Friday, June 22, 2012

Who Should Be the Starting Pitcher for the NL All Stars?


There has been a lot of pitchers in the National League having great years this season. Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Wade Miley, Lance Lynn, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, Johan Santana, James McDonald, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano, and Kyle Lohse have all put up All Star worthy seasons. Brandon Beachy and Ryan Dempster were impressive as well, but they are injured right now. Beachy is likely to have Tommy John surgery since he has a tear in his elbow.

In my opinion, there are three pitchers who have been head and shoulders above everybody else. That would be the Mets R.A Dickey, the Giants Matt Cain, and the Nationals Stephen Strasburg. These three pitchers have been absolutely dominant this year.

R.A. Dickey has revived his career since joining the Mets in 2010. Dickey was a career journeyman before then, and spent a lot of time in the minor leagues. After getting released by the Rangers, Dickey added a knuckleball and perfected it in the minors. At age 37, Dickey is having a career year; leading the National League in ERA, Wins, Winning Pct., WHIP, and shutouts. Dickey is also striking out more batters than he ever has, with his K/9 ratio at 9.4 this year. His career total is 6.0. Dickey recently pitched 32.2 scoreless innings, breaking a Mets franchise record.

Dickey throws a hard knuckleball, topping out at 81 mph. Its much faster than Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, and faster than Charlie Hough or the Niekro brothers ever threw. There is some concern about who will catch him in the All Star game, since a knuckleball is so hard to catch. Buster Posey is leading the vote, and Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz deserve to make it as well. I would think one of those catchers could handle the knuckler for an inning or two. Dickey has pitched two one hitters in a row, and certainly deseves consideration for the start and has put himself on the Cy Young radar.

Just a week ago, Matt Cain pitched a perfect game with 14 strikeouts. It was the second perfecto this year, and only the 22nd of alltime. Tim Lincecum has struggled this year, but Cain has picked up his game. Cain has been the Giants ace this season, and is living up to his big contract extension. Cain is in the top of the leaderboard in about every pitching category this year. Surprisingly, Cain actually had a career losing record coming into this season, but don't let that fool you. Cain has a career 3.28 ERA and has been the victim of poor run support most of his career. This year he's finally getting some run support and is off the best start of his career. He also would be a good choice as the starter for the All Star game.

Stephen Strasburg has been dominant in his first full season after Tommy John surgery. Strasburg is leading the National League with 110 strikeouts, and is in the top ten in ERA, WHIP, Wins, and Winning pct. The Nationals have a 165 inning limit on him this year, and he's already halfway there with 84 innings pitched. The Nationals are contenders this year, and will be hard for them to keep him from passing that limit. Strasburg would be a good choice for the starting pitcher, although the Nats don't want him pitching more than an inning in the game.

Right now, I think R.A. Dickey would be the best choice for the NL starting pitcher. He has been unhittable this year, and is having a slightly better year than Strasburg or Cain so far in my opinion. Cain and Strasburg are also deserving, and should both pitch in the game. It would be a nice change of pace to have one of them come in after Dickey. It would fool AL hitters. After doing some research; Dickey would only be the third knuckleballer to start a All Star game, if selected. The other two where Dutch Leonard in 1943 and Bob Purkey in 1961.

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