Everyone plays favorites. We almost never admit that we do. We try not to, but we definitely do. So, why even bother hiding who our favorites are?
With Opening Day fast approaching, here’s a list of our favorite pitchers with brief explanations of how they became Ducks on the Pod favorites:
Arizona Diamondbacks – Archie Bradley
His triple in the NL Wild Card Game last year is the main reason Archie makes the list. There’s also the fact that he was one of the best relievers in the Senior Circuit (ERA well under 2, WHIP a smidgen over 1.00, and nearly 10 K’s per 9). Oh, the inspirational beard gives him some bonus points, too.
Atlanta Braves – Julio Teheran
Teheran has been the de facto ace in Atlanta for a few years now. Last season was arguably his worst, but when you look at the numbers, it’s not like he was a bad pitcher. Here’s hoping the new-look Braves provide Teheran a boost to get him back to his old self.
Baltimore Orioles – Darren O’Day
He’s the funky sidewinder / submarine guy. The fans cheer his name to the tune of Seven Nation Army. Since joining the O’s in 2012, he’s got a WHIP under 1.00 and he’s striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings. That’s elite.
Boston Red Sox – Rick Porcello
2016 was incredible. 2017 was rough. 2018 will be somewhere in between, as will the rest of Porcello’s career. He’s a good pitcher. Let’s just hope the sinker gets back to sinking this summer.
Chicago Cubs – Carl Edwards Jr.
He’s listed at 6’3”, 170, which is probably a bit generous. Edwards is a bean pole. Don’t let his slimness fool you. He deals some of the hottest cheddar in the game. Last season, Edwards ranked 20th on Statcast’s average pitch velocity leaderboard.
Chicago White Sox – Lucas Giolito
This young man was the blue chipper who came over in the Adam Eaton trade with Washington last spring. The Sox gave Giolito the ball seven times down the stretch last year, and he did not disappoint. A rotation that’s in the middle of remodeling is looking for Giolito to solidify himself as a trusted arm this year.
Cincinnati Reds – Wandy Peralta
It’s a funny story. I literally only know who Wandy Peralta is because he pitched very well in April last season, and my fantasy team was in dire need of a solid reliever at the time, so I scooped him up. The numbers regressed back to his norm, but he gave me some good production for a while there.
Cleveland Indians – Andrew Miller
All of us should feel honored that we had the opportunity to watch Andrew Miller, in the fall of 2016, single-handedly erase and rewrite the book on how to use relief pitchers in today’s game. He was downright untouchable throughout the Indians’ postseason run. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Colorado Rockies – Chad Bettis
This man is an inspiration. Essentially, Chad Bettis beat cancer twice last year. I know I’m not alone in hoping that he regains the velocity on his fastball. He deserves to enjoy a good career.
Detroit Tigers – Michael Fulmer
He is now officially the best player on my hometown team. He participated in Carhartt’s Strikeouts for Vets campaign. He also has a topnotch beard. This was an easy one.
Houston Astros – Lance McCullers Jr.
Last spring, I named McCullers the new “best pitcher you’ve never heard of,” taking over for Jose Quintana. Well, after his four-inning save in Game 7 of the ALCS, you should have heard of McCullers by now. If not, google him. This is going to be his year.
Kansas City Royals – Jason Hammel
I’m sure many people have already forgotten that Hammel was on the 2016 Chicago curse-breakers. He didn’t post the kind of numbers that jump out at you. He was just solid, all year long. Every championship team needs those guys, and those guys deserve more love than they get.
Los Angeles Angels – Shohei Ohtani
I’ve been waiting for over a year to watch Ohtani play. I felt a bit cheated when he was unable to go in the World Baseball Classic last spring. I can’t wait any longer. Lucky for all of us, we no longer have to.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw
He’s quite simply the best in the game. He’s arguably the greatest of all-time. When you look at the numbers and factor in all the signs that prove pitching is harder than it ever has been, I don’t understand how you can’t cheer for Kershaw. We’re watching a truly awesome career unfold in front of us.
Miami Marlins – Kyle Barraclough
First of all, it’s hard not to root for a guy whose name is pronounced, “bear-claw.” Secondly, he’s racked up 219 strikeouts in 163 Major League innings. That’s over 12 K’s per nine, which is nuts. Those two things are more than enough to be the favorite on a team without many other candidates.
Milwaukee Brewers – Zach Davies
Zach Davies appeared on my radar on July 17, 2016. He started for the Brewers that day in Cincinnati, tossing seven innings of scoreless ball with four hits and five strikeouts. It was a start that deserved a win. Unfortunately, the Brewers weren’t hitting that day, and they allowed Billy Hamilton to steal the victory. I’ve been keeping my eye on Davies ever since.
Minnesota Twins – Fernando Rodney
He’s a former Tiger. He introduced us to the rally plantain, and then brought it back four years later. He entertains us with his bow and arrow routine after saves. Fernando Rodney is one of my favorite players ever.
New York Mets – Noah Syndergaard
Thor is inspirational, both in terms of his pitching ability, and his curly blonde locks falling out from the back of his hat. Let’s hope Syndergaard stays healthy this summer. Having him on the mound every fifth day is good for baseball.
New York Yankees – Luis Severino
He’s got electric stuff and he showed a little bit of the “it” factor last year, particularly in the playoffs. The reason the Yanks didn’t go get one of the prized starting pitchers available this offseason is because they have Severino looking like he’s ready to take on the role of staff ace.
Oakland Athletics – Blake Treinen
Honestly, there aren’t many pitchers on the A’s roster I know anything about. Treinen is one of the few. He came over from Washington in the Sean Doolittle trade. Since arriving in Oakland, he’s pitched much better than he did with the Nationals. The A’s could really use someone to hang their hat on and Treinen looks like that someone.
Philadelphia Phillies – Hector Neris
Neris is one of my fantasy leaguers. Last season was a bittersweet one for him. He became the Phillies closer midway through, but he also took a step back in terms of effectiveness. If Neris can get back to the 2016 production that landed him on my fantasy team, he’ll be an all-star.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Ivan Nova
Like Oakland, Pittsburgh has a roster full of pitchers without much name recognition. Nova is pretty much the only one who’s made a name for himself. Through eight seasons with the Yankees and Pirates, he’s molded himself into the definition of a solid starting pitcher.
San Diego Padres – Kirby Yates
If you like strikeouts, Yates was your guy last year. He ranked fifth among relievers (behind Kimbrel, Betances, Knebel, and Jansen), striking out 13.98 batters per nine innings. He had a brief stint on my fantasy team last year. It’s also a great name.
San Francisco Giants – Johnny Cueto
I’ve been a fan of Cueto since his Cincinnati days. He’s always been one of my favorite pitchers to watch go to work. He’s so unique in his approach. He also doesn’t pretend to care about hitting, and I get a kick out of that.
Seattle Mariners – Mike Leake
There is no other pitcher quite like Mike Leake. He’s never had the “stuff” that’ll blow you away. His strikeout totals and WHIP show that. But his ERA suggests the guy just knows how to pitch. Ever since he came up with the Reds, he’s had to figure things out on the fly. I think that’s really helped his game. A lot of guys get on the mound and just throw the ball. Mike Leake pitches. You have to respect it.
St. Louis Cardinals – Alex Reyes
Reyes was the top pitching prospect in baseball coming into 2017. Then he had to have Tommy John surgery. He’s just now getting back to throwing and might make his return as a bullpen ace. Whatever he’s doing, I’m rooting for him to do it well.
Tampa Bay Rays – Brent Honeywell
It’s eerie that Honeywell follows Reyes on this list. I chose these favorite pitchers in early February. A couple weeks later, Honeywell was headed for a Tommy John surgery of his own. It’s not fair that we’re going to have to wait another year to see the Rays’ top prospect.
Texas Rangers – Cole Hamels
He’s a great pitcher and all that. But the real reason Hamels is on this list is his donation to Camp Barnabas last winter. That touching sign of generosity is more than enough to convince me this is a guy worth rooting for.
Toronto Blue Jays – Roberto Osuna
95 saves, a WHIP just a shade above 0.90, nearly 10.5 strikeouts per nine; it’s hard to ask for anything more from your closer in his first three seasons. Osuna is the best young closer in the game. He just turned 23. I imagine he’ll be locking down games for the Jays for the better part of the next decade.
Washington Nationals – Stephen Strasburg
This could be Max Scherzer’s spot. I went with Strasburg instead because of what he did in last fall’s National League Division Series against the Cubs. In 14 innings of work over two starts, Strasburg allowed six hits and no earned runs, striking out 22. Scherzer gets most of the publicity. Strasburg deserves more. I’m expecting him to finally take that step into elite ace territory this season.