We take a break from our daily Theo Epstein watch to make note of some remarkable performances this season by two starting pitchers that dominated in their respective leagues. The starting pitcher’s role on a team is always debatable. There are those that argue that seeing as a starting pitcher works once every five days, they do not have as much value as a position player, who is in the lineup on a daily basis. However, that is an inaccurate assessment of the the starting pitcher position. To those that question the value of a starting pitcher, take a look at how the Cubs season was dramatically affected by the early season injuries to Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner. The starting pitcher sets the tone for their respective team, and in essence, is the one that is tasked with keeping his team in the game.
This season, there have been two starting pitchers that have kept there teams respectable throughout the season. For the National League, Clayton Kershaw was hands down the best starting pitcher in the National League this season. While all the attention may be on Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, Kershaw quietly went about his business posting a 21-5 record while having an ERA of 2.28 and striking out 248 batters. Perhaps what is more special about what Kershaw has done is because he is in large part what kept the Dodgers relevant on the baseball field. The Dodgers are an on-going soap opera with the power struggle between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball, in addition to McCourt’s divorce from his wife.
Meanwhile in the American League, forget about best pitcher, Justin Verlander should be recognized as the best player in the American League. Verlander earned the pitching triple crown in the American League this season, leading all American League pitchers with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA, and 250 strikeouts. Verlander has earned comparisons to Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, but in this day and age, Verlander is neither. Justin Velrander is Justin Verlander, and when we look back at his career, Verlander will have his own legacy and that is what we will remember him for.