Left-handed pitchers hold a certain aura in the history of Major League Baseball. The sight of a hard-throwing left-hander on the mound has sent shivers through the spines of many batters over the decades. From Warren Spahn to Sandy Koufax to Randy Johnson to CC Sabathia, baseball has seen its share of great left-handed pitchers that have dominated hitters during the regular season and postseason. Here is a countdown of the top five active left-handers in the major leagues.
5. Jon Lester – Lester has been a mainstay in the Boston Red Sox starting rotation since 2008, pitching over 200 innings in all but one of the past six seasons. His high-water mark was 2010, when he won 19 games and struck out 225 hitters. Lester has helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series titles in the past six years, solidifying his status as one of the best left-handers in the game today.
4. David Price – Price is likely to be a hot commodity in the trade market this summer or after the season. He has been the ace of Tampa Bay’s rotation for several years now, helping the Rays to achieve one of the best records in baseball over the past six seasons. Price won 20 games in 2012, and sports a career ERA under 3.30 through his sixth full season in the big leagues.
3. Madison Bumgarner – With three full seasons and parts of two more under his belt as a starter in the Giants’ rotation, Bumgarner has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League. At 24, he holds a significant amount of promise for the years ahead. With a career ERA just above 3.00 and 54 wins to his credit, Bumgarner is on course to be a perennial Cy Young Award candidate for years to come.
2. Chris Sale – At 25, Sale has the potential to become the best left-handed pitcher in the game for years to come. Standing 6′ 6″ and throwing in the mid-to-high 90s, Sale evokes memories of Randy Johnson, dominating hitters on both sides of the plate. While his win-loss record in 2013 suffered along with a down year for the White Sox, Sale dominated hitters, striking out 226 batters and finishing with an ERA of 3.07.
1. Clayton Kershaw – While Kershaw made the first trip of his career to the disabled list earlier in the 2014 season, the two-time winner of the National League Cy Young Award is currently the undisputed best left-hander pitcher in baseball. His career ERA of 2.63 is the best among active pitchers with over 1,000 career innings pitched. In 2013, Kershaw finished with an ERA of 1.83, the lowest by a starting pitcher over a full season since Vida Blue in 1971. Kershaw is on a Hall of Fame course early in his career.