With Johan Santana coming back to the pack lately, the NL currently has nine starters with ERA between 2.00 and 2.70.
1. Johan Santana – 2.00 ERA in 72 IP
2. Wandy Rodriguez – 2.26 ERA in 67 2/3 IP
3. Matt Cain – 2.31 ERA in 66 1/3 IP
4. Dan Haren – 2.42 ERA in 78 IP
5. Johnny Cueto – 2.43 ERA in 74 IP
6. Jair Jurrjens – 2.59 ERA in 66 IP
7. Chad Billingsley – 2.59 ERA in 80 IP
8. Zach Duke – 2.62 ERA in 79 IP
9. Josh Johnson – 2.66 ERA in 74 1/3 IP
No one else is under 3.00 and there aren’t any relievers on pace for 60
saves, so let’s label the above as the nine legitimate candidates.
First off, I like looking at unearned runs and defense. Santana and
Rodriguez have both given up seven unearned runs apiece, while no one
else on the list had allowed more than two. Haren is the only one in
the group yet to give up an earned run.
On to the gloves. Duke is being helped out by the game’s second most efficient defense to date.
Billingsley’s defense is third, while Cueto’s is ranked fifth. On the
other side, the Mets are 19th, the Astros 25th, the Giants 18th and the
With additional factors, such as bullpen support and ballpark, being weighed, VORP still has an identical top nine NL starters, but ranks them in a vastly different order.
1. Dan Haren – 29.0
2. Johnny Cueto – 26.4
3. Chad Billingsley – 25.4
4. Zach Duke – 24.6
5. Matt Cain – 24.3
6. Josh Johnson – 23.1
7. Johan Santana – 22.4
8. Jair Jurrjens – 21.8
9. Wandy Rodriguez – 19.1
I’m not a big fan of VORP, but I think it comes up with a very good
list here. Santana was the NL’s best pitcher for six weeks and he’d
probably be my Cy Young pick for the rest of the season, but he doesn’t
deserve the top spot right now.
First third NL Cy Young
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.