While the bullpen was an area of strength for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals this season, the starting rotation could have been considered an overall weakness due to turnover. The starting five, anchored by Boone Whiting, Scott McGregor, and Carlos Martinez to start the season, struggled to find any consistency after they each moved up within the first month.
The level of inconsistency from the starting rotation makes it difficult to determine the season's best starter - especially considering the team lost all but one starter from the opening day rotation. Still, there are some impressive performances to take examine further.
14 different pitchers made a start for the Texas League Cardinals in the 2013 season, including Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook, who both made rehab starts. With the field at 12 to start the search, we will use the followed parameters to determine qualifiers:
* Started 10 or more games during the season
* At least 60 innings pitched
* ERA less than 4.00
* WHIP less than 1.50
The first parameter of at least 10 games started narrowed the field to five candidates. These are the same five who served as the core of the rotation for most of the season. They include Seth Blair, who led the team in games started with 22, Richard Castillo, who started 21 games, Tim Cooney and Anthony Ferrara, who both started 20 contests, and Jonathan Cornelius, who made14 starts. Each of these pitchers had a losing record on the season, except for Cornelius, who posted even at 6-6.
All five pitchers also met the parameter of having thrown at least 60 innings. Blair tossed the most with 129 2/3, 10 innings more than Castillo, who beat out Cooney by only 1 1/3 inning despite making one more start. Cooney out-distanced Ferrara by 19 2/3 innings despite making the same amount of starts. Cornelius threw exactly 20 fewer innings than Ferrara in making six less starts.
The next two parameters help us determine a clear favorite for the Starter of the Year. There is only one pitcher who meets both of them. WHIP eliminates another candidate in Blair, who falls just above the parameter at 1.52. Ferrara barely met the standard at exactly 1.50. Cooney was the lowest of the starters at 1.27. Cooney is also the only starter to post an ERA under 4.00 at 3.80.
Cooney had the overall best and most impressive season of any Springfield starter. That included him earning a Texas League mid-season All-Star selection and league Pitcher of the Week honors in consecutive weeks in August. Cooney led the team in strikeouts with 125, eight ahead of Blair, who made two more starts and threw 10 more innings.
Therefore, Tim Cooney is The Cardinal Nation Springfield Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2013.
Also deserving an honorable mention is Zach Petrick. Petrick had an impressive year just to reach Double-A and continued to impress upon reaching Springfield. Unfortunately, Petrick just simply did not spend enough time at Double-A to qualify for consideration, but he is certainly on his way. In his nine starts at the level, Petrick posted a 3-3 record with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.
Link to master article with all 2013 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selection as the Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year.
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