The American League West is one of the most hotly-contested divisions in MLB, as the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros will likely battle all year long for the division crown.
There is a lot of pitching talent hidden in the AL West, but many East Coast fans may not be familiar with some of those pitchers because of the time difference.
Well, East Coast fans, this is your chance to get the scoop.
Today, we’re going to pick the best starting pitcher from each AL West team.
One note: These selections are meant to reflect how these pitchers have performed in the 2021 season only.
Let’s get started.
We’ll go in order of the division standings entering play Friday.
Oakland Athletics – Sean Manaea
The Oakland Athletics very quietly have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
Sean Manaea takes the cake here, but the A’s have several quality arms in their rotation.
James Kaprielian has arguably been the team’s best starter over the past month, but the sample size is too small to give him the nod in this discussion.
In six total starts this season, Kaprielian has managed an outstanding 2.51 ERA, 3.87 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP.
The future is bright for the 27-year-old righty if he can sustain the success.
Manaea wins the day because of his 2.99 ERA over 14 starts, his two complete-game shutouts, his 3.26 FIP, and his 1.23 WHIP.
Already looking at the pitching probables for Monday and who do I see?!
Sean Manaea 😃pic.twitter.com/HSlhZ2zj92
— The NRFI Guy 🎙 (@ViggyBets) June 13, 2021
He is having one of the best seasons of his career, and he picked a great year for it—one where the Athletics are contending.
Houston Astros – Luis Garcia
There were three arms seriously considered here.
Ultimately, Garcia has the best all-around numbers.
He has a 2.98 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, a 1.4 WAR, and a 3.82 FIP, which is the lowest of the three.
The righty has 72 strikeouts in 63.1 innings and has allowed three runs or fewer in all 11 of his starts.
It seems possible that all three of Javier, McCullers, and Garcia could receive All-Star consideration.
Seattle Mariners – Justin Dunn
Justin Dunn is having the best season of his young career.
Yusei Kikuchi (3.67 ERA) challenged him for this selection, but Dunn eked it out.
The 25-year-old Dunn unfortunately left his start Thursday with shoulder discomfort, which is especially alarming when you consider the fact that he just got off the injured list with the same injury.
But assuming it’s nothing long-term, Dunn should be able to get back to work on his career year sooner than later.
Justin Dunn said he felt his shoulder was bothering him a touch in warmups before the game but he wanted to take the ball and go. However, he said he felt is action start changing in the second and so he wanted to shut it down to be safe and figure out what it is.
— Curtis Crabtree (@Curtis_Crabtree) June 18, 2021
The Boston College product has a 3.75 ERA over 11 starts and has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of those outings.
His worst start came on June 11 against the Cleveland Indians, and if you remove it, he has a 3.04 ERA on the year.
With every team needing to be represented at the All-Star Game, there’s a small chance Dunn could be selected, but Mitch Haniger (16 home runs) is likely the favorite for the Seattle Mariners at this point.
Los Angeles Angels – Shohei Ohtani
This should surprise no one, as Shohei Ohtani is the clear choice for the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani’s historic two-way abilities are extremely well-documented, but today, we’re going to focus merely on his pitching.
Ohtani has made 10 starts this season and has a 2.70 ERA thus far.
He has fanned 73 batters in 53.1 innings, a very impressive ratio.
When the righty gets the ball, the Angels are 6-4, and those four losses are no fault of his.
He has done an outstanding job of keeping the Angels in the game every time he’s on the mound.
Beyond Ohtani, the Angels have a brutal rotation situation.
No other starter has an ERA better than 4.45.
Texas Rangers – Kyle Gibson
In the same way that there was no consideration given to anyone other than Ohtani for the Angels, there was no thought given to anyone other than Kyle Gibson for the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers’ rotation is in shambles, but Gibson has been a diamond in the rough.
He has a 2.09 ERA, 209 ERA+, 3.35 FIP, and 1.03 WHIP through 13 starts.
The ERA would be by far the best of his career if it holds.
He has accumulated 3.6 WAR already, a massive number that will certainly have him headed to Colorado for the Midsummer Classic.
There is a small chance that Gibson could be traded this season to a contending team, but it wouldn’t be a rental situation, as he’s signed through next year, too.