Phillies or Braves: Who has the better rotation after Atlanta's Chris Sale trade?

The Braves made a big trade to bring in Chris Sale, but does that mean the division rival has a better rotation than the Phillies?
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Ranger Suárez vs Chris Sale

Suárez: 2.3 projected 2024 fWAR
Sale: 2.8 projected 2024 fWAR

The third starter and beyond is really where the two rotations are up for grabs. As mentioned in the open, the Braves recently made news by trading for the former Red Sox pitcher. In the past, Sale has been one of the top arms in the league.

From 2012 through 2018, Sale made the All-Star team and received Cy Young votes each year and even received MVP votes in the years from 2015-2018. In 2018, he had a 2.11 ERA, 1.98 FIP, and 0.861 WHIP. Simply dominant. But since then, from 2019-2023, he has pitched a total of 56 games while registering a 4.16 ERA, 3.56 FIP, and 1.136 WHIP — hardly resembling the pitcher the Red Sox originally traded for.

To say that the addition of Chris Sale puts the Braves well above the rest of the league is ignoring the level that Sale has pitched to in recent years and, maybe even more important, his availability due to injury.

On the other side, the Phillies’ Ranger Suárez has been one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball. He is, what we like to call, a big-game pitcher. His playoff versus regular season numbers are drastically different with his playoff numbers being significantly better. His career ERA in the regular season is 3.41 over 134 games, while in the playoffs it's 1.62 over nine games.

In 2021, when the calm lefty came onto the scene, he finished the year with a 1.36 ERA, 2.72 FIP, and 1.00 WHIP over 39 games (12 starts). In the next two years, over 51 games, he registered a 3.88 ERA, 3.88 FIP, and a 1.370 WHIP.

Needless to say, he hasn’t jumped off the screen for an entire season, but there are periods within each year that scream All-Star. He has the ability to be the third starter on a championship team; it’s just a matter if he can put it all together.