Clayton Kershaw. Max Scherzer. Jon Lester. Yu Darvish. Jose Quintana. Jake Arrieta. These are only a few National pitchers who will start playoffs games for their respective teams in October and will make it tough for hitters to hit them.
Take a look at the Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals and Diamondbacks projected playoff starting rotations:
Cubs: Lester 3.96 ERA, Arrieta 4.03 ERA, Quintana 4.16 ERA, and Kyle Hendricks 3.80 ERA.
Team ERA: 3.98
Dodgers: Kershaw 2.04 ERA, Darvish 4.01 ERA, Alex Wood 2.38 ERA, and Rich Hill 3.35 ERA .
Team ERA: 2.95
Nationals: Scherzer 2.21 ERA, Stephen Strasburg 3.25 ERA, Gio Gonzalez 2.66 ERA, and Tanner Roark 4.93 ERA.
Team ERA: 3.26
Diamondbacks: Zack Greinke 2.84 ERA, Robbie Ray 3.11 ERA, Taijuan Walker 3.55 ERA and Zack Godley 3.06 ERA.
Team ERA: 3.14
These four teams all boast stud starting pitchers capable of winning playoff games on their own by limiting opposition hitters to 2 runs or less. However, the Cubs are the only team out of the lot that have won the World Series with these pitchers (Quintana not included). Cubs hitters got to Kershaw and Hill last year in the NLCS and triumphed to face the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. Cubs’ pitchers got off to a rough start prior to the All-Star Break and had a team ERA of over 4. However, post All-Star Break, they have turned it around dramatically and have compiled a team ERA of 2.48, just as good as the Dodgers.
The Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks need to prove that their starting rotation is good enough to sustain two or more rounds in the playoffs in order for them to reach elite status as the Cubs.
Comparing these National League team ERA’s to the American League, it does seems that the more impactful pitchers lie in the National League.
The Cleveland Indians boast a frightening group of four starters in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin but only settle with a team ERA of 4.31, worse than all the NL teams above.
The Boston Red Sox have Chris Sale and David Price but Price’s injury has them scuffling in pitching with a team ERA of more than 4.50, again worse than all the NL teams above.
The Houston Astros have Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh/Brad Peacock, but none of them have any experience in the postseason. Keuchel is the Astros’ only secured pitching threat. McCullers started off hot but now has been struggling since.
The New York Yankees just acquired Sonny Gray at the trade deadline and now possess a rotation of Luis Severino, Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and Jaime Garcia potentially in October. If there’s any team in the American League that can pose a quadruple pitching threat, it’s the Yankees.
But all in all, in my opinion, the superior pitching class rests in the National League.
After all, pitching wins championships…….most of the time!