Throughout the offseason, MLB.com is rolling out weekly division-by-division breakdowns of each position group. This week, we look at the league’s starting rotations.
Below is a compilation of the teams deemed by MLB.com beat reporters to have the best starting pitching on paper, along with a link to the full team-by-team analysis for each division.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Nationals: This team rode its starters to its first World Series championship just over three months ago, when six pitchers combined for more than 80% of the Nats’ October workload. Washington’s big four are back in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Aníbal Sánchez, with the former three ranking among baseball’s 15 most valuable pitchers last year by fWAR, and Sánchez turning back the clock with a 3.85 ERA and stellar postseason contributions.
That quartet is the envy of just about every club, though it’s also one of MLB’s oldest rotations and will need some tender loving care after pitching deep into October. Erick Fedde, Joe Ross and Austin Voth are all expected to compete for the fifth spot. More >
Reds: Cincinnati might have had the busiest offseason of anyone. But after all the moving and shaking, the Reds’ rotation -- mostly composed of names who pitched in the Queen City last year -- remains the club’s biggest strength. Luis Castillo was an early contender in the NL Cy Young Award race, but Sonny Gray was even better by season’s end. Trade Deadline acquisition Trevor Bauer gives Cincinnati three legitimate No. 1 starters when each is on his game.
Conducting this group is heralded pitching coach Derek Johnson, who is now reunited with offseason free-agent signing Wade Miley. Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle, Lucas Sims and top prospect Nick Lodolo give the Reds solid depth behind the marquee names. More >
Dodgers: This might be Los Angeles’ weakest rotation in several years, with Clayton Kershaw another year older and NL Cy Young Award runner-up Hyun-Jin Ryu now in the AL East after signing with the Blue Jays via free agency. But it reportedly picked up another former Cy Young Award winner in David Price as part of Tuesday's blockbuster trade with the Red Sox, and it still contains the division’s top pitcher in 25-year-old Walker Buehler, who’s coming off a 14-4 record and 3.26 ERA and still looks primed for even greater heights. Alex Wood, Jimmy Nelson, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urías are less sure things, but combined as a group they still give Los Angeles enviable depth. More >
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Yankees: Though the rotation was hit Wednesday with the news that James Paxton underwent spinal surgery and won't be back until May or June, one offseason might have made all the difference for New York, whose rotation was seen as its Achilles' heel last October. Now, the Yankees have none other than Gerrit Cole taking the ball on Opening Day, and general manager Brian Cashman hopes his $324 million investment helps the pinstripes get over the hump in their quest for World Series title No. 28.
Cole’s addition slides the rest of the Yanks’ starters into more appropriate roles. Masahiro Tanaka was an All-Star last year and owns an excellent October resume. Luis Severino was a legitimate AL Cy Young Award candidate in 2017 and ’18 and should be healthier. And J.A. Happ could bounce back to become an overqualified No. 5 starter, though he might move up in the rotation until the return of Paxton, who looked more comfortable as last summer wore on and, at times, pitched like an ace. More >
Indians: Cleveland might have lost its grip on the AL Central crown last year, but its rotation is still the class of the division. Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger stepped up to fill the voids created by Corey Kluber and Bauer, and each of them look like AL Cy Young Award contenders for 2020. Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac looked like naturals during their first cups of coffee last year, and one of them could begin in the Minors and later serve as a midsummer reinforcement since Adam Plutko is out of options. And then there’s Carlos Carrasco, healthy and looking to anchor the rotation again after last year’s leukemia diagnosis. More >
Astros: The A’s are closer in this category than the last two years now that Cole is a Yankee, but Houston still gets the nod thanks to the elite talent up top. The Astros’ 1-2 of 2019 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke (18-5, 0.98 WHIP) has a chance to rival any team’s best duo, though each of them are now past 35 years of age. Houston will need contributions from Lance McCullers Jr., who will likely be on an innings limit after missing ’19 following Tommy John surgery. The last two spots are up for grabs, with Brad Peacock, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez and Austin Pruitt all expected to compete in Spring Training. More >