To help distract us from more pointless Sonnanstine/Jackson debates, I figured I'd post something that's been on my mind for a little bit. After watching Kazmir pitch last night and seeing how well Shields has been pitching this year, I couldn't but think that we've got one of, if not the best, 1-2 punch in all of the AL East. Let's think about this...
#1: Scott Kazmir
#2: James Shields
This may seem weird to say after Kaz's really awesome performance last night, but if you ask me, I feel like Shields is quickly developing into our staff ace. He has already assumed a vocal team leadership role on this team, taught Percy and Kazmir his change-up, and has put up really impressive numbers so far this season. He's also had one of the most dominant outings from any (Devil) Ray pitcher, he's pitched multiple complete games already, he doesn't walk many batters, and he is much more economical with his pitches than Kazmir. Of course, Kaz looked much more economical last night and could be poised for a big break-out year himself. Thoughts? Opinions? Who will be our staff ace by the end of the year? Personally, as weird as it may sound, I currently feel more secure with Shields on the mound than Kazmir.
#1: Josh Beckett
Beckett is just...well, awesome. But Dice-K is not the staff ace that Boston thought they were paying for when they put up that $50M posting fee. He had a 4+ ERA last year and although he currently has a 2.50 ERA this year, his K:BB ratio is screaming that his ERA is bound to rise soon. Heck, he's walked 8 hitters in one game this year, which is just absolutely ridiculous. Then again, Dice-K did have a much better K:BB ratio last year than he does this year, so that will probably improve some as well. This is up for debate (depending on how much you like Dice-K and how much you think Kaz and Shields will improve this year), but I personally say advantage Rays.
#1: Jeremy Guthrie
#2: Daniel Cabrera
Okay....is this the year that young, chronically wild flamethrowers finally find the strikezone? So far, it's certainly looking good for Jackson and Cabrera. While I'm still not completely sold on either of them, they are certainly looking like they're making improvements and who knows? This could be the year these guys finally put it together and if so, watch out AL. However, despite all that, this duo still has nothing on Kaz and Shields. Too unproven and heck, who is Jeremy Guthrie?
#1: Roy Halladay
#2: AJ Burnett
Roy Halladay is probably one of the most underrated pitchers in the league, simply because he pitches in Canada and well, those Blue Jay never get any love. He's a model of consistency since he first broke into the league, almost always posting ERAs in the low 3s. Burnett, on the other hand, is brilliant when healthy, but he's certainly had a hard time with that since joining the Blue Jays. He has yet to get over 30 starts in one season with the Blue Jays and over the course of his career, he's only topped 30 starts in two seasons. However, he is a heck of a pitcher when healthy. This year he hasn't been that effective yet (4.79 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 49:27 K:BB), but I think he has too much talent not to turn it around as long as he's healthy. However, both Burnett and Halladay are currently 31 and most likely beyond their peak years. While they'll probably still be effective for some years, Shields is 26 and Kaz is 24, plus their both locked up by the Rays for years to come. I think that fact alone gives the advantage to the Rays.
#1: Ching Ming-Wang
#2: Andy Pettite
Wang is a true ace, despite him not being a strikeout pitcher. However, the Yankee rotation ends there. Andy Pettite (36 years old) and Mike Mussina (39 years old) in slots 2 and 3? Sure, they're still decent pitchers, but nothing like how they were in their peaks. If the Yankees get Hughes back on the right track or switch Joba to the rotation, then maybe they'll be able to challenge Kaz and Shields. As of now, though, they simply don't have the depth. The Yankee rotation is just a mess at the moment.
Okay...so that was nowhere near a systematic analysis or anything, but I think if you look up the stats, they'll back up many of my conclusions. I was just feeling too lazy tonight to put a bunch of stats in. But anyway, thoughts? Which 1-2 punch do you think is the best this year? The best to build a franchise around? Also, because I'm really curious, who do you think is our staff ace...Shields or Kazmir?