There are few things in baseball that get fans as excited as the new young star pitcher. Whether it was Dwight Gooden, Ben McDonald, Josh Beckett, Mark Prior, Felix Hernandez, or David Price, the promise of a potential ace is something that every fan base goes nuts for. There’s something special about having a truly dominating starting pitcher take the hill every five days.
Price got all the hype headed into the season, and perhaps his struggles have led to a bit of disappointment in the crop as a whole. But once you look past the fact that he didn’t dominate in the way some were expecting, there’s a whole lot of talent in this rookie pitching crop.
I talked about the emergence of Brett Anderson a month ago. He’s not only got a bright future, but he’s showing that he’s already one of the better pitchers in baseball. As a 21-year-old lefty, he’s running a 3.3 K/BB ratio while maintaining a 50% GB%. And he’s getting better as the year goes on. He might not have the sizzle of the names listed above, but he’s not that far away from being a #1 starter.
In the NL, Tommy Hanson is doing something similar. His first five starts were a bit rough, as he struggled with his command and ran a 17/18 BB/K rate in 29 innings. Since the calendar turned to June, however, he’s been lights out – 92 innings, 76 H, 27 BB, 89 K. This is the kind of line you should expect him to put up. He’s that good.
We just talked about Derek Holland last week, so I’ll spare the recap of that other than to say that he’s been much, much better than his ERA would indicate.
After those three, you’ve still got a strong crop of guys. J.A. Happ, Randy Wells, and Jeff Niemann have had strong rookie seasons, even if they aren’t quite as talented as the trio mentioned above. Rick Porcello has held his own as a 20-year-old without an out pitch, which is impressive in its own right. Brad Bergesen, Ricky Romero, and Mark Rzepczynski showed terrific sinkers and a good feel for pitching.
And finally, there were the relievers – Neftali Feliz stole the show late, but Andrew Bailey, Luke Gregerson, and Darren O’Day were lights out all year long. Daniel Bard flashed brilliance at times, while Chris Perez and Sergio Romo showed significant potential as well.
This is just a remarkably deep group of good young rookie pitchers. Injuries and attrition will send a lot of them by the way side, but don’t be surprised if we look back in five years and realize that a large handful of the best pitchers in the game all put themselves on the map in 2009.
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