Tuesday night’s pitching matchup between Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda illustrated how much starting pitching is worth on the field as well as “at the box office”. There may not have been as much buzz in this country as there was in Japan, but the rarity of two Japanese-born hurlers squaring off against one another made for a sellout crowd in Texas. That is part of the beauty of baseball where one player out of 50 in a Major League game can create so much excitement.
There are a handful of pitchers today that can generate a large spike in attendance on the day they are scheduled to throw. The first guy to come to mind is Stephen Strasburg. There is no one that can pack a house today quite like the Washington phenom. Aroldis Chapman can be such a player once the Reds decide to put him in the rotation. I think Roy Halladay still has little bit of that vibe to his starts; with his rough beginning this season, I am not sure the same can be said of Tim Lincecum. I would put Felix Hernandez in this group even if others will hold his low career win total against him.
Diamondback fans once had a pitcher like that and his name was Randy Johnson. It was quite an event whenever The Big Unit went to the hill. You never knew if you were going to see history being made. It didn’t hurt that he was 6″10 and threw 95 MPH. The D-Backs have Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings to join this group. While no one can top the hype surrounding Strasburg’s debut in 2010, the smart money says Bauer’s first start will be televised by MLB Network or ESPN. If he can live up to his advance billing, there is no doubt Bauer can increase the live gate by 10-20% each time he pitches. More importantly for Arizona, he will also win a lot of ballgames.
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