10) Texas Rangers
2019 Stats: W/L 45-60, 5.37 ERA, 4.81 FIP, 11.9 fWAR
The 2019 season, saw Mike Minor and Lance Lynn both post-career years at the age of 32 and 33 respectively. Now add two-time ALL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, with veterans Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyes.
The rotation hinges on Lynn and Minor repeating their 2019 success while hoping Kluber can bounce back. He missed the majority of the 2019 season with multiple injuries. The 34-year-old only appeared in seven games last year and finished with a 5.80 ERA. However, Kluber is only two years removed from going 20-7, with a 2.89 ERA, and 265 strikeouts. This is a high risk, high reward move that could pay dividends.
Lance Lynn and Mike Minor are likely to regress, but by how much is the real question. For now, this seems like the perfect ranking for the Rangers.
9) Atlanta Braves
2019 Stats: W/L 60-46, 4.20 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 11.2 fWAR
The Braves signed veteran Cole Hamels, to help mentor Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Sean Newcomb, and Mike Foltynewicz. Hamels is currently out till the end of August and while his absence will be felt, the Braves still have a talented pitching staff. 22-year-old Mike Soroka impressed in his rookie season, finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He went 15-5, with a 2.79 ERA, and 163 strikeouts.
Joining him is Max Fried who after struggling early on in his career, was finally able to put it all together. He finished 17-5, with a 4.02 ERA, and 173 strikeouts. His 3.72 FIP backs his impressive performance. The Braves rotation hangs on which version of Foltynewicz shows up.
8) Houston Astros
2019 Stats: W/L 79-37, 3.61 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 19.3 fWAR
The Astros rotation took a huge hit, losing ace Gerrit Cole to the New York Yankees. While both Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are both on the backends of their careers, they are the only sure things in the team’s rotation. Lance McCullers Jr. is finally back after missing all of 2019 with Tommy John and was promising early on in his career.
Verlander was slated to miss the beggining of the season due to a groin injury but, instead is back at full strength. The reigning AL Cy Young winner proved he can still pitch at a high level despite being 37. Last season, he went 21-6, with a 2.58 ERA, and 300 strikeouts. Zack Greinke was sharp in his first year with the Astros, going 8-1, with a 3.02 ERA, and 52 strikeouts in 10 starts. The two future Hall of Famers will carry the pitching staff as far as they can, but they will need Josh James, and Framber Valdez to step up.
7) New York Yankees
2019 Stats: W/L 60-38, 4.51 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 10.6 fWAR.
The Evil Empire is officially back! The Yankees went back to their old ways, signing Gerrit Cole to a massive nine-year contract, worth $324 million. Unfortunately, the rest of the Yankees rotation is full of question marks. Luis Severino will miss the entire season due to surgery and Masahiro Tanaka’s status is up in the air after being hit in the head with a ball.
Gerrit Cole is coming off of a career year, going 20-5, with a 2.50 ERA, and a ridiculous 326 strikeouts. His presence alone, immediately makes the Yankees rotation one of the best in the league. Joining Cole is J.A. Happ, James Paxton, and Mike Montgomery. Paxton impressed in his first season with the Yankees and will fill in for Severino as the team’s number two. However, since 2017, Paxton’s ERA and FIP have slowly gotten worse. While the Yankees rotation is much improved because of the addition of Cole, without Tanka and Severino, the rotation cannot be ranked any higher.
6) Cincinnati Reds
2019 Stats: 48-54, 4.12 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 14.9 fWAR
Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and Wade Miley is arguably the deepest rotation in the league. The biggest question mark surrounding the rotation is Bauer. As recent as 2018, Bauer was one of the best pitchers in the league, going 12-6, with a 2.21 ERA, and 221 strikeouts. However, when he was shipped to Cincinnati at last year’s trade deadline, he struggled. In 10 starts, Bauer went 2-5, with a 6.39 ERA, and 68 strikeouts. Depending on which version of Bauer shows up, the Reds rotation can quickly move up the rankings.
After struggling with the Yankees, Sonny Gray was able to rebound in his first year with the Reds, going 11-8, with a 2.87 ERA, and 205 strikeouts. Impressed, the team named him the 2020 Opening Day starter and he was lights out. Gray earned the win, allowing only one run in six innings. He also struck out nine while only walking two.
Unfortunately, DeSclafani was placed on the 10 day IL which will hurt the team’s depth. But a big four of Gray, Miley, Bauer, and Castillo is one of the best in the league.