This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
Spring Training is underway, and – cross your fingers – we are hopefully headed for the scheduled Opening Day and a full 162-game season. This will be the second of six columns briefly looking at the pitching staff in each division. Just be aware, even if the schedule moves forward as hoped, the pitching plans for most, if not all, teams will be modified. Playing just 60 games in 2020, MLB starting pitchers did not come close to a normal innings workload, and there was no minor league season, so those pitchers saw even less work. Under any other approach, practically all pitchers would be facing an innings cap. Teams will need to address that. So, let's take a look at the:
American League West
Houston Astros – The once dominant pitching staff is but a shadow of its former self. Gerrit Cole wears pinstripes now, and Justin Verlander will miss 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That's a lot of quality innings to try and replace. They aren't completely without quality. Zack Greinke has been winning games for years, and despite a few more gray hairs, he will probably do it again in 2021. I can't deny his accomplishments, but he has always been a pitcher who enjoys more success than I expect. Beyond Greinke, the rotation looks a little different. I have always liked Lance McCullers, but he missed all of 2019 (Tommy John surgery) and tossed just 55 innings last year. Durability has never been prominent