The Big Unit

The Arizona Diamondbacks have two Cy Young contenders in Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, the two front-of-the-rotation horses that are trying to carry them to the playoffs despite an offense that has struggled to score runs after a hot start. While the excellence of the top two has gotten plenty of notice, don’t look now, but after a rough first half, Randy Johnson is reminding everyone that he’s still pretty good himself.

First 17 Starts: 98 IP, 2.57 BB/9, 8.72 K/9, 1.37 HR/9, 5.26 ERA
Last 7 Starts: 47 1/3 IP, 1.14 BB/9, 8.37 K/9, 0.57 HR/9, 1.52 ERA

By cutting his home run rate and walk rates in half while sustaining a strikeout rate of nearly a batter per inning, Johnson’s overcome his early season struggles (which were exacerbated by some bad luck) and returned to previous levels of dominance. Despite no longer throwing 100 MPH, he’s still blowing people away, and gives the Diamondbacks perhaps the best #3 starter in all of baseball.

In fact, it’s hard to argue that there’s a better pitching trio anywhere on earth than Webb-Haren-Johnson. Even with the problems Arizona’s had with their offense and bullpen, I certainly wouldn’t want to play this team in a playoff series. The starting pitching is that scary.

Keep in mind, too, that Randy Johnson turns 45 years old in a couple of weeks. The list of pitchers who have succeeded at this age is pretty short, and the fact that Johnson’s still going strong on his way to 50 is pretty remarkable. He really is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and we should all be thankful we’ve had a chance to watch him pitch.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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