Pitching is one of the toughest jobs in professional sports, especially in the MLB playoffs of October. Intense focus is absolutely vital and a single bad fastball left hanging over the plate can easily ruin a team’s entire World Series hopes. As pitching often decides these playoff encounters, lets take a quick look at who figures to play a prominent role in the proceedings and is most equipped to handle the pressures that will come in these cold, mentally draining late season starts.
- Clayton Kershaw – There’s no denying that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kershaw is the ultimate ace pitcher this year and is a sure bet to win the NL Cy Young Award. But having won the award twice in his young career already, I think he wants to add a World Series ring to his resume! Fortunately, his 1.78 ERA is best in the bigs and his postseason display last year eased the pain from his previous October outings of several years back, when he struggled mightily. Surrounded by great talent, Kershaw should ride a wave of momentum into a championship.
- Max Scherzer – Often held back in the shadows of the Detroit Tigers’ ace pitcher Justin Verlander, Scherzer has quietly become the best #2 pitcher in baseball and currently holds a decent 3.13 ERA. In recent playoff years, he has pitched tremendously well, though he certainly will need to step up now following the injury to Verlander. A lot of the Tigers’ hopes now rest on his arm but he definitely has the capabilities to get them far and finally take over the leadership role of this team!
- Jon Lester – A hero for the Boston Red Sox championship year in 2013 behind a postseason ERA of 1.56, Lester jumped ship to the Oakland Athletics several weeks ago and will have another great shot at a title once again. A heroic story following his recovery from lymphoma, Lester has battled adversity far beyond the mound, and he has the proof of a successful career that continues to improve with strong strikeouts. He looks to be at home in Oakland and could lead a stunning playoff run at his new club.
- Adam Wainwright – With a strong 2.34 ERA with the St. Louis Cardinals, Wainwright is having his best year. Having been with the team for his whole career, the pitcher has found a home and has come into his own in recent years. Numerous playoff trips have proven largely successful for Wainwright and he figures to have another strong outing in 2014. The Cardinals have been a great team recently and could certainly claim the World Series should this pitcher dominate.
- David Price – A player who has certainly struggled in the postseason with the Tampa Bay Rays, Price hopes to benefit from the new surroundings in Detroit with the Tigers. His season has been quite good with a 3.21 ERA but his issue will be mental. I’m hoping that a change of teams is exactly what his career needed. The Rays were never going to win, but the Tigers have far more talent and opportunity. If Price can perform to his potential this October, Detroit just might end up as World Series champions!
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