Monday, March 15, 2010

State of the Rotation: Sabathia vs. Lester

Last season my Spring Training comparison of the top two rotations in the AL East brought about a lot of discussion regarding the starting staffs of both the Yankees and the Red Sox, so I figured now would be as good a time as any for an encore.

Today we will start with the top of each rotation and coincidentally enough the two big lefties for each team: CC Sabathia and Jon Lester.

We'll start with Sabathia who really needs no introduction. The man is a beast among men and his huge frame allows him to maintain his velocity deep into games while his athleticism allows him to consistently repeat his delivery giving him excellent command. The big lefty led the Yankees with 230 innings pitched and a 3.37 ERA. While Sabathia wasn't that great in the first half, he went on a crazy tear in the second half to boost the Yankees and return his own numbers back to 2008-09 form. He was also great in the playoffs, dispelling any notion that he is "unclutch", whatever the hell that means.

Even though Beckett regained some of his luster after a substandard 2008, Lester held onto his title as the ace of the Boston staff. He cracked 200 innings for the second consecutive year and also finished third in the AL with 225 strikeouts. It is also worth noting that Lester went 5-1 in September. His only loss came after he was knocked around by the Yankees and took a line drive off his right leg, forcing him from the game.

It's easy to say Sabathia is the winner of this debate like I did last year, but Lester got even better last season. His K/9 jumped almost four all the way to 10 and he maintain the same walk rate, meaning that his K/BB rate jumped up to 3.52. So Lester has made a tough decision even more difficult.

Verdict: I'm inclined to give the edge to Sabathia because he can give his team more innings in a season and more innings per start. I suppose the question comes down to when the quality of those innings diminishes to the point that Lester's quality outweighs Sabathia's quantity. To me that point has not yet arrived, though it may in the next season or two. The first match up goes to the Yankees.


Joey said...

Excited about Lester this year. Sabbathia is a beast. He is the only Yankee pitcher I would want on my team.

Dan said...

I think the main reason CC gets the edge is that he owned Boston last year. In spite of their previous success against him, last season was a totally different story.

Dennis said...

There is really not much between them. 2 of the top 5 starters in the AL without question.