Since Cliff Lee teamed up with Cole Hamels in Philly, the Phils now
feature a great 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. Two very good
left-handed pitchers, both with great seasons behind them, and much
greatness left in front of them. They make up what is easily one of the
best in the game. And come playoff time, that matters a lot.
So I decided to take it upon myself to rank the five best “1-2’s” in
the game. And there are plenty of good ones, so it was difficult to
narrow it down to just the five. I could have gone ten deep with this
The five best 1-2’s are:
Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain: Lincecum is arguably the best pitcher
in the game. A great righty, short in stature, large at heart–and in
the numbers. Lincecum has posted the highest ‘WAR’ in baseball the past
two seasons with an awesome 14.8 (among pitchers). In addition to that,
he also has the lowest FIP, and the lowest ERA. Lincecum is definitely
the better of the two, but his counterpart can hold his own, without a
Matt Cain, as mentioned, is the second best pitcher in the Bay area.
But that is no knock on Cain. His FIP doesn’t match up well with his
ERA, meaning he may see a small jump in that eventually. But young
pitchers are always learning how to pitch, and Cain will only get
better, it seems. Cain’s ‘WAR’ the past two years is only 6.6, which is
really good. But it falls well, well short of Lincecum’s.
Josh Beckett/Jon Lester: Josh Beckett, the every-other-year
wonder. He makes it look so awesome, so prolific when he is on. And
when he is on, I may want no other pitcher in baseball on the mound.
With that being said, he hasn’t been great the entire time, just most
of the time he has spent in Boston, post-2006 of course. When things
are going well, Beckett has command of two nasty breaking balls, the
four-seamer, and what can be an unhittable two-seamer at times.
Lester is as good as ever. Even though his ERA may not indicate he
was much better than last year, trust me he is. He has become a
dominant strikeout pitcher who is a little less reliant on his porous
defense. His 10.3 ‘WAR’ is less than Beckett’s 11, but Lester isn’t
much different in terms of results than Beckett. This season, Lester
has over ten K’s a game, to less than three walks.
Yea, the guy is good. I know.
Cole Hamels/Cliff Lee: The aforementioned left-handed duo. I
can tell you what, no one wants to face this pair come playoff time.
You know how you always feel uncomfortable when a lefty is on the
mound? Yes, I do as well. Just imagine having to see these guys in a
short series, both being left handed. But not only left-handed, also
Hamels has been somewhat unlucky, but isn’t exactly having a year that tops last season either. His ‘WAR,’
again, over the past two seasons is 6.6, actually tied with Cain. So
while he hasn’t been dominant of late, it is probably just because of
luck, and possibly being worked hard in 2008.
Cliff Lee is a bonafide ace. He was the Cy Young winner of course
last season, in the superior AL. And ever since his arrival to the
weaker NL, he’s been carving up the competition. His WAR is third only
behind Lincecum’s and Halladay’s. Command is Lee’s specialty, as he
will not overpower you. And he “commands” very well…
CC Sabathia/AJ Burnett: CC Sabathia is one of the five best
pitchers in all of baseball. And his WAR helps prove that, finishing
4th in that category. CC really broke out in 2007, having a Cy Young
caliber season. 2006 was good too, but people really took notice in
07.’ The lefty is the real deal, and is showing everyone why the money
was spent on him, rather than not.
AJ Burnett hasn’t had many great seasons. But his WAR is very good
over the past couple of years. I was never a supporter of Burnett
being an “Ace,” but he has pitched very well, under the lights in New
York–something that not everyone can handle well. CC is the main
reason this tandem is so high, but Burnett is definitely a good pitcher.
Dan Haren/Brandon Webb: I know that Webb is hurt, but just
last season these two were arguably the best 1-2 in the game.
Different styles, but both use an array of pitches to get batters out.
I guess with the injury to Webb, we can place Haren in the number one
slot. But in fairness to Webb, he was truly great. And hopefully he
can get back into form someday.
Haren is underrated, maybe the most underrated in the game. His
transition from a pitchers park in Oakland to a hitters park in Arizona
has probably gone better than any scout could imagine.
Duo’s that just missed:
Javier Vazquez/Jair Jurrjens
John Danks/Mark Beurhle
Chris Carpenter/Adam Wainwright
Zack Greinke/Gil Meche
Justin Verlander/Edwin Jackson