Battle of the Bay: Who is best Bay Area pitcher?

Battle of the Bay: Who is best Bay Area pitcher?
July 8, 2014, 9:15 am
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Scott Kazmir and Madison Bumgarner were recently named to their third and second All-Star teams respectively. (USATI)

Editor's note: We're asking a new question each morning of the Bay Bridge Series. Insiders Andrew Baggarly and Joe Stiglich will provide their answers to tonight's question on Giants Pregame Live (6:30 on CSN Bay Area) and A's Pregame Live (6:30 on CSN California).

Who is the best Bay Area pitcher?

Here are Insiders Andrew Baggarly and Joe Stiglich's picks:

Andrew Baggarly - Giants Insider
Madison Bumgarner

The A’s have the lowest rotation ERA (3.28) in the American League, Sonny Gray is a prodigy and Scott Kazmir is Lazarus with a four-pitch mix. Sean Doolittle’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (60 to 2) will detach your retinas. But if you have to take one pitcher to win one game, I’d still push my chips behind Madison Bumgarner.

Bumgarner wasn’t old enough to take a legal sip of light beer when he beat the Texas Rangers on Halloween night to win Game 4 of the 2010 World Series. He stepped up again to fend off the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the 2012 Fall Classic, making an adjustment after getting pulled from the postseason rotation a round earlier.

Last year, his .203 opponent’s average was third in the NL behind two guys named Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez. That was a lower OBA than Tim Lincecum posted in either of his two Cy Young-winning seasons. The average is up to .248 because of a couple rocky starts this year, but Bumgarner is well on his way to another 200-inning season – and he’s going to his second consecutive All-Star team, too. He made it on the player vote, finishing behind only Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright and Kershaw.

That should tell you what the league thinks of Bumgarner, who is still a few weeks short of his 25th birthday.

Joe Stiglich - A's Insider
Scott Kazmir

The A’s added a couple notable pitchers via trade in recent days, but we’ll go with the veteran who has enjoyed the finest season thus far of any starter on either Bay Area team. Kazmir displays the craftiness of a veteran but still runs his fastball into the mid-90’s that calls back to his days as a fireballing phenom for Tampa Bay.

At 10-3, he’s tied for sixth in the majors in wins, eighth in ERA (2.53) and he has the sixth-best WHIP (1.01). Looking beyond the stats, he shows the ability to mix up his pitches expertly. He spots his fastball to both sides of the plate and then pulls the string with a nasty changeup that has hitters waving at air. He also gets it done with a slider and curve that are swing-and-miss pitches.

Plus, there’s an intangible quality to Kazmir. The guy saw his career take a sideways turn when he was released by the Angels in 2011. He toiled in independent league ball, retooled his mechanics and came back a tougher, more well-rounded pitcher last season with Cleveland. Now he’s an All-Star with Oakland.

He has the stuff, the experience, the smarts and the toughness. That makes Kazmir the best pitcher on either side of the Bay.

[RELATED: Battle of the Bay: Who is the best position player?]

Other candidates considered:

A'S

1) Jeff Samardzija
- Recently named a National League All-Star, but he is ineligible to participate because he was traded to an American League team. 
- He is 3-7 with a 2.74 ERA in 18 starts this season. In his debut with the A's, he allowed one run on four hits over seven innings and got the win.

2) Sonny Gray
- In 29 career starts, the 24-year old is 13-6 with a 2.93 ERA.

3) Sean Doolittle
- Recently named to his 1st All-Star Team. He is 1-3 with a 2.98 ERA this season. He has 13 saves.

[RELATED: Who is the best Bay Area position player?]

GIANTS

1) Tim Hudson

- He is 7-5 with a 2.53 ERA this season. He turns 39 next week.

2) Tim Lincecum
- He is 8-5 with a 3.91 ERA this season and is 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA over his last three starts

3) Santiago Casilla
- Over four plus seasons with the Giants, he is 24-13 with a 2.06 ERA

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