Now that the 2008 baseball season has come to a close, and spring training is three months away, it's time to take a look back on the season that was.
The first installment will be the National League pitchers who dazzled the baseball world with their speed, precision, and ability to come through when it really counts.
This list is compiled of five starters, and four relief pitchers including a closer as well as the pitcher most deserving of the coveted Cy Young Award.
3.30 ERA 22-7 in 34 games, three complete games, 183 strikeouts.
Let me just say, I apologize for leaving Webb off of the original list, but his high ERA compared to the other guys really had me on the fence despite his amazing 22 wins. He did give up 13 homeruns, but any pitcher that gives his team 22 victories is clearly doing his job well.
He is not a strikeout pitcher due to the fact that he throws a hard sinker that reaches about 90mph, but he does induce a lot of ground balls. Webb has the ability to go deep into games because of his low pitch count (Thanks to all those ground ball outs).
He doesn't have a whole lot of pitches to go to, which is probably why he tends to give up a lot of hits. However, when his sinker is on, there is almost no touching him.
2.53 ERA 16-7 in 34 games, three complete games, 206 strikeouts.
Santana made the transition to the NL seamlessly. He knows how to give his team innings as he pitched 234 in 2008.
He does have the tendency to give up the long ball, but while he doesn't throw in the upper 90's, his pitches are so perfectly placed in the low to mid-90's that hitters either can't lay off the pitch and miss it or shatter their bats and making an out.
Santana also has a hard slider and a change up that is considered to be one of the best in baseball.
2.62 ERA 18-5 in 34 games, two complete games, 265 strikeouts.
At 24, Lincecum is one of the most economical pitchers in the NL without a high strikeout rate. His fastball tops out near 100 mph, but he manages to keep his velocity between 93-97mph for the entire game.
His curve ball is almost a full 20 mph slower than his fastball which really keeps hitters off balance. Not to mention he throws a change up and more recently a cut fastball, which is quickly making him one of the up and coming pitchers in the league.
2.70 ERA 17-10 in 35 games, 10 complete games, 251 strikeouts.
Sabathia, like Santana and Harden made a good transition to the NL. The guy is a work horse as evident in his 10 complete games. His fastball maxes out at 98 mph and he mixes that with his curve and slider to keep hitters off balance.
Sabathia helped pitch the Brewers into the playoffs as the NL wildcard, and despite his lackluster performance in the division series, he is a solid performer with amazing stuff that makes hitters highly uncomfortable at the plate.
3.09 ERA 14-10 in 33 games, two complete games, 196 strikeouts.
If the World Series MVP doesn't make this list I'd say there's a problem. Not to mention he was also the MVP of the NLCS and went 4-0 in the post season.
He throws the standard four-seam fastball along with a change up and curve ball. Hamels' ability to keep hitters off balance with the way he mixes his pitches is what helped the Phillies defeat the Rays in the World Series.
His strikeout total may not be as high as some of the other starters on this list, but he induces a lot of broken bats and ground ball outs which enables him to pitch deep into games and what manager could say no to someone like that?
2.75 ERA 52 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched.
The lefty specialist was extremely reliable this season. He was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the World Series for the Phillies and pitched well throughout the post season.
He's capable of throwing more than one inning which also makes him a valuable part of the bullpen.
3.33 ERA 16-8 in 33 games, one complete game 206 strikeouts.
I know Haren is a starter, but since I had to limit the rotation to five starters I had to put him in the bullpen.
Haren is a pitcher that can eat up innings for his team. He features a fastball that tops out around 94mph but has been known to hit 97.
His split finger fastball is his out pitch due to the way it drops down and fools hitters.
While Haren is known to give up the long ball (19 this season), he pitched 216 innings and was named to the 2008 All-Star game.
2.73 ERA 82 strikeouts in over 62 innings, pitched 30 saves.
Fuentes pitches submarine style which makes his pitches very difficult for hitters to pick up, especially left-handed hitters.
Fuentes regained his role as the closer for the Rockies this year and has been relatively effective. He could be used as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen and can still be effective against right-handed batters due to his unusual pitching style.
1.95 ERA 41/41 in save opportunities, 92 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched.
There is no contest on this one. Brad Lidge dominated the NL with his constant effectiveness. He throws a four seam fastball that reaches 96mph, but it's his hard slider that really keeps hitters off balance.
In 2008, he only gave up 2 home runs. He was selected to the NL All-Star game this year, and recorded the final out of the 2008 World Series to go 7 for 7 in save opportunities in the post season.
NL Cy Young Award
It was a tough decision, but after much thought the award has to go to...
His stats speak for themselves and considering he was perfect in saves and got the last out of the World Series that has to count for something.
Stay tuned for the AL All-Star Pitching Staff coming soon!
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