We are basically a week and a half away from the end of the MLB regular season, and with the Texas Rangers' magic number down to 10, their chances are looking really good to be playing past the first few days of October. The extra wild card spot added ths season also changes things a bit, so let's take a look at the possible AL playoff teams and compare the possible starting rotations for each.
Texas Rangers — Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90 ERA, 214 Ks, .216 avg. against, 1.27 WHIP); Matt Harrison (17-9, 3.26 ERA, 120 Ks, .257 avg. against, 1.26 WHIP); Ryan Dempster (6-2, 4.70 ERA, 52 Ks, .270 avg. against, 1.38 WHIP); Derek Holland (11-6, 4.42 ERA, 136 Ks, .235 avg. against, 1.16 WHIP).
While the numbers for Dempster and Holland might not look fantastic, this quartet has been pitching great over the past month and a half. If anyone has been the struggling one, it's been Harrison, and that's an overstatement. Darvish is approaching ace territory, and Holland has thrown like an ace over his past 4-5 starts.
New York Yankees — CC Sabathia (13-6, 3.63 ERA, 169 Ks, .248 avg. against, 1.20 WHIP); Hiroki Kuroda (14-10, 3.26 ERA, 154 Ks, .242 avg. against, 1.12 WHIP); Phil Hughes (16-12, 4.05 ERA, 157 Ks, .256 avg. against, 1.25 WHIP); Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.85 ERA, 147 Ks, .285 avg. against, 1.44 WHIP); Andy Pettitte (4-3, 2.97 ERA, 62 Ks, .225 avg. against, 1.10 ERA).
Ivan Nova is coming off a DL stint and the Yankees seem to be relying on Pettitte to be a big player in the postseason. That's a lot to ask for a 40-year-old. It's an old staff, but a good one.
Chicago White Sox — Chris Sale (17-7, 2.82 ERA, 181 Ks, .225 avg. against, 1.08 WHIP); Jake Peavy (11-11, 3.26 ERA, 177 Ks, .237 avg. against, 1.11 WHIP); Gavin Floyd (10-10, 4.50 ERA, 124 Ks, .266 avg. against, 1.39 WHIP); Jose Quintana (6-4, 3.69 ERA, 75 Ks, .271 avg. against, 1.29 WHIP).
Chris Sale is a legit Cy Young candidate, and Jake Peavy is very good. After that there's a pretty significant drop-off for the White Sox, who are still in a full-on battle for the the playoffs with the Detroit Tigers.
Baltimore Orioles — Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.22 ERA, 53 Ks, .217 avg. against, 1.13 WHIP); Wei-Yin Chen (12-9, 3.98 ERA, 147 Ks, .246 avg. against, 1.25 WHIP); Joe Saunders (2-2, 3.48 ERA, 16 Ks, .256 avg. against, 1.23 WHIP); Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 357 ERA, 66 Ks, .245 avg. against, 1.27 WHIP); Zach Britton (5-3, 5.16 ERA, 52 Ks, .263 avg. against, 1.57 WHIP).
The Orioles have been questioned all year, but they've continuously gotten the job done and hung right with the New York Yankees in the AL East. They're currently locked into one of the two wild card spots and their trade-deadline acquisition of Joe Saunders helped reinforce their staff.
Oakland Athletics — Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.86 ERA, 131 Ks, .274 avg. against, 1.27 WHIP); Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.51 ERA, 119 Ks, .250 avg. against, 1.28 WHIP); A.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.45 ERA, 56 Ks, .216 avg. against, 0.98 WHIP); Dan Straily (2-1, 4.13 ERA, 21 Ks, .255 avg. against, 1.34 WHIP), Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 ERA, 25 Ks, .225 avg. against, 1.03 WHIP)
This is an amazing group. Basically, it's a bunch of guys who weren't supposed to pitch in the big leagues this year but were forced into duty with injuries to Dallas Braden and Anderson, who just recently came back only to go back on the shelf for the rest of the regular season with an oblique injury. You'd have to think Brandon McCarthy is done after having skull fracture surgery, which is a huge blow to the A's. You have to wonder how these guys will do when the postseason lights are on, as they currently have a wild card spot locked up and are tied with 85 wins with the Orioles, one win back from the Yankees.
Detroit Tigers — Justin Verlander (15-8, 2.74 ERA, 223 Ks, .217 avg. against, 1.06 WHIP); Doug Fister (9-9, 3.65 ERA, 118 Ks, .251 avg. against, 1.22 WHIP); Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 4.55 ERA, 43 Ks, .296 avg. against, 1.42 WHIP); Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.57 ERA, 101 Ks, .311 avg. against, 1.53 WHIP); Max Scherzer (16-6, 3.78 ERA, 224 Ks, .250 avg. against, 1.27 WHIP).
Of all these teams, the Tigers are the one that currently are not in a playoff spot. The wild card here is Scherzer, who is having a great season and has outpitched Verlander over the second half to give the Tigers are fantastic 1-2 punch. But he left his last start after four innings and his return is in question.
The Los Angeles Angels obviously have a formidable rotation, but at this point, they're far on the outside looking in, same goes for the Tampa Bay Rays, which could mean arguably the top two AL Cy Young candidates (Jered Weaver and David Price) could not even be in the postseason picture.
Who has the best group?