Everyone is anticipating the upcoming season. Where does this team stack up, what has this team done, or simply if this team can compete?
The AL West has been all but silent this offseason with the Astros and their best version of “Spygate,” or the upcoming grand opening of the new Globe Life Park.
With so many moves by these teams, it’s time to take a look at the rotations of this division. Who’s the best? Who’s the worst? Let’s take a look.
TEXAS RANGERS / Rotation Rank: 1
- Corey Kluber
- Mike Minor
- Lance Lynn
- Kyle Gibson
- Jordan Lyles
Three of the projected pitchers in the rotation were not on this roster last season, which shows the initiative of Jon Daniels to improve probably the most inconsistent position on the team. Kluber may or may not be the ace he once was, but he definitely has the highest ceiling of this rotation. Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson were signed as the projected back end of this rotation, with Gibson coming from Minnesota and Lyles from the Brewers after being traded by the Pirates. Gibson has started at least 25 games since 2014 and has recorded at least 145 innings per year in that same span. Lyles was traded to the Brewers after starting the season 5-7 with Pittsburgh but finished his last 8 games with a 7-1 record with a 2.45 ERA in 58 2/3 innings.
Mike Minor and Lance Lynn have been the best bargains of the past two seasons, as they boast a combined win record of 42-29 in their seasons as a Ranger. This rotation has the makings to be the best in recent memory but also being the best in the division.
HOUSTON ASTROS / Rotation Rank: 2
- Justin Verlander
- Zack Greinke
- Lance McCullers, Jr.
- Jose Urquidy*
- Brad Peacock*
Verlander and Greinke need no introductions, as they have 14 combined All-Star appearances and 3 CY Young awards. McCullers, Jr is coming off a lost season after having Tommy John surgery in 2018. Jose Urquidy is the Astros number one prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Urquidy will have an opportunity to join the rotation. In 2019, he was 2-1 and started a game in the postseason in Game 4 of the World Series.
Brad Peacock would likely be the fifth starter if the Astros don’t add another starter before the season starts. Peacock was used as a starter and reliever in 2019, going 7-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 games. The Astros have a very good pitching rotation and will rival the Rangers for tops in the division.
* – Projected Starter
OAKLAND ATHLETICS / Rotation Rank: 3
- Mike Fiers
- Chris Bassitt
- Sean Manaea
- Frankie Montas
Fiers signed a two year deal with the A’s after the 2018 season when he was traded from the Tigers. Since being traded to the A’s, Fiers has a record of 20-6 with 178 strikeouts. He also threw a no-hitter on May 7, 2019, vs the Reds. Fiers is the probably the best the A’s have right now, but Frankie Montas isn’t far behind.
Montas was 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA before his season was derailed after being suspended 80 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Montas features a split-finger that has good movement and misses bats. Chris Bassitt missed time in 2019 with a leg injury, but still finished 10-5. Sean Manaea is coming off a year that saw just four starts after rehabbing his shoulder for much of the season. The rotation for Oakland can be good, but whether or not they can stay on the field is the question.
SEATTLE MARINERS / Rotation Rank: 4
- Marco Gonzales
- Yusei Kikchi
- Justus Sheffield
- Kendall Graveman
- Justin Dunn
The Mariners aren’t likely done with their rotation and could add more starting pitching in the form of Taijuan Walker, Alex Wood, or even former Ranger, Drew Smyly. But right now, Marco Gonzales is their best pitcher followed by Kikuchi, Sheffield, and Graveman who was just signed with the team.
Gonzales went 16-13 in 2019 with a 3.99 ERA and led the team in starts and wins. Kikuchi came over from Japan and started immediately. In 32 starts, he allowed 6 or more earned runs just 5 times. He’ll look to be more acclimated to the majors this time around. Justus Sheffield is a young arm that will begin the year as a full-time starter after being a reliever with the Yankees prior to the Mariners. Time will tell with this rotation, but they are toward the bottom of the division and will struggle to win games due to lack of run support.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS / Rotation Rank: 5
- Shohei Ohtani
- Andrew Heaney
- Julio Teheran
- Dylan Bundy
- Griffin Canning
The Angel’s rotation is led by Shohei Ohtani, but will his arm hold up an entire season? He hasn’t pitched since 2018 but has been hitting as a DH since, so it’s not like he’s out of shape. If Ohtani is healthy, he’s the clear ace of this rotation.
Andrew Heaney suffered elbow inflammation and was shut down for part of 2019, but finished 4-6 in 18 starts. Julio Teheran was signed in free agency from the Braves after finishing 10-11 in 2019. He’s a good middle of the rotation pitcher with good upside, but won’t pop off the screen at you. Dylan Bundy was acquired by trade from the Orioles but finished 7-14 on the season with a 4.79 ERA. Over the last two seasons, Bundy is 15-30, but could that be from being on a terrible Baltimore team? Griffin Canning is on the back end of the rotation but can develop in his sophomore season after a 5-6 rookie season.
The pre-season rotation rankings are in, and Texas stands above the AL West with what Jon Daniels has done this offseason.
Of course, variables change, and teams overachieve and underachieve, thus changing the rankings. Anything can happen this year, and it can’t come fast enough.