Chat with Tim Kurkjian

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Who is the best left-handed starting pitcher in baseball?

Is that a trick question? It's Johan Santana of the Twins. Can there even be a debate? Now, maybe there can at least be a discussion. C.C. Sabathia of the Indians won the American League Cy Young Award in 2007 as Santana took a minor step backwards: his ERA, hits allowed, home runs allowed, walks and losses went up as his wins, strikeouts and innings went down. Both pitchers can be free agents at the end of the season. The Red Sox, Yankees and Mets have made offers to trade for Santana. The Indians are trying to decide if they can afford to sign Sabathia to a long-term contract. If they can't, they might have to start looking to trade him.

And while Santana would be our choice for the better left-hander, let's take a look at both pitchers:

The case for Santana

He is 28 years old and has a 93-44 lifetime record, with a 3.22 ERA, 364 walks, 1,381 strikeouts and two AL Cy Young Awards. He won both Cy Youngs unanimously in 2004 and 2006, and a case could have been made for him to win in 2005. Santana's numbers did dip in 2007, but his last four seasons don't just make him the best left-hander in baseball, they make him the best pitcher in baseball. He is durable, smart, poised and has one of the most devastating pitches in the game, a changeup that is difficult to pick up, especially when he's throwing close to 95 mph with his fastball. His stuff was a little short for him in 2007, but it was still mighty good.

The case for Sabathia

He is 27 years old and has a 100-63 lifetime record and he deservedly won the AL Cy Young last year, beating out Josh Beckett, John Lackey and teammate Fausto Carmona. Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA. He walked only 37 and struck out a career-high 209 in a career-high 241 innings. He is 6-foot-7 and weighs 290 pounds -- by far, the largest man ever to win a Cy Young -- but instead of his size working against him, perhaps it actually helps his strength and durability.

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