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ESPN’s Doolittle has D-backs at No. 15 in early 2020 starting rotation ranking

Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on August 18, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With the holiday season coming to an end and the new year approaching, everybody is excited about their new gifts and how they will look in 2020.

For Arizona Diamondbacks fans, that gift was the acquisition of left-handed starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million deal on Dec. 17.

That and the immense impact that the three-time World Series champion will have on next year’s starting rotation, which ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle has ranked as No. 15 in an early 2020 starting rotation ranking.

Doolittle gave the D-backs a score of 365.6 as the NL West’s second-best staff behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came in at No. 10 in MLB with a score of 386.2.

To determine these rankings, we used a combination of two methods. First, we deployed the starting pitcher ranking system developed by Bill James. Then we used the Steamer projections from FanGraphs to generate scores equivalent to James’ system. By averaging the two measurements, we smoothed out the data for pitchers coming off injuries and generated forecasts for pitchers not currently ranked by James’ formula.

Each pitcher received an initial score based on that method. The pitchers were then ranked in order by that score to determine the likely rotation order for each club. The scores were then weighted according to rotation slot. In other words, scores for No. 1 starters counted more than those of No. 2 starters, and so on. This was done to mimic the differences in expected workloads, and also to gauge how well the rotation would rate in a postseason context. These weighted scores were used to calculate each team’s rotation score.

The addition of Bumgarner gives Arizona a true ace to spearhead the starting rotation after the departure of Zack Greinke at the trade deadline earlier this year.

Bumgarner will also be a visible and vocal leader of the staff by taking the younger guys under his wing as he passes along his wealth of baseball knowledge.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo will now have a plethora of names to choose from (in addition to Bumgarner) for his starting rotation that includes the likes of Robbie Ray, Mike Leake, Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen and Alex Young.

Last season, Arizona’s staff had a 4.23 ERA (13th in MLB), .252 BAA (12th) and a 1.28 WHIP (ninth), while finishing with the league’s 10th-highest strikeout total (842).

Doolittle gave the Washinton Nationals baseball’s best starting rotation score of 436.4, while the Baltimore Orioles received the league’s worst at 320.4.


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