Perry: Webb-Haren Top Starting Duo

In the second installment of discussions on the starting pitching, Dayn Perry, rating the best pair of starters on each team, peg Brandon Webb and Dan Haren of Arizona the top two. This is the third, and final, report of a three-part series on N.L. West pitching.

Jake Peavy and Chris Young of San Diego rank fourth, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum of San Francisco are fifth and Brad Penny and Chad Billingsley of Los Angeles are sixth, giving the N.L. West four of the top 10 MLB slots.

Perry calls his rating the "best one-two punch", the ace and sub-ace. Here's how he classifies the top 10 one-two punches in the game today:

1. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, Diamondbacks. Perry's assessment: "Yep, the Haren trade means the Snakes now have the top one-two punch in all the land. Webb, the 2006 NL Cy Young winner, gets ground balls by the truckload, boasts a career ERA of 3.22, and has logged at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons. As for Haren, he's coming off a season in which he ranked third in the AL in ERA and fifth in innings. As well, both are still relatively young and should have plenty of great seasons ahead of them."

2. C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, Indians

3. Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano, Twins

4. Jake Peavy and Chris Young, Padres. Perry says, "The run-suppressing nature of Petco Park makes this pair look a bit better than it really is. However, even after adjusting the numbers Peavy was easily the best pitcher in all of baseball last season. Young's case, however, is somewhat less solid. In 2007, Young ranked fifth in the NL in ERA, but he had a 4.52 ERA away from Petco, struggled in the second half, and spent time on the DL. Peavy's a truly great pitcher, but Young still has something to prove.

5. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, Giants. "The Giants are an awful team right now, but Cain and Lincecum are worth the price of admission. Cain broke out in 2007, and Lincecum, thanks to a tremendous changeup and ridiculously fast arm action, is an ace in waiting. Both are young, which means they'll gradually work their way up to the very top of this list."

6. Brad Penny and Chad Billingsley, Dodgers: "Last season, Penny combined relative health with excellence for the first time in his career, and if he continues to keep the ball in park to such an extent (and stay healthy, of course), then he'll sustain his newfound greatness. So why Billingsley instead of Derek Lowe? Because Billingsley's the better pitcher, and the 23-year-old is going to get even better in the coming seasons. In fact, don't be surprised if Billingsley emerges as the true ace of the staff in 2008."

The remainder of the top 10:
7. John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, Angels
8. Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, Phillies
9. Scott Kazmir and James Shields, Devil Rays
10. John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, Braves

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