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 Texas Rangers projected 2021 pitching rotation.
1. Kyle Gibson
Gibson has never been an ERA champion by any stretch of the imagination. His career averaged ERA is 4.57 over his eight year career. In 2020, he started 12 games and went 2-6 with a 5.35 ERA. This is including a complete game shutout.
2020 was Gibson’s first season as a Texas Ranger after spending his first seven seasons as a Minnesota Twin. His placement at the top of the rotation is due to his ability to eat up innings, as his 162-game average is almost 200 per year. He is a workhorse that will fit nicely in a Rangers rotation with some questions moving forward.
2. Jordan Lyles
An even more seasoned veteran than Gibson also fits into the Rangers’ rotation. 10-year MLB stalwart Jordan Lyles will be playing his second season in Dallas in 2021. This is his sixth team since he entered the league in 2011.
Even though he led the MLB in earned runs in 2020 (45), the veteran presence is invaluable on a rotation that is in flux. Second in the rotation seems right, but if he ends up third or even fourth, Rangers fans will not be surprised.
3. Dane Dunning
Dane Dunning was a bright spot on a rising Chicago White Sox team. The rookie pitched 34 innings over seven starts in 2020, going 2-0 with five no decisions. His ERA sat below 4.00, which is very encouraging for a player earning his way into a starting lineup.
Now a Ranger, the team should capitalize on Dunning’s 2020 efforts, riding him all the way into the middle of their rotation in 2021. He has a lot to prove, but can prove it quickly on a rotation with a lot of so-so pieces. Experience says to place him lower, but the Rangers should get bold and elevate him.
First of all, Foltynewicz’s 2020 “season” needs to be thrown out. He pitched only 3.1 innings and thus ended with an ERA of 16.20. He has had one fantastic season, back in 2018, when he had an ERA under 3.00. Foltynewicz earned an All-Star selection that year.
The rest of his career has been average, but extremely solid. With Foltynewicz, the floor is high, even if the ceiling is low. There is no real need to overthink this placement. The long-time Brave could feasibly be placed anywhere, but he needs to be in the rotation.
5. Kolby Allard
Allard has only really been given relief pitcher-levels of work. He was a starter in 2020, but failed to make an impact and earned an ERA of 7.75 due to the sheer lack of playing time. The “question mark” factor with Allard is extremely high, but they need someone to round out the rotation. Expect some other young talent to replace him if his numbers don’t rise significantly after getting some starters’ innings.
Featured Image courtesy of Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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