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Top 5 Left Handed Pitchers in Baseball

by Photo of Andrew Lontos

C.C. Sabathia and David Price square off tonight; who are the other elite lefties?

Top 5 Left Handed Pitchers in Baseball

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays start a three game series tonight in the Bronx, and both teams will have their lefty aces on the mound. Tampa Bay, 9.5 games out of first place, will look to David Price to decrease their deficit against C.C. Sabathia.

Via MLB.com:

Price, 9-10 with a 3.89 ERA, has allowed four runs or more in 10 of his 24 starts this season after doing so in just four of his 31 starts in 2010. A poor start to his day could quickly put the game away, with AL Cy Young Award contender CC Sabathia on the hill for the Yankees.

"Me versus CC, it should be a lot of fun. This is what it's all about," Price said.

The American League East rivals have two of the best left handers in baseball. Let's take a look at the top 5 left handed pitchers in the big leagues.

Cliff Lee

Not only is he the best left hander in the game, along with teammate Roy Halladay, he's in the discussion for best pitcher in baseball the last four years. Since 2008, his earned run averages are: 2.54, 3.22, 3.18, and 2.83. He won the Cy Young in 2008 and last year led the league in complete games, WHIP, walks per 9 innings, and strikeout to walk ratio. So far this year, his 5 shutouts also lead the league. The most impressive thing about Lee is that he's put up these fantastic numbers for four different teams, while going back and forth between leagues. It doesn't matter where he pitches; Lee is going to strike out a bunch of hitters and walk very few. That's a dream for any pitching coach. And oh by the way, he gets much better in the playoffs. In 10 career starts, Lee has a 7-2 record with a 2.13 ERA, 80 strikeouts and just 8 walks. He's pitched in two League Championship Series games, one in the American League and one in the National League. In those two starts combined, he's 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He went 8 innings in each game, gave up 5 hits total, struck out 23 and walked 1.

C.C. Sabathia

C.C. has been a flat out ace since 2006. In 2007, he won the Cy Young in Cleveland a year before Lee did. Then traded midway through the 2008 season to Milwaukee, he dominated the National League down the stretch, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA, pitching 7 complete games and 3 shutouts. He was the biggest reason the Brewers made the playoffs for the first time since 1982, when they were in the American League East. Pitching for the Yankees the previous two seasons, Sabathia finished in the top 5 in the Cy Young voting both times, and will surely finish there again this year. In a year in which the Yankees have needed him to be an ace more than ever, the hefty lefty has not disappointed. He has a 2.81 ERA and is on pace to shatter 200 innings pitched, as he has done every year since 2007. 

Clayton Kershaw

If you were starting a franchise, Kershaw is probably the first pitcher you'd take. He's about to complete his third straight year making 30+ starts with an ERA under 3.00. And he's doing this at ages 21, 22, and 23. He struck out 212 batters last year and leads the league with 184 so far this year. Walks used to be a bit of an issue for the young lefty, but he has lowered his walks per 9 innings each year from 4.8, to 3.6, to a great 2.4 for a power pitcher. He made his first All-Star game this year and leads the league with 9.9 strikeouts per 9 innings. There's no reason to think that he won't have many more All-Star appearances and continue to dominate the National League West for years to come.

Cole Hamels

Hamels has been a major part of the Phillies' success in the last four years. Since 2007, he's had an ERA under 4.00 ever year but 2009, which was a down year for him. He posted a 3.09 ERA in 2008 and led the league with a 1.082 WHIP. In the playoffs that year, he won at least one game in each round and was the NLCS and World Series MVP. Hamels was more than solid last year, pitching over 200 innings and totaling a 3.06 ERA. He's having the best year of his career as we come to the end of 2011. He leads the National League in WHIP with an outstanding .958 mark. In addition, he has a career-best 2.53 ERA in his 24 starts for first place Philadelphia.

David Price

Picked first overall in 2007 by the Tampa Bay Rays, Price found himself pitching in the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox the very next season. Appearing in 3 games, Price didn't allow a hit or a run against the 9 batters he faced. He also picked up a win, and got the save in Game 7 to send the Rays to their first World Series in franchise history. It was pretty incredible for the 22 year old rookie. Last year, at age 24, Price went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA. He anchored the Rays' staff to a first place finish in the brutal American League East, and finished second in the Cy Young voting. The former Vanderbilt star made the All-Star game for the second year in a row in 2011. His ERA is a little high at 3.89, but actually has a career best in WHIP (1.14), walks per 9 innings (2.1), and strikeouts per 9 innings (8.7).

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Thanks to Baseball Reference for all the stats.

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