I have prepared these monthly award write-ups for a number of years and relievers have always been at such a disadvantage that they can never be quite competitive enough to win the Pitcher of the Month recognition – until now.
To help understand how dominant Peoria right-handed reliever Chris Perry was in May, consider this. The Cards' 17th-rounder in 2012 fanned 40 batters in just 19 2/3 frames. No other pitcher in the system had more than 31 strikeouts, including starters who threw almost twice as many innings. In terms of strikeout rate, the next closest competitor to Perry's 18.3 Ks per nine innings is his Chiefs teammate Kevin Herget at 15.3.
Perry didn't just lead Cardinals system pitchers in strikeouts and strikeout rate, the North Carolina native also allowed the fewest baserunners, as measured by WHIP – walks and hits per innings pitched. Perry's rate of 0.63 is about half of what would still be considered an average pitcher's WHIP. His walk rate of just 1.4 per nine was best among the group of contenders.
Those results helped translate into Perry allowing just one earned run all month for a microscopic May ERA of 0.46. It was the lowest ERA of any pitcher in the system who threw at least 12 innings. Further, it was just the 23-year-old's second month as a relief pitcher after starting previously, including with the Chiefs in the second half of last summer.
Congratulations to Chris Perry, The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for May, for an outstanding month.
Honorable Mentions – Relievers
Three bullpenners pitched at least 10 innings without allowing an earned run – Steve Sabatino, Iden Nazario and Joe Donofrio. Chris Thomas, Ryan Sherriff and David Aardsma came in with ERA's under 1.00. Still, Perry's peripherals trumps them all.
Honorable Mentions – Starters
Four starters registered ERAs between one and two. They include TCN's April winner, Nick Petree, his Palm Beach teammate Thomas Lee, reborn Angel Castro of Memphis and newcomer Rob Kaminsky from Peoria. In any other month, they could have taken this award, but Perry was just too tough.
Other Notable Performers
Let's look at organizational leaders in several of the key individual categories (10 innings pitched minimum.)
|Chris Perry||19.7||18.3||Thomas Lee||32.7||0.0|
|Kevin Herget||14.7||15.3||Dean Kiekhefer||13.3||0.7|
|Chris Thomas||14.7||14.7||Nick Greenwood||17.3||1.0|
|Zach Loraine||13.7||12.5||Chris Perry||19.7||1.4|
|Iden Nazario||11.0||12.3||Danny Miranda||12.0||1.5|
|Jhonny Polanco||14.0||12.2||Sam Tuivailala||11.0||1.6|
|Steve Sabatino||10.7||11.8||Angel Castro||27.0||1.7|
|Lee Stoppelman||10.7||11.8||Steve Sabatino||10.7||1.7|
|Joe Donofrio||11.7||11.6||Marco Gonzales||30.0||1.8|
|Sam Tuivailala||11.0||11.5||Chris Thomas||14.7||1.8|
|Alex Reyes||27.0||10.3||Zach Petrick||34.0||1.9|
|Jose Almarante||11.0||9.8||Joe Cuda||23.7||1.9|
|Dean Kiekhefer||13.3||9.4||Jimmy Reed||33.0||1.9|
I mentioned above some of the highest strikeout rates among system pitchers. While it is encouraging that 13 qualifiers fanned at least one per inning, it is worth noting that the only starter in the group is Alex Reyes. The 19-year-old had a rough month otherwise with Peoria, going 1-4, 5.67.
The starters are better represented among the 15 qualifying hurlers who walked two or fewer batters per nine innings during May. Though Palm Beach starter Thomas Lee doesn't strike out many, he certainly does not beat himself with the walk. The right-hander has issued just three free passes in 52 innings this season, including none this past month.
|Pitcher of Month||Pitcher of Month||Starter of Month||Reliever of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||The Cardinal Nation|
|April||Tim Cooney||Nick Petree||Justin Wright|
|Player of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization|
|April||James Ramsey||Jonathan Rodriguez|
Update: On Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals organization also named Perry its Pitcher of the Month.
The Cardinal Nation's May Player of the Month will be announced next. In addition, our second monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings is coming soon, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation. Of course, the 2014 First-Year Player Draft comes this Thursday through Saturday.
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