The Cardinal Nation August Starter of Month

Peoria’s Alex Reyes is The Cardinal Nation’s top starting pitcher during the final month of the season.

Ideally, The Cardinal Nation announces our Players and Pitchers of the Month ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. That way, I can do my own independent analysis and am not encumbered by the knowledge of the Cardinals’ choice.

That did not happen with the top pitcher for the final month of the regular season, including September 1. The Cardinals bestowed their August honor on the Memphis Redbirds’ Marco Gonzales. As a result, as I do my review of the numbers, Gonzales will be the man against whom to measure.

ERA and WHIP leaders

The long summer seemed to take its toll on young arms. In June, eight starting pitchers across the system with 20 innings pitched or more had ERAs under 2.00. In July, it dropped to just four and in August, it was halved again to two.

To get a list of eight starters, I also included those with ERAs between 2.00 and 3.00 below. These were the top performers among 30 qualifying pitchers in August.

To my surprise, the August ERA leaders were not named Marco.

Leading the way was Alex Reyes of Peoria at 1.44, followed by State College’s Daniel Poncedeleon at 1.88. Gonzales’ 2.63 ERA was respectable, but five others, including Reyes and Poncedeleon, were better. The latter two also allowed fewer baserunners, as measured by WHIP, walks and hits per inning pitched.

Alex Reyes Peo 25 4 6 16 38 6 0.880 1.44
Daniel Poncedeleon SC 24 5 5 18 28 5 0.958 1.88
Austin Gomber SC 30.1 7 7 32 24 9 1.362 2.08
Will Anderson SC 24.2 6 8 24 21 4 1.157 2.19
Mike Mayers Spr-Mem 35.1 10 13 41 27 9 1.425 2.55
Marco Gonzales Mem 30.1 9 10 27 23 4 1.030 2.67
Tyrell Jenkins PB 33 10 11 31 27 11 1.273 2.73
Rob Kaminsky Peo 28.2 9 10 24 24 8 1.135 2.83

Strikeout and walk leaders

Strikeouts and walks are the next measurements to be considered. Only six qualifying starters punched out more than one batter per August inning. Reyes is on top for the second straight month, followed by Poncedeleon, as they are the only two with double-digit rates. Gonzales came in at number 20 of 30.

Eight starters walked fewer than two batters per nine innings, as I had to lower my bar from 1.5 last month. Here, Gonzales shined, with the second-lowest rate in the system, but Poncedeleon was among the top group with Reyes not far behind.

The latter is especially noteworthy as it indicates huge improvement. In July, Reyes walked 6.6 per nine, which was the highest among all qualifying starters. He cut that rate down by two-thirds in August to 2.2.

Following are those starters with at least nine strikeouts per nine innings, and those with 2.0 or fewer walks per nine innings.

Starter Tm IP K/9   Starter Tm IP BB/9
Alex Reyes Peo 25 13.7   Tim Cooney Mem 35.2 1.0
Daniel Poncedeleon SC 24 10.5   Marco Gonzales Mem 30.1 1.2
Juan Perez JC 26 9.7   Nick Petree PB-Spr 39 1.4
Arturo Reyes Peo 26.2 9.4   Chase Brookshire Peo 25.1 1.4
Ramon Santos GCL 21 9.4   Tyler Lyons Mem 25 1.4
Trey Nielsen SC 20.2 9.1   Will Anderson SC 24.2 1.5
          Julio Mateo JC 21.1 1.7
Marco Gonzales (20th) Mem 30.1 6.8   Daniel Poncedeleon SC 24 1.9
          Alex Reyes (11th) Peo 25 2.2

Key ratios

When combining the two, strikeouts and walks, all three named pitchers showed well, bunched among the top five, with Gonzales second.

A new table this month, one I should have been including all along and will going forward, is ground ball to fly ball ratio.

In this measure, Poncedeleon really shines, with the third-best mark in the system last month. On the other hand, Gonzales and Reyes are deep in the second division.

Following are those starters with a 4-to-1 or better strikeout to walk ratio and a ground ball to fly ball rate of at least 2.0 during the month.

Starter Tm IP K/BB   Starter Tm IP GB/FB
Tim Cooney Mem 35.2 6.8   Dailyn Martinez JC 24 3.8
Alex Reyes Peo 25 6.3   Silfredo Garcia PB 28.2 3.1
Tyler Lyons Mem 25 6.0   Daniel Poncedeleon SC 24 3.1
Marco Gonzales Mem 30.1 5.8   Will Anderson SC 24.2 3.1
Daniel Poncedeleon SC 24 5.6   Trey Nielsen SC 20.2 2.8
Will Anderson SC 24.2 5.3   Tyrell Jenkins PB 33 2.7
Chase Brookshire Peo 25.1 5.0   Kyle Hald Spr 33.2 2.6
Nick Petree PB-Spr 39 4.0   Dewin Perez SC 21 2.5
          Rob Kaminsky Peo 28.2 2.2
          Luis Perdomo Peo 29 2.1
          Tim Cooney Mem 35.2 2.0
          Marco Gonzales (18th) Mem 30.1 1.6
          Alex Reyes (24th) Peo 25 1.4

The winner and new champion

In summary, I think you can see where I am heading. Reyes had a lower ERA and WHIP than did Gonzales. He struck out batters at twice the rate and though he walked more, his strikeout to walk ratio was still superior.

I could make similar, though not quite as strong observations about Poncedeleon, with the additional benefit of a strong ground ball rate.

To be honest, I would place either ahead of Gonzales as The Cardinal Nation’s Starting Pitcher of the Month for August, with the winner by a nose being Alex Reyes.

Honorable Mentions – Short-Season

It is easy to see why the State College Spikes took the New York-Penn League title. Poncedeleon’s rotation mates Austin Gomber and Will Anderson each logged August ERA’s under 2.00.

Three hurlers from the other title-winning club, in Johnson City, made appearances. Juan Perez was among the strikeout leaders, while Julio Mateo was one of the stingiest with free passes. Dailyn Martinez was the best August groundball machine in the system.

Pitchers from the Gulf Coast League division champs had a hard time reaching the innings bar, but Ramon Santos is among the top strikeout starters.

Honorable Mentions – Full Season

Mike Mayers was pushed up to Memphis at the end of the season to help cover rotation needs, but had earned the opportunity while with Springfield.

It was encouraging to see Tyrell Jenkins among the ERA and ground ball leaders, with the right-hander soon heading to the Arizona Fall League. His Palm Beach teammate Nick Petree, promoted to Springfield at the very end, continued to rarely walk opposing hitters.

Rob Kaminsky, our June winner, continued to pitch well throughout his first full season. His Peoria rotation mates Arturo Reyes and Chase Brookshire showed well among August strikeout and walk leaders, respectively.

July’s Winners in August

How did Sam Gaviglio and Tim Cooney, the Pitchers of the Month for July, as named by TCN and the Cardinals organization respectively, fare in August?

The answer is “very good, but not great.”

Cooney had the lowest walk rate in the entire system in August, while his 3.03 ERA, compiled during Memphis’ pennant race, fell just below our bar.

Though he did not receive much run support from Springfield teammates, Gaviglio was close behind at 3.29. He went 0-2 with three no-decisions in five August starts.

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 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
Aug   Marco Gonzales Alex Reyes TBA Aug
  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
Aug Xavier Scruggs Xavier Scruggs     Aug

Coming soon

The Cardinal Nation’s Relief Pitcher of the Month will be announced next, as will our final monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings, the latter exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation. Thank you for your business!

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

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