Tag: Curt Schilling

Power Ranking the Philadelphia Phillies and MLB’s 25 Best Pitching Staffs Ever

Ranking the greatest anything of all time is not a simple task.

There are so many variables that must be taken into consideration when ranking an item over the course of time, that often, and in this case, teams that are probably deserving of a spot in the rankings are left out. When ranking MLB’s greatest pitching staffs of all time, the first thing that must be questioned is, what is a pitching staff?

Baseball’s pitching staff has changed so much over the course of time that it is extremely difficult to rank such great teams on an even keeled scale.

The first question you must consider is what constitutes a pitching staff? In today’s game, a pitching staff is like an outline: five starting pitchers that rotate throughout the season, a corps of middle relievers usually limited to one inning, and the team’s two best relievers stocked in the back of the bullpen as the eighth inning set-up man and closer in the ninth inning.

Twenty to 30 years ago, the game was a bit different. Starters were relied on deeper into the game, middle relievers were used more frequently, and closers were less important, but equally as vital.

Now, when you travel back 50 to 60 years, it was unusual for a good starter to not throw a complete game every time he took the mound.

So how is a pitching staff calculated in these rankings?

Firstly, the only time that a pitching staff in these rankings should be considered is the year in which they are listed. For example, a team like the Atlanta Braves had many different variations of that great staff in the ’90s, but only the listed year is the one garnering the ranking.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the course of baseball’s illustrious history is the value of a pitcher. How valuable was a pitcher to the team’s overall success, and how vital was a team’s group of pitchers (the staff) to their overall success?

Sure, any number of SABRmetrics like WAR and FIP are okay barometers of a staff’s value, but how valuable was that group of pitchers to their team in a select time period with completely different circumstances, to that of another time period? For that reason, a team’s ranking will be defined by a number of things:

– Staff’s overall talent.
– Staff’s success.
– Depth of a staff.

With those factors in mind, where do the Philadelphia Phillies’ “Four Horsemen” rank among the greatest staffs of all time?

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ALCS 2010: Texas Rangers’ Cliff Lee the Greatest Postseason Pitcher of All Time?

It’s fitting that in what became “The Year of the Pitcher,” we would see fantastic post-season pitching up to this point of the playoffs.  Were you really that surprised that Roy Halladay fired a no-hitter in his first post-season appearance?  If not, you couldn’t have been that surprised that Tim Lincecum threw a two-hit shutout, striking out 14 in his first post-season start.

We’ve seen more great pitching as well.  Matt Cain delivered a lights out outing yesterday afternoon.  We’ve also seen the likes of Cole Hamels, Phil Hughes, and Roy Oswalt step up and pitch fantastic games at one time or another this post-season.  However, with all of their collective efforts, none of them are in the same league as the Rangers Cliff Lee when it comes to post-season dominance.

Just look at Lee’s mind blowing numbers this post-season.  To this point in the 2010 playoffs, the Rangers ace has thrown 24 innings, allowing only two earned runs.  Opponents are hitting a mere .151 off of Lee.  Still not impressed?  How about Lee’s 34 strikeouts to only one walk.  I know, how did he ever walk one?  The guy has lousy control.  Lee’s 3-0 by the way, winning Game 1 of the ALDS when he out-pitched David Price.  He also won the clinching game of the ALDS when he out-dueled Price once again.  Even more impressive was the outing Lee just turned in in Game 3 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.

This begs the question, is Lee the greatest post-season pitcher of all-time?  There is a very small list of pitchers that have dominated in October.  Until Lee came along, only Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Jack Morris, John Smoltz, and Curt Schilling were on that list.  I’d even give guys like Dave Stewart and Randy Johnson some consideration, but none of those guys are doing what Lee is currently doing.

Maybe Lee’s name should be pencilled in at the top of that list.

It’s not just a one year sample from Lee.  After his 4-0 performance last year for the Phillies, Lee is now 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA, allowing only nine earned runs in eight career post-season games.  Three complete games to go with 67 career post-season strike outs to only seven walks.

The guy is the definition of a work horse.  Look up clutch performer in the dictionary and Lee’s picture will be there.

You may agree to disagree on the topic of Lee being the greatest post-season pitcher in history, but the numbers are hard to argue against.  He’s definitely on one of the greatest runs of all-time.

You can choose whom ever you want.  In a one game situation, bring on your guy.  I’m giving the ball to Lee and I’m probably going to win.

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Pressure Pitchers: The Top 50 Pitchers You Want Starting a Game 7

There may be nothing in professional sports that quite measures up to starting the final game of a seven-game playoff series in Major League Baseball. It can either mean going home, moving on, or winning it all.

Before the advent of the expanded playoff system in 1969, only two teams were eligible in MLB, the pennant winners of the American and National Leagues. For 66 seasons this was the accepted format, and the Fall Classic brought us many great memories from that period of time.

When both leagues split into two divisions, the League Championship series was formed, and was a best-of-five format up until 1985, when it was increased to seven games to increase revenue and match the length of the World Series.

When the Division Series was introduced in 1995, five games were determined to be the length, and has remained so ever since. Even though we are looking at who we would consider to start a Game 7 of a series, we could certainly count Game 5 of division series as well, considering it’s a one-and-done proposition, and still determines whether a team marches onward or out.

So, the upcoming list is a ranking of the top 50 pitchers to start a Game 7, or deciding game of a playoff series.

The list does NOT reflect how a pitcher performed during the regular season, it only reflects their performance DURING the playoffs. Major difference here.

Performances in big games during the season might be important, but don’t reflect the type of pressure that pitchers are under when given the ball to get their team a championship.

And here we go…

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Notable First Playoff Starts of Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers Over The Years

With his 97-pitch complete game shut out of the Washington Nationals, Phillies starter Roy Halladay sent the Phillies back to the postseason for the fourth straight year.

Soon after, pitching coach Rich Dubee announced that Halladay would be the Phillies Game 1 starter in the NLDS, it will mark the first time in Halladay’s career that he pitches in the postseason.

Halladay has been one of the most elite pitchers in baseball over the past decade. Despite being near the top the league every year statistically, his Toronto Blue Jays were never able to overcome the Yankees or Red Sox and later the Rays.

This brings up the point: Who are some other Phillies starters whom, regardless if they had been with the team a long or short while, made their playoff debuts in red pinstripes.

Here are a couple notable starting pitchers who made their first career postseason starts with the Phillies.

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Nick Johnson and Alfsono Soriano Instead of Curt Schilling in Boston?

Baseball history was changed forever on Nov. 28, 2003.

Curt Schilling was traded to the Boston Red Sox by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Without Schilling, the Red Sox would not have been World Champions in 2004 or in 2007.

Schilling didn’t mince words. At the press conference announcing the trade, he succinctly summed up the situation. He told the world that he wanted to be part of bringing the Red Sox their first championship since 1918.

“And hopefully more than one over the next four years.”

The Red Sox beat out the hated New York Yankees for Schilling’s services. New York’s second team wanted Schilling to replace Roger Clemens, who announced his retirement, but the Yankees refused to meet the Diamondbacks’ demand for Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson.

Looking back, it was one of the most incompetent evaluations the Yankees ever made.

The Red Sox sent household names Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge de la Rosa, and Michael Goss to the Diamondbacks for Schilling.

A few days later, the Yankees announced that they had traded Nick Johnson, outfielder Juan Rivera, and left-handed relief pitcher Randy Choate to the Montreal Expos for Javier Vazquez.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees general manager, had discussed acquiring Vazquez with his Montreal counterpart, Omar Minaya. At the press conference announcing the trade, Minaya, who in June, 2010, has once again become a baseball genius, told the media,

“I told Brian at dinner, ‘If you’re interested in this guy, be aggressive. Come at me aggressively. To his credit, they were aggressive.”

We are living in an age when most individuals want to be told what to think by those who are labeled “experts.”

When Vazquez became a Yankee, Jeff Torborg, who caught Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, was behind the plate for Nolan Ryan’s first of seven career no-hitters, and managed Vazquez in 2001, praised the new Yankee.

“He’s a winner, He’s got real competitive fire and he’s a classy kid. With the Yankees, he’s liable to just pop big time. He’s always been very good but his record’s not been much over .500. This is the kind of guy who could pop it and go 20-8.”

So much for the expert.

In 2004, Curt Schilling led the Boston Red Sox to their first World Championship since 1918, forcing Yankees’ fans to either stop the infamous “1918, 1918, 1918” chant or further hurt any credibility they might have possessed.

Schilling was 21-6, with a 3.26 ERA and a 150 ERA+.

He won his one start against the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, pitching six shutout innings.

In 2004, the Yankees became the first team to lose a playoff series after winning the first three games.

Vazquez won 14 games for the Yankees. He had a 4.91 ERA and a 92 ERA+. He won his only playoff decision because the Yankees scored 19 runs

Vazquez relieved Kevin Brown in the third inning of the third game of the playoff series against the Sox. He was the winning pitcher, working four and one-third innings, while allowing four hits, two walks, and four runs.

It was the last game the Yankees would win in 2004.

Schilling helped the Red Sox win another World Championship in 2007. He didn’t pitch in 2008, and announced his retirement in 2009.

The Yankees traded Vazquez to Diamondbacks after the 2004 season for his former Diamondbacks teammate, Randy Johnson. We all know how that turned out, but the Yankees are a forgiving organization.

On Dec. 22, 2009, the Yankees re-acquired Vazquez, this time from the Braves.

How different it might have been if Mr. Steinbrenner and Mr. Cashman has not valued Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson so highly.


RAFAEL HERMOSO. (2003, November 29). Red Sox Ace Out the Yankees And Get Schilling for 3 Years. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. D1. Retrieved June 19, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 865873002).

TYLER KEPNER. (2003, December 5). Yankees Add Vazquez and Get Younger on Mound. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. D1. Retrieved June 19, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 867466952).

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