Could We See a 30-Win Pitcher in 2016?

More and more as time goes on, the win statistic is becoming less and less relied upon when it comes to determining how good a pitcher is performing over the course of any given season. Given, there are many better stats to look at — ERA being the most comprehensive one — to determine whether or not a pitcher is having a good year, but the win isn’t completely worthless as some suggest. Detroit Tigers

After all, to receive the individual win, the pitcher had to place their team into position to pull out the victory in the ballgame. Although pitchers can still record a win after giving up 8 runs, as long as their team scores more runs in that given game (that’s what makes the pitcher-win controversial), the win is still something that a pitcher strives to notch each and every time out on the mound.

But not since 1968 has the baseball world seen any pitcher been able to record 30 or more wins. It was in that year that the Tigers’ Denny McLain tallied 31 wins in his campaign that saw him going on to win both the Cy Young award and MVP. You simply don’t see pitchers having seasons such as that one anymore. But if things continue as they have so far, it could in fact happen once again this season.

In order to have a chance of breaking the nearly 50-year drought of thirty wins in a season, a pitcher needs to be nearly perfect on the year. Back when Denny McLain recorded his milestone season, it took him 41 starts, as opposed to the 32-34 starts pitchers receive in today’s game, making perfection a necessity.

With that in mind, there are four pitchers who I feel have the only remaining shots at the coveted 30-win season this year: Rick Porcello, Jordan Zimmermann, Chris Sale and Jake Arrieta, who have all won every single start they’ve made this season.

Porcello is the least likely of the four to keep up the win streak, in my mind. While he’s had a decent season in a struggling Red Sox rotation, he’s also been the beneficiary of timely run-support. Porcello gave up ten total earned runs over his first three starts, but has settled down recently, not allowing a single earned run since April 20th. Even so, I don’t see his win-streak continuing.

StartersAs with Porcello, Zimmermann isn’t very likely to keep up his perfect start to the season, but that isn’t meant to take away anything from the start he’s had this year. Posting a 0.55 ERA over his first five starts, Zimmermann is truly breaking out as one of the top pitchers in the game. But despite playing in a Tigers uniform — the same as McLain back in 1968 — I don’t see another 30-game winner in Detroit.

Chris Sale has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the recent history of the sport, but I’m not convinced that he can hold things together to record a 30-win year. Even so, sitting at 6-0 on the season, with a 1.66 ERA, Sale is continuing to impress the baseball world with how good he is, and he’s seemingly only getting better. Perhaps he will end up proving me wrong when all is said and done.

However, if I had to put money on which of the four pitchers on my list I feel has the best shot at 30 wins this year, I would go all in on Jake Arrieta. There is no other pitcher in baseball who has been more dominant than Jake Arrieta since the second half of last season. After picking up another win on Tuesday night, Arrieta becomes the first Cubs pitcher since Mordecai Brown in 1908 to begin the year 6-0. That’s absolutely amazing when you think about it.

Despite the great starts the aforementioned starters have gotten off to in 2016, a 30-win season is obviously very difficult to achieve. Given all of the obstacles pitchers have to overcome in getting there, the odds of it happening yet again aren’t all that great. But even so, my pick to accomplish the feat, Jake Arrieta, has already defied all logic by going 17-0 over his last 19 regular season starts, dating back to last season.

The odds of that happening weren’t great either.

Nationals Lock Up Scherzer; World Series to Follow?

Patience is a virtue — especially in baseball.

Max Scherzer proved that on Wednesday afternoon by officially inking a seven-year, 210 million dollar contract with the Nationals that’s set to keep him in D.C. through the 2021 season. Coming after Scherzer took the gamble of turning down a six-year, 144 million dollar offer from the Tigers last year, waiting things out until free agency, and betting on his abilities, paid off extremely well for him, with Scherzer netting a total of 66 million extra dollars.Scherzer

But the money is well deserved, as Scherzer has quickly become one of the most feared pitchers in baseball. While Scherzer didn’t start off his career with fantastic pitching performances — posting a 4.43 ERA over 33 starts with the Tigers in 2011 — over the past two seasons he’s been one of the best. Going a combined 39-8 with a 3.04 ERA between 2013 and 2014, it’s no mystery why the Nationals wanted Scherzer so badly.

Heading to D.C. after five years in Detroit, Scherzer’s mega contract sits second all-time in amount given out to a pitcher, behind only Clayton Kershaw’s 215 million dollar deal with the Dodgers. (Kershaw, however, is in a class all his own.)

Choosing to receive his contract over the next 14 years, coming out to 15 million a year, the structure of Scherzer’s contract allows the Nats to use the money saved per season to lock up other talented players around him, making this an even better deal in the end.

With Scherzer joining a rotation that already consisted of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, the Nationals now have one of the best — if not THE best — rotations in baseball. (The Nationals also have a couple promising pitching prospects in A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito in the minors who will be making major impacts over the coming years, so they will have additional pitching options for years to come.)

Although their bullpen could use some work after the loss of closer Rafael Soriano — there’s still plenty of time to improve that aspect of the team — the Nationals’ lineup is equally as talented as their pitching staff. From Ian HarperRendonDesmond and Anthony Rendon to Jayson Werth and Denard Span, along with a hopefully healthy Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, the Nationals are going to score a lot of runs.

With the Nats likely setting themselves up to produce runs night after night, and a rotation filled with pitchers capable of giving up a few mere runs a game, the Nationals have a nice combination that should lead them to a ton of wins in 2015.

After going 96-66 last year — good enough to earn Nats’ skipper, Matt Williams, the National League Manager of the Year award — there is truly no reason they couldn’t post a 100-win season this year. If that happens, it will make them the first team since the Phillies in 2011 to win 100+ games in a season.

And therefore, after winning the National League East division by a staggering 17 games a year ago, the Nationals could be looking at the same type of dominance in the foreseeable future. The Braves, who finished in second place for 2014, are in the process of rebuilding and currently seem to be out of the postseason picture for 2015, as do the Phillies who are theoretically trying to find their new identity. That leaves just the Marlins and the Mets to challenge the Nationals for the divisional title — though both teams, especially the Marlins, could make a big push towards the playoffs this year.

Even so, the Nationals are nearly a lock to make the postseason for the third time in four seasons, with an aforementioned 100-win season not completely out of the question. They have all the talent in the world, with great pitching and a good mix of young and veteran star players. But in the end, making the playoffs is only part of the goal. The one question on everyone’s mind is whether or not the Nationals have enough with the addition of Max Scherzer to lead them to the World Series and a subsequent World Title? Winning

The unfortunate truth is, only time will tell. All too often does a team expected to dominate fall into a slump and not do much of anything for the season, while a team that was predicted to go nowhere exceeds expectations and makes a playoff push. That’s baseball. That’s what makes things fun each and every season.

But regardless, I have to agree with the majority of people that the Nationals are going to be terrific, and therefore anything short of a World Series appearance for them would be a disappointment with all the promise they have of putting out an effective winning machine this season.

After all, it’s that very expectation of winning (I’m sure the money was a factor as well) that ultimately led Scherzer to sign a deal with the Nationals, saying, “I think this team is capable of winning and winning a lot. When you look at near term and long term, this is an organization you want to be a part of . . . . I want to win and that’s why I’m here.”

With Max Scherzer now on board, it looks to be an exciting season in D.C.

Nationals, Giants Tie Postseason Game Record

After a fantastic outing by their starting pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, the Washington Nationals appeared to be on their way to tying up the National League Division Series at a game apiece with the San Francisco Giants when they held a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning on Saturday night. But a Pablo Sandoval RBI double, which extended his postseason hitting streak to thirteen straight games, quickly let the air out of an ecstatic Nationals team. MLB: MAY 01 Giants at Nationals

And things only got worse from there.

With the Nationals failing to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, the game proceeded to remain scoreless for the following eight innings. Upon reaching the 18th inning, the game subsequently tied the record for number of innings in postseason game history, set back in 2005.

Following the extended run drought, the Giants finally changed things in the top of the 18th inning with a solo shot off the bat of Brandon Belt, who was previously 0-6, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead.

The Nationals would send Danny Espinosa, Denard Span, Anthony Rendon — whose four hits on the night set a new franchise playoff record — and Jayson Werth to the plate in the bottom half, but they did little of anything against the Giants’ flamethrower, Hunter Strickland.

With the final out recorded, the game officially broke the playoff record for game length of 5 hours and 50 minutes set in 2005, lasting a staggering 6 hours and 23 minutes. The series now heads to San Francisco, with the Giants one win away from advancing to the National League Championship Series.

Although it’s not decided yet who the Giants will play if they wind up overtaking the Nationals, either the Dodgers or the Cardinals will be in for a battle. I have to admit I didn’t give the Giants, who have now won ten straight postseason games, nearly enough credit with my postseason predictions. They really have impressed me so far.

Having won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, they’re somewhat jokingly (and somewhat seriously) in line to possibly win the World Series again, in this yet another even calendar year. Although the Fall Classic is another couple of weeks away, and the Giants have several key games to get through first before they have any shot at World Series glory, you have to be happy with how things are looking if you’re a fan of the Giants.

My Vote for National League Cy Young

This is the third in a series of four blog posts that I plan to type up between now and Friday; all of which will focus on who I feel should win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player (MVP), Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY). (If you haven’t read my posts on who I think should win the AL MVP, NL MVP and AL Cy Young, go ahead and check those out now.)

If you’ll remember back to my post on American League Cy Young, I tend to rely purely on stats when making a pick for which player most deserves the Cy Young award. In fact, there were SO many good candidates for National League Cy Young that I ended up letting the stats make the decision for me.

I took the National League starting pitchers with ERA’s below 3.00 (seven pitchers in all) and compared them from 20 different statistical angles. (I chose to use so many different stats to compare them because I felt that using Wins, ERA and strikeouts alone didn’t tell the whole story of how good a particular pitcher was.)

My method works as follows: The pitcher with the best numbers in a given category receives 1 point; with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., place pitchers receiving the corresponding point amount. (The occurence of a tie in a particular category results in the tied players receiving the same point amount.) In the end, the pitcher with the lowest combined total would be my pick for the Cy Young award.

It took me awhile to crunch all of the numbers, but once I finally finished, this was the result:

(I realize it’s a bit blurry. You can click it for a clearer look.)

For those of you that still can’t read the chart (even after clicking on it) here are the results of the comparison:

Clayton Kershaw: 1st place-with a total of 61.

R.A. Dickey: 2nd place-with a total of 69.

Matt Cain: 3rd place-with a total of 72.

Gio Gonzalez: 4th place-with a total of 77.

Kyle Lohse: 5th place-with a total of 82.

Johnny Cueto: 6th place-with at total of 84.

Jordan Zimmermann: 7th place-with a total of 91.

As you can see, Clayton Kershaw came out on top, thus making him the statistical winner (and my pick) for the 2012 National League Cy Young award. (This would make his second straight Cy Young; as he won it in 2011.)

Though Kershaw’s record of 14-9 would argue against it, he had an outstanding year; leading all of MLB starting pitchers in ERA. While we’re on the subject of the win-loss record: I feel it can be a bit misleading.

Though 15 other National League pitchers had more wins than Kershaw (with Gio Gonzalez recording 21) the win-loss record is one of those stats that’s out of the pitcher’s hands for the most part. As the pitcher, you can go out there and throw a gem of a game–giving up only a couple runs–but if the lineup isn’t clicking on that particular day, you’re not going to get the win.

So, while it would appear at first glance that Kershaw didn’t have a Cy Young worthy year, if you take the time to look closely you can clearly see that Kershaw was the NL’s best all-around pitcher of the season; and as such, is my pick for 2012 National League Cy Young.

Do you agree or disagree with me?

As always, feel free to leave a comment below.