Above are simulated seasons of 4 players (courtesy of OOTP16). Each set shows the 1-2 starting pitcher combinations for division rivals. On the left are 24 wins with 396 strikeout, and on the right are 27 wins 412 strikeouts. The left pair accumulated 8.5 WAR. The right duo accrued 10 WAR. The left pitchers pitch a ballpark with a .845 ballpark factor, while the right pitchers throw at a field with a 1.062 ballpark factor (anything above 1 favors hitters, under favors pitchers).
Which pair do you want?
If you haven’t guessed already, this is a comparison of Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Both 1-2 punches are formidable, but which duo will be more dominant? If you chose the duo on the right, you chose Greinke and Miller. But would you have chosen Bumgarner and Cueto had it just been based on their names? I think I might have.
Bumgarner and Cueto
Bumgarner (on the left) and Cueto (on the right) are definitely a force to be reckoned with. Cueto’s season is a bit deceptive, considering he started 33 games but only had 16 decisions. His 8-8 record is probably a result of run support, something that’s feasible considering the Giants offense. He still threw 200 innings and had 8.1 K/9, but had a lofty 4.28 ERA and a poor ERA+ of 91. His home runs against was truly grand though, giving up only 0.5 HR/9, 12 total on the year. Bumgarner had a bit more luck in his starts, winning 16 games, and also had a 9.6 K/9 with a more respectable 3.47 ERA and 112 ERA+.
Greinke and Miller
Greinke had a phenomenal simulated season, posting a 2.91 ERA with a great 134 ERA+. His stellar 1.07 WHIP went along with 182 strikeouts and 7.3 K/9. However, it only equated to 15 wins; I would have expected 19+ wins with these stats. Similar to the Giants, this may be a sign of Arizona’s lack of run production. Shelby’s season was more surprising. Though only a 12 win season, he had 230 strikeouts (10 K/9) and only gave up 15 home runs (0.7 HR/9). He had a very good 3.19 ERA and 122 ERA+ as well. These stats should have yielded more than 12 wins as well.
Baseball-reference.com also projects 2016 season stats for these four pitchers. See their stats below (the averages in the graph are the averages for the four players, not a league average).
So Who Do You Want?
If I had to choose, I think I’d still lean toward the Giants aces, despite the stats pointing me in the Diamondbacks’ direction. I am nervous about Greinke living up to his large contract, and I don’t have enough trust in Shelby to live up to these projections (baseball-reference’s are more realistic in my mind). And to top it all off, 2016 is an even-numbered year, which means the Giants have to win the World Series anyway, right?