Cincinnati Reds: This is the perfect starting rotation for the 2021 season

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates after recording the final out of the game. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates after recording the final out of the game. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 4: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

3. Tyler Mahle, Reds right-handed pitcher

Don’t look now, but Tyler Mahle is ascending to where many scouts thought he would. The 26-year-old was an afterthought entering the 2020 season, but injuries to Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani helped Mahle snag a spot in the starting rotation and he never relinquished it throughout the entire season.

Mahle really impressed me last season. The right-hander went 2-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 10 games including nine starts. Like Luis Castillo, Mahle is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility and will receive a nice bump in pay heading into 2021.

Mahle was taken in the seventh-round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Westminster High School in California and was among the Reds best prospects by the end of the 2016 minor league season. According to MLB Pipeline, Mahle jumped from No. 30 in Cincinnati’s farm system all the way up to No. 7. Last season, he finally realized his potential.

Tyler Mahle has been steadily improving since breaking into the major leagues, but in 2020, his stats took a major leap forward. Mahle’s strikeouts per nine innings jumped from 8.95 in 2019 to 11.33 according to FanGraphs. While his walk-rate returned to where it had been prior to the 2019 season, Mahle strikeout-rate climbed to nearly 30%.

Mahle and Castillo appear to be fixtures in the Cincinnati Reds rotation for the foreseeable future. Much like was mentioned earlier with Castillo, if the Reds front office thinks they have a capable middle-of-the-rotation starter for the next few years, locking up Mahle to a longterm deal may prove to be a subtle, yet solid move moving forward.