Debate has raged for a while now as to who is the best pitcher of their generation: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, or Clayton Kershaw.
Saturday should put an end to that debate.
All three of these guys have sterling regular season resumes. Verlander has won 257 games in his career with a legitimate shot at becoming the last 300-game winner ever. Scherzer has 214 wins to his name, while Kershaw has 210.
Each of the three is a three-time Cy Young winner, with Kershaw and Verlander both laying claim to a league MVP and a pitching triple crown. Of the three, Verlander does have the highest ERA at 3.24. Kershaw's career ERA of 2.48 is unfathomably low, while Scherzer's is in between at 3.15.
When you compare their regular season resumes, it basically comes down to what metric you weigh most heavily--wins, strikeouts, ERA, longevity, or durability.
But where the nod rightly swings in JV's favor is October. While all three pitchers have similar enough regular season resumes, the postseason heavily turns the discussion in the favor of Verlander.
Justin Verlander is the best pitcher of his generation
Justin Verlander is the premier playoff pitcher of his generation. After yesterday's win, Verlander is now 17-11 in his playoff career. Only Andy Pettite has started more playoff games in league history than Verlander.
But not only does he throw a lot of playoff games as a byproduct of being on good teams--he's the one you want with the ball leading off a series. His 13 Game 1 starts are the most in big league history.
Verlander's scoreless start yesterday was the sixth of his playoff career, tying him with Tom Glavine and Madison Bumgarner for most all-time. Across his 36 playoff starts, Verlander now holds a 3.54 ERA, and his cWPA is 30.8%.
A few short hours after another dominant Verlander start, Kershaw again got his teeth kicked in. Arizona hung six runs on Kershaw while he recorded only one out. He became the first big league pitcher ever to allow five hits and five runs before recording a single out.
Kershaw is now 13-13 with a 4.49 playoff ERA. Aside from the 2020 COVID postseason played without fans, he has consistently come up short under the brightest of lights. His cWPA is 2.6%.
Scherzer has started 22 playoff games in his career, appearing five times in relief. He's 7-7 with a 3.58 ERA and 27.7% cWPA. His playoff numbers aren't nearly as bad as Kershaw's, but also not quite as great as Verlander's.
While Kershaw may have an edge in regular season ERA, his playoff ineptitude must be held against him when analyzing his legacy.
Only one of the three has the combination of regular season and playoff counting stats, awards, accolades, longevity, durability, and consistency when the lights shiner brightest.
It's time for the debate to come to an end. Justin Verlander is the premier pitcher of his generation.