When talking about the best pitchers in the National League, two of the first names that come up are Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson. Halladay has been the premier pitcher in the major leagues over the past few years and brought the Cy Young Award home for the Phillies last year, but after last season and the start of this season it looks like he finally has a legitimate challenger in Florida’s Josh Johnson. Johnson is off to a fantastic start and is looking more and more like the pitcher to own in fantasy baseball this season.
Halladay is not going to go down without a fight however. He won the NL Cy Young last year with a 21-10 record, 2.44 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP to go along with 9 complete games. What makes Halladay so special is his ability to pitch deep into games even on days he does not have his best stuff, evidenced by his 31 decisions in 33 starts. His immaculate control is another aspect of Halladay’s game that makes him so devastating. He struck out 219 batters last season while only walking 30. Halladay has struggled a little bit so far this season, but still sports a 2.83 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He has pitched into the 7th inning of every game so far this season including one complete game already, so he is showing no signs of slowing down this season.
Josh Johnson is making his case for top fantasy baseball pitcher though. He posted a spectacular 2010 campaign going 11-6 with a 2.30 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He had a more than stellar second half pitching deep into almost every game and struck out 186 batters in 183 innings. Johnson has been even more spectacular so far this season. In his four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 0.59 WHIP. He has also struck out 27 batters in 27 innings. There was a lot of concern about Johnson’s lack of velocity this spring, but even though his fastball is down a little from last year he looks even better every time out.
While Halladay is still the model of consistency, Johnson is the pitcher you want to own this season. He won’t get as many wins as Halladay because the Marlins offense is nowhere near the Phillies level, but Johnson should provide owners with a better ERA, WHIP and more strikeouts. If the Marlins offense can start producing more in his starts Johnson has the potential to be a perennial 20-game winner just like Halladay has been.