NL East Division position comparison: starting pitchers

My evaluation of the National League East Division clubs moves on to ranking the pitching staffs of each team, beginning  with this look at the projected starting rotations. Later today the bullpens of each team will undergo that same evaluation and ranking, concluding the player portion of the process.

For the rotation evaluations, I have listed the projected top four starting pitchers for each team at the beginning of their below write-ups. Those arms make up the primary consideration in their ranking position. During the subsequent discussion, any arms in the running for a fifth-starter slot or who might impact the rotation at some point during the season will be noted.

Combine these pitching rankings with the examinations of each position around the diamond which have been taking place over the last ten days and you will get a good idea of where each team stands entering spring training. Those prior pieces can be viewed through links at the bottom of this article.

Early next week, I will take a look at each club’s manager, giving those skippers the same evaluation and ranking treatment. Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Clearwater, Florida on February 11 for the opening of Phillies spring training.

NL EAST – 2020 STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS

  1. Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez

The defending world champions have the clear top three starting pitchers in the division, perhaps in all of baseball. However, a note of caution. That run to the first World Series title in franchise history put an extra month of wear and tear on those arms. Washington would not be the first team to find that becomes a difference maker in the following season. The Nats have a trio of interesting arms vying for the fifth starter role in Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth. If those three can prove ready to handle more of the starting workload, it would allow the Nationals to baby Scherzer and Strasburg along a bit during the summer.

2) New York Mets: Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Wacha

No team in the division has the potential to match the Nationals top three arms more than the Mets top trio. Syndergaard and Stroman in particular could elevate their games to another level. The real difference makers in the end in determining whether the Mets contend in the 2020 season is more likely to come from the back-end arms of Wacha and Rick Porcello. Beyond that, Steven Matz and Robert Gsellman give New York quality depth options. If Syndergaard and Stroman don’t have that extra level or break down physically, the Mets could easily slide down these rankings by one or two slots. For now, I like their talent.

3) Atlanta Braves: Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Cole Hamels

The addition of the veteran Hamels to what was  a very youthful group could prove to be the smartest addition by any team in the division this off-season. The two-time division champion Braves also purchased a lottery ticket in former AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. Atlanta has an exciting group of young arms fighting for rotation roles beyond that in Kyle Wright, Sean Newcomb, Bryse Wilson, and Ian Anderson. The Braves quality young depth gives them a far better chance to weather injuries to any of their projected top starters than any other team in the division. It also gives them some potential trade chips to fill in any holes during the season.

4) Philadelphia Phillies: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin

The Phillies are fine at the top two spots with Nola and Wheeler. Beyond that will come the pitchers whose performances will ultimately determine whether the Phillies can finally contend for a postseason spot in 2020. Can Arrieta stay healthy? He has given the club strong April-May performances the last two years, only to break down physically each year. Can Eflin elevate his game to become a truly effective big-league mid-rotation starter? Even if the Phillies get positive answers to these two questions, they have more questions beyond that than any of the clubs ranked above them here. Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Cole Irvin, and possibly Enyel De Los Santos will battle for the fifth starter role to open the season. However, top pitching prospect Spencer Howard should be ready to impact the rotation by May or June.

5) Miami Marlins: Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, Jordan Yamamoto

Alcantara is not as well known to most fans as the other top arms in the division but he has legitimate talent and can be a part of the Fish rotation for years to come. Smith is a solid arm who generally keeps them in contention during his starts. Top prospect Sixto Sanchez should be ready to join the rotation at some point this summer. The Marlins have a further trio or arms in righty Edward Cabrera and lefties Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers who will be starting off in the minors, but who, like Sanchez, will be hoping to push for rotation spots later in the summer.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

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