After a strange 2020 season, the 2021 MLB season will be starting on time. Currently, teams are slated to play all 162 games which means pitchers’ workloads will return to normal. More innings and more batters on more teams mean pitchers will actually have time to ramp up, unlike in 2020. During spring training, teams will need to start getting a feel for what their rotations might be. Here is an early look at the Houston Astros projected 2021 pitching rotation.
1. Zack Greinke
Geinke is one of the premiere pitchers in the MLB right now. There is nowhere better for him to be than at the top of the order for whatever team he is representing.
His accomplishments include a Cy Young award, two ERA titles, six All-Star selections and six Gold Glove awards, among others. He already has a season and a half in an Astros uniform, and is ready to start the next era of Houston playoff baseball after the cheating scandals rocked the organization.
Greinke’s stats are mostly irrelevant when it comes to representing the top of the order. This is exactly where he will and should be in Houston.
2. Lance McCullers
Lance McCullers went 3-3 in 11 starts in 2020, with an ERA of 3.93. This actually represents the third-highest ERA of his career, which is odd considering he was an All-Star selection during his 2017 season as he posted an 4.25.
Regardless, his pedigree is near the top of Astros pitchers going into 2021. McCullers can eat up innings, give the team some solid production and being someone the team can count on. He has also been an Astro for his entire career (going back to 2015). All of these factors point to him being near the top of the 2021 pitching rotation.
3. Jake Odorizzi
Odorizzi’s huge 2020 ERA is mostly just a product of the lack of work he saw during the pandemic-shortened season. At 6.59 in 13.2 innings pitched, those are easily his worst numbers since he became a full-time starter with the Rays in 2014.
Clearly, Odorizzi needs a big workload to be productive and the Astros are set to give him exactly that in 2021. The middle of the order is the perfect place to get that done. A veteran who knows what it means to put the work in, he should fit nicely here.
4. Jose Urquidy
A pitcher who thrived in the MLB bubble was Jose Urquidy. He started five games in 2020, pitched 29.2 innings and collected a 2.73 ERA.
This kind of rise in production should very much intrigue the Houston Astros. He should have a place in the rotation, just to see if he can put up the same kind of numbers in a 162 game season with a large workload.
The most concerning part of his game are his strikeout numbers. But strikeouts mean nothing if Urquidy can continue to post a low ERA. A real chance should be given to the MLB sophomore, even if it is near the bottom of the order.
5. Cristian Javier
Javier is a bit of an enigma, considering his only MLB work came during 2020. But he was productive in his 54.1 innings, posting an ERA under 3.50. He earned third place in 2020 Rookie of the Year voting due to his work last season.
The question is will that translate to a longer season, in front of screaming fans during the dog days of summer after he has already been worked so much. Either way, third place in ROY voting earns him a spot in the rotation. Expect him to rise through the ranks quickly if he shows flashes of his 2020 form.
Featured Image courtesy of Rob Tringali/Getty Images
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