Yesterday, I began constructing a roster of the Cleveland Indians’ best players of the decade with the starting lineup and the bench. Today, we move past the position players and tackle the pitching staff—starting, of course, with the starting rotation. We’ll look at the bullpen later this afternoon.
Any player who appeared on the Tribe’s roster at some point in at least two different seasons since 2001 was eligible for consideration (sorry, Kevin Millwood).
Without further ado, here is the all-decade rotation:
No. 1: CC Sabathia. Carsten Charles wasn’t a great pitcher for most of his Cleveland career—his ERAs didn’t settle below 4.00 until his sixth season—but his 106 wins and 3.83 ERA in over 1,500 innings with the Tribe from 2001-8 are impossible to ignore. With 33.6 WAR, he is the team’s decade MVP.
No. 2: Cliff Lee. Lee burst onto the scene with 18 wins in 2005, and emerged as one of the best pitchers in the game en route to winning the AL Cy Young in 2008. He went 83-48 with a 4.01 ERA and 20.5 WAR in parts of eight seasons with the Indians.
No. 3: Bartolo Colon. Colon spent only a season and a half with the Tribe this decade, but he made the most of his limited time, going 24-16 with a 3.56 ERA and 6.6 WAR in 338.2 innings. As an added bonus, the Indians got Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, and Cliff Lee in return for Colon when he was traded in 2002.
No. 4: Jake Westbrook. The only player to have been on the Tribe’s payroll for each of the last 10 years, Westbrook went 69-69 with a 4.29 ERA in just under 1,200 innings before being shipped to the Cardinals at the 2010 Trade Deadline.
No. 5: Paul Byrd. Surprised to see him here? You shouldn’t be. Byrd might not have been an ace, but he won 32 games in less than three seasons with the Tribe, and earned the victory against the against the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2007 ALDS to clinch the series. His postseason performance, consistency, and genuine kindness (someone’s gotta balance out the fourth outfielder) give him the edge over Fausto Carmona.
Stop by again this afternoon for the thrilling conclusion!