MLB Division Debate: Arizona's Rotation Full of Potential and Dependability

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IMarch 7, 2009

Had Derek Lowe returned to Los Angeles, the NL West would be full of very scary rotations and pitching staffs.

Still, the Dodgers aren't in a bad position by any means. But the two best rotations, one through five, reside in Arizona and San Francisco.

Led by Cy Young winners, seasoned vets, and up and coming stars with unbelievable talent, these rotations have it all.

In this "Division Debate", we just need to decide which one is better.

The changing of sides with Randy Johnson obviously brings up some interesting storylines, not only with Johnson going home but maybe a potential switching of power between the two pitching staffs. Which rotation would you rather have? Arizona led by Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis and newcomer Jon Garland, or the Giants led by reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Johnson and Barry Zito?

I'll represent Arizona, but if you want to read why the Giants have the better rotation, read Danny Penza's argument.

Before I compare the two sides, I think it's important we take a look at what Arizona is working with, individually.


Brandon Webb

There is a reason he should be considered one of, if not, the best pitcher in the game. He's consistent as all get out.

Year to year, Webb's numbers haven't wavered. Yet these past three years he's put up numbers equal to that of the best pitcher in all of baseball.

At least 16 wins the past three years is nice, but that doesn't really indicate how dominate Webb is.

At least three complete games each of the past three years, with a total of seven shutouts.

Webb can dominate a game, take it over, put the team on his back; he's the pitcher that anchors a staff that is pretty talented behind him.


Dan Haren

Speaking of talented pitchers, Haren is both talented and experienced; an ace in his own right before he was traded to Arizona.

Now he's fell in-line with Webb and they form one of the top duos in all of the National League.

Haren's numbers didn't change much with the move to the desert, but he managed to cut down on his walks, hits and home runs.

The National League hasn't affected Haren's performance, for better or for worse, and with Haren entering the prime years of his career, he's only bound to continue this pace.

His numbers are worthy of a number one starter on any team, which just benefits Arizona.


Doug Davis

He's not flashy, he won't get a lot of attention, and he's perhaps the most ordinary pitcher out of all the starters in this debate.

But he's good.

He isn't spectacular by any means. But he's the seasoned vet of this rotation and while Webb might lead in talent and numbers, Davis leads in example and presence.

Davis is the reason the Diamondbacks won't miss the imposing stature of Randy Johnson as much because of Davis.

Everyone knows Davis battled through a tough year in 2008, not on the field, but rather off it. Davis underwent a short battle of thyroid cancer, which caused him to miss some games early in the season.

Davis went through surgery and treatment and was back on the mound rather quickly. If anything, it shows Davis is a fighter and the perfect veteran leader for this rotation.

Jon Garland

To replace Johnson's actual spot in the rotation, Arizona went out and got themselves a bargain in an offseason with bargains to be had.

Jon Garland was that pick-up and his sinkerball style should fit right in with the likes of Brandon Webb.

Webb thrives in Arizona's weather as a sinker-baller. Garland could do the same, especially after spending most of his career in the hitter's wind-tunnel that is U.S. Cellular Field.

Garland is also durable and an innings eater, tallying at least 190 innings, every full-season of his career.

Like Davis, there isn't much flare with Garland, but he's a solid middle of the rotation option with the potential to do a little bit more in a deep rotation such as this one.


Max Scherzer

When Davis was out, it was young Max Scherzer who stepped in to bridge the gap.

After that, Scherzer was sent to the bullpen where still contributed. While Scherzer went 0-4 in 2008 as a starter, his regular role is one of a starter and his stats indicate he ran into more bad-luck than he did bad-pitching.

Scherzer figures into the rotation if healthy, but in the back-end. For Arizona, that could be a good thing. He's the young-buck of the group, still not 25; Scherzer has plenty of room to grow with just seven starts under his belt.

His potential is as high as a front-of-the-rotation starter, and if he reaches that this year, or close to it, the Diamondbacks are all kind of dangerous in the rotation.


From One to Five, D'Backs are Deep, Durable, and Young

This isn't a rotation with just two or three good pitchers. From Webb down to Scherzer, all five of these starters have talent.

What makes the rotation special is that a good majority of the rotation all can bring valuable qualities to the table.

They are most-definitely deep, having four starters who've been in this game for some time. Mixing in the young-buck gives them a bit of an unknown quality that should only help if he pitches up to potential.

With that, they are also still very young. Only Doug Davis is over the age of 30, with the other four still either in the prime of their careers or in Scherzer's case, plenty of time to get there.

But even Davis isn't old; he's still in his early 30s with plenty of his current pace left in the tank.

This rotation is also durable, with the top four pitchers being some of the best examples in terms of staying healthy.

Garland has pitched in at least 32 games every year of his career aside from his rookie campaign in which he was called-up in July at the age of 20.

Davis has put up the same number since 2004, with exception to his 2008 in which he went through the short battle with cancer of course.

Since he got traded to Oakland and started full-time in 2005, Haren has started in at least 32 games each year as well.

And of course there is Webb, who only started less than 32 games in one year of his career, his rookie campaign, when he started in just 28 games.

So as you can see, this rotation just does not get injured. All of them have excellent track-records of staying healthy and fresh throughout the season and still putting up excellent numbers.


What Gives Them the Edge?

If Scherzer gets hurt or is in-effective, they've got back-up options in Yusmeiro Petit and Billy Buckner.

Petit filled in for Randy Johnson at times last year and he too is still young enough to maybe have it "click" if he's given the opportunity.

But that isn't why this rotation is the one I'd rather have over San Francisco's.

While I'd love to have Tim Lincecum on my team, the Arizona rotation is one that I can depend on holding up for an entire year.

And if Max Scherzer pans out, look out.

Lincecum and Matt Cain are both young and future stars for years to come, but I've got experience, talent and a proven track record in my top two options in Arizona.

While Johnson is intimidating and tough, he's still getting older and he could break down at anytime. Davis meanwhile is just dependably solid and aside from the thyroid cancer, has been healthy enough to last over an entire season.

Jonathan Sanchez flies under the radar in terms of the young talented pitchers on this team, but he's the lone guy that has yet to put it all together. However, this could be the year Sanchez takes the next leap.

Then you have Barry Zito, who is a complete wild-card. Zito could potentially put something back together with the pressure off and no one really counting on him anymore.

But none of that is dependable. Scherzer is the only question mark when it comes to this rotation. The Diamondbacks know what they are getting with Garland, Davis and especially the top two in Haren and Webb.

Matching them up one on one doesn't do any justice for how good Arizona is collectively. Led by two legitimate All-Star caliber pitchers, I'm taking the D'Backs and not looking back.


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