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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tigers, Red Sox's, Dodgers, Phillies and Marlins - Best Starting Pitching In Baseball?

By David

The Tigers, Red Sox's, Dodgers, Phillies and Marlins all have potent starting rotations, but who has the best? Is it the young arms of the Tigers or Marlins, depth of the Red Sox's and Dodgers, or the revamped staff of the Phillies?Each day this week I will make a case for every team and then evaluate who's starter's are number one.

The Red Sox's possess baseball's best starting rotation, but at any time that can change. Boston comes into this season with six starter's, four potential aces, two new guys in the rotation and a plethora of expectations.

Boston spent $103.1 million on right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka and he is expected to wow the baseball world with the array of pitches that he throws. If he pitches even close to expectations, the Boston fans will be in for something special.

After having an outstanding season as Boston's closer, Jonathan Papelbon will join the starting rotation. The key for him this year is to remain healthy because he suffered from a tired shoulder towards the end of last season. Still, if Boston can't find a closer Papelbon will be back to doing what he did last season. Granted, he posted a ridiculous o.92 ERA last year and converted on 35 save opportunities.

Josh Beckett, 26, is coming off of a 16 win season, but he won those games by posting a 5.01 ERA, surrendering 74 walks and giving up the second most home runs [36]. Beckett will be in his second season as a member of the Red Sox's and the team is hoping that he is now adjusted to AL hitters and is ready for a strong season.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has been a staple in Boston's starting rotation since 1995 and has started at least 15 games every season. There is still the uncertainty of where he might fit in when John Lester returns to the rotation. Will Papelbon then become the closer if the job is still open or will Wakefield be shifted to the bullpen? Still, Tim throws a devastating knuckleball that is extremely hard for batters to hit.

Lefty Jon Lester is the wild card in the Red Sox's rotation. He suffered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last season, but his cancer is luckily in remission. In 15 games last year, Lester won 7 games, but did post a 4.76 ERA. One of the main things going for him is that he's the lone left-hander on the staff and it would be a sure fire thing that manager Terry Francona will find room for him somehow.

Curt Schilling is the ace of the Red Sox's pitching staff, but at 40 years of age how much left does the future Hall of Famer have? He will be entering his fourth season as a member of the Red Sox's and he is gunning for his second World Series ring with the team. Despite winning 15 games last year, Schilling surrendered 28 home runs and 220 hits in 204 innings of work. He should probably win another 15-16 games this season and if he does he would pass the likes of Vida Blue and Don Drysdale on the all-time list.

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