Being a professional pitcher is probably the toughest position to master. You have to know who you’re facing, study teams and players and have a good relationship with your organization. Although a starting pitcher only has to take to the mound once in a 5-6 day period, that one start is as hard as 5 consecutive days in a field position. I have put together my list of top 10 starting pitchers in the MLB today. All stats are as of May 5.
1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies. Good old Roy Halladay gets my number 1 spot. Halladay is 34 years old and still going strong. Roy has 191 career wins and under 100 losses. Halladay has a career 3.24 ERA and has thrown 66 complete games. Halladay is the total package when it comes to pitching. He has played in 6 All Star games and threw a perfect game with Philadelphia. Although Roy doesn’t have much playoff experience, due to being in Toronto for 12 seasons, Halladay is playing great with Philly and is showing why he has my vote for #1.
2. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers. Verlander has arguably the best control of his pitches in the MLB. Verlander has great velocity as well. Justin is leading his Detroit Tigers and is not stopping. Verlander had a career year in 2011 when he put together a 24-5 record and a 2.40 ERA. Verlander has a career 3.50 ERA and averages over 157 strikeouts a season. Verlander is only 29 and has a great career ahead of him in Detroit.
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners. Felix, also known as king Felix, does not get as much recognition as other good pitchers because Felix has been on the lowly Mariners for his entire career. Hernandez makes the best out of it though. Seattle relies on Felix as their number one starter, and he delivers. Hernandez does not have an outstanding wins-loses record at 88-68 for his career, but that is due to the little run support by the Mariners. Hernandez can strikeout anyone. He has only been playing for 8 years and already has 1315 k’s, that is just over 164 strikeouts per season. Hernandez will make the best out of what offense he has and strikeout everyone, but I would like to see Felix on a stronger team to see how he does.
4. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants. Yeah sure he is only 27 and doesn’t have as much experience as some others, but Timmy can really pitch. His fastballs have reached 100 mph at one point. “Tiny Tim” is only 5’11” and 163 lbs. but Lincecum has a great 3.06 ERA in his career. Tim is 71-43 lifetime and has an incredible 193.3 strikeout average per season. Lincecum already has a World Series ring under his belt but also won the NL Cy Young award in 2008 and 2009. Lincecum is off to a bit of a slow start in 2012 but I believe he can turn it around especially with the capability Lincecum has.
5. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees. Sabathia has been in the majors for 12 seasons and still does not have 100 losses. It probably will come in 2012 because his total is at 96 losses but when he has 180 wins in his career you know this guy is good. C.C. has a 3.52 ERA and has thrown over 2000 strikeouts since 2001 when he made his MLB debut with Cleveland. Sabathia was then traded to Milwaukee before signing with New York in December of 2008. Sabathia is 31 years old and is still going strong. C.C. is entering his 4th season as a Yankee and will probably be as dominant as he was in previous years when he won an AL Cy Young award in 2007 and made appearances in 5 All-Star games. He is most likely off to another ASG this year in 2012.
6. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels. Weaver is standing tall at 6’7″ and uses every inch to get the batter out. Jered is still young at 29 and has a good record at 86-47. Weaver is a very dominant starter for the Angels. He will get some competition when C.J. Wilson comes in. But Weaver shouldn’t worry. He has been an Angel his entire career and has that leadership presence that Wilson doesn’t have yet. Weaver has a 3.24 ERA and fantastic 1.15 career WHIP. Weaver can get a little stressed out as he showed in an incident in August of 2011 against the Detroit Tigers but Weaver is capable of holding in his anger and showing that he is one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB.
7. James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays. Shields is rather underrated in the MLB. Shields and David Price are leading a very young and strong Rays pitching rotation. Shields was not anything spectacular until around late 2010. He had an amazing 2011 when he went 16-12 with a tiny 2.82 ERA. James is also having a great 2012. He is off to a 5-0 start with 39 strikeouts. Shields has 1066 career k’s and a 3.93 career ERA. James and Price will battle for the position as the Rays number one guy. but if they keep battling strong, the Rays will be able to win the AL East.
8. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers. I know Kershaw had a great 2011 going 21-5 and most of you probably would think he would be rated higher, but Clayton is still young at 24 and has a promising career ahead of him but doesn’t have the experience that other pitchers do. Kershaw has good numbers with a 2.86 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. But he hasn’t even won 50 games yet. This is one reason that he is not given a higher rating on my list. Clayton will continue to dominate in the National League and maybe in a few years you will see him in my top 5. Kershaw is very promising and the Dodgers have something to be excited about.
9. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox. Lester has never lost more than 9 games in a season and has won 65 games over the past 4 seasons. Lester has taken the ace position from Josh Beckett due to injuries. Lester has proven it was not a mistake. Jon is only 28 and has a 3.57 ERA with 1.29 career WHIP. Lester has struggled in 2012 but will most likely regain his form and have another strong season and win around 15 games.
10. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies. Hamels is one of those guys who seem like they have been around for decades, but Hamels is only 28 and is in his 7th year of Major League Baseball. Cole has 78 wins in his career and has a reasonable 3.36 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP. Hamels also strikes out his share of batters. He has a total of 1135 k’s in his career. Hamels has only played with the Phillies in his career. He is on a one year contract currently and will hope to have success wherever he lands in free agency. Hamels was the 2008 World Series MVP and is hoping to continue a playoff streak as Cole has appeared in every playoffs since 2007.
Honorable Mentions: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays
Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins
C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers