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Sunday, June 24, 2018

‘Year of the Pitcher’ Continues to Hold True in the Postseason

People are calling 2010 the “Year of the Pitcher” in professional baseball.  They’re right.  The regular season saw no-hitters from Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez and perfect games from Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden.  Several others, most notably Armando Gallaraga who was hosed by the ump, came unbelievably close.

Cliff Lee kicked off the 2010 postseason by dominating the Rays on Wednesday and scattering five hits through seven innings of work.  His staff-mate, C.J. Wilson, was equally effective the following day and allowed only two hits to the Rays while leading the Rangers to a 6-0 victory.  How about Roy Halladay?  The Doc tossed a no-hitter in his first ever playoff start on Wednesday.  No big deal.  Tim Lincecum nearly duplicated the feat when he threw a complete game shutout and struck out 14 Thursday night to lead the Giants over the Braves.

Perhaps it’s the ultimate signal that the Steroid Era is behind us.  Maybe we just happen to be witnessing an influx of unbelievable pitching talent.  It’s not like these pitchers are dominating poor lineups; this is the playoffs.  Only four teams from each league make the playoffs in baseball.  Good pitching normally beats good hitting, but not like this.  The Reds were the NL’s best offense through the regular season, yet Halladay made them look like the Mariners on Wednesday.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what’s going on until we have a larger sample size.  If this trend continues over the next few seasons, I think it’s safe to say it’s a steroid-related phenomenon.  Whatever the case, the impact of quality starting pitching over the last year has cemented the Phillies as the World Series favorite.  The Yankees lineup is obnoxiously potent, but they look plenty beatable with the way things have gone this year.  If New York’s starting pitching comes through, they’ll be tough to beat.  Unless one of the Phillies starters falls off the face of the earth, it’s tough to envision a situation where the Year of the Pitcher doesn’t win out.

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