25) Detroit Tigers
2019 Stats: W/L, 23-81, 5.51 ERA, 4.66 FIP 10.6 fWAR
The Tigers 2020 rotation was a disaster outside of Matthew Boyd. Boyd cooled off down the stretch, but finished the season 9-13, with a 4.56 ERA, and 238 strikeouts. With a shortened season allowing for Boyd to avoid wearing down, expect him to post a career year.
Veteran, Ivan Nova joins Boyd in the rotation. Nova is towards the end of his career, but when he is healthy, he can provide plenty of innings. The 33-year-old is a step up over last year’s starters Edwin Jackson and Ryan Carpenter. Jordan Zimmermann was recently placed on the 45 day IL and will miss the majority if not all of the 2020 season. While he has regressed over the last few years, that is still a big hit.
A thing to keep an eye on for the Tigers is their young and talented pitching prospects. Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal could make an appearance, especially towards the end of the season. Overall, the Tigers rotation is full of stopgaps while their young core develops.
24) Kansas City Royals
2019 Stats: W/L 39-70, 5.30 ERA, 5.13 FIP, 5.2 fWAR,
The Royals rotation was one of the worse in 2019. Similar to last year, the rotation will rise and fall depending on how Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, and Mike Montgomery all do. All three have career ERA’s under 4.00, but all struggled at times in 2019. Unfortunately, Keller is currently out with Covid-19, with no timetable for his return.
Similar to the Tigers and Orioles, the Royals have a stacked pitching farm system. The Royals were able to land the top pitching prospect in 2020, Asa Lacy. He joins Brady Singer and Daniel Lynch to form a promising young core. The pitching prospects are a few years away, with Keller, Duffy, and Montgomery leading the rotation in their stead.
23) Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 Stats: W/L 36-63, 5.40 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 8.2 fWAR
The Pirates rotation took a hit last season when Jameson Taillon was lost for the rest of the year and maybe all of 2020, due to multiple arm injuries. To make matters worse, Chris Archer will miss the 2020 season due to undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
In the meantime, Joe Musgrave, Trevor Williams, and Mitch Keller will be the face of the rotation. Keller posted an ugly 7.13 ERA but, had a promising 3.19 FIP. This shows that 2019 could have been a fluke and the best of Mitch Keller is yet to come.
When it comes down to the fifth spot, it gets interesting. According to Marty Leap of FanSided’s Rum Bunter,
"“Prior to the coronavirus delaying the start of the season it appeared the team would ease Kuhl back into things following Tommy John Surgery and have him start the season in the bullpen or at the Triple-A level. Now, all signs point toward he and Brault piggybacking starts as the team’s 5th starting pitcher.”"
22) Colorado Rockies
2019 Stats: W/L 45-62, 5.87 ERA, 5.31 FIP, 6.5 fWAR
After being a key part of the team making the playoffs in 2017 and 2019, the Rockies pitching staff fell apart in 2019. After finishing four in NL Cy Young voting for the 2018 season, ace Kyle Freeland started the 2019 season 2-6, with a 7.13 ERA. This led to him being demoted to Triple-A and he didn’t make it back to the majors till July. He finished the season 3-11, with a 6.73 ERA. Similar to Freeland, Senzatela took a huge step back in 2019. His ERA drastically rose from 4.38 in 2018 to a 6.71 in 2019, while his FIP went from a 4.17 to a 5.44.
While the majority of the rotation struggled last season, Jon Gray was the exception. The 27-year old went 11-8, with a 3.84 ERA, and 150 strikeouts. However, he cannot carry the rotation alone. IT also didn’t help that German Márquez was inconsistent in 2019. However, his 4.06 FIP was better than his 4.76 ERA shows.
Chi Chi González and Jeff Hoffman will battle for the fifth spot and the Rockies could even use six starters. The Rockies rotation will suffer or excel depending on if Freeland and Senzatela can bounce back or not.
21) Miami Marlins
2019 Stats: W/L 36-71, 4.59 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 8.1 fWAR
This might seem a bit high for the Marlins, but their rotation is full of potential, led by 2019 All-Star, Sandy Alcantara. Last year he went 6-14, with a 3.88 ERA, and 151 strikeouts in 197.1/3 innings. While his peripherals were against him (4.55 FIP, 109 ERA+), 2019 was his first full season in the rotation.
Joining him is Caleb Smith, Jose Urena, and Pablo Lopez. Jose Urena struggled immensely in 2019, posting a 5.21 ERA and 4.74 FIP. He serves as a placeholder while the Marlins top pitching prospects develop. Pablo Lopez’s 4.28 FIP shows that he was better than his 5.09 ERA shows. Caleb Smith has bounced through the minors since 2013, but with the Marlins, he has finally found himself a role in the starting rotation. He was serviceable in 2019, going 10-11, with a 4.52 ERA, and 168 strikeouts.
The fifth spot will come down to one of Nick Neidert/Elieser Hernández/Robert Dugger. Jordan Yamamoto who was thought to be the team’s fifth starter was assigned to the team’s alternate training site. He made his MLB debut with the Marlins last season, going 4-5, with a 4.46 ERA, and 82 strikeouts in 78.2/3 innings. Acquired in the Christian Yelich trade, expect Yamamoto to eventually make his way back to the rotation and be a key piece in the future.