Ranking the Big Threes

RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 01, 2010

The moment Roy Oswalt waived his no-trade clause and agreed to join the Phillies, many among the red-clad faithful could hear the sound of the motorcade revving for the next World Series championship parade.

Certainly, the deal was made with October in mind. Along with a Cy Young Award winner, Roy Halladay, and the 2008 World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, Oswalt gives the Phillies the kind of seasoned and accomplished troika that would make them difficult to beat in the postseason.

Nonetheless, other National League contenders won't be cowed by the prospect of matching their three top-of-the-rotation starters - the key to postseason success - against Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels. Most notable are the Cardinals; the Braves, whom the Phillies are chasing in the East Division; and the Giants, the current leader for the wild-card spot.

Statistics are through Friday's games:


A

If the Phillies' threesome has an edge over the others, it's that two of the pitchers - Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, left - have had postseason success, and two veterans - Roy Halladay, far left, and Oswalt - are in their prime years, which raises the motivation level for a World Series ring.

Last season, Cliff Lee, another pitcher in his early 30s, showed how powerful that incentive can be when he went 4-0 in his first postseason.

Halladay has never pitched in the playoffs. Yet there appears little doubt he would be at the top of his game when the stakes are highest.

PHILLIES - A

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Roy Halladay       12-8       171       13    20      149    1.02       2.21

Roy Oswalt             6-13       135       13    36      124    1.13       3.53

Cole Hamels             7-7       132      20    46      128    1.30       3.48


CARDINALS - B+

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Adam Wainwright    14-6       1531/3    11    39      142    1.03       2.23

Jaime Garcia             9-4       116        6    46      94    1.28       2.33

Chris Carpenter          11-3       1562/3    15    43      128    1.17       2.93

If the Cardinals offered Adam Wainwright, right, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia straight up for Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would have to think long and hard.

Wainwright and Carpenter were contenders for the Cy Young Award in 2009. Wainwright was voted the NL's most outstanding pitcher by the players.

Currently, Wainwright rates No. 2 behind Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez in an ESPN.com formula measuring this season's Cy Young contenders. Carpenter is No. 10. (Halladay is No. 4).

Garcia just turned 24 and is in his first full season, but he's a lefthander who could give the Phillies' lefty-dominated lineup problems. His earned-run average ranks fourth in the NL.


BRAVES - B+

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Tim Hudson       11-5       1422/3    10    49      74    1.12       2.40

Tommy Hanson          8-7       1192/3     8      37      122    1.35       3.99

Derek Lowe             10-9       1292/3    13    51      84    1.43      4.58


PADRES - B

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Mat Latos          11-4       1172/3    12    33      113    0.99       2.45

Clayton Richard          8-5       132        9    50      107    1.36       3.48

Jon Garland             9-7       1261/3    12    52      82    1.34       3.56

The names aren't familiar - Mat Latos, Clayton Richard and Jon Garland - but they lead a San Diego staff that has the best ERA in the NL.

Latos is 22 and in his first full season, so his inexperience may work against him in the playoffs.

Also, the Padres' Petco Park may be the most accommodating in the league for pitchers, so their numbers may be skewed. For example, Garland is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA at Petco, but 4-5 and 4.76 away. Richard's ERA is 3.24 at home, 3.79 away. Home or away, Latos has been excellent. He's 4-2 2.19 at home and 7-2, 2.63 on the road.


GIANTS - B

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Tim Lincecum       11-4       1451/3    10    55      152    1.27       3.10

Matt Cain                8-8       1431/3    13    49      106    1.15       3.14

Barry Zito                8-6       1362/3    11    52      98    1.27       3.49


REDS - B-

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Johnny Cueto       10-2       130       10    42      92    1.28       3.32

Mike Leake             7-2       121       14    43      76    1.40       3.57

Bronson Arroyo          10-6       141       17    46      68    1.18       4.21

Johnny Cueto has been one of the top righthanders in the league this season, but the 24-year-old rarely lasts longer than six innings. Mike Leake is a 22-year-old rookie who recently has shown signs the workload may be taking a toll.

Depending on two pitchers that young in October could be risky.

Bronson Arroyo is a solid professional who is heading toward his seventh consecutive season with more than 30 starts. He was an NL all-star in 2006 and pitched in 10 postseason games for the Red Sox, eight of them in relief, before going to Cincinnati.


DODGERS - B-

                        Rec      IP         HR      BB      K      WHIP      ERA

Ace: Clayton Kershaw    10-5       1302/3     7    56      138    1.22       2.96

Hiroki Kuroda             8-9       1221/3     9    33      99    1.28       3.53

Chad Billingsley          9-5       1142/3     7    40      96    1.37       4.00

When the Dodgers acquired Ted Lilly from the Cubs on Saturday, they deepened their staff but didn't upgrade the top of their rotation. The lefthander, 34, has some playoff experience, the kind he'd prefer to forget.

The addition of Lilly does little to ease the burden on Clayton Kershaw, as the No. 1. Kershaw is talented and appears to have a great future, but the lefthander is only 22. He does have postseason experience. Hiroki Kuroda has yet to develop the consistency the Dodgers need from him, but Chad Billingsley has been getting more effective as the season wears on.

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