Three Starting Pitchers Making a Comeback in 2021
Having a solid pitching rotation is as important in real life as it is in Fantasy Baseball. Many leagues (mostly point-based leagues) are dominated by starting pitchers. Unlike hitters, it’s relatively easy to draft pitchers. This is because it is rare that a great pitcher has a seriously bad season. Pitchers like Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Gerrit Cole have been dominating the MLB for years now. It is difficult to predict how well pitchers returning from injury will perform. Some pitchers have a tough time recovering, the most recent examples include Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Sanchez among others. Three big pitchers making a return in 2021 after missing either the entire 2020 season or a great portion of it, are Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and David Price.
Each of whom has had great seasons in the past. It’s a gamble to predict which ones will return as dominant arms.
Chris Sale’s dominant presence on the mound in the previous decade solidified him as one of baseball’s most elite aces. He has seven All-Star game appearances, in seven consecutive seasons (2012-2018). He also has one World Series ring and placed in the top six in Cy Young voting in each of those All-Star appearance seasons. Not only has he led in innings pitched one season, but he has also led in strikeouts and complete games on two separate occasions. Not to mention, he is also the All-Time leader in strikeouts per walk. Sale did however have a down season in 2019 leading to his injury. Sale missed the 2020 season due to Tommy John Surgery. The biggest concern for Sale’s 2021 season is his ability to recover. His arm slot is very unorthodox which could make it tough to return in full form. It seems though his long record of greatness can still be classified as an early-round pick in a fantasy draft.
Corey Kluber was shut down early in 2020 due to a right shoulder tear giving him only one game played with his new team the Texas Rangers. This offseason he has signed with the New York Yankees. Like Chris Sale, Kluber also has a track record of elite pitching last decade. Kluber has two Cy Young Award-winning seasons, along with three All-Star seasons. His most recent dominant season being 2018. He only pitched eight games between 2019 and 2020. In his most dominant seasons, Kluber averages a 2.85 earned run average, a 1.016 WHIP, and averages 246 strikeouts per season. It may feel as though Kluber has had a long career, but he is only in his age 34 season. He also does not seem to be showing a decline in his ability to pitch, despite missing two seasons due to injury.
David Price is the oldest of the group of this specific group of pitchers. He enters 2021 as a 35-year-old and has been in the Majors since 2008. He has one Cy Young Award, two era titles, and five All-Star appearances. Although his prime is long past he still holds some value. He has also shown bursts of dominance. For example his performance in the 2018 postseason with the Boston Red Sox. He has a 3.31 era, a 1.153 whip, and averages 213 strikeouts per season. Price opted out of the 2020 60-game season due to COVID-19. 2020 would’ve been his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2021, Price will return to play in a very elite hitting division. One factor that puts Price ahead of the others is he isn’t recovering from injury. Price won’t have to navigate new mechanics to adjust to an injury.
Potential Draft Targets
Despite their lack of pitching in the last year and a bit, and their inclining age, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and David Price are all great draft targets. It is advised not to draft them too early but to metaphorically “let them fall in your hands” since drafting them is a bit of a gamble. Even if they don’t return to their old selves, chances are they will still be solid starting pitchers in any rotation.
Embed from Getty Images