Originally posted on SeaTown Sports  |  Last updated 5/4/13
Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have both gotten off to amazing starts so far this year, and are pitching at all-star levels. As is always however, they are not getting enough run support to have an overwhelming amount of wins, and that combined with the fact they are on the Mariners, means they will not get much national credit. But locally, fans are starting to take notice. Iwakuma’s 1.67 ERA is third among American League starters, and Felix’s 1.90 ERA was sixth among American League starters coming into Friday, but his dominant performance against Toronto dropped it even further to 1.60. These stats beg the question, where does Seattle's pitching duo rank among other American League starting combos? There is certainly room for debate in the following rankings, but they are based off performance thus far this season. Honorable Mention: Yu Darvish/Alexi Ogando (Texas): -Darvish is having a great season so far, being top 10 in ERA and top 5 in WHIP, while leading the American League in strikeouts. Ogando is having a strong campaign as well, but there are some really good duos in this league, and Ogando drags down the group just enough to leave them out of my top five. Look out for Derek Holland, as well. CC Sabathia/Huroki Kuroda (New York): -These two are recurring members to this list, and are consistently very good. Sabathia’s numbers are slightly down from his previous seasons, but Kuroda has been stellar, posting top 10 numbers in both ERA and WHIP. CC’s slight decline from previous years is hurting this duo from cracking the top five, but they are still a fearsome group. Justin Masterson/Zach McAllister (Cleveland): -These are two guys that are probably relatively unknown to the public, but they are still pretty dang good pitchers. Both of them have better ERA’s than Sabathia, while posting similar WHIP and strikeout numbers. They are two young guys, who in a couple years could be really scary. The Top Five: 5. Ervin Santana(3-1, 2.00 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 31 K)/James Shields(2-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 39 K) (Kansas City): Remember, this is off performance so far this season, and these two new additions to the Royals staff have had really good seasons so far, and have made Kansas City real players in the American League through the first month of the season. They have the third best record in the league and this is due in large part to the pitching and leadership of these two guys. They are both top 15 in ERA, top 10 in WHIP, and top 20 in strikeouts. This is astoundingly good, especially considering they are both new to the Royals this year. One knock on these guys is the fact that their team is winning, but they are not. The Royals have the third best record in the American League, but these two have only combined for five wins. Although this stat can be misleading, facts are still facts, and they combine for five wins, which is as many as one of the two pitchers the next group has. It was hard to put these guys fifth considering their numbers, but the next four duos have been virtually unstoppable. 4. Matt Moore(5-0, 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 38 K)/Alex Cobb(3-2, 2.55 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 27 K) (Tampa Bay): Matt Moore has been absolutely unstoppable, easily one of the top five starters in the American League so far this season. This combined with Alex Cobb’s surprise success has been helpful to the offensively challenged Rays, especially because David Price and Jeremy Hellickson, who were thought to be the top two pitchers on the staff coming into the season, have really pitched horribly. This duo gets the slight nod over the Kansas City crew because of the “Ace Factor” (Matt Moore has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball) and because they were supposed to be the third and fourth best starters on the team. 3. Jon Lester(4-0, 3.11 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 33 K)/Clay Buchholz(6-0, 1.01 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 47 K) (Boston): My Boston connection might factor in here, but nonetheless the Red Sox have reaped the benefits of these two so far this season. Lester has really bounced back after having the worst season since his rookie year last year. He has had one shaky start, but besides that has looked really strong, and the consistency has been a big thing for the Sox. Bucholz on the other hand has been the best pitcher in baseball through the first month. Not only is he the first pitcher to six wins, but he leads the league in ERA, is top five in WHIP, and is tied for third in strikeouts.  2. Justin Verlander(3-2, 1.83 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 41 K)/Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 1.82 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 50 K) (Detroit):  The Tigers rotation is so good that it was hard to pick just two pitchers to use as the dynamic duo. Anibal Sanchez has had the best pure numbers out of any of the Tigers starters, and they really have been good. He is towards the top of the list for ERA and WHIP, and second in the league in strikeouts. As good as he has been, and even though the numbers don’t show it, Verlander has been even more dominant, and that is no surprise. He has had a really good follow-up to his Cy Young and MVP season last year, and his top ten numbers in virtually all categories proves that. These two guys are definitely a cut above the last group, and they're on the better team. 1. Felix Hernandez(3-2, 1.90 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 44 K)/Hisashi Iwakuma(2-1, 1.67 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 37 K) (Seattle): Whooooooooooo! Something Mariner fans can actually get excited about! The top pitching duo in the American League belongs to the Seattle Mariners. King Felix has been stellar as usual, being towards the top of the league in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. He has been unhittable as usual, but just hasn’t gotten the run support to rack up wins, as is always the case. It’s possible however that Iwakuma has actually been better than the King so far this season. His ERA is third in the league, and his WHIP has been otherworldly, leading the league at an absurd 0.69. The only statistical weakness these guys have is wins, and that can be completely attributed to lack of run support. This ranking system is to determine who the best one-two punch is in terms of pure pitchers, and wins doesn’t really quantify that considering the Mariners haven’t been able to hit nearly to the level of the other teams on this list (except for the Rays). However one wants to slice it, Felix and 'Kuma are, right now, the top duo in the American League.
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