Analyzing the NL West's projected rotations

March 3rd, 2021

The Dodgers have more star-quality starting pitchers than practically any team in the sport, and the Padres’ rotation looks to be stronger than the ’84 and ’98 groups that produced World Series appearances. But the rest of the National League West can boast of quality and, at least in some cases, depth.

Here is a look at the five projected rotations, and the questions each face:


The known: The D-backs' rotation seemed set when camp opened, though we've still got a long way to go before Opening Day. As it stands now it looks to be Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver and Caleb Smith. The team is convinced that with a normal spring ramp up, Bumgarner will bounce back from a rough 2020. Weaver is also looking to rebound from a bad season. Gallen and Kelly are both coming off outstanding seasons and Smith showed plenty of positive signs after coming over from the Marlins in a Deadline deal.

The unknown: The D-backs have pitching depth, but how much of it they will keep stretched out at Triple-A and how many arms will be shifted to the bullpen remains to be seen. Some of those in the in-between category include Taylor Clarke, Alex Young, Jon Duplantier, Riley Smith and Taylor Widener. Keep an eye on Corbin Martin as the year goes on. He was the key part of the return for Zack Greinke in the trade with the Astros, and the D-backs are bullish on his future in the rotation. -- Steve Gilbert


The known: One thing we know heading into the season is that the Dodgers have one of the best and deepest rotations in the Majors. Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Trevor Bauer form one of the best trios in baseball. When you add David Price, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin into the mix, the depth should carry the Dodgers through a 162-game season. Manager Dave Roberts hasn’t named an Opening Day starter yet, but he can’t go wrong with any of those options.

The unknown: Urías seems to be on track to be the team’s No. 5 starter heading into the season, but that battle is still undecided with Gonsolin and Dustin May still possibilities. Regardless of who wins the fifth spot in the rotation, the Dodgers will have some decisions to make with their bullpen construction. Los Angeles could add both of the two pitchers left out of the rotation to the bullpen, or could try and send one, or both, to Triple-A Oklahoma City to stay stretched out as starters. -- Juan Toribio


The known: The Giants rebuilt their starting rotation this offseason by bringing Kevin Gausman back on a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer and signing Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Aaron Sanchez to one-year deals. Johnny Cueto will also return for the final guaranteed year of his contract, giving the Giants a quintet of veteran, high-upside arms that will be counted on to take down more innings, now that the regular season is set to revert to 162 games. Logan Webb is next on the depth chart and should figure prominently into the Giants’ rotation mix as well. Tyler Beede is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and was placed on the 60-day injured list last month, so he won’t be a starting option for the Giants until June.

The unknown: Durability will be a concern for teams across the league due to the expected innings jump for pitchers, but the Giants carry a bit more risk since DeSclafani, Wood and Sanchez are coming off injuries. Cueto and Webb also struggled with inconsistency last season and will need to be more effective in 2021. To guard against injuries and underperformance, the Giants have been attempting to load up on starting pitching depth. Conner Menez and Caleb Baragar are being stretched out this spring, along with non-roster invitees Nick Tropeano, Shun Yamaguchi and Scott Kazmir, who is aiming to return to the Majors for the first time since 2016. -- Maria Guardado


The known: The Padres acquired one former Opening Day starter this winter. Then another. Then a third. San Diego entered the offseason looking for a rotation boost after Mike Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery. It got it in a big way, acquiring Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. That gives the Padres a five-deep rotation of established big league starters, with those three slotting in around Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack. On paper, it looks like the best rotation in franchise history.

The unknown: Lamet missed the postseason last year because of a murky elbow/biceps ailment, then he underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in October. He said doctors told him that shutting it down last October would help prevent Tommy John surgery. His early results are encouraging this spring, but the Padres will build Lamet slowly toward game action. It’s also fair to wonder a bit about the Padres’ rotation depth. They have three big-name prospects in MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon and Ryan Weathers -- but all three are 22 years old or younger. It’s unclear how they might handle being thrust into a regular starting role. -- AJ Cassavell


The known: The mostly homegrown group has been sneakily durable and effective in recent years. The Rockies led the NL in starter innings pitched and quality starts in 2018. After a drop-off in ’19, the Rockies were second in the two categories in the shortened 2020. Colorado had three of the top 10 in starter innings pitched last year -- Germán Márquez (1), Antonio Senzatela (5) and Kyle Freeland (10) -- and the trio combined for 24 quality starts. Jon Gray, once the No. 1 starter and now a solid No. 4, has checked in healthy after a right-shoulder injury curtailed his participation and effectiveness.

The unknown: The arrival of lefty Austin Gomber in the Nolan Arenado trade with the Cardinals gave the Rockies quality at the back of the rotation. Gomber’s size and pitch mix fit with the current crew. His arrival also addresses the Rockies’ biggest rotation problem: depth. Gomber likely pushes Ryan Castellani and José Mujica, who were forced into the Majors last season, plus Chi Chi González and former Giant Dereck Rodríguez either into Triple-A or into the bullpen. Peter Lambert could be a factor should he return from Tommy John surgery sometime this summer. Keep an eye on lefty 2018 top pick Ryan Rolison, whose development is in the finishing stages. -- Thomas Harding