|Is the top of the Dâ€™Back Rotation the best in the NL?||| Print |||Send|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on March 01, 2010
When healthy, Brandon Webb has been one of the best pitchers in baseball.Â He's won a Cy Young award (2006 and finished second in Cy Young voting twice), he's a 20-game winner, he's got a career ERA of 3.27 and he's done that all while pitching in what is widely considered to be a hitters park.Â Â On paper that made the 2009 Diamondbacks look like contenders.
That could mean trouble for the other teams in the NL West.Â The Diamondbacks big three of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson might well be the scariest 1-2-3 combination in the entire National League.Â On an individual level you could argue that Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay or Johan Santana are better than any of them, but back to back to back there wasn't a team last year that could have matched up against them, and that looks to be even more true this year.
Of course, last year both Haren and Edwin Jackson posted career years and it's possible that neither will retain anything close to that form in 2010, but betting against Haren, who has been one of the most consistent starters over the last three years, isn't taking the smart money.Â There were two blots on Haren's resume last season, his not unexpected second half fade, and the fact he only finished with 14 wins for the year.
The win total was affected far too much by one of the league's worst defenses, an abominable bullpen and a general feeling that the Diamondbacks just couldn't catch a break last year as injuries sidelined several key players.Â All of that is in the past - as the snakes look to have improved all fronts over the off-season.
That brings it down to Edwin Jackson, a 26-year-old, German born hurler who Tampa traded to Detroit last year due to an overabundance of good arms in its farm system.Â Jackson has always had good upside and last year, he may just have found his stride - something hardly unexpected if you looked at his trends since 2007.Â Â Last year in one of the better hitter's parks in the Majors, Jackson went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA and 161 Ks.Â The Diamondbacks are betting that the best is yet to come.Â And they bet significantly sending strikeout artist Max Scherzer and 2008 first round pick LHP Daniel Schlereth, one of their top prospects to the Tigers in exchange.
In making that move general manager Josh Byrnes was stating that he believes these Diamondbacks with their roughly $80 million dollar payroll can compete this year and next with the core they have signed already.Â And while the pitching will provide the backbone of the team Byrnes needs the offense, which ranked eighth in the NL the last two seasons, to grow up a little bit too.
If it does, the rotation might be able to carry this team a lot further than anyone expects.