2010 Year In Review: Kane County Starters

In the pitching-friendly Midwest League, it is a rare year that the Kane County Cougars have had a poor pitching staff as an Oakland A's affiliate. The 2010 season was no outlier, as the Cougars pitched well in their final season as part of the A's chain. David Malamut reviews the 2010 Kane County starting rotation inside.

Overall Pitching At A Glance
Team ERA: 3.89 (ranked fifth)
Strike-outs/Walks: 1126/516 (ranked fourth most and sixth fewest, respectively)
WHIP: 1.29 (ranked tied for second)
Saves: 27 (second least in the league)

The Kane County Cougars would have great starting pitching most of the year. The starters were a big part of what kept the Cougars in the playoff chance and what allowed them to advance to the second round of those playoffs.

During the regular season, the starters would have a 43-44 record with a 3.96 ERA in 716 innings pitched. They would give up 672 hits and 364 runs, but only 315 of those would be earned. Starters walked 235 and struck-out 628, while giving up 47 homers. The Cougars would have a 36-17 record when a starter gave them a quality start.

Daniel Straily had the most starts of any of the Cougars with 28, as he did not miss a start this year. He would go 10-7 with a 4.32 ERA in 148 innings, giving up 138 hits and 71 earned runs. He did allow 13 homers, which is a bit of a problem. He also walked 61 and struck out 149.

The Cougars would be 16-12 in games he started and he was given 5.4 runs per game. Straily was really the most consistent starting pitcher the Cougars had this year. He had his ups and downs but he went out there and gave the Cougars innings. He would give them 11 quality starts, and of those 11, the team would go 9-2 in those games.

Ian Krol was great this year. He would go 9-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 24 games. He started the year in the bullpen and was going to tandem start with Jonathan Joseph, but Joseph's early season injury and Krol's early season emergence resulted in Krol becoming a full-time starter. Krol's off speed stuff is great, although he sometimes loses control of his fastball. He pitched 118.2 innings, giving up 98 hits and 42 runs. He would give up 35 earned runs and five homers. He only walked 19 hitters, while still striking out 91. He would get 4.5 runs of support a game and the Cougars were 14-9 with him on the mound.

Out of his 23 starts, Krol had seven quality starts, although that is misleading as the A's had him on a pitch and innings limit throughout the year so he basically was a five inning starter throughout the year. Krol led the league in ERA most of the year before his promotion in the final weeks of the season to Stockton.

Murphy Smith came to the Cougars in late May from Stockton and pitched really well in Kane County. He would go 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 17 games. In 96.1 innings, he gave up 91 hits and 50 runs. Of those, only 39 were earned, while he walked 25 and struck out 70. At one point he was 8-0. During that streak, he had the most run support of any pitcher with 7.3 runs per game, while the Cougars were 14-2 in games he started.

Robert Gilliam started out the year in the rotation before getting hurt and missing a month of action. He would end the year in the bullpen mainly due to an innings limit. He would go 7-6 with a 3.89 ERA in 24 games. He started 18 of those games. In all he pitched 111 innings, giving up 105 hits. Forty-eight of the 53 runs he gave up were earned. He also struck out 101 while walking 35. The Cougars would be 9-9 in games he started.

Justin Marks was in the top five in the league in strikeouts most of the season. He would finish the year with a 3-12 record before being moved to Stockton on July 30th. He had an ERA of 4.92 in 20 starts. He went 109.2 innings, giving up 109 hits and 66 runs. Marks would give up 11 homers and walk 41. But the main stat relating to Marks was his 119 strikeouts in the 109.2 innings. The Cougars would go 5-13 in games he started.

Chris Mederos was injured for two months with a shoulder strain. He ended the season back in the rotation. In all he went 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 15 games. He would pitch 71.2 innings, only giving up 60 hits. Mederos gave up 32 runs, only 24 of them were earned, while giving up four homer. He walked 22 and struck out 57. The Cougars were 6-7 in games he started.

Jonathan Joseph was impressive when he was healthy. He would start the first game of the season for the Cougars and then go on the disabled list with a back injury for a couple of weeks. He then pitched in tandem with Krol before being sent to Vancouver in late May. On July 30th he came back to the Cougars rotation and pitched well. In all he went 2-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 14 games, nine of those starts. He pitched 54 innings, giving up 49 hits and 27 runs. He walked 26 but struck out 55. He was wild but could be something really good in a few years.

Kenneth Smalley, a 2009 All-Star for the Cougars, returned to Kane County in mid July and went into the rotation for awhile before being sent to the bullpen. He would go 0-2 with a 5.88 ERA. He was rally hit around, just giving up way too many hits and walks. He would pitch 26 innings, giving up 27 hits and 15 walks, while striking out 23.

In the post season, the rotation of Murphy Smith, Jonathan Joseph, Chris Mederos and Daniel Straily was good. Smith took care of business in the first round against Quad Cities but was out-pitched by Shelby Miller. He went six innings, giving up four hits and one run. In the second round it was a different story. He went six innings, giving up five hits and three runs. All the runs were in one inning, and the Cougars would get knocked out of the playoffs.

Joseph pitched a great game in the second playoff game. He would go five innings, giving up two hits and one run. Mederos would get the third game and even though the Cougars would win the series, he pitched only ok. He went five innings, giving up seven hits and three runs. The game got interesting because of the bullpen.

Dan Straily got the first game of the Clinton series and pitched well. He went seven innings, giving up three hits. Smalley got the second game and really did not pitch well. He had been in the bullpen and Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula gambled with a 1-0 series lead by giving Smalley a spot start so that Smith could come back on regular rest. Smalley would make it into the fourth, giving up seven hits and three runs.

About the Author
David Malamut has been covering the Cougars since 1998, with his own website, (http://malamut.net). He has also written a book about the Cougars, "Baseball In Kane County Cougars" (Arcadia/2005). For daily updates on the Cougars, go to his website (http://malamut.net) or follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/davidmalamut) for in game news and notes.

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