It's easy to get caught up in the hype of Cliffmas (h/t Cheryl Nichols) and with good reason. In 2010, the Phillies had Roy Halladay, who won the NL Cy Young and pitched a perfect game during the regular season and a no hitter in the post-season. They also had Cole Hamels, who had a much improved year over 2009, and they picked up Roy Oswalt, making them among the strongest rotations in baseball. So what did they do in the offseason? Somehow made it better by signing Cliff Lee to a deal that was shorter than what any other team was offering and gave him less money. Yea, so that's clearly the best rotation in baseball, right?
Wrong. Absolutely wrong. Among the best? Absolutely. Top 3? Without a doubt. But not the best.
There is this team out west (see: bias, east coast). They go by the Giants; they're from this city called San Francisco. They won the World Series in commanding fashion in 2010, largely because of their stellar pitching. A World Series in which they beat Cliff Lee twice. Let's look at these names.
- Tim Lincecum
- Matt Cain
- Jonathan Sanchez
- Madison Bumgarner
A pretty impressive list, for several reasons. Not the least of which is 2-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, but the Phillies have Cy Young winner Roy Halladay. So what are the others?
The first is age. The oldest of the 4 for the Giants is Jonathan Sanchez at 28. The youngest in the Phillies' rotation is Cole Hamels, who will be 27 on Opening Day. That's right, the youngest pitcher in Philly's rotation is only one year younger than San Fran's oldest.
To add to it, all 4 of these Giants pitchers now have World Series rings. The confidence of a team with rings really can't be stressed enough, and now this entire rotation as earned them. By contrast in the Phillies rotation, only Cole Hamels has won a World Series in his career.
For all of these reasons, the Giants have the best rotation in the National League, and in baseball, as of this writing. Things can always change, and the past doesn't necessarily dictate the future, but I thought it was a prudent time to address this topic. Talking heads across the country seem to think that the Phillies new rotation is the best ever, and it was simply time to put it in perspective.
That doesn't eliminate the fact that he Phillies rotation is really, really good. So it begs the question: how do the Nats compete with one of the best pitching rotations in the league? Win against all the other NL East opponents, because not a whole lot of victories are going to come from Philly.