With the Phillies signing Ciff Lee and the Brewers trading for Zack Greinke it became evident to me that many of these teams have a strategy clearly focused on hoarding pitching.
Here's how I rank the top starting staff's in baseball given a snapshot of current rosters. (I'm only going to include the top 4 starters in my consideration as the 5 spot is a crap shoot.)
1) Philadelphia Phillies – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hammels
Arguably the best top four ever assembled. It will be interesting to see them compete with each other. Not too many people talk about Hammels, if he didn't have a down 2009 they would. Consider the fact that he will more often than not be facing other teams number 4 starters, Hammels may end up with best record of all four guys. The Phillies literally have four number one starters.
2) San Francisco Giants - Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner
This staff isn't going to concede anything to the Phillies staff. In any single game, Lincecim and Cain can match-up with anyone. Some consistency and from Sanchez and experience from Bumgarner and it's possible they can lay a claim to this title before it's all said and done.
3) Milwaukee Brewers - Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf
This pick may be the biggest surprise to people and I expect some to be up in arms about it (particularly Cardinals fans) but Greinke to the Brewers moves them ahead of St. Louis and a lot of other teams as well. If Shaun Marcum wasn't in Toronto every fan in baseball would know who he is; people in baseball circles do, and a move for Greinke and Marcum to the NL is huge. Yovani Gallardo is ready to make the next step to being an elite pitcher and Randy Wolf is a solid number four by MLB standards.
4) Atlanta Braves – Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens
While there isn't anything flashy here, if Hudson is once again healthy, this can be one of the more solid and consistent staffs in baseball. Tommy Hanson had a bit of a sophomore slump but I expect him to via for a CY Young at some point.
5) Florida Marlins – Josh Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez
I don't think that there is any question that Javier Vasquez bounces back in the NL to be pitch like a number one, especially pitching in the NL East where he most recently had Cy Young-like success.
6) St. Louis Cardinals – Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook
Wainwright doesn't always get mentioned in the conversation when people talk about the best pitchers in baseball, but he is. If Carpenter and Westbook can remain healthy and Garcia can even come close to a repeat performance they are clearly a top staff. But at this point I'm not certain that Garcia can repeat that and the health of Carpenter and Westbrook never certainty. I may not be giving them enough credit here and I can see moving them up as spot, but not much more than that.
7) Boston Red Sox – Ah, the first American League team finally shows up at number 7. This has less to do with the pitching talent and more to do with being in the AL. It's truly a different game. That said, if you could assure me that Josh Beckett would have an ON year, they would be higher (Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are that good), but there's no way to count on that. Being in the AL East vs. the NL hurts immensely.
8) Los Angeles Angels – Don't under estimate a bounce back year from Dan Haren. While the front of their rotation may not appear as dominant as others, the back of their rotation is better than most.
9) Tampa Bay Rays – Don't dismiss them because of their numbers, you try pitching against the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays 54 times. They are solid.
10) San Diego Padres – The team no one ever wants to talk about. Think about the fact that if they had only had a 7 or 8 game losing streak instead of a 10 game losing streak late in the year, they would have won the NL West with the second lowest payroll in all of baseball. The no-name Padres pitching staff was ranked number one in MLB all year until the Giants surpassed them in the final week. Mat Latos is my favorite to win the NL CY Young.
That's my top 10, you may yell and scream about the choices you don't agree with and discuss amongst yourselves. Carry on.....
Blake Kearny is a retired baseball scout (34 years) from Los Angeles, California. He currently runs a baseball school for children in Los Angeles.
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