If you’re interested in non-Tigers analysis, I’ve got a post up in the Community Research section at FanGraphs comparing the seasons of Adam Wainwright and Matt Moore so far in 2013 focusing on the nearly identical rate with which their pitches hit the strikezone despite their wildly different walk rates. If you’re interesting in pitching, and especially the strategy involved, I hope you’ll check it out. Plenty of New English D style graphics, too.
From Last Night:
- Matt Harvey takes a no-hitter into the 7th in a 4-2 win over the Twins
- Wainwright throws a CGSO with 12K in an 8-0 thumping of the Crew
- Strasburg gives the Nats 6 strong innings, but Hudson is better as the Braves win 3-1
What I’m Watching Today:
- Roy Halladay tries to right the ship again, this time against the Fish in Miami (1p Eastern)
- Maholm and Gonzalez face off in DC (1p Eastern)
- Phil Humber and the Astros look to take advantage of the slumping Halos (330p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- If Halladay can’t get going against the Marlins, is it time to talk DL?
The two big stories for me on a full Saturday of baseball were Harvey and Wainwright. Harvey continues to dominate and came within a few outs of throwing the second no-hitter in Mets history. His fastball got faster as the game went on and all four pitches looked great in his standout performance. I’ve been drooling over him all season, and he just keeps delivering. I’m officially putting Harvey on the list of pitchers who are appointment television right now. The list includes Verlander, Kershaw, King Felix, Strasburg, and now Harvey. It’s a fluid list, but right now, I don’t think you can afford to miss a Matt Harvey start. Speaking of appointment TV, have you seen what Wainwright is doing this season? After his CGSO today, he has thrown 22IP with 24 strikeouts and 0 walks. To find another pitcher with no walks, you have to drop down to Cliff Lee who has thrown 7 2/3 fewer innings and after that you have to go down to Kyle Lohse who only has 13 innings this season. I think it’s safe to say Adam Wainwright has fully recovered from his Tommy John Surgery and is back to being an ace.
Over the last nine weeks, we’ve chronicled the best players at each field position and the best starters the AL has to offer. Here, we’ll wrap up this particular run with the National League’s best starters.
I’ve often commented on the level of difficulty each list gave me during its construction, and this one, like the AL list, gave me trouble because there were a good number of candidates for the back half of the list. I feel strongly about the top five, but I think 6-15 could go in a lot of directions.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these rankings as a topic of debate and a way to preview the 2013 season. We’ll pick up next Saturday with other types The Nine lists, but we’ll revisit these lists throughout the season to see how well they prepared us for the future.
9. Johnny Cueto (Reds)
Cueto has pretty consistently outperformed his peripherals in the past and finally had a top shelf season this year in Cincinnati. Cueto remains in his prime and pitches in front of a pretty complete team. I thought about some other guys for this spot, and it killed me to leave Halladay off this list, but this one feels right.
8. Zach Greinke (Dodgers)
Greinke is now a very wealthy man and has a friendly home ballpark. He’s got great stuff but is susceptible to blow up innings. If there wasn’t a bit of a question about his elbow for the start of the season, he’d be a bit higher. Greinke is as talented as almost anyone on the list, but he tends to underperform his peripherals and his health is a bit uncertain.
7. Matt Cain (Giants)
Cain is an absolute workhouse with great control whose WAR undervalues him because it doesn’t appreciate his apparent ability to limit BABIP. He’s never missed a start in seven seasons, clearly has no-hit stuff and is very reliable. The ace of the world champs belongs on any list of this kind, and his contract looks incredible compared to some of the big signings of late.
6. Gio Gonzalez (Nationals)
Gio is a bit wild, but the strikeout rate and the walk rate are trending in the right direction. I’m not his biggest fan and there will certainly be steroid talk this season, but the numbers are telling me he’s a top six starter for next season. I’d rather have Cain or Greinke on my club, but if we’re going to try to be objective about next year, we probably have to give the edge to Gio.
5. Adam Wainwright (Cardinals)
Wainwright had two Cy Young type seasons in 2009 and 2010 before missing all of 2011 after having Tommy John’s Surgery. It took him a few months to return to form, and looks locked in and ready to go. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game when he’s healthy and all signs point to a big season from the 31 year old ace of the Cardinals.
4. Cliff Lee (Phillies)
Lee is coming off five excellent seasons in which he threw 211 innings or more. He has amazing control and a fine strikeout rate. He only has one Cy Young on his shelf, but this lefty ace could easily have a couple more. He is, without a doubt, owner of the best 6-9 season in baseball history and shows no sign of slowing down.
3. Cole Hamels (Phillies)
Everything about Cole Hamels’ game is awesome. Strikeouts, few walks, durability. He doesn’t quite have the ceiling of the others, but he’s consistency keeps him at the top of this list. The changeup is one of the best in the game and he remains the youngest of the Phillies aces heading into 2013.
2. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
Kershaw is awesome. I don’t think I have to say anything else. He’s 25, has a Cy Young and a couple of near misses. He’s the best left handed pitcher in the game and should be for years to come. The only question about Kershaw is if he or Verlander will break the $200 million barrier for starters.
1. Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)
Last season was all about the innings limit. When he’s allowed to pitch, he is off the charts incredible. His career strikeout rate is 11.21 with a 2.71 BB/9. If he can hold up and stay healthy, he’s the best pitcher in the league. His stuff is amazing to watch. Is he Justin Verlander? Maybe not. Is he as close as any right hander in the game, you bet. Stephen Strasburg is the real deal.
What do you think? Kershaw or Strasburg? Or, someone else?