Cole Hamels had the major league lead in victories all to himself for a good 15 minutes or so.
Hamels pitched eight innings and allowed four runs Monday as the Phillies beat the Mets 8-4, moving him to 8-1. Not long afterwards, the Cardinals finished up their 8-2 victory over the Braves, with Lance Lynn improving to 8-1 in the process. Both games started at 1;10 p.m. EDT, but the Phillies wrapped up their victory sooner.
Lynn did turn in the slightly better performance today, allowing two runs in seven innings and matching his season high with eight strikeouts. He has a 2.54 ERA, while Hamels is at 2.43.
Of course, while those two lead the majors in wins, there are 10 starters with better ERAs than Hamels and a few more ahead of Lynn. Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy tops the majors with a 1.77 ERA, but he’s 5-3 in 10 starts. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster is fourth with a 2.14 ERA, yet he’s winless in eight starts on the season.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.