Faceoff: Clutch Starters

Question: In Game 7 of the World Series, who would you want taking the hill (Non-Phillies)?

This go-around, writers Chris Bengel and Christian Hetrick go at it in Team to Beat’s third installment of “Faceoff.” Hetrick is 1-0 this year and Bengel is taking his first stab at the face off.

Christian: Tim Lincecum

Okay time to play manager.

Since this is a Phillies blog, it is quite easy to get caught up and pick one of the Phillies starters. Cliff Lee has pitched in two World Series’ in the last two years, Halladay threw a postseason no hitter, and heck, even our “number four starter” is a World Series MVP.

However, the pitcher you want does not wear red pinstripes. If you need just one win, you want San Francisco Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum. Now this doesn’t mean I think Lincecum is the best pitcher in the game. Personally I think that honor goes to Mr. Halladay, and to be honest Lincecum might not even be the best pitcher on the west coast. Those honors go to AL Cy Young winner
Felix Hernandez.

But if I am picking a pitcher for a must win game, I have to go with the guy with a great playoff resume. You see there are pitchers who are great in the regular season, but are awful in the postseason –  Johan Santana, I’m looking at you.

No offense to King Felix, but he has no playoff resume, or big game resume for that matter. That is not his fault though; after all he didn’t choose to be on the Mariners. Still, he is unproven in big games and isn’t a safe choice for a must win game. Now this is where all of you tell me Doc is proven in big games because he threw a playoff no hitter, and Cliff Lee is proven because he has a 7-2 postseason record.

The problem with that logic is if I can have any pitcher I want, I have to also assume my opposing manager can have whoever he wants. This means my ace has to out-duel another ace, and Lincecum has out-dueled Halladay once in last year’s NLCS AND Cliff Lee twice in last year’s World Series.

Even though he has only one postseason under his belt, Lincecum went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA and one complete game shutout. More importantly, he beat out pitchers that are arguably better than him which in my opinion makes him clutch, and in my opinion makes him the best possible pitcher to choose if I need to win one game.

Chris: Felix Hernandez

First off, my counterpart will question my choice of Felix Hernandez. Sure King Felix has no postseason experience. I give you that. Then again he plays for the Seattle Mariners and they haven’t been good since Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez left.

It is sometimes unsafe to ride a guy with no postseason experience. However as most Phillies fans know, Roy Halladay had ZERO postseason experience with the Toronto Blue Jays. He came over to the Phillies for a chance at playoff glory. Many people had previously crowned Halladay as the best pitcher in baseball before he threw a pitch of postseason baseball.

I would argue that King Felix is one of the best pitchers in the game next to Halladay. I’d hand the ball to him if I had to win a big game. Hernandez went 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA last season and still walked away with the AL Cy Young award. He also finished second in 2009 for the Cy Young. Ladies and gentlemen, he is that good.

Let’s take a look at some of the guys that King Felix beat out for the award: David Price, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, and even Cliff Lee. These are guys that he faces all throughout the regular season. Well not Lee since he turned down the Yankees. He may not always come out on top because of his team’s failure to give him run support. The Mariners had the worst run support in the American League last year with 3.07 runs-per-game.

But Felix is a horse that doesn’t get a lot of recognition because he plays on a bad team. I can assure you that I want him pitching that must-win game for me. I’d hand him the ball and not think twice about it. I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see King Felix pitch in the postseason one day and he will show why he is a King.

That being said, Tim Lincecum is all well and good. He’s a great pitcher and has the playoff experience. I can’t deny those simple facts. But I feel that Hernandez would be an exceptional postseason pitcher if he ever gets traded to another team or Seattle decides they want to win. He’s the guy I want mowing down hitters and bringing my team that victory.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: