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2009 AL Playoff Preview: Pitching Rotation - Graph of the Day (updated)


2009-playoff-team-era-comparison-combined_medium 2009-playoff-team-era-comparison-separate_medium

Full charts after the jump.

With somewhere between eleven and fourteen games left for most teams, the playoff scenarios have mostly crystallized and now is the time to anticipate potential staff match ups. Let's take a look.

*Article updated with proper charts and commentary*



CC Sabathia really anchors the Yankees rotation with a 3.31 ERA+, 1.13 WHIP,  and 3.1 K/BB. He also is only second in the Majors with 220 IP; he'll go the distance and get the game into the hands of their valuable closer, Mariano Rivera. If you want to get ridiculous, check out the Yankee's K/9 for their starting rotation: Sabathia, 7.60; Burnett, 8.19; Pettitte, 7.07.


The Angels year began with tragedy but still has a chance to end on a high-note. Lackey leads the way with a 1.23 WHIP, 2.93 K/BB, and a shiny 0.74 HR/9. He will keep them in any game if not win it on his back alone. Weaver's 7.56 K/9 and 1.25 WHIP will come in handy in October as well.


Justin Verlander's roaring season is still underway for the Tigers, and his contribution of an ABSURD 10.15 K/9 will win them almost any game he's in, provided some minimal run support. On top of that, he'll keep the ball in the park with a durable 0.83 HR/9 and leave the game in good shape with an excellent 1.18 WHIP. With Edwin Jackson, Jarred Washburn, and Rick Porcello bringing in the rear, the Tigers have as good of a rotation as any team in the hunt.**


The Red Sox, currently leading the Wild Card chase by 8 games (in front of the Rangers), also have a fantastic staff. Beckett's 1.14 WHIP and 8.36 K/9 are complimented by his 3.67 K/BB. He keeps his opponent off the bases. Of course, Jon Lester's numbers are just silly, but must be mentioned: 9.94 K/9, 3.58 K/BB, 0.88 HR/9, and a delicious 1.21 WHIP.


Regardless of which team wins the ALCS, they will have an excellent and deep staff capable of going the distance against any team. In the playoffs, watch pitch counts, as most of these are high-strikeout guys. You'll want the team you're rooting for to get above 20-25 pitches taken per inning so they can get to the less-reliable-but-still-outstanding relief staff most of these teams have. The team that can maintain the most pitches taken per inning while limiting their starter to as few as possible will most likely go the distance. Obvious, but worth stating.

** Assuming the Tigers make the playoffs, of course. As it stands at the time of this writing, the Twins are just 2.5 games back and still have a real chance at this thing.



Updated all charts to reflect ERA+, and while the general shape of things stays the same, it draws several things out a little further:

  1. The Angels are in trouble unless they can somehow get more out of their two and three than they have all season.
  2. The Tigers are clearly vulnerable with Washburn in the mix. He's currently listed as a two, but moving him to the back end could minimize damage.
  3. The Yankees are definitely in great shape with their rotation (with a heart attack in Chamberlain)--but the Red Sox two and three slots (Lester, Buchholz) could mean the difference between an ALCS visit and a World Series Championship.
  4. Looking at the data below, even if the Twins do take the Tiger's slot, those sub-average pitchers aren't going to cut it in this crowd.
SABATHIA 3.31 135 3.37
BURNETT 4.22 106 4.48
CHAMBERLAIN 4.73 94 4.77
PETTITE 4.14 107 4.06

RED SOX      
BECKETT 3.80 124 3.70
LESTER 3.33 142 3.11
BUCHHOLZ 3.49 135 4.29
MATSUZAKA 6.80 69 5.20

VERLANDER 3.44 132 2.92
WASHBURN 3.78 62 4.57
E. JACKSON 3.37 135 4.25
PORCELLO 4.22 108 4.85

LACKEY 3.56 128 3.54
SANTANA 5.43 84 5.06
SAUNDERS 4.75 98 5.30
WEAVER 3.87 117 4.10

BAKER 4.43 93 3.94
PAVANO 4.82 115 3.96
BLACKBURN 4.34 99 4.44
LIRIANO 5.79 72 4.72