Sports are finally beginning to come back in the United States, with Major League Baseball set to be the first major sports league to return. The 2020 MLB season starts on July 23rd with the New York Yankees taking on the defending champion Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. Given the unprecedented circumstances that COVID-19 has placed on this country, the MLB decided to move forward with the season by cutting it to a 60-game schedule. Each game will now have more meaning for the race to the playoffs, as nearly 100 fewer games will be played this season. With that being said, having a solid rotation of starting pitchers will be even more crucial for a team’s success than in any other season. In this article, I’m going to be ranking my top five rotations in baseball headed into the shortened 2020 MLB season.
1. Washington Nationals
Rotation: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez, Joe Ross
Was there any doubt as to who would be at the top of this list? The Nationals were propelled to baseball’s highest peak last October, winning their first World Series in team history after beating the Astros in seven games. Stephen Strasburg was named the series MVP, and he and the rest of the Nats starters are one of the biggest reasons they were able to take home the World Series pennant. Strasburg is a three-time All-Star and is coming off of his best season, Max Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, and Patrick Corbin is a two-time All-Star. The Nats have three starters who could be the ace on many teams in the league, not something any other team in the league can say. Their rotation is rounded out by veteran Aníbal Sánchez, a quality starter who has led the MLB in ERA and was huge for Washington in the 2019 postseason.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Rotation: Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos
The Rays are a team that seems to always fly under the radar. However, many forget that they were one game away from the ALCS last year. They return an impressive group of starting pitchers in 2020, including former Cy Young winner Blake Snell and two-time All-Star Charlie Morton. Morton is coming off of the best season of his 12-year career, in which he had a 3.05 ERA and finished 3rd in AL Cy Young voting. Despite dropping in production from his 2018 Cy Young Award-winning campaign, Snell should certainly not be overlooked either. The Rays rotation is rounded out by Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, and Yonny Chirinos. Glasnow had a career-best 1.78 ERA last season, and Yarbrough and Chirinos are both young players who have time and room to develop into reliable starters in the MLB. Watch out for this Tampa Bay team in the shortened 2020 season.
3. New York Mets
Rotation: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, Steven Matz
Any rotation that includes a man who has won back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards needs to be included in the top five rotations in the MLB. I’m of course talking about Jacob deGrom, who has been arguably the best pitcher in the entire MLB over the past two seasons. He has a career 2.62 ERA and will continue to be the ace for the Mets for years to come. deGrom is joined by Noah Syndergaard, who has been a solid starter for the Mets since 2015. Although he hasn’t made an All-Star Game since 2016 and had a rocky 2019 campaign, he is undoubtedly still a quality starting pitcher in the MLB. The Mets rotation also includes Marcus Stroman, an All-Star last year, and was traded to the Mets mid-season. New York also acquired Rick Porcello this offseason, who hasn’t played as well as he has in the past, but was the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2016 with the Red Sox. Although some questions are surrounding this rotation, it looks like it could be very good on paper.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price, Julio Urías, Alex Wood
Although the Dodgers rotation took a hit when Hyun-Jin Ryu departed for the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason, Los Angeles’ rotation is still loaded with talent. Despite his shortcomings in the playoffs, Clayton Kershaw is still one of the best pitchers in the game. He’s a former MVP, three-time Cy Young winner, and eight-time All-Star and is still producing at a high level. The Dodgers also have Walker Buehler, who, at only age 25, has established himself as an elite starting pitcher in the league. He made his first All-Star Game last season and has a combined 2.98 ERA over the past two seasons. Los Angeles also acquired David Price from the Red Sox this offseason. The former Cy Young Award winner and five-time All-Star’s production has dipped the past few years, but many teams around the league would love to have him as their #3 in their rotation. The Dodgers rotation is rounded out by Julio Urías, who at only age 23 had a 2.49 ERA last season. He is a piece that the Dodgers hope will develop into another stud starting pitcher for their ballclub.
5. Cleveland Indians
Rotation: Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac
The Cleveland Indians season came down to the wire last year, with the club barely missing the AL Wild Card. I think this team will have a successful 2020, however, largely in part to their rotation. Although they did trade away Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber, the Indians rotation still making this list is a testament to the talent they have been able to acquire. The Indians starting pitching is headlined by Shane Bieber, who is heading into his third year in the league. He made his first All-Star Game last year and was named the game’s MVP, as well as finishing 4th in Cy Young voting at just 24 years old. Cleveland’s #2 starter is Mike Clevinger, who posted a 2.71 ERA in the best season of his career last year. Carlos Carrasco, the Indians #3 man, has been with the franchise since 2009 and finished in the top 15 of Cy Young voting twice. The Indians rotation is rounded out by Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac, who both made their MLB debuts last year with the team and showed promise. Cleveland’s young core of starting pitchers will do great things for their ball club in 2020.