With the dust settling from the Roy HalladayÂ acquisition and the recent re-signing of Josh Johnson, I think it’s a good time to take a step back and measure up the arms in our division….especially with the Mets still in the hunt for another.Â I think we can safely say by looking at this list that after the topÂ 4 or 5, there is an enormous drop off in talent.Â Â Â The list not only takes into account past performance, but also potential for next season.Â The question is:Â Would Joel Pineiro haveÂ cracked the topÂ 10?Â Would Sheets? Let me know your thoughts:
1. Roy Halladay
Met fans aren’t going to like these ranks from the very start.Â We are used to seeing a different name here when discussing #1, and I hate to admit it, it’s not Johan anymore.Â When you take into consideration HalladayÂ has played in Toronto his whole career in arguably the most competitive division in sports lately, not just baseball, his stats jump off the page even more.Â Halladay has won 20 games twice, has a Cy Young Award under his belt and a career 148-76 record…on the Blue Jays.Â He has OWNED the Yanks and Sox throughout his career.Â Now he’s moving to the NL where he won’t have to deal with a DH and has a lineup behind him that can score in a hurry.Â Â And THIS isÂ the #1 reason I am putting him up here before Santana.Â When it comes down to it Johan matches Halladay stat for stat, but if I am a betting man I would put my money on Halladay to have the better year based on the guys around him.
2. Johan Santana
Â A career 3.13 ERA, 2 Cy Youngs, and a 122-60 career record.Â We’ve been over his stats before this isn’t news: he’s awesome.Â But, coming off minor elbow surgery and plenty of questions about theÂ rest of the bunchÂ land him at #2 instead of at the top spot.Â Prove me wrong Johan…how bout a nice fat Cy Young this year?Â
3. Josh Johnson
The day I read that this guy re-signed with the Marlins for another 4 years IÂ was not a happy camper.Â Johnson isÂ just filthy on the mound.Â Standing 6’7″, the 25 year old started his career a ridiculous 34-16 with a 3.40 ERA…and he’s only going to get better.Â I’ve watched this guy go pitch for pitch with Johan and he’s got some unreal stuff.Â If he can stay healthy he will be a serious problem for the rest of the NL East.
4. Jair Jurrjens
The Netherland native is only 23 and already has 30 wins.Â Last year Jurrjens was 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA.Â Pitching in a pitchers park with a young lineup behind him that will only get better this year, you have to like this guy’s chances for a big breakout year.Â The Mets better hope Jurrjens regresses next year because he absolutely dominated them lastÂ season going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA.Â
5. Cole Hamels
What a postseason Hamels had in ’08, butÂ what a miserable season and postseason Hamels had in ’09.Â Â Much to the delight of Met fans, Hamels took a giant step backwards last year going 10-11 with aÂ 4.39 ERA in the regular season while getting bombed outÂ in the post season.Â Hamels’ struggles flew slightly under the radar however as Cliff Lee was busy pitching gem after gem bailing the team out.Â Even so, Hamels is still one of the elite pitchers in the division and is capable of throwing a complete game shutout on any given night.Â Unfortunately I am expecting Hamels to be back in 2008 form next year behind Halladay.Â
6. Tim Hudson
Here is where the drop off in pitchers in the division takes a bit of a nose dive.Â Hudson pitched only 7 games last year for the Bravos and sat out the rest of the season after Tommy John surgery.Â Despite the injury, Atlanta rewarded him with a 3 year contract extension, hmmm.Â Hudson has won 56 games for the Braves though, and has had an ERA in the mid 3′s 3 out of the 4 complete years hes pitched with them.Â So, for this reason we will put him here as he has proven to be solid in the division.
7. Joe Blanton
This was the toughest pick of the 10 because Blanton is really nothing special.Â But, at 28 and in the prime of his career, Blanton should have a decent year.Â He’s coming off a solid 12-8 record with a 4.05 ERA (3.77 at homerun friendly Citizen’s Bank).Â He’ll probably be in the 3 spot in the Philly rotation meaning he’ll be matched up against mediocrity if it all plays out right and should end up with double digit wins.Â I am really only giving Blanton the edge here over 8-10 because of his consistency and his team.
8. Ricky Nolasco
After the ’08 season it looked as if the Marlins had an ace in the making as Nolasco posted a 15-6 record and a 3.52 ERA.Â Not so fast.Â Â He took aÂ big step backwards last year amassing a 5+ ERA while getting demoted to the minors.Â Nolasco did return however and was able to show flashes of brilliance striking out a franchise record 16 batters in his final start of the season.Â If the 27 year old can find some consistency next year he can be dangerous.Â Until then, he’s Oliver Perez a few years ago.Â
9. Derek Lowe
Last season the Mets had high hopes of bringing in Lowe to eat up innings and give the bullpen a few nights off, but he ended up in Atlanta.Â Maybe we lucked out as Lowe struggled last year going 15-10 with a 4.67 ERA.Â Strikeouts were down, walks were up.Â Still, Lowe gets the benefit of the doubt here with his career 3.84 ERA and his impressive postseason record.Â He’s a gritty pitcher and is still capable of shutting down a lineup.Â
10. J.A Happ
The young Philly lefty won his first 7 decisions in ’09 en route to a 12-4 2.93 ERA season..extremely impressive.Â But, I have to believe Happ will regress next season in a possible sophomore slump.Â A .270 BA against might tell us that he had some good fortune last year.Â Even with a slight step back, I would put Happ above anyone else in the division at #10.Â
Noticably absent on this list…pitchers 2-5 on the NYM staff.Â Does anyone disagree?
Totals: Phils – 4,Â Braves – 3, Marlins – 2, Mets – 1, Nats – 0.