Where does the Braves rotation rank in baseball?

Braves pitchers who are due for positive regression

The Atlanta Braves Achilles heel in 2020 might be their most significant strength in 2021. With all the injuries and setbacks suffered by the Braves rotation in 2020, came valuable experience for their top prospects for the future.

From Ian Anderson proving his excellence as a rookie, to Kyle Wright going through ups and downs, to Bryse Wilson showing his potential in Game 4 of NLCS, the Braves rotation has a bright future, but where do they rank heading into next season?

10. Houston Astros

  1. Zack Greinke

  2. Lance McCullers Jr.

  3. Framber Valdez

  4. Jose Urquidy

  5. Cristian Javier

The Astros rotation in 2020 was also tested with injuries. Justin Verlander was lost for the season, and Greinke dealt with his fair share of issues. However, Greinke had three solid playoff performances that will give him momentum headed into the spring, and McCullers is two years post his Tommy John surgery. He could be in for a breakout campaign.

Urquidy and Javier will add depth to the pitching staff after they both put up sub 3.50 ERA’s in 2020. With these two at the bottom, the Astros should have plenty of arms to compete with anyone in the AL.

9. Miami Marlins

  1. Sandy Alcantara
  2. Pablo López
  3. Sixto Sánchez
  4. Elieser Hernandez
  5. Trevor Rogers

This one might come as a surprise to some. One of the few rotations keeping all their pieces from 2020, the Marlins have an excellent foundation of young talent. With the top-four coming off sub-four ERA seasons, this crew is only expected to get better in 2021. The Braves knew early in his rookie campaign the potential of Sanchez, but Alcantara and Hernandez are also coming off stellar 2020’s looking to improve in 2021.

8. Chicago White Sox

  1. Lance Lynn
  2. Lucas Giolito
  3. Dallas Keuchel
  4. Dylan Cease
  5. Michael Kopech

With the addition of Lance Lynn this offseason, the White Sox are primed to have one of the best top of the rotations in baseball. Chicago was looking for quality depth and innings, and they got both of those in Lynn. Over the last two seasons he is fifth in WAR among starting pitchers and first in overall innings.

Keuchel showed glimpses of his Cy Young days in Houston while posting a 1.99 ERA, third best in the MLB. Giolito also had similar numbers in 2020 to his 2019 all-star campaign. The question remains, can the bottom two youngsters improve from their ho-hum 2020 seasons.

7. Cleveland Indians

  1. Shane Bieber
  2. Zach Plesac
  3. Aaron Civale
  4. Cal Quantrill
  5. Triston McKenzie

Cleveland is coming off a season where their pitching staff ranked third in ERA. Another top starter in the MLB, 2020 Cy Young winner Shane Bieber will look to continue his dominance in 2021. After Bieber, the Indians rotation took a hit in the Francisco Lindor trade by losing Carlos Carrasco. Look for the Indians to lean more on Plesac and Civale in his absence.

The question mark here is the youth. The bottom two — Quantrill and McKenzie are both age 25 or younger. Quantrill is looking to jump into the starting rotation after the Carrasco trade and build off his stellar 2020 season where he had a sub-three ERA. McKenzie, the Indians top pitching prospect, has an abundance of potential and showed it in his big-league debut. He struck out 10 Detroit Tigers over six innings.

6. New York Yankees

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Corey Kluber
  3. Jameson Taillon
  4. Domingo Germán
  5. Luis Severino/Jordan Montgomery

Having a top-three pitcher in baseball automatically puts you on a top-ten list for rotations. After last season, Cole sits third in MLB history with 20 straight wins as a starting pitcher, spanning from May 2019 to August 2020. That lone loss? The home run outburst led by Ronald Acuña Jr. on August 26th last season.

After Cole, there is potential with a ton question marks. Can Kluber return to his 2018 self after two injury plagued seasons, and can Severino bring back some of those electric performances he had before his injury early in 2019.

5. New York Mets

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Carlos Carrasco
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. David Peterson
  5. Robert Gsellman/Noah Syndergaard

Staying with the same theme, the Mets have arguably the best pitcher in baseball over the last three seasons. Back-to-back Cy Young awards in ’18 and ’19, deGrom will look to hopefully add some wins in ’21 with a more experienced lineup.

Another similar theme to their New York counterpart; the rest of the rotation was plagued with injuries in 2020. Noah Syndergaard will be working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Stroman also missed all of 2020 with a calf injury. Adding Carrasco in the Lindor trade should help tremendously for the top of the rotation.

4. Atlanta Braves

  1. Max Fried
  2. Charlie Morton
  3. Mike Soroka
  4. Ian Anderson
  5. Take your pick

These top four, when healthy, are about as good as it gets in baseball. Adding two time all-star, Charlie Morton, who pitched 15.2 innings of two run baseball in the first two rounds of the playoffs last season, is one of the most overlooked signings of the off season. Not enough can be said about Fried and Anderson’s performances in 2020. Fried finished the season fifth in Cy Young voting, while Anderson was one of the best rookies in baseball and was even better in the playoffs, allowing just two earned runs over 18.2 innings.

The question marks start with Mike Soroka’s return and the fifth spot in the rotation. Soroka finished 6th in the Cy Young race in 2019, only to come away with one of the weirdest season ending injuries we have seen in a long time in 2020. Can he return to full strength in 2021? In the five spot you have three real options. The obvious two are Drew Smyly, who had a respectable 2019 season, and Kyle Wright, who had his ups and downs. Third on the list is Bryse Wilson, who showed tremendous upside in Game 4 of the NLCS.

3. Washington Nationals

  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Stephen Strasburg
  3. Patrick Corbin
  4. Jon Lester
  5. Erick Fedde/Joe Ross

With two top-five pitchers, it is tough to leave the Nationals outside of the top-three. Strasburg is looking to have a bounce back year after only starting in two games due to injury. Scherzer and Corbin are also searching for a little bit of a rebound after subpar seasons.

Beyond their top three, depth is an issue. The addition of Lester looks nice on paper but isn’t as appealing as some believe with the obvious decline in ERA and WAR over his last two years in Chicago. Look for Fedde and Ross to fight for the number five spot throughout spring training.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Walker Buehler
  3. Julio Urías
  4. David Price
  5. Dustin May/Tony Gonsolin

With the best starting ERA in baseball last year (3.29), the Dodgers come in at number two. The top two in LA are as good as it gets in baseball. Buehler is in position to become a top-five pitcher in baseball over the next couple of years, while Kershaw finally won that World Series and shut down all the haters with his playoff performance.

While Dave Roberts used them in different roles throughout the playoffs, look for Urias, May, and Gonosolin to improve on their 2021 campaigns and add depth at the bottom of the rotation.

Oh, and don’t forget about five time all-star and Cy Young award winner David Price coming back after opting to sit out in 2020 due to COVID-19.

1. San Diego Padres

  1. Yu Darvish
  2. Blake Snell
  3. Dinelson Lamet
  4. Joe Musgrove
  5. Chris Paddack

No Clevinger, no problem for the Padres heading into 2021. Just one month after San Diego announced Clevinger underwent Tommy John and would miss the 2021 season, they went out and traded for Darvish and Snell.

Darvish is coming off of his best season yet — 2.01 ERA and second in NL Cy Young voting. Snell, former Cy Young winner, had a bounce back season in 2020 and capped it off with an outstanding playoff performance that ended in some frustration.

With breakouts from Lamet and Musgrove in 2020 and a possible bounce back year coming for Paddack in 2021, the Padres look ready to become the best and deepest rotation in baseball.


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