Comparing 1-2 Punches in the NL and Playoffs

Lately on this site, especially after the brewers landed C.C. Sabathia, there has been a lot of discussion on the importance of having a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation come playoff time.  For this post, I want to examine 2 things:  the 1-2 punches for each NL contender, and the success of playoff teams in recent years that featured two big-game pitchers.  First, the pairs:

Cubs:  Carlos Zambrano (9-3, 2.96, 73k's) & Ryan Dempster (9-3, 3.24, 93k's)

Strength:  1 of 2 pairs to have BOTH been named to the All-Star team this year

Weakness:  Zambrano has great stuff but can be erratic, and Dempster is a huge surprise that may not last

Brewers:  C.C. Sabathia (6-8, 3.83, 123k's) & Ben Sheets (10-2, 2.77, 97k's)

Strength:  Both are power pitchers who can go deep into games every time out; Sabathia won a Cy Young

Weakness:  C.C. struggled mightily at the outset and Sheets is always an injury risk

Phillies:  Cole Hamels (9-5, 3.22, 110k's) & Kyle Kendrick (8-3, 4.39, 43k's)

Strength:  Young pair that at times can dominate a game

Weakness:  Inexperienced, and Kendrick not considered a top pitcher

Diamondbacks:  Brandon Webb (12-4, 3.43, 100k's) & Dan Haren (8-5, 2.83, 103k's)

Strength:  Power arms that give their team a chance every game they pitch

Weakness:  Webb has been human lately, have to carry their team

Marlins:  Ricky Nolasco (9-4, 3.94, 75k's) & Scott Olsen (4-4, 3.96, 61k's)

Strength:  Young guns aren't afraid of much

Weakness:  No playoff experience and both have had injury problems

Mets:  Johan Santana (7-7, 2.96, 109k's) & John Maine (8-6, 3.91, 85k's)

Strength:  Santana has been the best pitcher in the bigs the last 4 years, Maine is a rising star

Weakness:  Niether has lived up to the hype this year

Whew!  Alright, that took a while.  Thanks for bearing with me, cuz I think its interesting stuff - now for playoff success as it correlates to having these big time pairs.  Is there a correlation?  Is the game really different in the postseason?  Let's see...

2000 - Yankees win with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte on steroids

2001 - D'backs win with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling

2002 - Angels win with Jarrod Washburn and John Lackey

2003 - Do not Remember...(sigh)...Fish win with Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis

2004 - Red Sox win with Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling

2005 - White Sox win with Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, & Jose Contreras (that was a staff effort)

2006 - Cardinals win with Chris Carpenter and Jeff Weaver

2007 - Red Sox win with Josh Beckett and Dice-K

Now, its not linear, but if you examine these pairs there is a noticeable correlation b/t having two great starters and playoff success.  The most dramatic example is still the 2001 diamondbacks, but the 2004 sox combo was practically untouchable also, as were the '05 white sox, 2000 yankees, and yes...the fish (esp. beckett).  These champs do show us, however, that someone like dempster could make a HUGE impact (ala jeff weaver or jarrod washburn) and be enough as a surprise #2.  In all, I think it is obvious that the playoffs have so many different dynamics than the reg. season and thus is a different style of play - and that having two hot pitchers is imperative to success.  Still, those two pitchers don't both have to be consistent, top-line guys.  As for the NL pairs, it is for all of you to decide how to rank them:


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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