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D-backs rank 12th in ESPN’s way-too-early starting rotation rankings

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 20: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 20, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks land in the top half of MLB in ESPN’s pitching rotation rankings for the 2021 season.

The D-backs starting staff ranks 12th in the league and is third in the NL West behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.

Bradford Doolittle’s rankings are determined by a formula that takes a pitcher’s 50 most recent starts, the strength of schedule and 2021 projections.

These rankings predict somewhat of a rebound season for Madison Bumgarner, despite his below-average performance in 2020.

This system sees this as at least something of a bounce-back season for Bumgarner, though, frankly, that might be wishful algorithmic processing. Bumgarner is coming off a woeful season. Over his past 50 starts, only 26 rate as good, and he has more terrible outings (3) than dominant (2). 

While Bumgarner struggled and compiled a game score of 48.7, Zac Gallen excelled. Gallen went 3-2 last season, with a 2.75 ERA and 82 strikeouts.

Gallen put up a game score of 59.1 and went 22-12 in the simulated season.

This system absolutely loves Gallen, who has shown a propensity for putting up dominant stat lines. The track record isn’t a long one, and he was never exactly rated as an elite prospect. Yet the numbers come together to mark Gallen as a pitcher to watch.

The formula used to find the game scores for pitchers has the last four members of the D-backs rotation right around the league average.

Pitcher scores below are based on a formula weighting most recent 50 starts, strength of schedule and 2021 projections from my system. The league average game score is 50, though won-lost records were based on simulations that used the pitcher’s forecast distribution of game scores, his team’s schedule and his generated pitching matchups. The top six starters for each team, based on their projected number of outings, are listed with their scores.

Outside of Gallen, the only D-backs pitcher to post a winning record in their projections was Merrill Kelly, who went 15-14 and was just above the league average game score (50.2). Luke Weaver had a projected record of 12-15, Caleb Smith’s projection had him going 12-12 while Corbin Martin’s had him finishing 7-8.

Smith’s projection gave him a score of 49.7, while Martin and Weaver both had scores of 47.3.

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