Starting pitcher candidates for 2020 All-MLB Team


Voting is underway for the 2020 All-MLB Team presented by CohnReznick, and you can help decide who deserves a place among the game’s very best.

Fans can vote here once every 24 hours until the polls close at 2 p.m. ET on Friday. The All-MLB first and second teams will be announced in early December on MLB Network.

MLB.com is breaking down every position on the ballot. Here’s a primer on all the 2020 All-MLB starting pitcher candidates (in alphabetical order).

Chris Bassitt, A’s
2020 stats: 5-2, 2.29 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 55 K’s
Who would’ve guessed that Bassitt would become the breakout top starter on the A’s staff in 2020? The 31-year-old right-hander finished sixth in the MLB ERA race (third in the American League) and helped lead Oakland to the AL West title.

The case for Bassitt: No starting pitcher was better down the stretch than Bassitt, who allowed zero or one run in all four of his starts in September, including three scoreless starts.

Key number: 0.34 — Bassitt’s ERA in September, the lowest in the Majors. His ERA was nearly three times lower than the next-closest qualifier, Gerrit Cole (1.00).

Trevor Bauer, Reds
2020 stats: 5-4, 1.73 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 100 K’s
Bauer was the head of the Reds’ starting-pitching troika (along with Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray) that pitched the team back to the postseason for the first time since 2013. Bauer is an NL Cy Young Award finalist and could be the first Reds pitcher to win the award.

The case for Bauer: Bauer won the NL ERA title and also led the league in WHIP, finishing second in the Majors in both categories (to Shane Bieber and Kenta Maeda, respectively). He was one of three pitchers with 100 strikeouts in 2020, trailing only Bieber and Jacob deGrom.

Key number: 8 — Bauer’s innings pitched in his last start of the regular season, his longest start of the year despite pitching on three days’ rest. Bauer allowed just one run and struck out 12 to beat the division-rival Brewers with the Reds fighting for a playoff spot.

Shane Bieber, Indians
2020 stats: 8-1, 1.63 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 122 K’s
A breakout All-Star for Cleveland in 2019, Bieber turned into the best pitcher in baseball in 2020 and is a lock to win the AL Cy Young Award. The 25-year-old right-hander didn’t allow more than three runs in a game all year, with 10 quality starts and eight double-digit strikeout games.

The case for Bieber: Bieber became the first pitcher to win the MLB pitching Triple Crown — leading the Majors in wins, ERA and strikeouts — since Johan Santana in 2006.

Key number: 62 1/3 — the number of innings it took Bieber to reach 100 strikeouts for the season, making him the fastest starting pitcher to the 100-K mark in the modern era (since 1900).

Corbin Burnes, Brewers
2020 stats: 4-1, 2.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 88 K’s
Burnes was a nice surprise for the Brewers, finishing the season with an ERA nearly a full run lower than nominal staff ace Brandon Woodruff (3.05). Burnes had shown flashes of elite stuff before, but the 26-year-old put it all together in his third big league season.

The case for Burnes: Burnes was in the NL Cy Young conversation for much of September, thanks to a dominant five-start stretch from Aug. 28 through Sept. 19 when he went 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA. That lowered his season mark to 1.77 until a hiccup in his final start pushed him back over 2.

Key number: 13.27 — Burnes’ strikeouts per nine innings, fourth-highest among pitchers who threw at least 50 innings in 2020, behind only Tyler Glasnow, Bieber and deGrom.

Carlos Carrasco, Indians
2020 stats: 3-4, 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 82 K’s
Even though the Indians had Bieber leading the way, don’t sleep on Carrasco. A year after recovering from leukemia to become the 2019 AL Comeback Player of the Year, Cookie returned to his old dominant level in 2020 and had an ERA under 3 for the first time as a starter.

The case for Carrasco: He ranked among the American League leaders in key pitching categories like ERA (seventh), strikeouts (sixth), K/9 (10.85, fourth), innings pitched (68, eighth) and opponents’ batting average (.221, ninth).

Key number: 9 — Carrasco’s number of quality starts this season. Only his teammate Bieber, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn had more, co-leading the Majors with 10.

Gerrit Cole, Yankees
2020 stats: 7-3, 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 94 K’s
In his debut season in New York, Cole ironed out some kinks to be the ace the Yankees were looking for when they signed him to a $324 million contract. He struck out seven or more batters in nine starts in a row to end the season, the longest such streak in Yankees history.

The case for Cole: Cole ranked second in the AL in wins, sixth in ERA, third in strikeouts, third in K/9 (11.59), fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.53), fourth in WHIP and fourth in opponents’ batting average (.197). His 1.00 ERA in September was second best in the Majors.

Key number: 51 — Cole’s strikeouts in six outings against other 2020 playoff teams (the Rays, Blue Jays and Braves). He averaged 13 strikeouts per nine innings against those teams.

Yu Darvish, Cubs
2020 stats: 8-3, 2.01 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 93 K’s
Darvish is a Cy Young Award finalist for the first time since 2013, all the way back in his second season in the Majors with the Rangers. The veteran right-hander built on his success down the stretch in 2019 to post a career-low ERA in 2020 and lead the Cubs back to the top of the NL Central.

The case for Darvish: Darvish tied with Bieber for the most wins in baseball and tied with Bieber and Lynn for the most quality starts (10). He also had the fourth-lowest ERA, fifth-most innings pitched (76), seventh-most strikeouts and second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.64).

Key number: 9 — That’s how many consecutive quality starts Darvish had from July 31 through Sept. 15, the longest quality-start streak in the Majors in 2020.

Jacob deGrom, Mets
2020 stats: 4-2, 2.38 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 104 K’s
The Mets ace and back-to-back NL Cy Young Award winner is a finalist again in 2020. Only two pitchers have won three straight Cy Young Awards — Randy Johnson (1999-2002) and Greg Maddux (1992-95), who each won four straight — and only 10 pitchers have even won three in their career.

The case for deGrom: deGrom won the NL strikeout crown and led the league in K/9 (13.76), double-digit strikeout games (five) and starts allowing two earned runs or fewer (10), while finishing fourth in the ERA race.

Key number: 98.6 mph / 92.5 mph / 91.4 mph — The average velocity of deGrom’s fastball, slider and changeup in 2020. All three were the fastest among starting pitchers.

Max Fried, Braves
2020 stats: 7-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 50 K’s
When Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, Fried picked up the slack, leading the Braves’ staff en route to another NL East title. Not only was the 26-year-old southpaw with the rainbow curveball a breakout ace of 2020, he also won the NL Gold Glove Award at pitcher.

The case for Fried: Fried was one of only two pitchers to make at least 10 starts and go undefeated, and he had more than double the wins of Julio Urías, who went 3-0 for the Dodgers. Fried made seven starts in which he went at least five innings with zero or one earned runs allowed; only Bauer, Darvish, Dinelson Lamet and Hyun Jin Ryu (eight each) had more.

Key number: 55 — The number of innings Fried pitched before he allowed his first home run of the year … in his very last start of the regular season.

Zac Gallen, D-backs
2020 stats: 3-2, 2.75 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 82 K’s
Gallen has been great for the D-backs since they got him at the 2019 Trade Deadline, and 2020 could be the season that puts him on the map, as the 25-year-old University of North Carolina product became the staff ace with Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray on new teams.

The case for Gallen: Gallen and Darvish were the only two pitchers to put together a run of seven straight starts in 2020 with at least six innings pitched and no more than two earned runs allowed. No one else had more than five in a row.

Key number: 23 — Gallen’s number of starts allowing three runs or fewer to begin his career, setting a new MLB record (Aaron Sele had 21 straight from 1993-94). Gallen’s run spanned all 15 of his starts in 2019 and his first eight starts of 2020.

Lucas Giolito, White Sox
2020 stats: 4-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 97 K’s
In just three seasons, Giolito has gone from the worst ERA among qualified starters in 2018 to a breakout All-Star in 2019 to a top-tier ace of a playoff-bound club in 2020. The 26-year-old is the pitching leader of a White Sox team that’s loaded with rising stars and not going anywhere.

The case for Giolito: Not only did Giolito put up ace-level numbers in 2020, he also had the signature pitching moment of the season — his 13-strikeout no-hitter against the Pirates on Aug. 25 was the most dominant game pitched in the Majors all year.

Key number: 82 — The number of strikeouts Giolito racked up with his four-seam fastball and changeup, one of the best pitch combos in baseball. No one else had more than 69 strikeouts combined on those two pitch types in 2020 (the Reds’ Castillo).

Kyle Hendricks, Cubs
2020 stats: 6-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 64 K’s
The crafty veteran continues to be a master of command in this golden age of velocity. Hendricks was a rock for the Cubs’ pitching staff just like Darvish, from his Opening Day shutout of the Brewers through a dominant September when he had a 1.45 ERA and averaged well over seven innings a start.

The case for Hendricks: Hendricks’ 2.5% walk rate was tied for the lowest among qualified starters. That let him go deep into games consistently — he pitched the third-most innings in baseball (81 1/3) and went seven-plus innings in six different starts, tied for the most of any pitcher this year.

Key number: -7.6 mph — The velocity differential between Hendricks’ sinker (87.3 mph) and changeup (79.7 mph), which have nearly identical movement (his sinker averages 12.5 inches of horizontal break, and his changeup averages 11.4 inches).

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
2020 stats: 6-2, 2.16 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 62 K’s
Kershaw’s stuff was the sharpest it’s been in years, as he rose back to elite ace status and led the Dodgers to their eighth consecutive division title in the NL West. Though it doesn’t count toward the All-MLB Team, the future Hall of Famer’s crowning achievement came in October, when Kershaw finally won his long-awaited first World Series championship.

The case for Kershaw: Kershaw’s 2.16 ERA was his best mark since 2016 and ranked seventh among pitchers who threw at least 50 innings in 2020. His 0.84 WHIP was fourth lowest in that group and also his personal best since 2016.

Key number: +1.3 mph — Kershaw’s increase in fastball velocity from 2019-20 (90.3 mph to 91.6 mph), after it had declined for four consecutive seasons from 2015-19. Only Félix Hernández in 2014 (+1.4 mph) had that level of velo resurgence after such a long period of decline since the start of the pitch-tracking era in 2008.

Dallas Keuchel, White Sox
2020 stats: 6-2, 1.99 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 42 K’s
The crafty lefty still knows how to paint the edges of the strike zone like no other. In his first season with the White Sox, Keuchel posted an ERA under 2 for the first time in his career and was a steadying veteran presence to balance all the White Sox’ young talent.

The case for Keuchel: Keuchel finished third in the MLB ERA race behind only Bieber and Bauer, the three of them the only qualifiers with sub-2 ERAs. Keuchel didn’t allow more than three runs in any of his 11 starts — only Bieber and Lamet (12 each) had more starts with three or fewer runs allowed.

Key number: 32.5% — The percentage of Keuchel’s pitches that were either on the inside or outside edge of the strike zone, fourth highest of the 166 pitchers who threw 500-plus pitches in 2020.

Dinelson Lamet, Padres
2020 stats: 3-1, 2.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 93 K’s
Lamet flashed the makings of an ace down the stretch in 2019, and in ’20 he became that ace for the Slam Diego Padres, the most fun team to watch in baseball. The 28-year-old treated fans to one of the best pitchers’ duels of the year on Sept. 14, when he outdueled Kershaw and the rival Dodgers with a seven-inning, one-run, 11-strikeout gem.

The case for Lamet: Lamet’s 2.09 ERA was top five among MLB qualifiers, as was his 12.13 K/9. Lamet was tied for the most starts allowing three runs or fewer (12), and for the most starts of at least five innings pitched with no more than one earned run allowed (eight).

Key number: 71 — The number of strikeouts Lamet had on his slider alone, the most K’s by any pitcher on a single pitch type in 2020. No one was even within 10 strikeouts of Lamet — the Astros’ Framber Valdez was closest, with 60 strikeouts on his curveball.

Lance Lynn, Rangers
2020 stats: 6-3, 3.32 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 89 K’s
Lynn has become one of the chief workhorses in baseball for the Rangers, following up his breakout 2019 season with another ace-like effort in 2020.

The case for Lynn: The big right-hander was the top innings-eater in baseball this year, leading the Majors with 84 innings pitched, 13 starts and 344 batters faced. He threw over 100 pitches in all 13 of those starts — no other pitcher had more than 10 games breaking the 100-pitch mark (Bauer).

Key number: 702 — The number of four-seam fastballs Lynn threw in 2020, accounting for half of his total pitches. Lynn threw his four-seamer more than any pitcher threw any single pitch type (Cole and Antonio Senzatela were next closest with 635 four-seamers thrown each).

Kenta Maeda, Twins
2020 stats: 6-1, 2.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 80 K’s
The Twins’ trade to land Maeda from the Dodgers in February turned out brilliantly, as Maeda became Minnesota’s ace and the team won its second straight AL Central title. That earned the 32-year-old a spot as an AL Cy Young Award finalist.

The case for Maeda: Maeda kept runners off the bases better than any other starter, as his 0.75 WHIP was the lowest in the Majors. His 4.0% walk rate was fourth lowest in baseball, and his 32.3% strikeout rate was eighth highest, giving him the fourth best differential of any qualified starter (28.3 points, behind only Bieber, deGrom and Bauer).

Key number: 2.76 — Maeda’s expected ERA, per Statcast, based on his quality of contact allowed, strikeouts and walks. That was fourth best among all the pitchers who faced 150 or more batters in 2020, behind Bauer (2.17), Bieber (2.63) and deGrom (2.72).

Aaron Nola, Phillies
2020 stats: 5-5, 3.28 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 96 K’s
Zack Wheeler had an excellent debut season in Philadelphia, but make no mistake: Nola is the leader of the Phillies’ staff, and at his best in 2020, the 27-year-old looked like the 2018 NL Cy Young Award finalist who rivaled deGrom and Max Scherzer’s dominance.

The case for Nola: Nola was top-five in the Majors in strikeouts, and his four double-digit K games trailed only Bieber, Scherzer, deGrom and Bauer. Nola also ranked sixth among qualified starters in both K/9 (12.11) and strikeout rate (33.2%).

Key number: 34.1% — The percentage of pitches Nola threw that resulted in either called or swinging strikes, the seventh-highest rate of 134 starters who threw 500 or more pitches in 2020. Nola’s 391 total called and swinging strikes were also seventh most in baseball.

Hyun Jin Ryu, Blue Jays
2020 stats: 5-2, 2.69 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 72 K’s
The left-handed Ryu proved that his Cy Young Award finalist season with the Dodgers in 2019 was no fluke. He’s a finalist again in 2020, in a new league, the AL, with a new team, the Blue Jays. With Toronto’s young hitters breaking out in 2020, Ryu gave the pitching staff the ace it needed to reach the postseason.

The case for Ryu: Ryu finished fourth in the AL ERA race, and he was especially dominant in the month of August, when his 0.96 ERA in five starts was the best in the Majors. Ryu had eight starts where he went at least five innings and allowed either zero or one earned run, tied for the most such starts of any pitcher. Bauer, Darvish and Lamet also had eight.

Key number: Zero — The number of times before this year that two former teammates became Cy Young finalists in the same league the next season, but with a different team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ryu and Maeda are the first — they were teammates with the Dodgers in 2019, and they are 2020 AL Cy Young Award finalists with new clubs, Toronto and Minnesota.

Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
2020 stats: 3-5, 3.05 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 91 K’s
Woodruff has come a long way in a short time with the Brewers, making a name for himself in the 2018 postseason as a jack-of-all-trades, then emerging as a breakout All-Star in ’19, before becoming Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter and staff ace in ’20. The 27-year-old is now one of the more solid frontline starters in the National League.

The case for Woodruff: Woodruff ranked fourth in the NL in innings pitched (73 2/3), fifth in WHIP, seventh in strikeouts and K/9 (11.12), fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.06) and fourth in opponents’ batting average (.204).

Key number: 87 — Woodruff’s game score in his final start of the regular season, when he delivered an eight-inning, two-hit, 10-strikeout scoreless gem to vault the Brewers into the eighth and final postseason spot in the NL. Woodruff’s game score was tied for the fifth highest in any game of the 2020 season, with the four ahead of him including a pair of no-hitters by Giolito and Alec Mills and dominant games by fellow All-MLB candidates Bieber and Hendricks.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.





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