Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the entire American League All-Star Game roster and break down the selections. Today, I’ll start with the AL starting pitchers, a conversation surely familiar to readers of TYU. Two weeks ago I examined the cream of the AL SP crop and made a preliminary ranking of my top 15, recommending 8 for the All-Star Game in Anaheim next weekend. You can read that piece here.
Yesterday, Girardi made his selections, electing to take the following pitchers: CC Sabathia, Clay Buchholz, Fausto Carmona, David Price, Phil Hughes, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee and Trevor Cahill. In all probability, Sabathia, Buchholz and Cahill will not pitch in the All-Star Game. Sabathia and Cahill are scheduled to pitch on Sunday before the break, and Buchholz is likely to head to the DL. This will give Girardi the opportunity to replace them. Additionally, keep in mind that Carmona and Cahill were chosen to fulfill the quota representation system which mandates that a player from each team be chosen for the roster. That said, here is my top 8. My methodology is simple: try to select the pitchers who have done the best job at controlling the things they can control. For your ease, I have put in bold players that were included on the roster.
1. Jered Weaver. Last ranking: 3. Easily the best pitcher in the American League this year, Weaver has thrown 108.2 innings, good for a 2.82 ERA, 2.88 FIP and 3.25 xFIP. He’s struck out an astounding 10.27 batters per nine innings, walked 2.15/9, leaving him with an AL third-best 4.77 K/BB ratio. Weaver should have been on the roster, there’s absolutely no question about it. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to pitch in the All-Star Game regardless, as he’s scheduled to pitch the Sunday before the break.
2. Francisco Liriano. Last ranking: 1. 105.2 IP, 3.32 ERA, 2.10 FIP, 2.88 xFIP. Liriano has seen his ERA climb 0.4 runs, while maintaining a very low FIP. His K/9 is still a crackling 9.88 and he limits the walks (2.38 BB/9), leaving him with a K/BB ratio of 4.14. That’s just dang good, yo. I understand that Mauer is the Twins representative pic, but there’s no reason why Liriano should be excluded. The players and Girardi are 0 for 2.
3. Cliff Lee. Last ranking: 2. Over 95.2 IP, Lee has a 2.45 ERA, 2.34 FIP and 3.30 xFIP. His K/9 is relatively low at 7.34 K/9, but he walks 0.47 batters per nine, leaving him with an otherworldly, unbelievable, insert-superlative-here, 15.60 K/BB ratio. Somebody wants himself a shiny new contract from the New York Yankees…
4. Jon Lester – Last ranking: 5. My AL Cy Young pick has thrown 107 innings with a 2.86 ERA, 3.01 FIP, and 3.43 xFIP. He’s sporting a nifty K/9 of 9.34, and walks 3.45 BB/9, leaving him with a 2.71 K/BB ratio. He deserved his spot on the All-Star team.
5. Felix Hernandez. Last ranking: 8. King Felix has hurled 121.2 innings in the first half and has a 3.03 ERA, a 3.25 FIP and a 3.46 xFIP. He’s struck out 8.58 batters per nine and has a 2.81 BB/9 rate and a 3.05 K/BB ratio. This was another undeserved snub.
6. Justin Verlander. Last ranking: 7. Over 110 innings, Verlander has struck out 8.43 batters per nine and walked 3.03 per nine. He has a 3.85 ERA and a 3.21 FIP and a 3.97 xFIP. Verlander isn’t as good as his 2009 performance, but he’s better than he was in 2008. This first half in 2010 is probably a reasonable expectation for his statistics going forward, and it’s All-Star worthy.
7. Phil Hughes. Last ranking: 4. Over 94.0 IP, Hughes has a 3.83 ERA and a 3.75 FIP. His K/9 is now 8.23 and his BB/9 is 2.78. I recognize that there have been pitchers with higher WAR totals or lower ERAs than Hughes, like Buchholz or Price, but I don’t care. This is my homer pick, and I’m taking the Yankees’ young ace over those of our rivals. Sue me.
8. Pick ‘em. I think there are two good choices for the eighth spot. They are:
Ricky Romero. Despite his horrific outing on Saturday, Romero still has an ERA of 3.39 over 114 innings. His FIP is a near identical 3.34, and he’s struck out 8.37 batters per nine and walked 3.39 per nine.
Andy Pettitte. On Saturday, Pettitte appeared to be scuffling in the early going and was having difficulty with the strike zone and putting batters away. After the Yankees 3rd inning outburst, he settled down and cruised to an easy win. He’s thrown 105 innings and has a very low 2.82 ERA with 6.66 K/9 and a 2.65 BB/9. His FIP is 3.93, and he may see some regression in the way of BABIP going forward, but he’s certainly posted an excellent first half for the Yankees.
Given the way their matchup went on Saturday, and given the fun I had taunting Romero as he walked off the mound after giving up a grand slam to Brett Gardner, I’m going to go with Andy Pettitte. That’s some sweet irony.
Honorable Mention: John Danks, Shaun Marcum, Clay Buchholz, Zack Greinke, David Price, Gavin Floyd, CC Sabathia
Dishonorable Mention: James Shields. Dude, I’m a big a fan of advanced statistics as anyone, but it’s difficult to praise your K/BB when your ERA is almost 5.