Almost all of the World Series contenders are looking to add pitching to their roster at the trade deadline, especially starting pitching. This year’s market is very thin, so a look at what each team currently has on their staff is also important, even if it’s not as fun as any trade speculation.
Barring a blockbuster trade prior to Wednesday’s deadline, do the Dodgers have the best top 3 starting pitchers across both leagues?
Clayton Kershaw / Zack Greinke / Hyun Jin Ryu VS The rest of the MLB
Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is the Major League leader in ERA and WHIP at 1.96 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. The 25 year old lefty is at the very least in the conversation for the best pitcher in the league despite only being 10-6 on the season. His 156 strikeouts is the 5th highest total in the league. Zack Greinke backs him up in the rotation. Greinke’s numbers this season don’t reflect the pitcher he is since he missed a month of his first season as a Dodger thanks to a Carlos Quentin hissy fit. But the well traveled Cy Young winner is a beast wherever he goes, especially at home. He is 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA at home this season, and is 27-7 with a 3.50 ERA over his previous 3 seasons at home. The surprise third ace of the Dodgers staff is 26 year old South Korean rookie Hyun Jin Ryu. His dominating 2 hitter against the Cincinnati Reds and fellow South Korean Shin Soo Choocemented Ryu’s standing as a front runner for the NL Rookie of the Year and the premier third starter in Major League Baseball. He is 9-3 on the year with a stellar 3.14 ERA in 20 starts.
Those three starters combine for a trio that could dominate a post season series, if the Dodgers go on to win the NL West and qualify for the postseason.
But what of the competition?
San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain / Madison Bumgarner / Tim Lincecum
The best starting pitching staff over recent years consists of all home-grown pitchers too. This staff belongs to the Giants, and has resulted in 2 World Series Titles over the last 3 years. But this season it has resulted in a 9 game deficit in the NL West. Matt Cain has been roughed up (4.79 ERA), so has Tim Lincecum despite a no hitter and high strickout toals. Madison Bumgarner has been the ace of the staff but it’s not what this staff could be.
Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee / Cole Hamels / Roy Halladay
For however much longer Cliff Lee is a Philly, he has been an ace this season, but Cole Hamels has a Major League leading 13 losses, and Roy Halladay velocity was way down before he hit the DL.
Tampa Bay Rays: David Price / Matt Moore / Jeremy Hellickson or Chris Archer
The way Chris Archer has been pitching recently, he could be a scary number 3 starter if this AL East team continues to get the job done with their pitching year after year. Left handers David Price and Matt Moore are back to being dominant, and their playoff experience give them an edge over virtually any other 2 starters. But Ryu has been consistent enough all season to give the Dodgers the edge in that third slot.
The next two team’s though, have the biggest right to claim the best trio of starters.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander / Max Scherzer / Animal Sanchez
Justin Verlander has struggled this season. He is 10-8 with a pedestrian 3.99 ERA. He is not striking out as many batters, and has lost velocity on his fastball. But Max Scherzer has picked up all of that slack and some. He is 15-1, averages over 10 strikeouts per 9 innings, and is just behind Kershaw’s stellar WHIP at 0.92. Anibal Sanchez as the third wheel is rocking a 2.68 in 17 games started, also strikes out more than 10 batters per 9 innings; but he has not gotten the same run support as Scherzer. And all 3 pitchers have serious playoff experience from last season’s trip to the World Series. But until Verlander looks like Verlander again, I’ll take the Dodgers’ staff.
St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright / Shelby Miller / Lance Lynn
If Chris Carpenter returns just before the playoffs and looks like Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals have the best pitching staff in the league. And like the Rays and Tigers, it is not shy of playoff experience. Lance Lynn is in the middle of his second consecutive killer regular season, but he was tagged by the Giants in the 2012 post-season. Shelby Miller is a young stud who is excelling in his first shot in the rotation for the Cards sporting a 2.79 ERA, and Adam Wainwright is a 2 time World Series Champ starting a new contract extension.
I give the Cardinals the edge here because of their depth, and because Adam Wainwright has 2 World Series rings. Clayton Kershaw is as dominant as they come, especially in big games, and he is backed up by another Cy Young winner as well. But come playoffs, team success matters more than individual accomplishments, and Kershaw would be the first to admit it.
Who is the best trio of starters LA Sports Hubsters?