Rockies lefty starter Jorge De La Rosa is worthy of Cy Young consideration, argues Tracy Ringolsby in his latest column on MLB.com. My initial reaction to the article was that he was intentionally exaggerating to make a point, but he has covered the Rockies for a while, so maybe he legitimately believes this. Ringolsby writes:
De La Rosa not only shares the NL lead in victories (16) with Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals, but he is 10-1 with a 2.76 earned-run average at Coors Field.
That is exactly all of the space he uses to make an argument, the rest is filled with extraneous details about De La Rosa’s struggles in previous seasons. We’ve all heard Brian Kenny’s spiel by now, so we don’t really need to address the 16 wins. We can address the ERA in a bit of detail, though.
There is a stat out there that adjusts ERA for a player’s ballpark, known as ERA+ which is found on Baseball Reference. The average ERA is set to 100, below it is below average and above it is above average. De La Rosa has a 134 ERA+, quite respectable. But Cy Young worthy? Among qualified National League starters, De La Rosa ranks fifth in ERA+. Clayton Kershaw is a mile ahead at 187, Jose Fernandez isn’t far behind at 175, Matt Harvey is at 158, and teammate Jhoulys Chacin is at 141. Kershaw also happens to have 43 more innings on De La Rosa. He is aiming to become the fifth starter since 2009 to post an ERA+ of 180 or better. Only Zack Greinke (205 in 2009) and Clay Buchholz (187 in 2010) have been equal or better since.
If Ringolsby was simply being facetious to draw some attention to De La Rosa, mission accomplished. De La Rosa certainly deserves some praise for his great season. But in no universe, this one or alternate, does De La Rosa rank ahead of Kershaw — or Fernandez — in NL Cy Young balloting.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.