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 Oakland Athletics projected 2021 pitching rotation.
1. Chris Bassitt
Judging by 2020 resumes, Bassitt should be at the top of the rotation for the A’s. His 2.29 ERA over 11 starts is a marked improvement over his other seasons in which he got work closer to relief pitchers, rather than the starters’ innings he received in 2015 and 2019.
This indicates a big uptick in production for the 31-year-old pitcher. An Opening Day starting spot for Bassitt may seem like a bit much, but his numbers say that he will perform better with a higher volume of work.
2. Jesus Luzardo
Luzardo is an extremely promising young pitcher that got some nice work during a pandemic-shortened 2020 season. His 4.12 ERA is not the best, but considering his 2019 MLB season consisted of just 12 innings total, ramping him up with the unprecedented circumstances went very well.
Is Luzardo the next ace in Oakland? Hard to say with such a small resume. But why not put some youth near the top of the rotation? Surely opposing teams have very little tape on his game, meaning it is a way to catch batters off guard at the beginning of the season.
3. Sean Manaea
Manaea is a fan favorite Oakland Athletic and the fans’ love for him should actually take some precedence when considering if and where to place him in the starting rotation. This love is likely born from the no-hitter he threw in 2018.
He is more than just that accomplishment, though. Manaea struggled just a bit during the 2020 season, posting the worst ERA of his career, but it was over significantly less innings, however. His name recognition alone could place him near the top of the 2021 Oakland Athletics pitching rotation, but objectively, he is one of the best options on the roster.
4. Frankie Montas
Combine Montas’ 2019 and 2020 seasons and the Athletics have the makings of a veteran middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. His numbers suggest he is a player that can be around for a long time, as his career ERAs average out over time.
Over just below 100 innings in 2019, Montas threw for a 2.63 ERA, which followed a 2018 campaign where his ERA was also under 4.00. Unfortunately for him, though, Montas is still a relative unknown on the roster while also being not that exciting. He deserves a spot, but will toil at the back end of the rotation because his teammates outshine him.
5. Mike Fiers
The true veteran on the Oakland Athletics’ roster in 2021, though, is Mike Fiers. He has the, for lack of a better word, sexiest stats and accomplishments of any A’s pitcher.
Fiers has pitched an immaculate inning and two no-hitters that were a massive four seasons apart (2015 and 2019). He may be most well known, though, for his role as a whistleblower during the breaking of the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
Regardless, his numbers are consistent across his career. His production is solid and he eats up starters’ innings while also giving the fans something to root for as he may make history once again. Fiers belongs in the rotation, probably near the bottom. Arguments could be made for making him a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse, though.
Featured Image courtesy of Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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