The 2021 MLB regular season is now five weeks old and all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day and home openers and all that has come and gone. The daily grind that is the 162-game season is setting in. It's wonderful, isn't it?
Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB scribes will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we discussed whether seven-inning no-hitters should count as no-hitters. Today we're going to talk about the top rotation tandems in the game.
Which team has the best 1-2 rotation punch in baseball?
R.J. Anderson: If we're talking about right now, with an absurdly heavy emphasis on this season, then you have to go with the Brewers' duo of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff or the Mets' tandem of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. If we're talking bigger picture, based on multiple years of data, then you might hedge and go with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, the Padres' Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, or the Nationals' Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. I assume we're all going to answer for the former, and so I have to go with Burnes and Woodruff … but boy, you can't go wrong either way.
Dayn Perry: I agree that the Brewers' 1-2 punch is an excellent one, and I have a feeling that in another month or two that would be my answer. However, I just want to see Woodruff and Burnes keep it up for a little longer (even though I think their gains are sustainable). Given that, I'll lean deGrom-Stroman for the time being, with deGrom doing most of the heavy lifting. deGrom was already the best pitcher in baseball, and then he came out this season with added velocity. Stroman is enough of a presence at No. 2 to give the Mets the nod in this particular category.
Matt Snyder: I'm very tempted to go with the Brewers here, but Corbin Burnes' track record of being this good is still only 14 starts and teams are going to start getting more scouting done on his stuff. It might not matter, but I'm not going to commit to them just yet. It's also pretty tempting to go with the Mets due to Jacob deGrom being the best pitcher in the world right now along with a strong group of rotation-mates. I'm going to say the Dodgers, though, with whatever combination of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Trevor Bauer we want to use. Amazingly, it seems like Kershaw has become underrated now. He had a 2.16 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 62 strikeouts against eight walks in 10 starts last year. So far this season in seven starts, he has a 2.95 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 41 strikeouts and seven walks in 39 2/3 innings -- and that's after thee shortest start of his career. And yet, somehow lots of people don't think of him as a top-shelf starter any more.
Mike Axisa: I want to say Brewers righties Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, but I can't do it yet. The track records are too short (though I think both are legit). Any combination of the big three in Los Angeles would work (Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler), and Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman are close too because deGrom is so good. I'm going to go off the board a bit and will say Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler with the Phillies. Since 2018, they've combined to throw over 1,000 innings (1,017 to be exact) with a 3.31 ERA and 29.5 WAR. That's essentially two 6 WAR per 200 innings guys in one rotation. Nola and Wheeler are first and ninth in innings since 2018, respectively, so they're durable and they're excellent. Sneaky great 1-2 punch in Philly.
Katherine Acquavella: I do think it's a little tricky looking for a true 1-2 punch this season. There are a handful of teams out there that have the potential (like the Nationals and Braves) but injuries and overall health concerns keep them out of the loop. Right now, I'm saying Brewers' Woodruff-Burnes is the best 1-2 punch. Burnes is unbelievable and Woodruff has been able to build on his success from last year, but obviously the main concern is sustainability. The Padres' combo Darvish-Snell or the Dodgers' of Kershaw-Bauer would be the next best at this point in the season.