This is one of the things that makes the Phillies rotation as impressive as it is. Roy Halladay, to me, is still the most sure bet in the game to have a great (top 5 Cy Young) kind of season. Cliff Lee's career, save for one season, is remarkably consistently good or better. Cole Hamels has had one mediocre season since coming up in 2006. Joe Blanton's himself, which is your typical five, but he's not a bad one. Vance Worley's about the only question mark out there, and Kyle Kendrick is what you get in a swing guy. You know exactly what you get with this bunch, and frankly, without them this team would already be out of it.
This is why I'm annoyed to already be reading about how the Nationals have the best staff in the game. Really? I like their staff a lot, it's got huge upside, but the best in the game? Strasburg has thrown 200 innings a lot of times right? I suppose we should even let him be in the comparison to Doc at this point. Same for Zimmerman with Cliff Lee, right? Gio Gonzalez might draw fair comparisons to Cole Hamels too, but you would still take Cole if you had to bet your life on a good season.
I am not knocking the talent in DC at all. Those three are solid, and the other two spots are a virtual wash to me (Detweiler-Worley and Jackson-Blanton are very similar at this stage). These three youngsters in DC MAY at the end of this season even have a better year. I do doubt it, especially with their innings counts and such, but I'll concede the possibility is out there if it's just talent. Talent's not performance though. They're off to a great start, and that may continue for a while, but will it continue for 200 innings? Will it continue beyond this season? Will Strasburg or Zimmerman end up back under the knife? Will teams adjust to Strasburg "toning it down" to 95, and make better contact? Will Gio be this good pitching a whole season not in the cave that is Oakland, particularly when it's hot out and the ball flies? Will he revert to the guy that the White Sox, A's, and Phillies all thought doesn't have the command to be great? There are a ton of if's, and in my mind a lot of when's, as I do not think they can simply all walk in and dominate like this a whole season. I like their potential, but a lot of things have to fall right for this to continue. In the short term, it just might. In the medium term, even to October, it could too, but it could blow up in everyone's face (kind of like how Kimbrel was the best closer in the game last June, passing Mariano River, according to some). In the long term, beyond 2012? You're taking a big leap of faith.
When people ask me who is the best pitcher in baseball, I say Roy Halladay, without flinching. At some point, that's going to change, no doubt about it. With that said, if you asked me to name one guy who was a lock to be a top five Cy Young vote-getter, pre-season, it would have been Doc, hands down. That to me, is the mark of being the best. The Phillies big three has a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a Cy Young Award winner, and a World Series MVP, all of whom are former All-Stars, all of whom have their own great October moments. Which of the Nationals have that? None. Until one of them gets on that level, please don't bother me with this talk of greatness. April does not make a season, nor does it make a great pitcher.