Top 5 1-2 Starting Pitcher Combos in MLB Right Now
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A baseball team is nothing without a solid starting rotation. Nothing makes a great baseball team like a one-two punch in that starting rotation. In 2009, the World Series champion New York Yankees had CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. In 2010, the Giants won the World Series with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. So it goes to show that a solid one-two punch in your rotation can lead to a ring come October.
As a fan, I am very happy and comfortable knowing that the top two pitchers on my team will get a victory every week.
Having many great pitchers in the Majors, it is hard to decipher the greatest one-two punches in the game right now. Through much analysis, however, I am very confident that I can name the top 5 best one-two starting pitchers in the Major Leagues.
Number 5: Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain
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The 2010 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants, had a very tough 2011 regular season, going 86-76 and not being able to defend their title.
The ace of the starting rotation had another very solid year, going 13-14 with a 2.74 ERA, a 1.207 WHIP and striking out 220 batters. I know that the record isn't up to par with what he's done in the past, but that ERA is very low and the Giants offense was not producing throughout the year.
Tim Lincecum only gave up 66 earned runs, and 15 home runs. There's no doubt that he was not getting any run support from his offense when he was on the mound.
Tim Lincecum's counterpart, Matt Cain, surprised me with his performance in 2011. During this past season, Matt Cain went 12-11 with a career low 2.88 ERA, 179 strikeouts, and a 1.083 WHIP. Matt Cain did a lot of work, pitching 221.1 innings and starting 33 games during the 2011 season.
Cain only gave up 9 home runs and 63 walks which is really an improvement after 2010, when he gave up 22 home runs.
The Giants lack of run support kept them out of the playoffs, but this 1-2 punch did a great job throughout the season. They proved that they can keep up among the best one-two punches in the game.
Number 4: Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer
Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer
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During the 2011 regular season, the Detroit Tigers went 95-67 as they beat out everybody in the AL West and made it to the 2011 Postseason. After beating the New York Yankees in the ALDS, they were eliminated by the Texas Rangers in game six of the ALCS.
Justin Verlander had one of the best seasons a pitcher could have had. Not only did he unanimously win the American League Cy Young Award, he also won the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
During the season he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, .920 WHIP, 250 strikeouts, and pitched 251 innings. It seemed as if every time he took the mound, they won the game. On May.7th, Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. The season that Verlander had was remarkable and inexplicable.
Max Scherzer had a solid season that helped his team to postseason play. He went 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA. He was behind a great pitcher; after Verlander pitched, he was right behind him pitching very well for the Tigers. At the end of the season, he pitched 195 innings and struck out 174 batters.
Without Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, The Tigers would not have gone as far as they did in the 2011 season.
Number 3: David Price and James Shields
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During the 2011 season, the Tampa Bay Rays went 91-71 and clinched the American League Wild Card. In the ALDS, they lost to the Texas Rangers in game four. The two starting pitchers, David Price and James Shields, pitched fantastically for the Rays throughout the 2011 season.
James Shields was, without a doubt, the ace of that ball club, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA, a 1.043 WHIP and striking out 225 batters. He also pitched 11 complete games, 4 shutouts and pitched 249.1 innings. He was an animal for the Rays and helped them clinch a very tough wild-card spot, beating out the Boston Red Sox.
David Price pitched very well for the Rays, going 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA, a 1.137 WHIP and striking out 218 batters. His numbers aren't where they used to be but he was solid; he started 34 games for the Rays and pitched 224.1 innings.
I personally believe that the Rays had a very hard fought season and deserved to go to the playoffs. For them, their playoff hopes were ended in the last game of the season.
Number 2: Jared Weaver and Dan Haren
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The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim came in second place to the Texas Rangers in the 2011 regular season, going 86-76. Jared Weaver and Dan Haren combined for 34 wins, which is no surprise because they were phenomenal during the 2011 season.
Jared Weaver was just plain filthy during the 2011 season, going 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP. Not only that, he also pitched 235.2 innings and struck out 198 batters. He proved to the Angel organization and to everybody that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Dan Haren was just as good as Jared Weaver. Dan Haren went 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.024 WHIP. He also started 34 games and pitched 238.1 innings with 4 complete games.
These two pitchers are very dominant and they are one of the most dangerous pitching combinations in the major leagues. Now that the Angels have added Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, not only does it make their offense more powerful, it turns that one-two punch into just a filthy pitching rotation with Weaver, Haren, Wilson, Santana and Pinero.
Number 1: Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee
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Honestly, the Philadelphia Phillies have the best pitching rotation in the game; it all starts with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. During the 2011 season, the Phillies went 102-60 and ended up losing to the Saint Louis Cardinals in the NLDS in a heart-breaker.
Roy Halladay went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.040 WHIP. The "Doc" also pitched eight complete games, one shut out and struck out 220 batters.
Cliff Lee has returned to Philadelphia, turning down offers from the Yankees and Rangers. During the 2011 season, Cliff Lee went 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA and a 1.027 WHIP. What was most impressive to me was that he pitched six shutouts this season.
You can hate it and debate it, but Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are the best one-two punch in the game right now. With a team like the Phillies, it's hard to imagine not seeing them in the postseason every year. It's mainly because of their dominant pitching, thanks to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.