The American League Central has two aces headlining its staff. The number three man is an 11 year veteran while the fourth slot is filled by a newcomer from the American League East. The surprise fifth man pitched his college ball in that noted Major League developmental hotbed S.U.N.Y. Binghamton.
Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers
Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball the past two seasons. He followed up 2011’s M.V.P. and Cy Young campaign with a strong 2012, narrowly missing his second consecutive Cy Young. The 6’5” right hander continues to pitch deep into games, hitting 100 m.p.h. in the later innings. He has led the league in K’s three of the past four years and pitched to a 1.06 W.H.I.P. in 2012 after a stellar 0.92 W.H.I.P. in 2011. All that's left for Verlander is to improve his League Championship and World Series resumes, his ratios have suffered in the deeper postseason rounds.
Chris Sale Chicago White Sox
The proverbial tall drink of water emerged from the pen and became an ace for Robin Ventura in 2011. Possessing an electric left arm, he went 17-8 in 29 starts for the White Sox in 2012 after appearing in 58 games, all in relief, in 2011. Sale average a strikeout per inning in 2012. The Sox apparently are unconcerned about Sale’s sudden increase in innings, he pitched a combined 94.1 innings in 2010 and 2011, then jumped up to 192 in 2012.
Jake Peavy Chicago White Sox
After 11 years the 6’1” Peavy still brings it every night out. His 11-12 record masked a fine season, pitching to a 3.37 E.R.A with an enviable 1.09 W.H.I.P. After three consecutive injury shortened seasons of less than 20 starts, Peavy returned to start 32 games in 2012. Not as dominant as he was with the San Diego Padres, Peavy is still an effective pitcher who struck out 8 batters per nine innings last season.
James Shields Kansas City Royals
Big Game James brings his postseason pedigree to Kauffman Stadium, he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for prospect Wil Myers. In Tampa, Shields was a consistent innings eater, with six consecutive seasons of 200 plus I.P. Over the last two seasons in 477 innings, Shield has a 3.15 E.R.A. and averages 8.5 K’s per nine innings. If Shields can lead the Royals to their first postseason since the days of George Brett and Buddy Biancalana will decide whether Dayton Moore’s gamble was worth the risk of losing Myers.
Scott Diamond Minnesota Twins
Diamond gets the nod over Max Scherzer because anybody who makes the Major Leagues from Guelph, Ontario by way of S.U.N.Y. Binghamton then manages to go 12-9 for the Twins deserves a spot on some sort of All-Star roster. Diamond stays in games by not beating himself. He led the league by walking only 1.6 batters per nine innings. Hopefully for the Twins and Diamond 2012 will not be an aberration, last season was his first as a full time starter.
Chris Perez Cleveland Indians
The two time All-Star is the best in a weak group of closers. He is the closer on this staff though he may have a tough time time holding off Vinnie Pestano in Cleveland.
Set Up Man
Jared Burton Minnesota Twins
Burton did a solid job setting up Glenn Perkins and Matt Capps in 2012, posting a sub 1.00 W.H.I.P. and a 2.18 E.R.A. in 62 I.P.