The Rangers vs. The Dodgers: 2013 World Series-Pitchers


Currently the Rangers stand only half a game above the Athletics in the quest for the AL West crown. The Dodgers, after the best 50 game run in 70 years, sit seven and a half games above the Diamondbacks. Oddsmakers recently named the squad from Los Angeles as the most likely to win a World Series. If the Rangers made it to the fall classic, a Dodgers-Rangers ticket would (according to oddsmakers) be the most likely. This will pit the positions against each other to see which is the stronger team.

Aug 18, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) throws a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports


Clayton Kershaw vs. Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish has been absolutely outstanding this year. He is in the top ten in WAR, top fifteen in FIP and is second in xFIP. His K/9 is almost 25% better than the next best pitcher, AJ Burnett. That being said, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball by no small margin. He is better than Matt Harvey or 2011-2012 Justin Verlander or 2008-2011 Roy Halladay. According to an article on, Kershaw, if the season ended today, would have one of (arguably) the top two seasons for a pitcher of all time. I loath blockquoting, but summarizing all of stats wouldn’t have the same effect. Just look:

"With Saturday’s win, Kershaw lowered his WHIP to 0.851, dropped his ERA to 1.80 and lowered his hits-per-nine to 5.77. All of these marks are the best in the NL, adding to Kershaw’s league-leading numbers in strikeouts, innings, shutouts, and ERA+.Kershaw’s 0.851 WHIP would be the 11th lowest since 1893, and the fourth lowest in the live-ball era, behind only Pedro Martinez’s 0.737 in 2000, Greg Maddux’s 0.811 in 1995 and Dave McNally’s 0.842 in ’68.Kershaw would be the 36th pitcher since 1893 to finish a year with a 198 ERA+ or better. He would be the sixth left-hander, joining Dutch Leonard (282 in 1914), Lefty Grove (217 in ’31), Jack Pfiester (216 in 1907), Ron Guidry (208 in ’78) and Billy Pierce (200 in ’55).Between 1969 and 2012, five NL pitchers (all right-handers) finished a season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and an ERA at or below 1.80. Dwight Gooden had the lowest with a 1.53 mark in 1985. Maddux, with a 1.63 ERA in 1995, was the most recent NL pitcher to accomplish the feat.Kershaw’s 5.77 hits per nine would tie him for the 10th lowest mark since 1893. Nolan Ryan’s 5.26 in 1972 was the lowest, and Martinez’s 5.31 in 2000 was the most recent.Put all together, Kershaw could join Martinez in 2000 as the only qualifying pitchers since 1893 to finish a season with a WHIP at or below 0.860, an ERA at or below 1.80 and a hits-per-nine at or below 5.80."

Zach Greinke vs. Derek Holland

Currently, Holland is the number four starter. However, his performance is in line with a number two starter, and I expect him to man the Rangers’ second slot in their playoff rotation. Actually, he may be a decent match for Greinke. Holland has a better FIP than

Aug 16, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland (45) throws to the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning of a baseball game at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Mariners won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Greinke and has more playoff experience. Granted, his performance has been all over the place in the playoffs, but it has to be better than nothing. However, ZIPS expects Greinke’s ERA to be almost a full run better than Holland’s. ZIPS isn’t perfect but I trust it enough

to give the edge to Greinke by a hair.

Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Matt Garza

Hyun-Jin Ryu has been dynamite the entire season. He is outpitching his FIP, but ZIPS expects him to be about .5 ERA better than Garza down the stretch. Garza’s career ERA is 3.80, and ZIPS expects him to sit above there, at 4.08. Basically, Garza has postseason experience but the computers expect Hyun-Hin Ryu to be better. In other words, the same paragraph that I just wrote above.

Ricky Nolasco vs. Alexi Ogando.

Nolasco has always underachieved his FIP. In other words, his FIP is very low (which indicates that he is actually a good pitcher) but his ERA is generally pretty high. Ogando has beaten his FIP pretty handily, which means he’s gotten lucky. ZIPS projects them both to be about the same. I give the edge to Ogando. His career numbers are better and his stuff is simply better too, even if the control isn’t always there.

If you notice, on all but the last matchup the Rangers lose. I have a friend (a Dodgers fan ironically) and his line of reasoning was: Kershaw is likely to out-duel Darvish (a matter of debate, but say it happens): would it make more sense to start Ogando in game one, basically forfeit it, and start Darvish in game two? Than Texas would (basically) automatically lose Game 1 but have the pitching advantage for the other three (or five) games. I told him that the idea was absolutely crazy, but the more I look at rotation matchups, the more I think he may be right. I don’t expect it to ever happen, and I don’t know enough about (I think it would fall under) game theory to know whether such a move would help or hurt, but it’s an interesting thought nonetheless. Post what you think in the comments.