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Gio Gonzalez and the 15 Best Pitchers of the NL East

Matt BoczarContributor IIIOctober 19, 2016

Gio Gonzalez and the 15 Best Pitchers of the NL East

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    The Washington National’s recent acquisition of Gio Gonzalez not only improved the team’s starting rotation, but it also added another All-Star-caliber pitcher to the National League East.

    Following Gonzalez’s arrival, the National League East is now home to nine pitchers who were originally voted onto or selected as replacements for the 2011 All-Star Game.

    Between the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cy Young Award finalists in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, to young stars in Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves and Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals, National League East teams feature some of the major league’s most dominant pitchers.

    With the addition of Gonzalez and the return of players from injuries, the National League East may once again lay claim to some of the league’s best pitchers.

Stephen Strasburg

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    Strasburg may not currently be one of the best pitchers in the National League East after making only 17 career starts, but, if healthy this season, the former No. 1 overall pick may become one of the league’s best pitchers.

    Strasburg returned to start five games last season for the Washington Nationals, and went 1-1 with 24 strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA.  For his career, Strasburg is 6-4 in 17 starts, and has 116 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA.

    Strasburg held opponents to a .179 batting average last season, and has held opponents to a .211 average for his career.  In 17 career starts, Strasburg has given up three hits or fewer six times, has three games in which he has struck out at least 10 batters, and has only given up more than three earned runs in a game once.

    Strasburg, if healthy, may use this season to prove that he is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues, while joining Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann to give the Nationals one of the best young starting rotations in the major leagues.

Jair Jurrjens

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    Jurrjens may have been one of the best pitchers in the major leagues during the first half of last season.

    Prior to the All-Star break, Jurrjens went 12-3 with 65 strikeouts and a 1.87 ERA, before missing over 40 games during the second half of the season, including the final month of the regular season. In 23 starts last season, Jurrjens went 13-6 with 90 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA.

    In the past four seasons combined, Jurrjens is 47-32 with 467 strikeouts and a 3.47 ERA in 108 starts. For his career, Jurrjens is 50-33 with 480 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA.

    The 2011 National League All-Star finished third in the National League in 2009 with a 2.60 ERA, and he has twice finished with an ERA under 3.00.

    Jurrjens may use this season to prove that he is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues, on a Braves pitching staff that may also be one of the league’s best.

Heath Bell

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    Bell joins Gio Gonzalez, Mark Buehrle and Jonathan Papelbon as another All-Star addition to the National League East this offseason.

    Bell, who finished fourth in the National League in saves last season, signed with the Miami Marlins this offseason, after spending the past five seasons with the San Diego Padres.

    Last season, Bell went 3-4 with 51 strikeouts and 43 saves in 48 chances, and had a 2.44 ERA. Bell has finished in the top five in the National League in saves each of the past three seasons including 2009, when he led the league with 42.

    For his career, Bell is 28-24 with 134 saves in 160 chances, and has 494 strikeouts and a 3.06 ERA. Since 2007, Bell has only had one season in which his ERA was over 3.00. The three-time All-Star has saved over 40 games each of the past three seasons, and held right-handed batters to a .164 average last season.

    Bell joins Buehrle as another All-Star pitcher to sign with the Marlins this offseason, and may continue to prove that he is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues.

Tyler Clippard

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    In addition to appearing in 150 games over the past two seasons, Clippard has also finished in the top five in the National League in holds the last two seasons; his 38 holds last season led the major leagues.

    Clippard went 3-0 with 104 strikeouts, 38 holds and a 1.38 ERA for the Washington Nationals last season, his second consecutive season with over 100 strikeouts. In the past two seasons combined, Clippard is 14-8 with 216 strikeouts, 61 holds and a 2.45 ERA.

    For his career, Clippard is 22-12 with 309 strikeouts, 64 holds and a 2.96 ERA.

    A 2011 National League All-Star, Clippard held opponents to a .162 batting average last season, including a .169 average against left-handed batters and a .156 average against right-handers. For his career, Clippard has held opponents to a .198 average.

    Clippard will be a part of a young Nationals pitching staff this season that will try and prove that it is one of the best in the major leagues. Clippard may also prove that he is one of the best set-up men, and pitchers, in the league.

Craig Kimbrel

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    In order for a rookie to be one of the best pitchers in the National League, they must have had a historic season that put them among the league’s best. And Kimbrel’s 2011 season may have done just that.

    In 79 games for the Atlanta Braves last season, Kimbrel went 4-3 with 46 saves in 54 chances, and had 127 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA. These numbers were good enough to earn him the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year Award, and also put him in elite company.

    Kimbrel’s 127 strikeouts was the third-highest total for a rookie relief pitcher in major league history. His 46 saves were tied for the most in the National League last season and were the most by a rookie in major league history. He was also named to the 2011 National League All-Star team.

    Kimbrel held right-handed batters to a .196 average and left-handed batters to a .157 average last season. For his career, Kimbrel is 8-3 with 47 saves in 55 chances and has 167 strikeouts and a 1.75 ERA.

    After his rookie season, Kimbrel may have put himself as one of the National League East’s best pitchers.

Mark Buehrle

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    Buehrle joins Gio Gonzalez, Heath Bell and Jonathan Papelbon as another All-Star pitcher who will be playing in the National League East this season.

    Buehrle, who went 13-9 with 109 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA last season, signed with the Miami Marlins this offseason, after spending 11 seasons as a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox.

    For his career, Buehrle is 161-119 with 1,396 strikeouts and a 3.83 ERA.  Buehrle has also reached double-digits in wins in each of the past 11 seasons.

    In addition to being a four-time All-Star, Buehrle has also won three consecutive Gold Glove awards. Buehrle has finished in the top 10 in the American League in wins four times, ERA three times and strikeouts once.

    Buehrle joins the Marlins and the National League this season after spending 11 seasons in the American League and may continue to be one of the best pitchers in the major leagues.

Johan Santana

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    Santana missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury, but the career 133-game winner may still be one of the best pitchers in the major leagues.

    In three seasons with the New York Mets, Santana is 40-25 with 496 strikeouts and a 2.88 ERA. For his career, Santana is 133-69 with 1,877 strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA. From 2003-2010, Santana reached double-digits in victories each season and had an ERA under 3.40.

    The three-time All-Star has also won two Cy Young Awards and a Gold Glove. While with the Minnesota Twins, Santana led the American League in strikeouts and opponents batting average three times and wins once. He also led the National League in ERA in 2008.

    If healthy, Santana may have a chance to reach 2,000 career strikeouts this season, while leading a Mets pitching staff that had the sixth-best team ERA in the National League in 2010, the last season prior to Santana’s injury.

    In addition to reaching 2,000 career strikeouts and leading the Mets starting rotation, Santana may also prove that he is still one of the league’s best pitchers.

Jonathan Papelbon

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    Papelbon joins the Philadelphia Phillies this season after spending six seasons as closer for the Boston Red Sox.

    In those six seasons, Papelbon saved over 200 games. Last season, Papelbon went 4-1 with 31 saves in 34 chances, and had 81 strikeouts and a 2.94 ERA. Last season was the sixth consecutive season in which he saved at least 30 games.

    For his career, Papelbon has 219 saves in 248 chances, 509 strikeouts and a 2.33 ERA. He has also held opponents to a .204 career batting average. Last season, Papelbon held left-handed batters to a .156 average.

    The four-time All-Star has finished in the top 10 in the American League in saves in six consecutive seasons.

    Papelbon joins a Phillies bullpen that is made up of both proven relievers and young pitchers who will look to give the team one of the best bullpens in the major leagues. Papelbon will also try and continue his dominance in his first season in the National League, while proving that he is one of the best pitchers in the league.

Josh Johnson

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    Johnson was only able to make nine starts last season before suffering a shoulder injury in May that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. However, in those nine starts, Johnson showed the same dominance that he has been displaying for the past few seasons.

    In nine starts last season, Johnson went 3-1 with 56 strikeouts and a 1.64 ERA for the Florida Marlins. In the past four seasons combined, Johnson is 36-13 with 510 strikeouts and a 2.70 ERA.

    For his career, the two-time All-Star is 48-23 with 667 strikeouts and a 2.98 ERA. Johnson has had three seasons in which he has started at least 20 games and had an ERA under 3.30. His 2.30 ERA in 2010 was the best in the National League.

    Johnson will help lead the Miami Marlins pitching staff this season and may turn in another season that puts him among the league’s best.

Jonny Venters

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    Venters may have only played two seasons in the major leagues, but the Atlanta Braves reliever has had an ERA under 2.00 and over 90 strikeouts in each season.

    Venters went 6-2 with 96 strikeouts, a 1.84 ERA and 35 holds last season while setting up for the National League Rookie of the Year, Craig Kimbrel. Venters also had five saves while appearing in 85 games.

    In the past two seasons combined, Venters has 189 strikeouts in 164 games and a 1.89 ERA. His 35 holds last season was second-best in the National League.

    Venters held opponents to a .176 batting average last season, including a .127 average against left-handed batters and a .194 average against right-handers. Against the National League East last season, Venters had a 2.85 ERA while holding opponents to a .171 batting average.

    Venters and Kimbrel give the Braves one of the league’s best late-inning duos.

Gio Gonzalez

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    The newest All-Star addition to the National League East, Gonzalez joins a Washington Nationals starting rotation that also includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Gonzalez has played three seasons in the major leagues and has won over 30 games in the past two seasons combined.

    Gonzalez went 16-12 with 197 strikeouts and a 3.12 ERA last season for the Oakland Athletics. In the past two seasons combined, Gonzalez has gone 31-21 with 368 strikeouts and a 3.18 ERA. Gonzalez also finished in the top 10 in the American League last season in ERA, wins and strikeouts.

    For his career, Gonzalez is 38-32 with 511 strikeouts and a 3.93 ERA in 95 games, including 89 starts.

    The 2011 All-Star was acquired by the Nationals this offseason and, along with Strasburg and Zimmermann, gives the team some of the best young starting pitchers in the major leagues.

Tim Hudson

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    Hudson leads an Atlanta Braves pitching staff that had the fourth-best team ERA in the major leagues last season.

    Last season was the second consecutive season in which Hudson won more than 15 games and had an ERA under 3.30. On the season, Hudson went 16-10 with 158 strikeouts and a 3.22 ERA. His win total put him in the top 10 in the National League.

    For his career, Hudson is 181-97 with 1,699 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA. Since joining the Braves, Hudson is 89-58 with a 3.51 ERA.

    The former 20-game winner has reached double-digit win totals in 12 of 13 seasons and is a three-time All-Star.

    Hudson may lead a Braves pitching staff this season that has young talent reaching from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

Cole Hamels

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    Hamels joined Roy Halladay last season in giving the Philadelphia Phillies one of the league’s best starting rotations and also in having the lowest ERA of his career.

    The two-time All-Star and former NLCS and World Series MVP went 14-9 with 194 strikeouts and a 2.79 ERA last season. He also finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting.

    Hamels, a career 74-game winner, also has 1,091 career strikeouts and a 3.39 ERA. In 13 postseason starts, Hamels is 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA for the Phillies.

    Hamels finished in the top 10 in the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA last season, and the .214 batting average that he held opponents to was the second-best in the National League.

    Hamels will once again form one of the league’s best starting rotations with Halladay and Cliff Lee this season and may give the Phillies three Cy Young candidates, as well as three of the best pitchers in baseball.

Cliff Lee

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    After signing with the Philadelphia Phillies last offseason, Lee would go on to lead the team in strikeouts while joining Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels to form one of the league’s best starting rotations.

    Lee went 17-8 with 238 strikeouts and a 2.40 ERA for the Phillies last season, his first full season with the team.

    For his career, Lee is 119-69 with 1,323 strikeouts and a 3.65 ERA. In 44 starts for the Phillies, Lee is 24-12 with a 2.90 ERA.

    Lee finished in the top five in the National League in wins, ERA and strikeouts last season and further enjoyed a return to the National League by hitting two home runs for the Phillies.

    Lee held left-handed batters to a .196 batting average last season and had two months of historic success. In June, Lee went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA before going 5-0 again in August, this time with 0.45 ERA.

    The 2008 American League Cy Young winner finished third in this year’s National League voting, and he joins Halladay and Hamels in giving the Phillies three of the league’s best starting pitchers.

Roy Halladay

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    How did Halladay fare in trying to win his second consecutive National League Cy Young Award? 

    The career 188-game winner had the lowest ERA of his career as he led the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation in wins, innings pitched and ERA. The 2010 National League Cy Young winner also finished second in this year’s voting.

    In 32 starts last season, Halladay went 19-6 with 220 strikeouts and a 2.35 ERA. Halladay also finished in the top five in the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA.

    For his career, Halladay is 188-92 with a 3.23 ERA and 1,934 strikeouts. He is also an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner.

    On a team with three Cy Young finalists and in a division with nine All-Stars from last season, Halladay may be one of the league’s best pitchers.

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