THE best starting rotations in the ABL are bound to get better after Melbourne and Sydney both announced the signing of Major League arms this week.
Chris Oxspring will take to the mound for the Sydney Blue Sox this weekend for the first time since January 2013 and Jeremy Guthrie will link up with the Aces in the second half of the season.
Oxspring, 39, has played 34 games for the Blue Sox (including 30 starts) and gone 12-8 with an ABL career ERA of 2.64.
The right-hander has experience in the US with San Diego, Milwaukee and Detroit, and also had stints in Japan and Korea.
Guthrie, 37, has 12 years MLB experience and made two starts for the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 World Series.
The first round draft selection has made more than 300 MLB appearances with Cleveland , Baltimore, Colorado and Kansas City.
Guthrie has come out of the bullpen more recently but would appear likely to replace Keisuke Honda, who returns to Japan around Christmas.
The two moves will bolster the league’s best performing starting rotations.
Melbourne starters have gone 4-2 with a league best 3.28 ERA in the opening three weeks of the season.
Sydney starters have put together a 4.15 ERA while recording a league-high five wins in 12 outings.
In fact, without Aaron Sookee – who will make way for Oxspring’s season debut on Sunday – the Sox starters have put up a 2.68 ERA.
Craig Anderson (3-0) has led the way, with the left-hander posting an ERA of 1.62 (fourth best amongst starters).
Luke Wilkins (1-1) leads the league with an ERA of 0.92 and could lay claim to being the unluckiest pitcher in the ABL.
The Blue Sox have scored just five runs across his three starts.
Only Perth’s Nick Veale (0-2, 9.82) and Cavalry right-hander Hayden Beard (0-1, 6.75) have had less support from their offences.
At the other end, not surprisingly, Canberra starters have had run support aplenty in the opening three rounds.
Four of the top six supported starters are Cavs, while Wilkins’ Sydney counterpart Anderson has been far more aided by his bats.
Melbourne and Sydney’s starters are followed by the Cavs, who have gone 3-2 and recorded an ERA of 5.52.
But the league’s hottest offence has been able to bail it out.
Brisbane and Adelaide starters have both struggled more this year than last when they faced off in the ABL Championship Series.
The Bite’s ERA (ahead of last night’s series-opener against Perth) was 6.04, well up on last year when its starters posted an ERA of 4.25 across 56 games.
Brisbane’s starters are allowing 5.66 runs per nine innings, compared to 4.11 a season ago.
Perth’s starting pitching ERA is the worst in the league.
Bite pitcher Max MacNabb, who makes his second start this weekend, is the toughest starter to hit this season.
Opponents are averaging .100 against the left-hander, with Mark Hamburger (.164 opponent batting average when starting) next toughest.
By the end of the season who do you think will have the best starting rotation?