The San Francisco Giants have just completed an improbable run to the playoffs which ended in a World Series victory.
The question sure to follow is who will be the Giants of 2011 and the answer is simple—it will be the Oakland Athletics.
The Giants made their run to the World Series on the strength of their pitching staff. Don't look now, but the Athletics pitching staff is younger than the Giants' and may be even better than theirs next season.
The Athletics pitching staff goes five men deep, and each one is capable of throwing a shutout, or in the case of Dallas Braden, a perfect game.
The rotation starts with their ace Trevor Cahill, who had a breakout season. He won 18 games while only losing eight games on a mediocre team. Many have questioned if Cahill is a one-year wonder because he relies on a hard sinker, but he is here to stay.
Cahill reminds me of a certain sinker-baller who has had a nice long career. Who is this mystery pitcher?
None other then Derek Lowe. He has made a career of firing his sinker into the strike zone in the upper 80s and low 90s. However, Lowe only possesses a slider to keep hitters off balance, while Cahill has an assortment of plus breaking pitches at his disposal whenever he needs them.
Next in line is the pitcher who sparked a controversy and T-shirts made in his honor with the quote, "Get off my mound."
Yes, it is Dallas Braden. By no means is Braden an elite pitcher. He is your average middle-of-the-rotation guy, but those types of pitchers are extremely valuable.
Braden does not throw overly hard and seems to throw more breaking pitchers than fastballs to compensate for his lack of velocity. Now this also reminds me of another pitcher, but who could it be?
I know, it is Jamie Moyer, who has carved out a major league career that has taken him to the age of 47. Braden has Moyer's capability. He may never be an elite pitcher, but he can sure keep up the 3.50 ERA he compiled this season for years to come, making him an above-average pitcher in my book.
The Athletics also possess a young lefty with one of the best breaking balls in the bigs. His name is Gio Gonzalez. It is hard to understand how Gonzalez has been traded numerous times already in his young career, but with a curve ball as good as his, he is on the verge of stardom.
This past season, Gonzalez won 15 games while pitching a 3.23 ERA. He went over the 200-inning mark, which is the sign of a workhorse, and also compiled 171 strikeouts. His high strikeout numbers were no doubt caused by his sneaky fast delivery where the ball just pops up on the hitters.
Brett Anderson is another lefty member of the Athletics rotation. He has dealt with injuries the past few years, but possessing a mid-90s heater from the left side is never a bad thing. Anderson has the ability to be a premier strikeout pitcher in the bigs for years to come. Pitching to a 2.80 ERA isn't too shabby either.
Last, but not least is a guy I believe has the ability to be the ace of the rotation in a few short years. He has some filthy movement on his fastball to go along with the velocity in which it travels to the plate. Vin Mazzaro is definitely an ace in the making.
Mazzaro struggled this season, but his shutout against the Yankees proved to me that he is capable of performing on the big stage. The man has the same kind of movement which allowed another pitcher to compile a 20-strikeout gem this season.
Brandon Morrow was switched from the bullpen to the rotation on numerous occasions and once he reached the Jays, his career took off.
Mazzaro could experience the same situation as early as next year. With these five talented pitchers on their staff, it should surprise no one if they dethrone the Rangers and take the American League West with ease.
Who knows, maybe they can follow in the Giants' footsteps and prove the old adage true—you can never have enough pitching.