Lots of clichés get repeated in baseball and accepted as fact. One of the biggest myths in baseball is “Good pitching always stops good hitting.” People assume that the best rotation always wins, and I am here to dispel that myth. Let’s take a look at four recent times that this myth was exposed.
The 2011 Phillies
Remember this rotation? Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels combined to lead the Phillies to 102 wins and the best record in baseball. They were silly dominant that year. Halladay went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and Cliff Lee went 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA. They were heavy favorites against the Cardinals in the NLDS. They won game one behind Halladay, but Lee melted down in Game 2. After winning Game 3 on the road, they failed to clinch in Game 4, setting up a do or die game with Halladay on the mound. The Phillies lost Game 5 at home 1-0 to end their season. You know why they lost? Because they didn’t score. Pitching isn’t everything.
The 2014 Tigers
After trading for David Price at the deadline, these Tigers were all but assured of a World Series. Max Scherzer, Price and our buddy Justin Verlander formed a devastating three-headed monster; three surefire hall of famers and the most dominant rotation that year by far. Scherzer proceeded to get shelled by the Orioles in Game 1, and the Tigers rolled over and died. They got swept in embarrassing fashion, and Price went on to be traded the following season. Their rotation was light years ahead of the Orioles. The problem was the Oriole bats showed up and the Tiger bats did not. Hitting matters, too!
The 2015 Mets
Another dynasty that never was. You know these guys. Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom. The Mets 2015 rotation was electric, and they matched up great with the Royals. However the Mets bullpen completely tanked as Jeurys Familia blew three saves in the World Series as the Mets lost in five games. Harvey was never the same, and the Mets haven’t won a playoff game since. The Royals beat them with timely hitting and an electric bullpen. Sound familiar?
The 2018 Astros
Contrary to popular belief, the Astros rotation was actually better last year than it is this year. Give me Kuechel and Morton over Greinke and Miley all day. Anyway, their dominant rotation got blasted by the Red Sox powerful bats in the ALCS. Verlander won Game 1 for the Astros, but then they got steamrolled in four straight games. Again, hitting was the difference in this series as it often is.
The Astros may very well beat the Yankees in the ALCS (assuming they get there), however, having a dominant rotation guarantees nothing in October. The Yankees have a relentless lineup and a devastating bullpen. All of the talk will center around the Astros power arms, but they’ll have to navigate a modern day murderers row.