Top 10 pitchers in the playoffs
October, 4, 2012
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider
A number of the best starting pitchers in baseball this year, including Cy Young contenders R.A. Dickey, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Felix Hernandez, won't be pitching in the postseason, but we still have plenty of top arms to watch among the 10 teams who did qualify for the big dance. Here, in reverse order, are the top 10 starting pitchers on postseason rosters, based on how they might perform this month.
10. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants
I might have had Bumgarner higher on the list if he weren't showing possible signs of fatigue with a late-season fade this year, a surprising end to a season in which he appeared to be taking another leap forward into possible Cy Young contention. Earlier in the year, his fastball was maybe a mile an hour faster, but it also was coming out of his hand more easily and was harder for hitters to pick up. His slider had a little more tilt and a little more velocity as well.
Over his past seven starts, he has looked tired, losing some velocity and bite on the breaking ball, with results to match (5.89 ERA in that span). But he's also going to get eight days of rest before his first playoff appearance, and because he insists nothing is seriously wrong, that extra rest could be enough to get us a glimpse of the dominant pitcher Bumgarner, helped by that low slot and long arm action, was for the first two-thirds of the season.
9. Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Cueto emerged as the Reds' ace this year, reaching career highs in starts, innings and strikeouts with largely the same repertoire he used in the previous two years. His fastball command was better, as was his overall control, and he's using his cutter slightly more often to keep hitters from sitting on the hard -- but often straight -- fastball. He can be hard for hitters to pick up and the possibility that he'll throw any of four pitches -- excluding the curveball, which he rarely uses -- in any count helps add to the value of the deception in his delivery.