Chicago Cubs pitchers Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.

MLB teams can make plenty of noise during the regular season with help from powerful and consistent batting orders (a la the Toronto Blue Jays a year ago). But in order to make deep playoff runs, managers often need to have an ace starting pitcher anchoring their staff — hence why Toronto made a blockbuster trade to acquire left-hander David Price last July.

So while scoring runs is undoubtedly important, preventing them is just as vital en route to winning World Series championships. In the cutthroat postseason atmosphere, a single mistake can mean the different between a win and a loss.

With that in mind, the PointAfter team set out to rank MLB starting rotations from worst to best in preparation for the 2016 season.

To do this, we first projected each team’s starting rotation using predictions from Baseball Prospectus (subscription required), RosterResource.com and RotoChamp.com, as well as our own sports expertise. After locking in a starting rotation, we took the sum of those pitchers’ 2015 WAR (wins above replacement) from Baseball Reference and added that to the sum of each pitchers’ projected 2016 WAR, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.

In effect, we’re essentially taking past value and projected 2016 value to determine which rotations will be the best (and worst) this season. Where does your favorite team’s crop of starters rank compared to the rest of the league?

#30. Atlanta Braves

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 2.7
Projected Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Bud Norris, Manny Banuelos, Williams Perez

A youth movement has been underway for a while in Atlanta. According to Fox Sports, “The Braves had 151 starts in 2015 via pitchers 25 or younger, the most in history.”

Atlanta’s rotation figures to be vastly inexperienced once again, as 25-year-old Julio Teheran functions as the ace of the staff. Barring some diamond-in-the-rough potential, this figures to be an ugly year for Braves fans.

#29. Milwaukee Brewers

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 6.7
Projected Starting Rotation: Wily Peralta, Matt Garza, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Chase Anderson

Milwaukee’s starting rotation figures to be a hodgepodge of uncertainty, anchored by veteran Matt Garza looking to improve upon his ghastly 2015 WAR of -1.7.

#28. Cincinnati Reds

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 7.3
Projected Starting Rotation: Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Brandon Finnegan, Homer Bailey

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake are both gone from a season ago, leaving Cincy in full-blown rebuilding mode. Anthony DeSclafani projects to be the Opening Day starter, and while he led the team in strikeouts a season ago with 151, he’ll still need to improve statistically if the Reds are going to have any shot at competing this year.

#27. Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws a pitch against the New York Mets.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 8.2
Projected Starting Rotation: Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Jerad Eickhoff, Vincent Velasquez

The Phillies’ projected starting rotation doesn’t exactly instill confidence. Former No. 7 overall pick Aaron Nola allowed 11 home runs in 13 starts last season. Hellickson had his fair share of struggles as well throughout 2015 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Eickhoff and Velasquez have combined for just 15 Major League starts.

Top to bottom, there are a lot of questions facing Philly’s five so-so starting pitchers.

#26. Kansas City Royals

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 9.7
Projected Starting Rotation: Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy, Kris Medlen, Danny Duffy

Volquez has experienced a roller coaster career met with with big-time disappointments (he’s recorded an ERA over 5.00 in four seasons) and impressive successes (he reached the All-Star Game in 2008 and has been rock solid over the past two years).

Ventura and Kennedy have been similarly difficult to predict, so it’s tough to envision all three guys putting everything together in 2016 — their WAR totals and 2016 projections slot them in the bottom five despite their evident talent.

They might still be steady enough to win games for KC’s great offense, but there’s no true ace here, at least for the moment. But hey, at least the bullpen remains among the best in baseball.

#25. Los Angeles Angels

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 10.8
Projected Starting Rotation: Garrett Richards, C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver, Andrew Heaney, Hector Santiago

Richards is the unquestioned ace of LA’s staff. Wilson and Weaver are tested veterans who have had great success in the past. Of course, none of that matters if the Halos don’t score.

The Angels ranked 20th in runs in 2015 despite having Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the batting order. That inability to score enough runs handcuffed the pitching staff throughout last season.

#24. San Diego Padres

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 11.5
Projected Starting Rotation: James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Brandon Maurer, Colin Rea

Based on past production, James Shields performed as advertised throughout his first year in a Padres uniform. He pitched more than 200 innings for the ninth consecutive year and posted an ERA under 4.00 for the fifth straight season. Unfortunately, his strikeout-to-walk ratio hit a career-low 2.67 and he allowed a whopping 33 home runs despite making most of his starts in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

He needs to be transcendent to elevate the level of the rest of this staff. Frankly, he no longer seems capable of being named an All-Star, as he was back in 2011.

#23. Colorado Rockies

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 12
Projected Starting Rotation: Jorge De La Rosa, Jordan Lyles, Chad Bettis, Jon Gray, Tyler Chatwood

Don’t be surprised if Jorge De La Rosa gets placed on the trade block in 2016. Despite playing in hitter-friendly Coors Field over the past eight seasons, the Mexican-born lefty has competed and kept his head above water.

Sadly for Rockies fans, he’s not equipped to a be a team’s No. 1 guy. This is very much a rebuilding year for Colorado, and plenty of teams could use De La Rosa has a back-end starter to shore up weaknesses in the rotation.

#22. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 12.9
Projected Starting Rotation: Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Ricky Nolasco, Tommy Milone

After signing the richest free-agent contract in Twins franchise history, Ervin Santana was promptly suspended 80 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

He made just 17 starts as a result, posting a 4.00 ERA. Minnesota will look for a much better return on their investment in 2016.

#21. Miami Marlins

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 13
Projected Starting Rotation: Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen, Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler, Edwin Jackson

Miami bolstered its starting rotation in the offseason with acquisitions of Wei-Yin Chen and Edwin Jackson.

Everything for the Marlins starts and ends with the ace status of Jose Fernandez, but Chen and Jackson (if healthy) should provide some degree of a spark.

#20. Toronto Blue Jays

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 13.6
Projected Starting Rotation: Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison

Standing at just 5-foot-8, Stroman doesn’t possess the typical makeup of an MLB ace. Don’t tell him that, though, as ESPN’s Jason Stark wrote:

“‘It made me motivated,’ Stroman told ESPN.com, with his head stuffed inside a silver baseball cap stamped with his personal motto, HDMH (Height Doesn’t Measure Heart). ‘It made me hungry. It made me angry. It made me say, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to prove these people wrong.'”

Stroman has some huge shoes to fill following the departure of David Price in the offseason. The other pieces of the rotation (namely R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ) can turn in solid performances, but they need the 24-year-old fireballer to continue pitching like a No. 1 guy in 2016.

#19. Detroit Tigers

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 13.8
Projected Starting Rotation: Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Mike Pelfrey

The second straight team on the countdown to see David Price leave in the past year, Detroit actually netted warm bodies in return. One of the players acquired from Toronto in exchange for Price, Daniel Norris, is projected to be the No. 4 starter.

He started eight games for the Tigers a year ago, going 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA.

#18. Pittsburgh Pirates

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 13.8
Projected Starting Rotation: Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, Ryan Vogelsong

The Pirates projected rotation is anchored by two rock-solid pieces up top — Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. Other than that, however, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

Niese was a reliable starter for the New York Mets, but he only averaged 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings last season, a career low. Perhaps his inability to miss bats was an anomaly, but with Jeff Locke and Ryan Vogelsong as game-to-game wildcards, Pittsburgh needs Niese to have a bounce-back season.

#17. Oakland Athletics

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 15.5
Projected Starting Rotation: Sonny Gray, Rich Hill, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman

We have a long way to go until the 2016 MLB trade deadline, but Sonny Gray is a guy to keep an eye on. Oakland Athletics president of baseball operations Billy Beane has expressed some apprehension to signing Gray to an extension, per Joe Stiglich of Comcast Sportsnet, because the A’s “have no choice but to be right.” In other words, Oakland can’t afford to pay Gray long term unless he’ll continue to be an ace into the future (the tribulations of a small-market franchise).

If the right deal falls into Beane’s lap, expect Gray to be moved to a contender at the deadline in 2016.

#16. Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 15.6
Projected Starting Rotation: Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Nick Martinez

Cole Hamels’ stats stayed pretty much identical after he was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Texas Rangers last year. The difference in Texas was wins, as the lefty went 7-1 in a Rangers uniform after posting a 6-7 mark in Philadelphia.

There’s a chance he’ll get to form a two-headed monster this season with Japanese righty Yu Darvish, who missed the entire 2015 season after Tommy John surgery. But it remains unclear when Darvish will return to the mound.

Note: Because Yu Darvish did not play in 2015 following Tommy John surgery, we used his 2014 WAR for the ranking.

#15. Baltimore Orioles

Yovani Gallardo while pitching for the Texas Rangers in 2015.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 16.1
Projected Starting Rotation: Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez

The Orioles had reportedly agreed to a $33 million deal with free-agent pitcher Yovani Gallardo, but the pairing hit a snag due to concerns with Gallardo’s physical.

Baltimore has since restructured Gallardo’s contract down to $22 million, so he’ll officially be suiting up for O’s. That’s good news for Orioles fans, because this rotation would be milky clear without the free-agent signee in the mix.

Note: We had to estimate the projected 2016 WAR for Gallardo, because he was not on Baltimore’s roster by Baseball Prospectus.

#14. Chicago White Sox

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 17.8
Projected Starting Rotation: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Mat Latos, John Danks

Even though Chris Sale is the face of the Chicago White Sox franchise, as well as the undisputed ace and Opening Day starter, it was actually Jose Quintana who led ChiSox pitchers in WAR (4.0 against 3.3).

There’s a nice duo in place in the South Side of Chicago, but continued growth from 23-year-old Carlos Rodon and potential resurgences from Mat Latos and John Danks will ultimately determine Chicago’s playoff aspirations.

#13. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 18.9
Projected Starting Rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain

Jeff Samardzija spent 2015 with the White Sox, but was quite a disappointment following the six-player trade that got him there. He gave up a league-high 228 hits en route to a 4.96 ERA.

In the offseason, the Shark and Johnny Cueto signed on to join the San Francisco Giants. They’ll strengthen a starting rotation that already features 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, perhaps continuing SF’s even year magic.

#12. New York Yankees

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 19.1
Projected Starting Rotation: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi

The Yankees were mired by injuries throughout 2015. That trend even managed to take a more sobering turn when former ace CC Sabathia decided to check into an alcohol treatment center.

But with Sabathia back and the rest of the rotation getting healthy as well, the Yankees certainly have plenty of potential for a rebound.

#11. Tampa Bay Rays

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 19.2
Projected Starting Rotation: Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Erasmo Ramirez, Matt Moore

Chris Archer is slowly becoming a household name after being named to his first All-Star team in 2015 and finishing fifth in Cy Young voting.

The rest of the names don’t generate much hype, but Tampa Bay’s rotation projects to be very viable — especially if Moore (a former All-Star) can rekindle some of his old self.

#10. Seattle Mariners

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 19.6
Projected Starting Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, Wade Miley, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton

Former Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez is the established veteran leader on Seattle’s staff. While “King Felix” has been reigning on his throne for a long time, he’s still just 29 years old — he’ll be 30 in April.

If the other pieces, including new addition Wade Miley, can take some of the pressure off Hernandez, then there’s no reason the Mariners can’t make the playoffs in 2016.

#9. Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 22.1
Projected Starting Rotation: David Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Joe Kelly

Although much of the blame in Red Sox Nation was hoisted onto the shoulders of expensive new additions Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval for lackluster play in 2015, the pitching staff deserved just as much flak. Boston ranked 25th in ERA at season’s end.

Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly were among the starters who struggled, combining for a 4.87 ERA. Now with David Price to lead the charge after inking a seven-year, $217 million contract, the BoSox could look to emulate the Giants via an even year turnaround.

#8. Houston Astros

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 23.2
Projected Starting Rotation: Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Lance McCullers, Doug Fister

Dallas Keuchel let accolades do the talking for him in 2015, as he was named to his first All-Star team, won a Gold Glove and earned AL Cy Young honors after leading the American League in wins. His (literal) right-hand man, Collin McHugh, posted a stellar year in his own right, going 19-7 over the course of 203.2 innings.

Can new additions Mike Fiers (acquired via trade last year) and Doug Fister (signed as a free agent in January) bring enough to the table to elevate Houston to World Series material? We’ll have to wait and see.

#7. Arizona Diamondbacks

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 24.3
Projected Starting Rotation: Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray

The Arizona Diamondbacks finally decided to spend some cash during the offseason to build a contender around perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. They did so by signing free-agent prize Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million deal and by surrendering a king’s ransom in exchange for Atlanta Braves pitcher Shelby Miller.

The D-Backs are very much in “win now” mode after those two moves. With the seventh-best starting rotation by our measure, along with an offense that scored the eighth-most runs a season ago, Arizona cannot be overlooked.

#6. New York Mets

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 25
Projected Starting Rotation: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon

With a full year of New York’s big three — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard — ahead, Mets fans have to like their chances in the National League East once again.

Of course, another team in their division ever-so-slightly edges them out…

#5. Washington Nationals

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 25.3
Projected Starting Rotation: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, Joe Ross

Following Jordan Zimmermann’s offseason departure to Detroit, all of Washington’s starting pitchers will be asked to step up. That’s especially true for 22-year-old Joe Ross, who projects to be the Nats’ No. 5 starter after finishing 5-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 16 appearances as a rookie last year.

If he avoids a sophomore slump, this starting rotation will prove lethal once again.

#4. Cleveland Indians

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 25.7
Projected Starting Rotation: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin

The Cleveland Indians boast arguably the most underrated starting rotation in all of baseball. Corey Kluber came back to earth a bit after winning the Cy Young in 2014, but the three-headed chimera of Kluber, Carrasco and Salazar still posted some gaudy numbers.

In fact, the Tribe nearly had four starters reach 200 strikeouts on the season. Kluber and Carrasco both past the mark, Salazar fell five Ks short and Bauer wound up with 170 whiffs after crumbling down the stretch. It’s time for the rest of the MLB community to take notice of this crew, but that likely won’t happen unless they reach the postseason.

#3. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda.

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 27
Projected Starting Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood

No Greinke, no problem?

Although the Dodgers lost the enigmatic righty via free agency, they can take solace in the fact that they’ll still be running three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw out to the mound.

The addition of Scott Kazmir will help, and LA has plenty of depth with Alex Wood, Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. Nonetheless, the performance of Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda will shape the 2016 campaign for Dodger blue.

Is he as good as advertised?

Note: Because Maeda played in Japan last year, we assigned him 2.0 WAR for the 2015 season for the purposes of this list, which FanGraphs deems average worth for a starting pitcher. Chances are, he’ll be much better than average.

#2. St. Louis Cardinals

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 29
Projected Starting Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, Mike Leake

Provided that Mike Leake (arguably Cincinnati’s best pitcher a year ago) is poised to be the Cardinals No. 4 or 5 starter in 2016, it’s pretty clear just how stacked St. Louis’ starting pitching is.

Note: Instead of using Wainwright’s 2015 WAR, we opted to utilize his 2014 WAR, which better reflects a full season from the talented righty.

#1. Chicago Cubs

2015 WAR + 2016 Projected WAR: 33.9
Projected Starting Rotation: Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks

It’s fair to say the beloved Cubbies (well, beloved by most people not named Donald Trump) were aided in this exercise by John Lackey’s tremendous resurgence with St. Louis a year ago. He posted a masterful 5.7 WAR for the Cards in his age-36 season, which really beefed up Chicago’s standing on this list.

It’s fair to assume Lackey won’t replicate that success at age 37 (and not in a contract year), but the dominance of reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and postseason stud Jon Lester ensure that the Cubs rotation will be stout with talent regardless.