This is the final part of our two part series. Last week we discussed the hitters. This week we are looking at the ten best pitchers in the National League (“NL”) and American League (“AL”) West Divisions. In alphabetical order, by team.
Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, NL West
4 wins, no losses, a 2.12 earned run average (“ERA”), 13 walks (base on balls/“BB”), 67 strikeouts (“SO”), a .167 batting average against (“AVG”) and a 0.82 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched/”WHIP”) through 51 innings pitched (“IP”) is impressive. Closer Brad Boxberger and 8th inning set-up man Archie Bradley have been equally impressive for the first place Diamondbacks. Zach Greinke’s 53:6 SO/BB ratio is also stellar. All around, the Diamondbacks’ pitching has been great through April and parts of May for the 2018 season. Corbin is also a free agent after this season.
Adam Ottavino, RP, Colorado Rockies, NL West
3 wins, 1 save, (for a non-closer, which is Wade Davis’s job), a 1.23 ERA, 9 holds, 9 BB, 38 SO, a .087 AVG and a 0.68 WHIP through 22 IP. The 6’5 205 lbs. 32 year-old is a free agent after the 2018 season and was a 1st round draft pick in 2006 out of Northwestern. His home and away (outside Coors Field) splits are equally impressive and should he continue at this pace he will help his team win and cash in on a large contract for 2019.
The Entire Starting Pitching Staff, Houston Astros, AL West
The entire Astros starting pitching staff could be inserted here and possibly select members of their bullpen, but if we have to be very selective, it would be a three-way tie between Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton, in that order. When Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, Jr. are your fourth and fifth best starting pitchers in the rotation, respectively by statistics, you know the team is performing at an elite level. The numbers: The 35-year-old Verlander has a 1.21 ERA (best of this team’s starting pitchers), 4 wins against 2 loses, 12 BB, 77 SO, a .146 AVG and a 0.97 WHIP through 59.2 IP (tops this list and a team best). Cole, the youngest of this trio at 27, has a 1.43 ERA, 4 wins, 12 BB, 86 SO (team best), a .155 AVG and a 0.74 WHIP through 56.2 IP. The 34-year-old Morton has a 2.03 ERA, 5 wins and no losses, 17 BB, 62 SO, a .175 AVG and a 0.97 WHIP through 48.2 IP. Morton is a free agent after the 2018 season, whereas Verlander and Cole will enter the free agent marking after the 2019 season.
Shohei Ohtani, SP (and batting cleanup), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, AL West
Tyler Skaggs has been great this year, but when you measure his statistics against Ohtani’s, you realize that Ohtani’s pitching statistics are a little better and he hits cleanup on the days that he does not pitch (or the days before and after that he pitches). We spoke about the potential greatness of the 23-year-old Ohtani previously, but as for now, the numbers: a 3.58 ERA, 3 wins against 1 loss, 13 BB, 43 SO, a .198 AVG and a 1.10 WHIP through 32.2 IP. Did we mention that he hits cleanup for the Angels offense as well?
Walker Buehler, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers, NL West
Normally, Clayton Kershaw would top this list, and he has been equally the perfectionist this year as in years past, but he is currently on the disabled list (with half of the Dodgers starting lineup and pitching staff) and only active players could be selected. That being said, the 23-year-old Kentuckian out of Vanderbilt University is an absolute stud and looks like the next Orel Hershiser, if not with more upside, should he stay healthy after Tommy John surgery. Through 22 IP, he has a 1.64 ERA, two wins, 27 SO against 7 walks, a 1.00 WHIP and a .190 AVG. If he keeps this up, Ohtani and Buehler may be the respective Rookies of the Year for each league, and the Dodgers third straight player selection.
Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland Athletics, AL West
Although closer Blake Treinen has been stellar this year, Manaea has a no-hitter under his belt this season, which was against a well-playing Boston Red Sox team. The numbers: 55.1 IP (third best behind Verlander and Cole), 7 BB, 45 SO, 4 wins against 4 losses, a 0.72 WHIP, 2.11 ERA and .170 AVG.
Brad Hand, RP, San Diego Padres, NL West
While Tyson Ross and Joey Lucchesi have been exceptional this year, closer Brad Hand, has the upper hand, pun intended. In his third season in San Diego, Hand has been a model of consistency. This year’s numbers stack up to the past two through this time of the season: 20.2 IP, 10 BB, 33 SO, 1.11 WHIP, 2.61 ERA, a .170 AVG and 11 saves. If the Padres are struggling, look for Hand to be a significant trade piece to a contending team looking for bullpen help.
Back of the Bullpen, San Francisco Giants, NL West
Both closer Hunter Strickland and set-up man Tony Watson have been great this year. Johnny Cueto has been great too (0.84 ERA through 32 IP), but he is on the disabled list and therefore could not be considered for this list. The two relievers could be twins, statistically speaking: 17-17.2 IP, 5 BB, 19 SO, 1.02-1.18 WHIP, 2.55-2.65 ERA, .197-.238 AVG, with 7 holds for Watson and 8 saves for Strickland (although he also has 2 blown saves).
Edwin Diaz and James Paxton, Seattle Mariners, AL West
Diaz and Paxton have been studs this year, especially Diaz. Diaz has 19.1 IP, 9 BB, 34 SO, a 0.78 WHIP, a 1.86 ERA and a .094 AVG, with 13 saves (tops this list) and 1 blown save. Paxton has logged 53.2 IP, 19 BB, 71 SO, 2 wins, a 1.12 WHIP, a 3.52 ERA and a .206 AVG. Until Félix Hernández steadies the ship, the aforementioned have been the pitching staff anchors.
Bartolo Colon, Texas Rangers, AL West
You either laughed or searched the nearest Wikipedia page when you saw Bartolo Colon’s name here, but the stats do not lie. Cole Hamels has been great and will be Cole Hamels, but Colon, 44, is nearly ten years older than the next youngest person on this list (Justin Verlander, 35). He encroaches Jamie Moyer’s and Jesse Orosco’s records daily, who pitched until they were 49 and 46, respectively. Colon also has a better ERA than Hamels (3.48 to 3.32), and he brings 43.1 IP, 3 wins (against 2 loses), 4 BB, 29 SO, a 0.90 WHIP and a .223 AVG. His success has obviously helped his team, while reliever Jose Leclerc has been even better. The 24-year-old is 20 years younger than Colon and brings 13.1 IP, 2 holds, 6 BB, 18 SO, a 0.75 WHIP, a 2.03 ERA and a .093 AVG.
For now, that concludes our “Best of the West” series. Back next week on a new topic.