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 Toronto Blue Jays projected 2021 pitching rotation.
1. Hyun-Jin Ryu
Hyun-Jin Ryu unfortunately left the Dodgers just one year too early, as he missed out on Los Angeles’ championship season in 2020. He still had a great season, though, throwing for an ERA of just 2.69 and coming in the top three in Cy Young voting for the second season in a row.
His 2019 season translated to an ERA title, as he put up a 2.32. Ryu is clearly a high-value pitcher that gives whatever team he is on a great chance to win. He may not be the Blue Jays’ longest tenured arm, but he belongs at the very top of the rotation.
2. Robbie Ray
Robbie Ray is entering his first full season in a Blue Jays uniform. His 2020 season, like many other pitchers in this series, was nothing to write home about. He suffered the same trap of not enough preperation, coupled with not enough innings to even out his ERA.
Ray is a reliable pitcher who can eat up innings, though. An ERA hovering around 4.00 is more than possible, and even likely for a pitcher of his caliber. Unimpressive, but necessary numbers like these usually comes from being a bullpen-saving arm in the rotation. Ray is a great signing that could be one of the keys to finally winning the AL East again.
3. Nate Pearson
Pearson was one of the unlucky pitchers who had to endure their first taste of MLB action in the pandemic-shortened season. In four starts, he won only one, but had an ERA of 6.00.
Young pitchers need work and a lot of valuable work can be found in the middle of the rotation. If the Blue Jays truly intend on finding out what they have in a pitcher like Pearson, he needs to be featured prominently in the rotation. Third seems about right for a green pitcher who did not see enough work last season.
4. Tanner Roark
Roark has been in service of MLB teams since 2013. 2021 will be his second season in Toronto, but his first full season, due to the COVID-shortened campaign.
His only season of true note was 2016, in which he posted an ERA of 2.83. Roark’s averaged ERA over his eight-year career is 3.51, which is deserving of the starting jobs he keeps earning. Another inning-eater, he belongs at the bottom of the rotation because the Blue Jays know what he can do. Known commodities are still invaluable, but not exciting. And that is okay for a fourth starter.
5. Steven Matz
Matz was part of the Mets’ fantastic rotation that was mostly broken up. He was never as durable or exciting or dominating as some of the others in that rotation, like Jacob de Grom. But he has absolutely done enough to earn a spot on a Blue Jays team that could legitimately make a deep playoff run in 2021. It is signings like this that can take Toronto over the top.
Featured Image courtesy of Steve Nesius/CP
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