WHO IS THE BEST RIGHT-LEFT STARTING COMBO IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE?

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While the Yankees can run C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes
out to the mound and the Red Sox can counter with
Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester,
it may sound ludicrous to make this forthcoming claim…but here goes: Is it
possible that the A’s 22-year-old
Trevor Cahill
and 24-year-old
Gio Gonzalez form the best
right-left starting pitching tandem in the American League?  Well, judging by the numbers, they at least
belong in the conversation.  Here’s a
statistical breakdown on the best right-left combos in the AL entering tonight’s games:

Name                        Team              W-L      ERA     GS       IP         H         Opp. BA

Phil Hughes, RHP          New
York          15-5      3.90      23         140.2    132       .247

C.C. Sabathia, LHP        New
York          17-5      3.02      27         187.2    168       .243

 

Clay Bucholz, RHP        Boston              15-5      2.26      22         139.1    114       .224

Jon Lester, LHP             Boston              13-8      3.26      25         163.0    135       .226

 

Jeff Nieman, RHP           Tampa Bay        10-3      3.12      22         141.1    121       .231

David Price, LHP            Tampa Bay        15-5      2.97      24         157.2    133       .229

 

Carl Pavano, RHP          Minnesota         15-9      3.56      26         182.0    180       .260

Francisco Liriano, LHP   Minnesota         11-7      3.45      24         151.1    144       .250

 

Trevor
Cahill, RHP    Oakland         13-5    2.54    22        148.2  103     .198   

Gio
Gonzalez, LHP    Oakland         11-8    3.24    26        161.0  134     .224

While certainly you can make a valid case for any of
these twosomes, I think where the A’s pair measures up quite convincingly is in
ERA, where Cahill ranks third in the American League at 2.54 and Gonzalez ranks
10th at 3.24, and in opponents batting average, where Cahill (.198) and
Gonzalez (.224) respectively rank first and fifth in the AL.  Then look at their performances since the
All-Star Break:  Cahill is 4-2 with a
1.84 ERA and .182 opponents’ BA, while Gio is 4-2 with a 2.17 ERA and .197 OBA.

 

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In fact, the two Oakland aces fare even better in a bigger
sample size.  Since June 21, Cahill is
7-3 with a 1.99 ERA and miniscule .173 OBA in 11 starts while Gonzalez is 5-3
with a 2.20 ERA and .209 OBA in 12 starts. 
During this nine-week stretch, Cahill 
and Gonzalez rank third and fourth, respectively, in the AL in opponents’ batting
average. This only underscores how almost unhittable their stuff has
become.  And while Cahill has been
ridiculously consistent all season long, Gio may be the hotter pitcher of
late.  In his last 12 starts since June
21, the Cuban-American southpaw has allowed one run or less eight times.  And throughout his young Major League career,
he has proven to be close to a sure thing when he receives run support.  Including last night’s masterpiece, Gonzalez
is 16-1 in 24 lifetime starts when the A’s hitters score at least three runs
for him.  Conversely, he has been saddled
with a 2-18 mark in his 26 career starts in which Oakland’s offense has scored two runs or
less.

 

The fact that these dynamic young pitchers now go
back-to-back in the starting rotation–Cahill will be gunning for Win No. 14
tonight in Cleveland–is a real treat for A’s fans, as both pitchers feature unique
styles that have developed into the same winning formula for the team.  With these two golden arms, the A’s can
provide a left-right punch that would make
Andre Ward, another Oakland
product, very proud.  Here’s hoping for
another knockout performance tonight at Progressive Field (4 p.m. PDT on
Comcast SportsNet California
and XTRA Sports 860 AM).

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