Sizing up the Arms of the National League

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, September 10, 2009 03:17 PM | Comments: 28

After watching Cliff Lee beat the Nationals last night, and at the same time, see Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals continue his dominance with his 18th victory, it got me thinkin’.  How do the arms in the NL shape up as the playoff chase heats up?

The addition of Lee at the deadline made the Phillies the favorite to repeat in the senior circuit, however, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that the Cards are stacked at the top of the rotation as well. Even some of the Wild Card wannabee’s are getting stellar production from their arms.

Where do the Phillies rank?  That’s for you to decide, with a little help from this list.

1. St. Louis Cardinals:

http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2007/writers/jon_weisman/05/15/plan.b/t1_carpenter.jpgIs there a scarier top two than Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright?  Wainwright leads the majors in victories, plus has an ERA of 2.59.  And he’s not even the Cards number one!  The other CC is 16-3 with an ERA in the low-two’s.  His WHIP?  Glad you asked, because its 0.97.

Toss in a healthy John Smoltz, complete with a chipped shoulder, plus Joel Piniero, a quiet 14-game winner in 2009, and you have the makings of a championship pitching staff.  Their pitching coach, Dave Duncan, should have a spot reserved in the Hall.

2. San Francisco Giants:

Tim Lincecum is still doing freakish things, a year removed from his Cy Young win.  Matt Cain has finally gotten the run support he needs to be a force, and that’s been proven in his 13-4 record, paired with a mid-two ERA.

Even – dare I say his name – Barry Zito, looks infinitely better this season than last, although he still has a ways to go before that $126 million contract looks like a bargain.  Jonathan Sanchez was moved to the bullpen, then decided to throw a no-hitter. Brad Penny came over and decided to be a real pitcher. Don’t sleep on San Fran should they make it into the postseason.

3. Philadelphia Phillies:

Now to our boys.  Some of you will disagree with this ranking, and that’s fine.  But I’m taking Carpenter/Wainwright or Lincecum/Cain over our crop of steady pitching.

Cliff Lee has been Cliff Lee.  However, recently, he’s been in a bit of a funk.  Cole Hamels is showing signs of getting stronger near the playoffs, but he has been in a season-long slump, if you will.  Joe Blanton has been perhaps, the most steady of the bunch, and makes him a fine choice for a number three guy in a five or seven-game series. If J.A. Happ comes back completely healthy, I’m not sure there is better number four in the NL.  Plus, Pedro isn’t too shabby at the back-end.

Still, I’m going with the top two here, and I have to side with STL and SF on this one, even though, as a whole, the Phillies have some damn good starters.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers:

With two youngsters at the head of the class, the word inconsistency is often times used in L.A.  Clayton Kershaw has turned into a stud, but recently, ace Chad Billingsley has taken a step backward.

On top of that, they have a suspect back-end, even though Randy Wolf is still fooling people left and right.  The ex-Phillies has a 3.22 ERA this year, to go with 10 wins.  Not bad, but as a whole, the Dodgers are still somewhat shaky.  There is more bad news: Kershaw and Wolf have recently gone down with injuries, throwing a wrench into the Dodgers World Series plans.

5. Colorado Rockies:

http://www3.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/Philadelphia+Phillies+v+Colorado+Rockies+2Azo4N-kvszl.jpgFor some reason, the Rockies still don’t strike me as a team that has good pitching.  Maybe it’s the decade of crappy pitchers they threw out there.  This season has been a revelation for Colorado, especially with their top two guys.

Jason Marquis was pulled from the depths and has turned into a reliable ace (15-10, 2.65 ERA), but the real story is the growth of Ubaldo Jimenez.  The 25-year old, rocket-fueled righty is blossoming at the right time for the Rocks, which helps because the rest of their staff is inconsistent at best.

6. Florida Marlins:

A duo of Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco is enough to scare anyone in a short series, but give me names after that.  You can’t, and that’s the problem.  Two horses aren’t quite enough, even if they are as promising as these two.

Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, and Sean West are brimming with promise, but promise rarely gets you a postseason berth. Maybe next year.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Cards vs. Phillies in the NL Championship. The Phillies in gave 7 have a 5-4 lead in the 9th inning. Ryan Howard just it a bomb to put us ahead. Who will Charlie go with in the 9th inning to close. Here come Ledge. He gets to quick outs. Then gives up a single. Here come Albert. Round 2. Here is the pitch,,,,,,I woke up at 3:45 am. WOW…It was just a BAD BAD BAD DREAM. OR WAS IT?????

  • Posts: 0 wes

    what do you think of the addition of garland and padilla for the dodgers?

  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Wes, it certainly helps but they are back of the rotation guys. And if the front of the rotation isnt healthy, it’s not going to do them much good. I still fear the Dodgers a bit though, no doubt.

  • Posts: 0 Morris Buttermaker

    The Cardinals are the best team in the NL right now. They are playing great ball. Something like 33-11 since trading for Matt Holliday. But the Phillies always play well against them.

    The Dodgers seem to have the best overall pitching. On ESPN today, they claimed the Dodgers have not given up more than 4 earned runs in 29 straight 9 inning games. But their hitting is still in a funk, and they once again are just not built for the playoffs.

    The Giants have two of the best pitchers in the league, too bad they can’t score more than 2 runs, and need a 5 man rotation. They seem to be quietly fading away.

    And it is finally time to give props to Joe Blanton, the man has had a mighty fine year. It’s not always pretty, but the man knows how to get a win.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    cards rotation is excellent and they really helped thier line up by adding Holliday and Lugo. How about Ryan Franklin’s turn around. Man. 37 of 40 SO.

  • Posts: 0 Jon

    I take it “arms” doesn’t include bullpen arms?

  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    PSU – Ryan Franklin makes me sick. He STUNK here. He wanted to be a starter, too, which he wasnt very good at either.

  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Jon – Negative. But that’s not bad, thanks for the idea later in the week.

  • Posts: 0 hotstove

    In my opinion the NL isnt as good as it is being made out to be. The Coors bombers in colorado pitching isnt that great and the Dodgers can add every broken down old or mediorce pitcher out there and they wont be anybetter. The Phillies and Cardinals have very good pitching. Lee/ Hamels/ Blanton/ Happ is up there with Wainwright/ Carpenter/ Pinero/ Smoltz. As of right now we should play st.louis in the NLCS after we beat LA and they beat colorado or reversed pending if the Dodgers choke. The Phillies should split wainwright and Carpenter and win the next to vs Pinero and Smoltz and its like the dodgers last year. Lee or Hamels on the mound in game 5 to close it out. World Series vs yankees its anyones game I wont lie.

  • Posts: 0 phils_ftw

    Pat, I know what you mean. Though I bet that is how Astros fans felt when they watched Lidge last year.

  • Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Sizing up the Arms of the National League…

    Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Sizing up the Arms of the National League…

  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    PHILS_ftw: At least Lidge was great for 2 seasons before his implosion. When was Ryan Franklin ever great? And now all of the sudden?

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I like our pitching……or rather I should say….the POTENTIAL of our pitching…..in the playoffs a lot. BUT…..it’s not gonna be easy against the Cards or the Giants. Period. Expect low scoring games, much like what we saw last week with the Giants series here.

    We CAN get to the Series again….but does anyone realize just how hard it is to repeat? Just ask the 2001 Yankees (a VERY good team) when they went up against the buzzsaw of Schilling and Randy Johnson in the WS.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    One of the things we need to remember is Happ might be questionable. The recovery rates from obliuque injuryies are notoriously slow which considering that this is the same injury he suffered a ways back only augments the concern.

  • Posts: 0 Morris Buttermaker

    I hate Ryan Franklin too. One of my least favorite Phillies ever. He probably went out to St. Louis and got some of their new steroids. Ohh wait, are we not allowed to mention the high number of roiders and HGH’ers who have played for Tony LaRussa?

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Pat Gallen -haven’t you noticed there’s quite a few ex-Phillies pitcher success stories out there and it aint due to our pitching program….Remember Hamels was a gift from Baby Jesus, and Happ has done well considering his stuff isn’t spectacular but a true measure will be how well he does once the league adjusts to him.

  • Posts: 0 dodger fan

    Good list. Although including the bullpens would change the list.

    Also important to note that the Phils and Dodgers starting pitching are the more uncertainty right now than the Cards, Giants and Rockies.

    Is the old Lee coming back and how is Happ’s health? How is Hamels going to pitch in October? (Who would start game 2 for you?)

    Is Billingsley coming back and are Kershaw and Wolf healthy for October?

    I would rank the bullpens: LAD, SF, STL, PHI, FL, COL.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Morris – Someone there improved his cutter…that’s it. That’s all he throws now. The Rivera formual i suppose. He looks like the Heat Miser.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I think that Happ will be alright… he did it during batting practice so hopefully it won’t be something that he’s going to reaggravate on the mound (it’s not due to throwing).

    The Cards will be tough… would love to see the Giants/Cards match-up in the first round. Give me the Dodgers or the Rox. Would love a chance to sweep the Rox in the first round. Don’t look now but the Rox are only 2.5 GB the Dodgers. Where’s that dodgersfan twit?

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    We don’t have a bull pen, maybe you confused it with the MASH unit that’s there now

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    are you kidding me about Happ? they are flirting with a sportsman hernia…where’d we get our trainers from – frigging Ballys Total Fitness

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Pray for Rox

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’m satisfied with the reigning AL CY Young and the WS MVP… thanks.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Original ChucK – the issue isn’t whether he was batting or pitching…Granted there are neuromuscular pattern specfiic to each activity but the oblique is a very important muscle used to rotate the torso. Rotation is the principle movement in both batting and pitching. Besides this is the NL: if he pitches, unless in relief, he bats.

  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Love the conviction of that statement Manny.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Forgot to add the likely NL ROY….

  • Posts: 0 phil

    that ranking sounds about right.

  • Ahh trying to get in shape. One thing I will discuss about that is that it is way easy to keep in shape then to get back to where you were. Trust me

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