What are the elements of a great pitchers' duel? A pitchers' duel is a low-scoring game, obviously; a 1-0 game is the champion of its list. The term "pitchers' duel" implies that the starting pitchers pitch well, as opposed to staggering through five innings un-scored upon and handing it off to the bullpen. We think of a pitchers' duel more highly if it involves pitchers of stature. A 1-0 game is more memorable if it is Sabathia against Verlander than if it is Marco Estrada against Kevin Correia. ....
Anyway, a great pitchers' duel implies that there is something at stake beyond fifth place....(emphasis added)
I was surprised to find that Bill's notion of a pitchers' duel is much more specific than mine. To me, the significance of the game is completely irrelevant, and the identities of the pitchers are nearly so. I consider this August 21 game between Luis Perez and Guillermo Moscoso a perfectly fine example of a pitchers' duel, even though the pitchers have 11 career wins between them and their teams were far out of the race.
Ditto this June 23 showdown between rookie Michael Pineda and journeyman Jason Marquis, when both teams began the day at .500 and both pitchers posted a 77 Game Score. It's one of just 10 games last year when both pitchers scored 75 or better -- but it didn't make Bill James's list.
And I'm shocked that Bill left out the only 2011 game in which both starters went 9 scoreless innings.
What's your opinion? If you set out to choose the best pitchers' duels of the year, what factors would you consider?