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Top Projected Rotations in the American League for 2024

Last week, we looked at the top projected starting rotations in the National League. Now, we venture over to the American League’s top projected rotations. These rotations are ranked based on depth and stability for their respective teams. 

Projected Starting Rotations Heading into Spring Training

Oakland Athletics

Projected rotation: JP Sears, Paul Blackburn, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Luis Medina/Joey Estes/Joe Boyle

Entering 2024, the A’s hope to have solidified a more stable starting rotation than in 2023. Oakland tied a Major League record by using 24 different starting pitchers. They hope to avoid that situation again with left-hander JP Sears and right-hander Paul Blackburn, two rotation locks for Oakland. Ken Waldichuk would have followed Blackburn and Sears but remains sidelined with a flexor tendon strain and UCL ligament sprain in his left elbow. That leaves the A’s with newcomers Ross Stripling and Alex Wood to add depth behind Sears and Blackburn.

Past those four, Luis Medina, whose arm was flashy despite an up-and-down rookie campaign, is still a work in progress. Joey Estes, Oakland’s No. 12 prospect, and Joe Boyle (No. 20) should all be considered candidates for the final spot.

Chicago White Sox

Projected rotation: Dylan Cease, Erick Fedde, Michael Kopech, Michael Soroka, Jared Shuster

Dylan Cease’s days in Chicago are numbered. He won’t be traded right now but will likely be closer to the trade deadline. Aside from Cease the apparent lock-in of Michael Kopech, the White Sox can hope Erick Fedde’s result in his return to North America mirrors the recent success of Merrill Kelly. The Arizona Diamondbacks starter spent four seasons in the KBO before returning to North America in 2019. If that happens, the White Sox have a desirable starter to trade besides Cease. They need the pitching to go up against the AL Central, which they don’t. Unless the arms they acquired (Michael Soroka and Jared Shuster) have late breakouts.

Kansas City Royals

Projected rotation: Cole Ragans, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, Brady Singer, Jordan Lyles

Kansas City has been one of the offseason’s most active teams. The Royals have signed pitchers Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha to fill up the depth of their starting rotation. It would be hard for the Royals to pitch worse than last season, using 23 different pitchers, the second-most in the Majors. The Royals finished 28th in staff ERA, slightly ahead of the Athletics and Colorado Rockies. Adding Cole Ragans from the Texas Rangers was a solid move for Kansas City at the trade deadline. They are counting on Ragans, Lugo, and Wacha to help stabilize the rest of their starting five.

Los Angeles Angels

Projected rotation: Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, Griffin Canning, Tyler Anderson, Zach Plesac

Shohei Ohtani is gone, but other than that, the Angels rotation looks the same. Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, and Griffin Canning are a dependable top-three who can eat up a lot of innings. Los Angeles hopes they might get more out of those three, along with Tyler Anderson and Zach Plesac, with new pitching coach Barry Enright and bullpen coach Steve Karsay. However, many quality starting pitching options are still available if the Angels want more pitching depth. Either Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery would make welcome additions. Or, the Angels could go for a lesser pitcher like Mike Clevinger or Michael Lorenzen.

Detroit Tigers

Projected rotation: Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Matt Manning, Casey Mize/Reese Olson

The Tigers will enter camp with six legitimate starters. Signing Jack Flaherty was key to the Tigers building a respectable pitching staff. Flaherty joins a Tigers rotation that added veteran Kenta Maeda on a two-year deal. But with Casey Muze returning from Tommy John surgery, former first-rounder Matt Manning coming off 15 starts shortened by foot injuries, and Reese Olson coming off a career-high 119 2/3 innings, there is a reason why Detroit made these moves. They will be on the Opening Day roster if all can stay healthy. They might not employ a six-man rotation, as a pitcher like Reese Olson could begin the season in the bullpen.

The best option in this scenario could be using piggyback starts to get work for all six until Detroit’s rotation sorts itself out.

Texas Rangers

Projected rotation: Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney, Cody Bradford

Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tyler Mahle will return from injury in the second half of the season. Minus Scherzer, it’s a rotation that found themselves winning the World Series in October. The starting rotation in the first half could be more sparse. Texas figures to open the season with Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney and Cody Bradford. Prospects such as Owen White, Zak Kent and Cole Winn are still seasoning their games before their anticipated debuts. If any of the top five arms get hit with a significant injury, trouble could be brewing for the Rangers early.

Boston Red Sox

Projected rotation: Lucas Giolito, Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck

Lucas Giolito and Brayan Bello are locks. Nick Pivetta finished the year on a high note, posting a 2.37 ERA in five September starts. Similarly, Kutter Crawford put up a strong year with a 4.21 ERA in 21 starts after moving from the bullpen to the rotation in June. Then, there is Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock. Both pitchers will enter the rotation vs. bullpen quandary for a third year. The new pitching group could unlock something missing from each other. As it stands, Houck will likely slot into the final rotation spot courtesy of his 21 starts last season. However, staying healthy, pitching deeper, and lowering his 5.05 ERA are areas of improvement if he wants to maintain a spot.

Tampa Bay Rays

Projected rotation: Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Zack Littell, Ryan Pepiot, Taj Bradley

Tampa Bay will run it back with the same starting five they finished last season. The only exception is trading Tyler Glasnow for Ryan Pepiot. Shane Baz will likely have a limited workload after having Tommy John surgery. Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs are expected to return mid-season, but Shane McClanahan‘s return would be a surprise. They have options if Tampa Bay needs to up on the starting rotation depth. The Rays could look into someone like Jacob Lopez, who could be another depth option for the Rays. They even have expressed interest in stretching out Tyler Alexander and Chris Devenski. Doing so will provide the club with additional bulk/multi-inning coverage.

Minnesota Twins

Projected rotation: Pablo López, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, Anthony DeSclafani

The departures of Maeda, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle left Minnesota with a hole in their starting rotation. There is some uncertainty behind the expected Opening Day starter Pablo López. After the starting rotation carried the Twins to the AL Central division title, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, and Anthony DeSclafani are the projected five. The Twins are optimistic about Paddack, especially what he can do in the bullpen. However, he has yet to throw more than 105 innings since 2019. They were recently active on the trade market when they departed with Jorge Polanco in a five-player deal. DeSclafani figures to be the No.5 starter. If it doesn’t work out with what they have, they are banking on their internal options to fill the void.

New York Yankees

Projected rotation: Gerrit Cole, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt

New York had been linked to every free agent pitcher from Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. They were connected to trade targets like Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber. Ultimately, general manager Brian Cashman felt that both sides needed to be closer to get a deal done. The Yankees instead pivoted to find their rotation upgrade in Marcus Stroman. Gerrit Cole remains a stalwart atop the rotation, but Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes are each coming from ineffective, injury-plagued seasons. Rodon (6.85 ERA, 64 1/3 IP) and Cortes (4.97 ERA, 63 1/3 IP) hope to see themselves pitching like their old selves. If they can stay healthy, this could be one of the best pitching staffs in the league.

Baltimore Orioles

Projected rotation: Corbin Burnes, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Grayson Rodriguez, John Means, Tyler Wells

It’s no secret that Baltimore has developed a lot of hitters. They already have the bulk of a solid starting rotation who made 20 starts or more in 2023: Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Grayson Rodriguez, and Tyler Wells. There’s lefties John Means, who is now healthy after missing most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Cole Irvin. Wells could be in line for the rotation’s final spot. That leaves Irvin to join the bullpen and serve as depth until someone is injured or underperforming.

But the O’s finally got an ace for the rotation in Corbin Burnes. He is the exact kind of pitcher who can fill that role. The 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner owns a 2.86 ERA in 105 games (102 starts) since the 2020 season. Burnes is a true No.1 starter who can be the guy to start for Game 1 of a postseason game.

Cleveland Guardians

Projected rotation: Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen

This should be one area in the rotation where it shouldn’t give headaches. Shane Bieber has been tied to trade rumors for a while now. But once Cal Quantrill was designated for assignment, it became increasingly difficult to see Cleveland have depth without Bieber. Pair the former Cy Young Award winner with a healthy Triston McKenzie and a trio of young starters with experience; this could be the anchor Cleveland can lean on. Doing so will give the young offensive core figures the to play consistent baseball.

Houston Astros

Projected rotation: Framber Valdez, Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, JoséUrquidy

Like the Rays, the Astros will have familiar faces in their starting rotation. They remain near the top of the list for plenty of reasons. Framber Valdez is one of the most reliable arms in baseball, stringing together a nice 2023 season and throwing more than 200 innings in two consecutive seasons. Justin Verlander struggled to find his game at the start of the season but turned it around once Houston re-acquired him at the trade deadline. Cristian Javier sometimes looked inconsistent, struggling to make it through five innings in the odd start. Hunter Brown had a great start to his rookie campaign but struggled down the stretch. Luis García and Lance McCullers Jr. would be ideal options for the fifth slot. However, both are dealing with long-term injuries, leaving José Urquidy in the rotation’s back end.

Toronto Blue Jays

Projected rotation: Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt, Yusei Kikuchi, Alek Manoah

The projected 2024 rotation is the same group that opened the 2023 season. Last year, Alek Manoah was the incumbent ace, coming off a third-place Cy Young Award finish. This year, he will enter camp to earn the fifth job and compete with Bowden Francis and Ricky Tiedemann. Elsewhere, Toronto has a solid four as each of Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios, and Yusei Kikuchi made at least 30 starts last season. But there is one concern: their need for MLB-ready depth. Their options are slim if Manoah can’t rediscover his form or if the Blue Jays don’t stay healthy. It makes sense why the Blue Jays are betting on their rotation, who finished third in the majors in ERA last year. It’s risky to be relying on good fortune once again.

Seattle Mariners

Projected rotation: Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo

Seattle has a young, reliable pitching staff led by ace Luis Castillo. The Mariners finished in the top in a few pitching stats in 2023, and it’s only the start. Castillo and George Kirby were the only teammates to pitch 140-plus innings while maintaining an ERA+ of 120. Meanwhile, Logan Gilbert posted a 3.73 ERA with 15 more strikeouts than in 2022. As for George Kirby, he had 75 strikeouts and six walks in 87 2/3 innings for an MLB-leading 12.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first 14 starts.

It will be interesting to see how the Mariners handle the final two spots of the rotation. It will likely come down to Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo. Miller has control and the ability to maintain velocity. Woo is a solid back-end starter but is also equipped for the bullpen. For now, this serves as the best rotation in the AL going into the season.

Photo Credit: © Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports




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