Ranking All 30 Starting Rotations
By Max Rayman
15) Miami Marlins
Projected 2021 Rotation: Sixto Sánchez, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Elesier Hernandez, Nick Neirdart
2020 Stats: W/L 15-19, 4.31 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 3.6 fWAR
While the Marlins rank at #15 in the prospective list, they could very well find themselves in the top ten a year from now. With Sixto Sánchez and Sandy Alcantara, the Fish have two of the top young arms in the game. Miami would have benefited from acquiring a veteran starter via free agency, as a way to mentor the up-and-coming youngsters. Add another veteran that could be relied on to make 30 starts and the case can be made that the Marlins would rank a lot higher.
Pablo Lopez was a nice development story last year for the Marlins and he even earned a start in the NLDS. Hernández did well in six starts as well, but it remains to be seen whether this young rotation will hold up in a 162-game season. Miami’s depth will be tested, but there are no questions about how talented this group could be. Sixto Sánchez is a special talent, and his starts are must-see TV.
14) Cincinnati Reds
Projected 2021 Rotation: Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman, Michael Lorenzen
2020 Stats: W/L 18-22, 3.50 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 8.2 fWAR
Losing Trevor Bauer is a big blow to the rotation, but when you have two top pitchers in Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, it easier the pain. Castillo is already one of the more dominant pitchers in the National League and many are awaiting to see if he can take the next step while filling Bauer’s void. Tyler Mahle did well last season and is a solid option to slot in behind the likes of Castillo and Gray.
Outside of the Red’s top 3, there is a significant drop-off, as Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman, Michael Lorenzen, Tejay Antone, and Jose De León battle it out for the last two spots in the rotation. Lorenzen, if unable to win a spot in the rotation, will head back to the bullpen where he has been for the last few seasons. There is a lack of depth with Cincinnati’s rotation, and it just goes on to show how much Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray mean if the club hopes to return to the postseason in 2021.
13) Oakland Athletics
Projected 2021 Rotation: Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Mike Fiers, AJ Puk
2020 Stats: W/L 22-19, 4.49 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 4.7 fWAR
Oakland doesn’t have much star power in the rotation, but they have more than enough quality arms to plug in. Chris Bassitt had a terrific 2020 season, and Jesus Luzardo was solid, albeit with some growing pains. If Oakland is going to make a return to the playoffs, Jesus Luzardo will have to continue to develop and show he can be counted on to start in a best-of-five series.
Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea return as well and both hope for better fortune in 2021. Mike Fiers also will take a spot in the back of the rotation, but he’s dealing with a hip injury that may very well sideline him for the start of the season. The key for the bottom half of the rotation will be for either Montas or Manaea to step up and show their best versions of themselves. Top prospect AJ Puk could also get a look, but it remains to be seen if Puk is better suited as a starter or reliever.
12) Minnesota Twins
Projected 2021 Rotation: Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker
2020 Stats: W/L 22-12, 3.54 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 6.3 fWAR
Before the start of the 2020 season, the Twins traded for Kenta Maeda which is one of the best decisions they have made in a long time. At the age of 32, Maeda posted a career year, going 6-1, with a 2.70 ERA, and 80 strikeouts. This culminated in the veteran finishing second in AL Cy Young voting. Behind Maeda, is a soon-to-be 27-year-old Jose Berrios. Berrios has been a breakout candidate for the last few seasons, but that has yet to come to fruition. In five seasons, Berrios is 48-38, with a 4.19 ERA, 653 strikeouts, and a 4.09 FIP. Rounding out the rotation are veterans Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, and Matt Shoemaker. All three can eat innings and are reliable options at the back end of the rotation.
11) St. Louis Cardinals
Projected 2021 Rotation: Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Carlos Martinez, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Miles Mikolas*
2020 Stats: W/L 17-17, 3.86 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 3.1 fWAR
The Cardinals rotation took a hit with Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson going down with injuries. Hudson is out for the season, while Mikolas’s return date is unclear. In the meantime, Adam Wainwright returns for his 16th season after contemplating retirement. The long-time Cardinal was excellent in 2020, going 5-3, with a 3.15 ERA, and 54 strikeouts in 10 starts.
Jack Flaherty is the ace of the team but will need to prove his second half of 2019 wasn’t a fluke. During the 2019 season, he had a sub 1.00 ERA in the months of August and September.