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 Philadelphia Phillies projected 2021 pitching rotation.
1. Aaron Nola
Nola is the Phillies’ undisputed ace and has earned his spot at the top of the rotation. He earned an All-Star appearance in 2018 and placed third in Cy Young voting, throwing for an ERA of just 2.37. In 2019 he started an MLB-best 34 games and faced an MLB-high 852 batters throughout the season.
He has not posted an ERA above 3.87 since earning a permanent starters’ spot with the Phillies in 2017. Nola’s resume speaks for itself. He deserves to be recognized as Philadelphia’s premiere pitcher and will be the Opening Day starter.
2. Zack Wheeler
Wheeler was part of one of the MLB’s best rotations during his time with the New York Mets. 2020 was his first season with his former rival, Philadelphia. Over 11 starts, he earned an ERA of 2.92 over 71 innings pitched. He even earned some Cy Young votes for his efforts.
He is a strikeout pitcher at heart and a piece that the Phillies need as they try to take the next step. Winning the NL East will be easier with a known commodity like Wheeler nestled firmly in the second spot in the rotation.
3. Zach Eflin
In about 100 less innings than he had in 2019, Eflin dropped his ERA from 4.13 to 3.97 in 2020. He started 10 games, but played in 11 last season, earning his spot in the rotation.
He still struck out 70 in only 59 innings, further cementing Philadelphia’s commitment to getting opposing batters out. Eflin is here for consistent production. He may not set the MLB on fire by any means, but he is ready to eat up innings in the middle of this rotation.
4. Vince Velasquez
Velasquez is a spot starter on this team, but due to his MLB experience, earns a spot in the rotation. So many teams will be starting young, unproven talent, but Philly can plug in Velasquez here until another minor leaguer proves his worth. He has only been tenured for six years in the MLB, but that still constitutes a veteran in 2021. It is a no-lose situation, as it will either spark change if he is bad, or rise up the rotation if he delivers.
5. Matt Moore
To round out the rotation, the Phillies can start Matt Moore, who has been playing in the MLB for a decade. Another spot starter, he is just an extension of Velasquez, as explained above. Moore can return to his early-career form, throwing for an ERA of 3.29 and stay in the lineup. Or he can tank and make room for some more talent or a sixth starter, which many teams will be doing.
Featured Image courtesy of Rich Schultz/Getty Images
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