Pitching is everything in baseball and that's why MLB general managers compete for premium arms every offseason via trade or free agency.
Here's a look at five teams that bolstered their respective pitching staffs ahead of the 2013 season:
Toronto Blue Jays (12/1 to win World Series)
2012 season O/U: 77-77-8
Key additions: R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle,
Nobody made a bigger splash in the offseason than the Toronto Blue Jays. General manager Alex Anthopoulos wheeled and dealed for three top-notch starting pitchers, including reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. Toronto now has the best rotation in the bigs on paper. But can they get it done on the field and take advantage of a weak AL East?
Los Angeles Dodgers (8/1 to win World Series)
2012 season O/U: 71-82-9
Key additions: Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano
The Dodgers went deep into their pockets and signed Zack Greinke and South Korea’s Hyun-Jin Ryu to six-year deals. Ryu was a seven-time All-Star and a five-time strikeout leader in Korea and joins a rotation that already boasts Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett. Greinke is the 2009 Cy Young Award winner and has big shoes to fill after signing the largest deal ($147 million) for a right-handed pitcher in history back in December. Chris Capuano has made the move to L.A. from New York (Mets) and is a steady lefty that can eat innings.
Kansas City Royals (50/1 to win World Series)
2012 season O/U: 73-83-6
Key additions: James Shields, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana
The Royals added some much-needed pitching depth by acquiring James Shield and Wade Davis from the Rays. Kansas City still lacks a bonafide ace on its staff but it now has three proven starters after also adding Ervin Santana to the staff. The Royals parted ways with closer Joakim Soria in the offseason and will hand the ball over to Greg Holland in the crunch this year. Holland completed the 2012 season with 16 saves in 20 opportunities, a 2.96 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, a 7-4 record and 91 strikeouts in 67 frames.
Los Angeles Angels (7/1 to win World Series)
2012 season O/U: 75-78-9 O/U
Key additions: Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas, Ryan Madson
The signing of Josh Hamilton has overshadowed the addition of three strong arms to the Angels’ pitching staff. The oft-injured Tommy Hanson was acquired from the Braves in November and should fit nicely into the middle of the rotation. L.A. also acquired lefty Jason Vargas from the Mariners just before Christmas. Vargas is one of the most underrated southpaws in the league. He quietly racked up 14 wins for Seattle in 2012. Ryan Madson’s surgically-repaired elbow is a cause for concern, but if he can bounce back and return to his previous form, the Angels will have a solid setup man behind Ernesto Frieri.
Boston Red Sox (30/1 to win World Series)
2012 season O/U: 78-77-7
Key additions: Ryan Dempster, Joel Hanrahan
Boston’s pitching was god-awful in 2012 and that prompted some offseason additions that should help improve the staff this year. Veteran Ryan Dempster had one of the lowest ERAs in the NL up until the All-Star break last season and should help stabilize the rotation. Former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan will assume the ninth-inning duties for the BoSox and push Andrew Bailey, who had an injury-plagued 2012 campaign, to the role of setup man.