Perhaps I am going to have to attach a name to this new award for The Cardinal Nation in 2014, generically known as the Relief Pitcher of the Month. The intent is to offer a spotlight on those hurlers whose work would otherwise be obscured by more flashy numbers put up by starters.
After a review of the numbers for July, a familiar name is once again on top. The honoree is a 2014 repeater, though now with a new team. Chris Perry, our May winner with Peoria, again receives this recognition for his exceptional work in relief for both Peoria and Palm Beach last month. (In reality, Perry’s May was so good, he won the overall pitching award which included starters, too. The link to that article can be found in the table at the bottom of this page.)
Let’s start with the numbers. I narrowed down the long list of nearly 60 relief pitchers across the entire system to those who pitched at least 10 innings and logged an ERA under 1.50 during July.
10 candidates remained, five of whom had ERAs under 1.00. But only one was unscored upon all month.
Not surprisingly, Perry also allowed the fewest baserunners as measured by walks plus hits per innings pitched, WHIP. Only five hitters even made it to first base in his 11 1/3 innings.
Perry, who turned 24 years of age during July, threw his first four frames with Peoria and his final 7 1/3 with Palm Beach following his July 9 promotion.
Lefty Dean Kiekhefer faced 51 batters last month and walked just one. Amazing. Six of the ten struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings, including Perry. The strikeout leader among this lowest ERA subset of 10 relievers is Kevin Herget of Peoria.
All things considered, we have our clear winner. Perry is hereby named The Cardinal Nation Reliever of the Month for July, though I think I will wait before renaming this award in a tribute to him. He was spanked in his first outing of August, but likely will get back to his dominating self very soon.
Other honorable mentions
As the above table indicates, eight relievers with at least 10 innings pitched had 12 or more strikeouts per nine innings last month. ERAs and walk rates are listed to help provide context.
Herget was noted above, but his rate was only second-best overall. Leader Dixon Llorens is a regular on this list, but his walk rate of 6.6 per nine is a reminder that more work consistently throwing strikes is still needed. Same for Jacob Booden and Logan Billbrough.
High strikeout totals do not always translate to low ERAs. Take a look at the lines of Kevin Carlow, Josh Lucas and Booden in the above table if you need to be convinced.
For those wondering where hard-throwing Sam Tuivailala ranked, he fanned “only” 11.7 per nine last month, down from 19.2 in June. In his first month at Springfield, the right-hander kept his walk rate constant, still too high at 4.4 per nine.
Speaking of free passes, nine relievers pitched at least 10 innings and walked fewer than 1.5 batters per nine innings. Like above, strikeout rates and ERAs are included for comparison purposes.
Two of the three bullpenners who did not issue a free pass all month long had high ERAs, but not Danny Miranda of Palm Beach. Oddly, Lucas was among the top strikeout pitchers, walked no one in July, but still had an ERA approaching five. As August opened, the right-hander was sent down to State College from Peoria.
Last month’s winner
You may have noticed State College’s Kyle Grana remaining among the system-wide leaders in July, logging a 1.15 ERA following his June award. Grana was also fourth among qualifiers in strikeout rate at 14.4 in a strong follow-up month.
2014 monthly award 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||2014|
|April||Tim Cooney||Nick Petree||Justin Wright||April|
|May||Chris Perry||Chris Perry||(none)||(Perry)||May|
|June||Rob Kaminsky||Rob Kaminsky||Kyle Grana||June|
|July||Tim Cooney||Sam Gaviglio||Chris Perry||July|
|Player of Month|
|2014||The Cardinal Nation||Cards organization||2014|
|April||James Ramsey||Jonathan Rodriguez||April|
|May||Randal Grichuk||Randal Grichuk||May|
|June||Rowan Wick||Rowan Wick||June|
|July||Magneuris Sierra||Magneuris Sierra||July|
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