Over at The Athletic Marc Carig and Andy McCullough published a look from an Industry Insiders take on starting pitching in Major League Baseball. They polled 20 people in the game about the top 60 starting pitchers via Fangraphs WAR, plus Dallas Keuchel (who signed mid-season last year and thus didn’t make that top 60) and asked them to put each pitcher in a tier of Aces, Applicants (a player who may be capable of being an Ace, but isn’t quite there yet), Number 2/3 starters, and then everyone else.

The Cincinnati Reds have a deep rotation. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo were both All-Stars last season. Trevor Bauer may have won the American League Cy Young Award in 2018 if he hadn’t gotten injured late in the season. Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani are both better than league average starters. 1-5, it’s one of the best rotations in the game.

But how do the individual pitchers stack up and where do they rate? According to the poll, Luis Castillo is at the top. He got an “ace” nod from two voters and fell into the “applicants” group. In the Number 2/3 starters, there were two more Reds pitchers. Trevor Bauer came out ahead of Sonny Gray in this group. Bauer landed two votes as an “ace”, while Gray only got one. That Bauer wound up ahead of Gray was a bit of a surprise given their histories.

Overall, there were only four pitchers in all of Major League Baseball that fell into the “ace” category, so it’s as tough as possibly can be to make that group. The Reds, however, had three guys in one of the top three groups, which stacks up quite well around the league. Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com also wrote about some rotations on Monday, ranking the 10 best rotations in baseball. The Cincinnati Reds wound up third on the list, trailing the Washington Nationals and the Tampa Bay Rays. Here’s how each rotation looks as of today:

Nationals Rays Reds
Max Scherzer Charlie Morton Luis Castillo
Stephen Strasburg Blake Snell Sonny Gray
Patrick Corbin Tyler Glasnow Trevor Bauer
Anibal Sanchez Ryan Yarbough Wade Miley
Austin Voth Yonny Chirinos Anthony DeSclafani

That’s pretty good company for the Reds to be in. Only the Cardinals rank among the Top 10 according to this list from within the National League Central Division – and they rank 10th. I recall a decade or so where the Cincinnati Reds would have killed to have the 10th best rotation in baseball, much less the 3rd. You never know how things are going to play out – the games are decided on the field and not on paper – but based on what is expected, the rotation for Cincinnati should be among the best in the league. The offense doesn’t look so bad at this point, either. Things get started in nine days – are you getting excited yet?

4 Responses

  1. Bred

    It is quite a change from a few years back when the overly projected pitching prospects failed to make an impact. I didn’t understand Bauer ahead of Gray based on last year’s performance. Since, at least to me, the Reds don’t have a reliable closer based on RI’s performance last year how would the bullpen rank? Yeah, after watching the scrimmages I am ready for the echos of Marty’s, “And this belongs to the Reds!”

  2. Stock

    You can make an argument the Reds should be first on the list.

    Scherzer and Morton were clearly better last year but both are getting old. Morton has a career full of break downs and Scherzer was injured much of last year. I put Castillo #3 but because of injury risk it is closer than many think.

    Strasburg is the best #2 on this list by reputation but he wasn’t last year. Gray was clearly better. in fact in 4 of Gray’s 5 years not wearing a Yankee uniform his ERA was better than Strasburgs career ERA and that was playing in the AL with the DH. Snell was good in 2018 but not 2019. Both Snell and Strasburg have spent a lot of time on the DL (Snell was not even projected to be ready this April). I can make a solid argument Gray is #1 on this list.

    Here is where the other two teams clearly have an advantage. I rank them Glasnow/Corbin/Bauer but Glasnow is another injury risk and had Covid 19.

    Miley is very under rated. He had a 4 ERA last year but in September he was tipping his pitches and got drilled. Since Derek Johnson (his current pitching coach) took him under his wing until August of 2019 his ERA was 2.89 in 236.2 IP. He is clearly the best #4 on this list.

    Disco is clearly the best #5 on this list.

    The Reds have the best #2. The best #4 by a wide margin. The best #5 by a wide margin. Scherzer and Morton clearly outperformed Castillo. But Scherzer and Morton are older and Castillo is still progressing in his development. Closer than people may think. Question is can Bauer become the pitcher he was in 2018 again? If so the Reds clearly have the best staff. If not it is close.

  3. doofus

    The pitching staff may suffer IF the team defense, particularly the defense up-the-middle is bad.

  4. doofus

    Thanks Doug for this insight. I did not catch this ranking on MLB.com.