20) Los Angeles Angels
2020 Stats: W/L 13-22, 5.52 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 3.1 fWAR
The Angels did a pretty solid job this offseason and they can very well perform better than the 20th best rotation in the sports. Dylan Bundy, who was heralded as one of the better pitching prospects in all of baseball throughout his time with the Orioles, finally broke out last year. There isn’t a clear-cut ace in the staff, but the sum of all parts is better than what one would think. Alex Cobb and Jose Quintana are battle-tested having pitched for organizations who were in postseason contention and should strengthen the middle of the rotation.
If the Angels are in contention at the deadline, adding a high-echelon arm to this group would help tremendously. With Ohtani’s future on the mound in question, there shouldn’t be too much worrying on LA’s behalf compared to previous seasons. They have plenty of options and more depth that can withstand injury, but it remains to be seen how they will perform in a 162-game season. If the rotation is firing on all cylinders, the Angels could very well find themselves at the top of the AL West. Don’t sleep on the Angels.
19) Boston Red Sox
Projected 2021 Rotation: Chris Sale* Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Martin Perez, Nick Pivetta
2020 Stats: W/L13-22, 5.34 ERA, 5.50 FIP, .5 fWAR
Boston’s rotation might be the most fragile in all of baseball. Chris Sale is sidelined at least through June as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and Eduardo Rodriguez is returning after missing the 2020 season with COVID-complications. There are still some question marks coming out of Fort Myers.
The additions Chaim Bloom made were at best underwhelming to much of Sox Nation. Garrett Richards, now two years removed from Tommy John, should be stronger, but he even struggled in 2020 and is far from a sure thing.
Nathan Eovaldi also returns to the rotation this year. He’s had difficulty staying on the field but still possesses an electric arm. I’ve been curious about his potential coming out of the bullpen, but with his hefty contract now starting to wind down, I wonder if Boston would make Eovaldi a reliever if he struggles in the rotation. Martin Perez, who became a fan favorite in Boston last year, also returns and will provide quality innings.
18) Tampa Bay Rays
2020 Stats: 15-9, 3.77 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 3.7 fWAR
There is definitely going to be a drop-off when a team loses their top two pitchers, but Tampa did a decent job of bringing in a plethora of veteran arms who are still more than capable of filling in to eat innings. Glasnow will be expected to shoulder much of the load at the top, but with veterans in Chris Archer and Rich Hill, the rotation has no shortage of options. Luis Patino, acquired in the Blake Snell trade is one of the best prospects in baseball. He should be called up at some point this season and deservingly so. After all, his live arm and repertoire are advanced for his age.
Michael Wacha is a veteran who struggled with the Mets last year, but should rebound with help of the Rays game planning and analytical staff. The stuff is still there, but he’s been all over the place and was hit hard. While the Rays were the first in trying the opener, their rotation going into this season features a lot of traditional starters, so you likely won’t see much of that strategy in 2021.
17) Houston Astros
2020 Stats: W/L 19-15, 4.26 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 4.9 fWAR
The loss of Justin Verlander to Tommy John still hurts, but as they have shown last summer, they have enough quality arms to make a run not only in their division, but for the pennant. Framber Valdez’s injury also wasn’t the way Houston hoped spring training would start, but bringing in Jake Odorizzi to fill the void is an excellent move. Odorizzi is a proven veteran who is battle-tested from his days with Tampa and Minnesota and should be a welcome sight to Astros fans.
With Zack Greinke leading the way, though another year older, the Astros rotation is potent. A healthy Lance McCullers Jr is another positive for the club whose minor league pitching depth is fleeting. The injury to top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley stings, and Houston hopes they can stray from injury as they don’t have many options to turn to in the minor leagues.
16) Philadelphia Phillies
2020 Stats: W/L 19-18, 4.08 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 7.0 fWAR
The Phillies rotation going into 2021 is an upgrade from 2020, but there remain question marks outside of the top 3. Aaron Nola returns as the ace of the staff and he hopes to put together another solid campaign. Zack Wheeler did well in his first season in Philly and along with Zach Eflin and the improvements he has made, the Phillies feel confident that they will be able to tame the power bats in the NL East.
With most clubs, where things can get difficult is with the last two spots in the rotation. Top prospect, Spencer Howard struggled in his first audition in the big leagues last year, but he stands to be the X-Factor in determining the fate of the Phillies season. New GM Sam Fuld brought along some depth in the form of Matt Moore and Chase Anderson, but both haven’t fared well in recent seasons.