I recently posed a question to 12 players. It was a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Given the subjectivity involved, it doesn’t even have a right answer.
If you have to win one game, who do you want on the mound?
Players could not choose a teammate and only active pitchers were eligible. Their responses are listed below in alphabetical order.
Mike Carp, Boston Red Sox outfielder: “That’s a tough question, because there are a lot of big-game pitchers out there. I guess I’d go with Cliff Lee. I like what he does. I’ve played with him, and he’s going to give you eight, nine innings, or even longer. He’s going to be hard to pull out of the game. He does a great job of working ahead and pounding the strike zone. Not too many runs are going to be scored off of him.”
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles, infielder: “It would be Matt Harvey — a healthy Matt Harvey — since seeing him in the All-Star Game. I’d obviously heard all the hype beforehand, and then I faced him and the guy has electric stuff. Put him on a team with a potent offense that will score five or six runs behind him and he might win 25 to 30 games. As for winning one game, yeah, he has what it takes to do that. I like the way he pitches. He’s intense. He comes after guys and doesn’t want anything back. He shut down some pretty good hitters in the All-Star Game.”
Jonny Gomes, Boston Red Sox outfielder: “Roy Halladay. He threw a no-hitter against me, and my team, in 2010, in the playoffs. It was probably the best playoff game I’ve ever seen pitched. I don’t think you can top that. If he’s healthy, that’s who I want on the mound.”
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher; “I don’t really see too many guys in the American League. I probably would go Adam Wainwright. He’s competitive, man. Every time he’s going deep into the game and giving his team a chance. He doesn’t walk anybody and usually if you’re not walking anybody you’re giving your team a shot. He’s got four good pitches.”
John Lackey, Boston Red Sox pitcher: “I’d have to go with Clayton Kershaw, with what he’s done the last couple years. He doesn’t give up too many runs. His talent translates to winning big games.”
Adam Lind, Toronto Blue jays outfielder: “Clayton Kershaw. He’s just really good. That’s it.”
Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles outfielder: “That’s kind of a no-brainer, eh? Clayton Kershaw. He’s the best in baseball, and he’s left-handed. Lefties are completely different than righties. They come in at a different angle and their off-speed stuff does completely different stuff. If you’re going to go with a dominant pitcher, why not have a dominant lefty on the mound?”
Nate McLouth, Baltimore Orioles outfielder: “I can’t say Nolan Ryan? I’m going to take David Price. I don’t like facing him. There are a handful of guys you could take, but he’s the guy I’ll go with. He’s got a big-game mentality.”
Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants outfielder: “I’d have to take Kershaw. Just look at his numbers. There are so many bullpen guys who only have to throw one inning who are so good. The nastiest guy I’ve faced is probably a reliever. Brad Ziegler is really tough for a righty. Ronald Belisario is really good, Kenley Jansen. Craig Kimbrel.”
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants catcher: “Kershaw, probably. Nastiest pitcher — there’s a difference between the two I think. I think Kimbrel, probably for nastiest.”
David Ross, Boston Red Sox catcher: “Clayton Kershaw. He’s the best right now and I also like his attitude, which is a big part of it. My second choice would be Tim Hudson for the same reason. He’s been there and done that. He’s got experience and huge you-know-whats. He’s got big-game experience and the attitude you need to win that big game.”
Clayton Kershaw: Six votes (Lackey, Lind, Markakis, Pence, Posey, Ross)
David Price: Two votes (Gonzalez, McLouth)
Roy Halladay: One vote (Gomes)
Matt Harvey One vote (Davis)
Cliff Lee: One vote (Carp)
Adam Wainwright: One vote (Kershaw)
Note: Thanks to Eno Sarris for providing responses from Gonzalez, Kershaw and Posey.
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.