It won't be this guy but it certainly could have been
Stephen Strasburg and Adam Wainwright would have been two of my answers to this column's question before they were both sidelined with elbow injuries that will keep them off the diamond for most, if not all, of this season.
A team's rotation is pretty fluid throughout the course of a year. In a 162-game season, teams will be plagued with injuries and most of these injuries will find pitchers sitting on the DL picking their noses with their good arms while their team pushes forward in an effort to make the postseason. Strasburg will do that this year as his teammate and fellow hurler Jordan Zimmerman did last year.
Who will catch the injury bug is impossible to predict. I thought that Justin Verlander would have thrown his arm out of the socket by now considering how many innings and pitches he throws. He is overused in my opinion yet he still keeps trucking along at an amazing pace, throwing upper 90 fastballs and chalking up W's for the Tigers.
I was counting on Adam Wainwright to anchor my fantasy team this year until his arm called it quits and forced me to draft John "lackluster" Lackey and Brian Matusz in an attempt to compensate for the loss. Matusz is now injured as well, nursing a hang nail or something.
Needless to say I am getting my grapes stomped thus far in fantasy but I'm not here to whine about that. I'm here to let you know who is going to garner the most wins per team this season and why.
You may disagree with me, as a lot of you so often do, or you may agree 100 percent with me as nobody ever does, but either way I won't know if you don't leave a comment. So please let me know your thoughts on this matter in the comment section. Thanks and enjoy. First up is the AL East.
A ground-ball producing starter with one hell of a sinker, Zach Britton will lead the new look Orioles in wins this season. Let's take a look at his competition for the title:
Jeremy Guthrie—Has never had a winning season. 11 wins was his highest total to date and the guy has never had an ERA under 3.63.
Brian Matusz—He went 10-12 last year over 32 games and his strikeouts were 143 compared to 173 hits. Matusz will be a stud in this or any rotation soon but this year is not his breakout year. Plus it doesn't help that he's on the DL.
Jake Arrieta—In only 18 games last year Arrieta went 6-6 with 106 hits and only 52 strikeouts. I don't see him making a play for this title.
Britton, on the other hand, held the Rangers scoreless in 7 2/3 innings in only his second start. The Rangers, you will recall, won the American League last year and happen to be on fire so far this season, figuratively speaking.
He also beat Tampa Bay's Rays this year (which I could probably do, especially since Mr. Ramirez decided to retire). Throwing 103 pitches against the Rangers, it doesn't look like the O's will be holding him back much. That means we will see a lot more of the one earned run, seven hits, six walks and eight strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings type of stuff that Baltimore fans have already fallen in love with.
Clay Buchholz was an All-Star last season and Jon Lester was a proven ace. Buchholz was recently rewarded with a four-year extension and Lester was handed the ball for his first ever season opener against the Texas Rangers.
Before Sunday night I would have said that lefty, strikeout master Jon Lester would lead the Red Sox in wins this year, but now I've changed my tune. Actually Josh Beckett changed my tune for me. Against the Red Sox biggest foe, the New York Yankees and against their best pitcher, Cy Young winner C.C Sabathia, Josh Beckett put on a clinic and showed why he should have won the Cy Young in 2007 instead of being a runner up to Sabathia that year.
Beckett pitched eight shutout innings yielding only two singles and walking only one batter. He whiffed 10 Yankees, most of whom swung or watched a curveball blow by them that was so on-point that Orel Hershiser felt the need to repeatedly describe what 12-to-6 meant to the fans watching the game. The curve was wicked working for Beckett to say the least.
Jon Lest(ah) is an ace but Josh Beckett has returned to form and will anchor the Sox staff this season, leading them in wins.
Are those MC Hammer pants?
In this picture it looks like C.C. Sabathia lost a little too much weight this offseason. What he didn't lose was his ability to pitch better than 90 percent of the hurlers in the MLB. Sabathia faced Beckett on Sunday giving up only one run on 118 pitches through 5 2/3 innings against a very patient Boston club.
He has racked up 157 wins and 89 losses in his major league lifetime, and last year he earned the most wins (21) of his career. He is the workhorse in a Yankees depleted rotation. Who else will give Sabathia a run for his money?
Phil Hughes isn't a likely candidate. If not for the loss of Pettitte and inability to acquire Cliff Lee, Hughes would be sitting at the bottom of the rotation.
A.J. Burnett is just happy that he was able to fool Brian Cashman into paying him such a huge contract. He should be incarcerated for stealing. And nobody can remember the names of the final two guys taking the mound so I don't think Sabathia needs to worry about them piling up the W's.
The truth is that with a depleted rotation or not, Sabathia will take the trophy for most wins this season.
I feel for David Price as much as I do for Evan Longoria. Two great talents on a team that doesn't care much about continuing a winning tradition. At least the Rays went out and signed Manny Ramirez to give a little protection to Evan Longoria in the batting order. Whoops, that one didn't work out so well.
None of the Rays pitchers are going to have the bats to make them feel at ease when they take the mound but at 29-15 over the past two years Price will again lead his team in victories this season. He might not be starting the season off on the right foot but he will straighten himself out soon enough and give the Rays fans something to cheer about. You don't acquire a 2.72 ERA in 2010 by being lucky. You get it by being good and Price is still very very good.
Also keep an eye on Jeremy Hellickson, as he will soon be giving Price a run for his money.
The Toronto Blue Jays are giving me some trouble when it comes to this column. It looks to me like a toss up between Kyle Drabek and Ricky Romero.
Drabek has started two games in 2011. He has one win with one no-decision and thus far has 12 strikeouts while giving up only two earned runs.
Romero has started two games in 2011. He has one win with one no-decision and thus far has 12 strikeouts while giving up only two earned runs. The difference maker is that Romero was 28-18 over his past two years. Due to slightly more experience than Drabek, I give the edge to Romero.
Since 2002, with 19 wins, White Sox ace Mark Buehrle hasn't won more than 16 games in a season. He topped out at 13 wins in '09 and '10. So far in 2011 Buehrle is 1-0 but has given up nine earned runs and only achieved two strikeouts.
John Danks hasn't exactly been great over the past few seasons. I remember a time when the Danks to Jenks combo was a feared duo among AL Central foes. Not so much anymore. Danks has gotten off to a pretty bad start in 2011 with a no-decision in his first game so I don't see Danks winning the pitching title for the Sox this season.
I do, however, see Edwin Jackson coming away with the most wins for the Sox this year. He is already 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 20 strikeouts. If that isn't impressive enough he has only given up three earned runs. Can he keep up this pace however? I think this season will be the year he puts it all together.
The power of the beard. Ask Brian WIlson
The AL Central leading Cleveland Indians will hail Justin Masterson as the pitcher with the most wins on their squad at the end of this season. He is already 2-0 in 2011 and has a very pretty 1.35 ERA, two earned runs against him and nine strikeouts in his corner.
It seems like it is Masterson's time to break out. He showed flashes of brilliance in Boston before the trade and now he is rockin' the beard. We all saw what the stache did for Carl Pavano last year and need I mention Brian Wilson and his magical ninja beard?
Aside from all of the facial hair power sure to engulf Masterson's winning season, Fausto Carmona and Carlos Carrasco are rockin' a combined ERA of 14.68 with 18 earned runs given up. My money's on the beard.
Justin Verlander. Enough said...
I always think this guy is going to break down and he never does. He already has 17 strikeouts in 2011 on his way to winning 20 games this year.
Rick Porcello will improve greatly over the next couple of seasons but will never catch Verlander. The guy is just a workhorse.
Luke Hochevar is another pitcher rockin' the facial hair. Out of Denver, Colorado there is a reason Kansas City has Luke in the No. 1 rotation spot. I haven't quite figured out that reason yet as Hochevar has a 5.30 ERA with only 12 strikeouts in three games. He has also given up a whopping 11 earned runs over that same span but remarkably is sitting nicely at 1-1 for the season.
I am thinking that the Royals picked Hochevar to be their ace not because he is an amazing pitcher but because they have nothing better. Little did they know that Jeff Francis, who is sitting on a 0-0 record so far, would have a 1.98 ERA with eight strikeouts and only three earned runs given up on his watch.
Will Francis surpass Hochevar and win the most games for the Royals this year? I have no idea. I'd like to phone a friend or poll the audience on this one but since I can't, I'm going to put my money behind the organization who started Hochevar ahead of Francis and go with Hochevar.
The Minnesota Twins always seem to have several very adequate pitchers and none that stand alone as great. Well at least not since Johan Santana was shipped off to the Mets. Carl Pavano shined last season but I fear he will not repeat that feat in 2011, having already given up three home runs and eight earned runs, establishing an ERA of 6.00.
Maybe this year will be Nick Blackburn's year. He is already impressing in 2011 with a very tiny 0.77 ERA. I think, however, that among these average pitchers Francisco Liriano will emerge as the winningest (there is that word again) pitcher in the Twins rotation.
Sure he has started the year with two losses. Sure he has given up two home runs and eight earned runs, but on the bright side he does have eight strikeouts to his name and that is something to build on, right? It is early in the season and Liriano will get his stuff straight just like Blackburn will surely injure that beautiful ERA of his.
Quite frankly the dumbest name in all of baseball. Why does Los Angeles feel the need to somehow claim that Anaheim is in LA? Are the Dodgers not enough? Come on La-La land get it together.
The Anaheim Angels basically have a two-person race this season for best pitcher. It's either Jered Weaver or Dan Haren and Weaver will win. He has posted three victories already with a disgustingly good 0.87 ERA and 27 strikeouts. Weaver K'd 15 Blue Jays in 7 2/3 innings recently. Yeah it's the Blue Jays, but come on...15!
Dan Haren has always started strong with a tendency to fade down the stretch. He's currently sitting pretty at 2-0 with 13 strikeouts and a 1.15 ERA. I don't, however, see him winning more than 13 games this year. But what do I know? Weaver takes the trophy.
The A's have themselves a good little rotation this year. Trevor Cahill posted an 18-8 season and a 2.97 ERA last year while Dallas Braden had a 3.50 ERA. Brett Anderson, in only 19 games last year, allowed just 35 runs and struck out 75 batters.
Gio Gonzalez went 15-9 with 171 strikeouts and is 2-0 already this year. He's given up only one earned run while striking out eight. Finally Brandon McCarthy is bringing home a 1-0 record having given up 17 hits already.
Write this down, Gio is the man in Oakland, this year and for many to come.
Felix Hernandez takes this crown with nobody in sight who can even come close. In 2009 he posted a 2.49 ERA. In 2010 he managed a 2.27 ERA and thus far in 2011 he has a 2.25 ERA.
Jason Vargas is sitting second in the rotation with a 7.20 ERA in '11. Somehow I do not see anyone taking the king's crown this season. After winning the title for most Ws this year I am looking forward to hearing The King's (acceptance) Speech. Too corny? Yeah, I thought so.
Did I step in anything? Can you check my cleats please?
C.J. Wilson went 15-8 last year giving up 76 earned runs and striking out 170 major league batters. With numbers like that, Wilson deserves to be on top of the Texas pitching rotation and there he will stay.
Colby Lewis will give him a run for his money, however, putting up similar strikeout numbers in 2010 (196) and allowing only 83 earned runs. It will all depend on who the Rangers bats decide to work for in 2011 and I contend that they will swing away more from C.J. Wilson than Lewis, who went 12-13 last year.
I originally thought that Tommy Hanson would be my answer to the question of Braves winningest pitcher this season, but in looking at some early statistics (Hanson is 0-2 carrying a 6.00 ERA with six earned runs and only three strikeouts) and in thinking about it more thoroughly I am forced to reconsider and go with the veteran Derek Lowe.
Lowe has taken two undeserved losses while only allowing three earned runs and whiffing 15 guys in a three game span. Tim Hudson might give Lowe a run for his money, what with his 2-0 start and 1.84 ERA. Hudson is also coming off his best season since 2001 (17-9).
Give Hanson one more year to break out and let Lowe have this season.
Josh Johnson out of Minneapolis (how did this guy slip past the Twins?) is the obvious choice to win the most games for the Marlins this season and that is why I am choosing Josh Johnson to win the most games for the Marlins this season.
It's not Johnson's pitching that is killing his win totals, it's his team's run support. Johnson won 15 games in '09, 11 in '10 and it is the belief of this humble FC that Johnson will top 15 this season. I see Johnson having his best year yet, especially with defensive skill and bats like Logan Morrison helping out.
Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey is 0-1 this season. His ERA is a god awful 15.63 with 11 earned runs and only three strikeouts, so do we love this guy? Well I heard an ESPN report on Baseball Tonight talking about Pelfrey's confidence and how it decides what type of pitcher he will be that day. His confidence is not there right now and with every sub-par outing it will become worse.
So let us focus our attention on 31-year-old Chris (not so) Young throwing from the fourth spot in the rotation. He currently sits 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Frankly, he should easily be at 2-0 right now after a one hit, two walk, five strike out, seven inning gem that he threw against the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately for Young it ended up as a no decision, but I see many wins in his future.
Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee? It's a toss up. To be honest the Phillies entire rotation is much like Sterling Archer's black turtleneck, awesome. Roy Halladay is the best in baseball and currently sits at 1-0 with an ERA lower than the limbo bar at your local roller skating rink (do they still have roller skating rinks?). Anyway it is low (0.69). Halladay also has 13 strikeouts versus one measly earned run. Not a bad way to start the season.
Then you take a look at Cliff Lee who is 1-1 with 14 strikeouts. He did however have a horrible three innings against the Atlanta Braves which made him appear more human than he actually is.
Cole Hamels is 1-1 and pitched seven shutout innings against those same Braves that lit up Lee, while the other Roy (Oswalt) is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
Joe Blanton is pulling up the rear with zero wins but on the bright side he also has zero losses. He was however, embarrassed by the Mets for seven runs in only four innings (I could have probably pitched that poorly).
In taking all of these things into consideration it is my professional opinion that the pitcher who will get the most wins on the Phillies this season will be, without a doubt, Roy Oswalt.
Save the nasty comments, I'm obviously full of, well something, because it will be Roy Halladay, hands down folks.
This would have been easier had the 4-5 Washington Nationals still had front man Stephen Strasburg singing lead, but with Tommy John taking him for a vacation this season I am going with right-hander Jordan Zimmerman to pick up the slack and the wins. This is Zimmerman's chance to show Washington what they missed out on last year when he himself was on an injury hiatus.
Zimm is currently 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA. Not outstanding but if we let him work out the jitters his one walk for every two strikeouts will start to dramatically improve.
This pic looks like he is a marionette
Ryan Dempster is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA and 10 earned runs so far this season. Carlos Zambrano is 1-0 but in his win he gave up four runs, striking out only three and walking five.
My guy is Matt Garza. He is 0-1 through two starts but has already accumulated 20 strikeouts. In Tampa Bay last year Garza was 15-10. He is now pitching in an easier division and an easier National League.
I was at a Twins/Angels game a few years back and was getting some Twins autographs before the game when a young kid next to me said to Garza "Can you sign my ball? Who are you?" Garza looked at the kid and said, "I'm Matt Garza, who the hell are you?" True story.
I think a lot of people are going to know who Matt Garza is after he leads the Cubbies in wins this year.
I don't know what I like more his leg kick or his mullet
The Reds rotation has the luxury of being coupled with a power packed lineup. That means they will acquire quite a few wins that they otherwise should not have on their record. That kind of power will definitely make up for lack of experience as well as other stumbles along the way.
Edison Volquez has never pitched more than 12 games in a season with the exception of one time in 2008 when he went 17-6. He is currently 1-0.
Travis Wood also gives us very little history to go on plus he has a 5.25 ERA through two games this year.
For my money the Reds winningest pitcher this year will be Bronson Arroyo. He had 15 wins in 2008, 15 wins in 2009, 17 in 2010 and with the help of some blazingly hot bats in Cinci, I see Arroyo topping 20 this year. He is already 2-0 folks.
In my fantasy draft when Arroyo was taken everybody groaned because they wanted him. The guy who took him told me that you can never go wrong with Arroyo. He is solid and you know what you are going to get, consistency.
I believe he's making the Zoolander face
This would have been much more difficult when Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were taking steroids in Texas but instead I have to wonder if Brett Myers is for real again.
Has Myers found what he misplaced in Philly or was his 14-8 record in 2010 a fluke? He is pitching an impressive 2.03 ERA so far this season but I am still going to go with Wandy Rodriguez for most wins.
The lefty Rodriguez sucks me in every year and every year he continues to disappoint me. Well, he threw a seven-inning gem against the Marlins allowing only one run. I'm sucked in again, folks. Wandy wins 14 to lead Houston this year in W's.
The Brew Crew is another team with great sluggers. The question is though, for whom will they be slugging? The answer is right-handed ace Yovani Gallardo. The youngster went 13-12 in 2009, 14-7 in 2010 and posted 200+ strikeouts each season.
Gallardo reminds me of Justin Verlander and if that is not enough to convince you then consider that he has already pitched a complete game shutout this year. That is pretty impressive.
And yes, yes I know all about Zack Greinke. The bottom line is that I would chose Gallardo to lead the Brewers in wins this year even if Greinke didn't bust himself up and take a ride on the DL.
I don't really love any of the Pirates starters but there must be a reason that Pittsburgh chose righty Kevin Correia as their No. 1 guy. Twelve wins in 2009 was his best year ever which doesn't say a whole lot.
He is going to need to throw a lot more seven scoreless inning games like the one he just pitched against St. Louis if he wants to make my prophecy come true.
Yep that is Adam Wainwright in the picture. I, and my fantasy team, along with a couple people in St. Louis kind of miss this guy right about now. He would have been my choice for most wins in the Cardinals organization this year but in his absence I am forced to choose Chris Carpenter. Tough call huh?
Carpenter has 133 career victories and 1504 Ks to 571 BBs. He may have started this season 0-1 but in that loss he allowed just one run to cross the plate over six innings with six strikeouts and zero bases on balls. That should have been a win for Carpenter.
The future looks bright for Chris especially considering who is swinging the bats for him.
There was a time when pitching in the desert was unstoppable and now there is Ian Kennedy. Ian Kennedy has only pitched in 48 major league games. His fellow hurler Daniel Hudson has only pitched in 22 major league games. Barry Enright has pitched in only 18 major league games, while Armando Galarraga has 88 games under his belt.
Joe Saunders, whom I am partial to because he is a Virginia Tech Hokie, is the vet of the group with a whopping 130 major league games to his credit but he is sliding down hill. On his best day Saunders will give you maybe 15 wins a season.
I see Ian Kennedy breaking away from this pack. He is 1-0 and struck out nine over eight innings to get that win, allowing just one run against a pretty hot Cincy club.
A guy in my fantasy baseball league tried to trade me Ubaldo Jimenez for Jon Lester. I didn't do it, then Jimenez got hurt. He will return to the rotation soon however and unless something unforeseen occurs, Jimenez will barely edge out Jorge De La Rosa for top honors in the 2011 Colorado Rockies win column.
There will be no repeat of last year's heroics by Jimenez but I do see a workman-like 16 wins for him and 14 for De La Rosa.
This one is fairly easy. Mr. deuce deuce, Clayton Kershaw, takes the cake all the way. Chad Billingsley is a very good pitcher but he has had his day at the top.
Kershaw's Ks have been climbing (185-212) and his walks have been decreasing (91-81) since 2009 (his first full season). He is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 2011 and Billingsley is 1-1 with an 8.00 ERA.
I like Billingsley but he tends to be streaky and just plain scares me more often than Kershaw when he toes the rubber.
Richard was just moved up in the rotation, and with a 1-0 record this year, he looks to build on his 2010 14-9 season.
I don't see anyone stopping him unless, of course, Matt Latos can stay healthy.
Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain? Yet another conundrum, folks. It is a tough choice so I am going to choose to avoid it and say that Jonathan Sanchez eeks them both out with 19 wins for the Giants this year.
Just joking around, it will be Lincecum (18 strikeouts and only one earned run in '11) all the way. With Sanchez, Bumgarner and Cain though it will be a fun race to watch.
Ask this question again in a couple of years and Bumgarner may be your answer. No pressure kid.
So who will be the best of the best? Let me know your thoughts and comments. I project Roy Halladay will walk away with the most wins overall this year but that is certainly not a stretch.
If I were forced to go out on a limb and think outside the box, I like Zach Britton of Baltimore. He's young and more importantly he doesn't know that he shouldn't be that good yet, plus he has some pretty solid talent backing him up at the plate. Let me know what you guys think.