Here, I will create my personal pitching "dream team" from the American League, based on 2008, as has been requested of me. I will give a brief synopsis/analysis of each pick. I will select a starting rotation, Cy Young winner, four relievers, and one closer. Since baseball is a stat-driven sport, I will use statistics to help make my decisions. Obviously, I am a big fan of making decisions on more than stats, so the intangibles will be taken into consideration as well (intimidation, clutch performers, etc.).
First, let's start with the Cy Young winner.
Can you really go with anyone besides Cliff Lee? The guy led the league in wins, ERA, win-loss ratio, and was lights out all year. To go 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA is to be the most focused player in the marathon that is Major League Baseball. Lee located his fastball well enough for an incredible 5:1 K/BB ratio. He is also my ace. Kudos, sir. Kudos.
Starter No. 2
Roy Halladay, of course. He snags another Cy Young if it isn't for Cliff Lee's incredible season. He dials up 20 wins again and also boasts a sub-three ERA (2.78). He had a lot of decisions (20-11), which means that he logged a lot of hours. If you rock a sub-three ERA in the American League, you are a man amongst boys. An unbelievable 6:1 K/BB ratio doesn't hurt either.
David Eckstein as your shortstop is just one example of how little offense he had helping him. Tag most of the 11 losses on his teammates, who use bats for their paychecks.
Starter No. 3
Let's go with "Moose." Mike Mussina, who had astonishingly never won 20 games did so this year. To the tune of 20-9, at an age and point in his career where no one believed him capable of such. Good shootin', Mussina. He also had a 3.37 ERA. When the Yankees were losing all year, at least they knew they could rely on the man with the vicious knuckle-curve. He also had a 5:1 K/BB ratio. Well done, old-timer.
Starter No. 4
Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice K is the most painful pitcher in baseball to watch. His games last for four-plus hours, routinely (and in Boston, no less—where it snows in July). But he may also be the most painful pitcher to bat against. He will not throw a here-it-is-hit-it pitch to you, even though he has good velocity. As angst-filled as I get when watching him pitch, he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in only 29 games. Was he worth the money? Probably.
Starter No. 5
I'll take Jon Lester here. This kid will melt you hair with his fastball. He threw a no-hitter. He's a baller, plain and simple. He didn't have a whole lot of decisions (he went 16-6), but he had a good win-loss ratio and ERA (3.21). He also had almost a 3:1 K/BB ratio.
Obvious. Though some may pick Francisco Rodriguezfor the Cy Young, as dominant as he was, I couldn't do it. We've seen similar seasons to this from closers. It seems to happen fairly often for them. Not this great of course, but close. Cliff Lee had to do it while logging over 200 innings. But nonetheless, K Rod was disgusting this year and closed like a champ. He set the all-time record with 62 saves. Yo quiero esto hombre con la pelota en sus manos.
Reliever No. 1
Joey Devine. A reliever with a 6-1 record? Easy pick. Not to mention a superhuman 0.59 ERA.
Reliever No. 2
Devine's teammate, Brad Ziegler. What a two-headed monster these guys were for Oakland's bullpen this past year. Ziggy was 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA.
Reliever No. 3
How about Grant Balfour for the Rays? The guy was 6-2 with a nearly 4:1 K/BB ratio. I know records don't really matter that much with relievers, but all these guys kept runs off the board while re-energizing their clubs with their lights-out pitching. Balfour also had a 1.54 ERA.
Reliever No. 4
This was the toughest spot for me to decide. Brian Bruney gets the nod because in his time in the Yankees' 'pen this season, he didn't have save opportunities often turn into non-saves. He was a middle reliever with a sub-two ERA (1.83) and almost a strikeout per inning. Also, he didn't record a loss in going 3-0.
So there you have it. There is my 2008 A.L. pitching dream team. No way we win less than 120 games if they actually played together. Pitching wins.