The Cardinal Nation May Pitcher of the Month

Peoria Chiefs right-hander Chris Perry had a month like no other reliever in recent memory.

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.

Name IP ER R H K BB SV W L WHIP ERA Tm K/9 BB/9
Steve Sabatino 10.7 0 0 6 14 2 0 4 0 0.78 0.00 PEO 11.8 1.7
Iden Nazario 11.0 0 0 9 15 3 2 0 0 1.09 0.00 PB 12.3 2.5
Joe Donofrio 11.7 0 1 7 15 7 4 2 1 1.25 0.00 SPR 11.6 5.4
Chris Perry 19.7 1 4 9 40 3 0 3 0 0.63 0.46 PEO 18.3 1.4
Chris Thomas 14.7 1 1 8 24 3 1 1 0 0.78 0.61 PB 14.7 1.8
Ryan Sherriff 13.7 1 1 8 10 3 1 1 1 0.83 0.66 SPR 6.6 2.0
David Aardsma 11.0 1 1 5 10 5 8 1 0 0.91 0.82 MEM 8.2 4.1

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.

Name IP ER R H K BB W L WHIP ERA Tm K/9 BB/9
Nick Petree 25.3 3 3 19 19 8 3 1 1.08 1.07 PB 6.7 2.8
Thomas Lee 32.7 6 10 35 14 0 4 3 1.09 1.65 PB 3.9 0.0
Angel Castro 27.0 5 10 21 20 5 5 3 0.96 1.67 MEM 6.7 1.7
Rob Kaminsky 19.7 4 8 15 19 9 0 1 1.25 1.83 PEO 8.7 4.1

Other Notable Performers

Let's look at organizational leaders in several of the key individual categories (10 innings pitched minimum.)

Name IP K/9   Name IP BB/9
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
        Ryan Sherriff 13.7 2.0
        Mike Mayers 31.7 2.0

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.

Prior Winners

  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
May Chris Perry      
June        
July        
Aug        
         
  Player of Month      
2014 The Cardinal Nation Cards organization    
April  James Ramsey Jonathan Rodriguez    
May        
June        
July        
Aug        

Update: On Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals organization also named Perry its Pitcher of the Month.

Coming soon

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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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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