Merry Pitching Christmas!

Earlier this week, Getting Blanked covered the difference between nominal “number one starter” and true aces. It isn’t often, beyond the early weeks of the season, that opposing teams see their rotations line-up to provide #1 versus #1, best versus best matchups.

Luckily for baseball fans and fans of great pitching, the stars aligned on this steamy July Wednesday in a most spectacular fashion.

Yesterday, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum treated baseball fans to the quintessential pitching duel. A 1-0 battle with Kershaw pitching an impressive 8 innings with 12 strikeouts. It was great, a joy to watch.

The baseball schedule offers up an incredible assortment of great games today, with marquee pitching match-ups galore. If you have you are in for a treat. The battle of sneaky good starts early in Toronto between Ricky Romero and Doug Fister – he of the 3.16 FIP. (Update: scoreless tie so far!)

At 3:30, C.J. Wilson and Angels ace Jered Weaver battle in a West Coast getaway day clash with the top spot in the AL West on the line. Wilson leads the impressive Rangers in innings pitched and strikeouts while Weaver is second in AL pitcher WAR and, of course, started the All Star game just last week.

Tonight in Tampa, CC Sabathia faces James Shields in another battle of great starters. Shields leads baseball with 7 complete games while Sabathia is second in innings…

…second behind Justin Verlander, author of a no-hitter and ace of the Tigers staff. Verlander leads the AL in strikeouts and sits fourth in FIP and strikeout-to-ratio. Verlander leads his Tigers against Carl Pavano who…has a pretty mustache sometimes.

Remember Zack Greinke? He won the Cy Young in 2009 despite playing for the Royals. Luckily for him, he doesn’t play for the Royals anymore! The fortune of moving away from the Royals is now offset by Zack Greinke experiencing some ugly stat lines which don’t add up to his eye-popping secondary stats.

Greinke is striking out more than 30% of the batters he faces, good enough for 12 per 9 innings. His K/BB is second only to Halladay among NL starters. Greinke is an incredible hot streak waiting to happen, watch out for the Brewers. Ian Kennedy faces Greinke today, part of a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the Diamondbacks rotation, sneaking them into the NL West conversation. Kennedy’s 2.4 WAR leads all pitchers who paid money for an Okkervil River record.

If that isn’t good enough, watch out for Cyborg Tommy Hanson against the slightly disappointing Rockies and slightly impressive ground ball machine Jhoulys Chacin.

Quite an impressive lineup on a day with only 8 games. Some of the biggest and best pitchers in baseball take the hill for our entertainment. Let’s get together and hope for many missed bats, close games with the potential for a walkoff walk or two. The bullpens always let us down. That’s why those deadbeats are in the pen.