With both of MLB’s remaining 19-game winners making their final starts today, we now know we’ll finish the year with four 20-game winners. The Rays’ David Price got to 20 by beating the White Sox today, but the Reds’ Johnny Cueto was left with a no-decision after allowing three runs — one earned — in seven innings in a no-decision against the Pirates.
Gio Gonzalez (21), R.A. Dickey (20) and Jered Weaver (20) had already reached the mark.
The four 20-game winners is the high total since 2008, when Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Mike Mussina and Brandon Webb all reached the plateau. There hasn’t been more than four since 2003, when Roy Halladay, Esteban Loaiza, Jamie Moyer, Russ Ortiz and Andy Pettitte made it five.
With pitching having made something of a comeback, there have been 10 20-game winners these last three seasons. Despite 2008’s total of four, there were a total of five 20-game winners in the four years from 2006-09.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.