round, 2nd overall).
Doug Fister: Acquired from the Mariners in July 2011.
Max Scherzer: Acquired from the Diamondbacks in December 2009.
Rick Porcello: Selected in the 2007 draft (1st overall, 27nd overall).

The Scherzer trade could have a tremendous impact on the 2011 postseason. All three teams involved in the deal qualified for the playoffs and will be relying heavily on players they acquired, including Curtis Granderson for the Yankees and Ian Kennedy for the D'Backs. As for the 2011 trade that most affects the postseason, the Tigers are hoping it's their July acquisition of Fister, who posted a 1.79 ERA after coming to Detroit.

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17 Comments on "How The AL Playoff Starters Were Acquired"

3 years 10 months ago

Matt Moore and Price at the top of the rotation for the Rays are going to be dangerous. You don’t shut down two major offenses as a rookie. I mean I’ve seen rookies get pummeled by the offenses of the rangers and the yankees, but to dominate them? Wow. 

3 years 10 months ago

are the rays the best organization in baseball right now? 

3 years 10 months ago

“Best organization” as in the front office/player development etc? I’d say yeah, probably.

3 years 10 months ago

Lets not split hairs here. They are the best in everything except for fan base. 

3 years 10 months ago

I think you took that the wrong way, I wanted to make sure he wasn’t asking if they were the best team in baseball because they aren’t that.  They are the best run organization and they have a lot of the best behind the scenes guys, but they don’t have the best on the field team.

3 years 10 months ago

They’re owner sucks. Pump for than 40 millions into a team, there will never be a salary cap, but a salary floor should be instated for teams like the rays and marlins

3 years 10 months ago

They’re not the best team.

They’re the most IMPRESSIVE organization.

I’d like them to sustain this success for a longer period of time than 3/4 years before i deem them the best… I’d probably say the Braves are better.

3 years 10 months ago

I have a hard time saying that. I mean…their best players are there because they were so BAD and they have a ton of draft picks because they let their best players walk. Is it really that hard to pick Longo, Upton, Price, Young, Neiman, etc when you have a top 5 pick?

Ppl…they do a good job in NOT making mistakes but even I, who don’t really follow high school and college players more that any casual fan of the amateurs could have a good draft if given the opp to pick those guys.

The true greatness is being able to sustain that over a prolonged period of time when you are EXPECTED to be great, and they haven’t experienced that yet.

3 years 10 months ago

upton young and neimann were not big contributors this year

it’s easy to pick young, not easy to turn him into several good years of matt garza and then turn garza into a bunch of good prospects (and bartlett too)

it’s easy to pick longoria, but it’s not easy to sign him to the best contract ever

it’s easy to have a top farm when you’re losers, but not easy to win for several years and still have one of the best farms in the game – with hardly any money at all, mind you

and that’s not mentioning at all (i’ve made the list elsewhere) the majority of their roster, most of which was acquired in smart trades and later rounds of the draft

will they be the best-run organization for the next decade, or even 5 years? dunno. but they are right now

3 years 10 months ago

take that back about upton. i always think of him as worse than he is because of all his potential. but he broke 4 WAR again this year

3 years 10 months ago

Hey to reply to myself. You may not have agreed with me, but I don’t think a single one of you would say thats an outrageous opinion.  Even if you don’t agree they are in the conversation for best.

3 years 10 months ago

well they do live in flordia, which is more soccer friendly than baseball.

3 years 10 months ago

Pretty much seals the deal. The Rays have some sorcery going on in their scouting department. I think they should be disqualified from the Postseason for using Black Magic to take an unfair advantage.

3 years 10 months ago

Yea, I would swear Maddon can see into the future…

3 years 10 months ago

Ray’s are definitely the best organization in baseball for prospect development. They would be bomb if they had a higher payroll budget though.

3 years 10 months ago

Rays with all developed players and Yankees with all signed players…would have never guessed. 

3 years 10 months ago

Nova was developed…