The Top Five Pitching One-Two Punches In The MLB Are...
So I was sitting in Science Class today and decided to do something different than what I usually do when I'm bored (Normally I sleep), I decided to start on my next B/R article.
Of course I had to first come up with a topic, but now you obviously know what I came up with: What team has the best pitching one-two punch in the majors?
I set up a "tournament" if you want to call it that and was eliminating the teams while all the other members at my table just kept on sleeping.
I started to make tough decisions, such as if win-Loss records should make an impact, should awards change the rankings, can I really assume that someone is going to get injured...
It just went on and on, but now I have fully compiled my top five pitching one-two punches in the MLB.
5. San Diego Padres—
Sure they were the third worse team in the majors last season, but they have a nice top of the rotation in 2007 Cy Young winner Jake Peavy and Chris Young.
Peavy is a true elite ace on one of the worst franchises of the MLB, he has won the Cy Young award, led the league in ERA, strikeouts, and has been the heart of many trade rumors across the major leagues.
Not to be confused with the rival Arizona Diamondback’s outfielder, Chris Young has been a top starter for years, except for the first half of 2008. Before the All-Star break he compiled a 4.50 ERA, while after the break he became himself again by posting a 3.35 ERA for the Padres.
As those two are atop a risky Padres team, they are also among the league's elite duos, which is the reason they are the fifth best one-two punch in the major leagues.
4. Toronto Blue Jaya—
As part of a huge race for the fourth and fifth spots on this prestigious list, the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres eventually beat out the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets.
The Jays are a special case as they lost their number two starter and still have the fourth best one-two punch in the major leagues.
As runner up for the Cy Young Award this past season, Roy Halladay is among the most durable pitchers in the majors.
In the past three seasons, he has pitched over 750 innings all while pitching two seasons of under 3.25 ERA ball including 2008’s 2.78 for the offense starved Blue Jays.
As ace-in-the-hole for the Jays, Jesse Litsch remains as one of the most underrated starters in baseball today. At only 24 years, he has played two seasons in the MLB and in 2008 he boasted a 3.58 ERA.
Can he perform as true ace for the Blue Jays in 2009? For the Jay’s sake, hopefully.
3. San Francisco Giants—
The Giants have one of the best rotations I have ever seen, with three former Cy Young winners on the staff in Randy Johnson, Barry Zito and the reigning winner of the award, Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum is called “The Freak” and with good reason, never has anyone thrown the way he does and succeeded. In 2008 he won the Cy Young award in only his second season in the MLB and amassed 265 strike-outs with an 18-5 record in 227 innings. Although I have serious doubts he will be able to pitch how he does for more than a few years, right now he is arguably the best pitcher in baseball.
Back in the late 1990s, Lou Piniella signaled Randy Johnson to throw a ball inside to Paul O’Neil hopefully he would be shaky the rest of the night in a late October playoff game against the Yankees, and he did.
That is how Johnson wins games, by intimidation.
At a build of 6’ 11”, he is the tallest baseball player to ever live and he has taken every advantage of it, as he should. He is proving that he can still pitch in his old age as last season he boasted a 3.91 ERA and 173 strikeouts for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since being signed as the Giants, he is taking on the role of star pitcher and mentor to a staff that includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Johnathan Sanchez.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—
As a passionate Mariners fan, it hurt to put the Angels so high on these rankings, but they do deserve it. John Lackey and Ervin Santana are leading a rotation that has the potential to be among the best ever, but it is a high risk.
If you take the best seasons of the Angels starters from the last two seasons, you have the best rotation since the Braves squad about a decade ago, which included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.
The Angels ace is none other than John Lackey, who actually only pitched 23 games last season, 10 less than what he pitched in each of the five prior years for the Halos.
In 2008 he had an ERA of 3.75, which would had been .50 points lower, had he not had one of the worst ending games in MLB history when he allowed 10 runs in less than three innings.
If he keeps to his normal self, he should be back among the best pitchers in the majors in 2009.
After three seasons of posting an ERA over 4.25, Ervin Santana became one of the games' top pitchers in 2008 when he built up an ERA of 3.49, 214 strikeouts and a 16-7 record.
While 2008 could have just been a special case of a fluke year, I think Santana is going to anchor the Angels offense for years to come.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks—
When I think of the Arizona Diamondbacks, I think of two top pitchers: Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, two near identical starters that are both Cy Young worthy.
There were times last season I believed the Cy Young race would come down to these two players, but that thought quickly passed. Although the talks could come back even quicker this season if they continue the same success.
Brandon Webb is the kind of starter that doesn’t just throw strikes, or doesn’t just pitch over 225 innings, he does it all.
In 2008, he compiled a 3.30 ERA, 183 strikeouts and a 22-7 record for the Diamondbacks.
He has a growing rivalry with Padres ace Jake Peavy that was created when Webb won Rookie of the Year back in 2003.
They have both won the Cy Young Award during their rivalry, but were both beat out by the Giant's phenom, Tim Lincecum last season.
When he would be the ace for almost any other team, Dan Haren has to settle as ace-in-the-hole for the Diamondbacks. He has put up numbers most (including myself) could only dream of, as in 2008 he struck 206 batters out, amassed a 3.33 ERA, and posted a record of 16-8 for a team expected to win the World Series.
Honorable Mentions— Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners.
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