2) Tampa Bay Rays
2019 Stats: W/L 40-35, 3.64 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 17.6 fWAR
The Tampa Bay Rays rotation was elite in 2019, led by the trio of Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow. Charlie Morton had a breakout season with the Rays, finishing third in AL Cy Young voting. The 36-year old went 16-6, with a 3.05 ERA, and 240 strikeouts. He posted career highs in innings, strikeouts, wins, ERA, WHIP, FIP, fWAR, and K/9. Morton showed no signs of slowing down and should once again lead the rotation.
2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, battled injuries during the 2019 season and had a down year. Now he is fully healthy and should go back to being his Cy Young self. That year (2018), he went 21-5, with a 1.89 ERA, and 221 strikeouts, while also finishing with a 2.94 FIP.
The wild card of the rotation is Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow started the 2019 season on a tear and through the first two months was the best pitcher in the league. Glasnow started 6-1, with a 1.86 ERA, and 55 strikeouts. Unfortunately, he landed on the IL and didn’t return till the end of the season. With COVID pushing back the 2020 season by a few months, Glasnow has had plenty of time to fully recover. Despite his injury, another thing to keep an eye on is that before arriving in Tampa, Glasnow struggled in the few times he made the pros with the Pirates.
Outside of the big three, the Rays rotation will be joined by Ryan Yarbrough. In 2019, Yarbrough bounced between being a fulltime starter and the teams “bulk starter”. (The Rays use an opener and Yarbrough would usually be handed the ball after and pitch the bulk of the game). Now heading into 2020, Yarbough looks to join the starting rotation fulltime. Last year he went 11-6, with a 4.13 ERA, and 117 strikeouts, while posting an impressive 3.55 FIP.
It will be interesting to see if the Rays use a fifth starter or choose to continue their opener strategy.