10) Toronto Blue Jays
2020 Stats: W/L 10-10, 4.55 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 1.8 fWAR
Toronto’s rotation has jumped up the rankings thanks to ace Hyun-Jin Ryu. In his first season with the Blue Jays, he went 5-2, with a 2.69 ERA, and 72 strikeouts, helping lead his team to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Behind him is strikeout artist Robbie Ray, who re-signed with the Jays this past off-season. He was inconsistent in his first season with Toronto, going 1-1, with a 4.79 ERA, and 25 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. From 2016-2019, he averaged 209 strikeouts, to Toronto is hoping he can bounce back. Rounding out the rotation is workhorse Tanner Roark, and veterans Steven Matz and Ross Stripling.
9) Milwaukee Brewers
2020 Stats: W/L 14-23, 4.18 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 6.3 fWAR
The Brewers rotation entering 2021 is very interesting with plenty of competition for the number four and five spots on the rotation. With Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes at the top, Milwaukee will count heavily upon these two right-handers if they are going to have a chance at the NL Central title. Woodruff has solidified himself as one of the best pitchers in the game after breaking onto the scene in the 2018 NLCS where he homered off of Clayton Kershaw and has since played a pivotal role for the Brew Crew.
The middle of the rotation has some names who are more than capable of stepping up. Freddy Peralta is a very interesting case and should have a chance to claim a spot in the rotation after bouncing between the bullpen and rotation over the past couple of seasons. He has a live arm and should have an inside track on winning a rotation spot. Josh Lindbloom, Adrian Houser, and Eric Lauer are among the names who will likely fill the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation and all had rather uninspiring numbers in the shortened 2020 season. Eric Lauer is a name to keep an eye on as he returns from injury and did well in San Diego in 2019 before the trade to Milwaukee.
8) Cleveland Indians
Projected 2021 Rotation: Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, Logan Allen, Cal Quantrill
2020 Stats: W/L 23-17, 3.17 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 7.9 fWAR
Coming off another ALDS defeat to the Yankees, Cleveland’s rotation remains formidable and should help the Tribe contend in the competitive AL Central. Reigning Cy Young Winner, Shane Bieber is a top-five pitcher in the sport and should help anchor a relatively young rotation. Plesac and Civale have had their own spurts of success over the last couple of years and both look to take the next step in the careers by solidifying the middle of the rotation.
One of the more heralded prospects in their system, Triston McKenzie made his debut last summer and did well in six starts. McKenzie slots in towards the bottom of the rotation, but has the makings of a #2 starter and should continue to improve in his sophomore year. The last spot in the rotation gets a little tricky as Terry Francona has two solid options in both Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill, two former Padres farmhands. Quantrill is a former first-round draft pick and did well coming out of the bullpen for Cleveland down the stretch last year after being traded. Cleveland’s rotation, despite the subtraction of veteran Carlos Carrasco, remains strong and look for Shane Bieber to build upon his Cy Young campaign.
7) Chicago White Sox
2020 Stats: W/L 18-15, 3.85 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 3.6 fWAR
Chicago’s rotation has become a strength, with three aces leading the way. Lucas Giolito is the face of the rotation, with the 2015 AL Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel behind him. Most notably, over the off-season, the White Sox traded for Lance Lynn, who has been one of the most underrated starters over the last two seasons (22-14, 3.57 ERA, 335 strikeouts, 3.43 FIP).
After breaking out in 2019, Giolito built upon his success in 2020, setting career highs in FIP, WHIP, and K/9. This carried into the playoffs, with the righty throwing six shutout innings in his postseason debut.
Dylan Cease is the team’s new fourth starter after being promoted last year. Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez will be duking it out for the fifth spit, with Rodon the front runner.
6) New York Yankees
2020 Stats: W/L 18-17, 4.24 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 5.3 fWAR
New York’s rotation is anchored by the best pitcher in the AL. Gerrit Cole. Behind him are plenty of question marks. The Yankees acquired Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon, two high-risk, high reward pitchers who combined to throw one inning in 2020.
Of the two, Kluber, is the more high profile. The two-time AL Cy Young winner hasn’t appeared in a full season since 2018 due to injuries, throwing only 36.2 innings since. His 2019 season ended prematurely due to fracturing his forearm. In 2020, he only threw one inning before being shut down due to a torn teres major muscle. Taillon has already undergone multiple surgeries for various injuries over the years. With a checkered injury history, the former number two overall pick will need to prove he can stay on the diamond. However, throughout his career, he has a solid 3.67 ERA and a 3.55 FIP, showing glimpses of his upside.
Jordan Montgomery is the team’s fourth starter, having only thrown 150+ innings in a season once (2017). 2020 saw him post a bloated 5.11 ERA, but the hope is a full Spring Training will put him back on track. Domingo German and Devi Garcia will be battling it out for the fifth spot, with the former returning from suspension. Overall, the Yankees rotation lacks depth and may be hinging on too many bounce-back candidates.