In 2014, for the second consecutive season, the bullpen was the pitching strength of the young and inconsistent Springfield Cardinals, but the rotation also had its successes. The group included a few returnees along with mainstays who performed below expectations early in the season but bounced back with strong second halves despite the results not quite being there in the end.
To have a good shot at being named The Cardinal Nation’s Starter of the Year, one must not only meet the minimum criteria but also show reliability/durability to go deep into games, with the most essential factor how dependable they were during the season.
15 different pitchers made at least one start for the Texas League Cardinals in 2014, including rehabbing major leaguers Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia and Tyler Lyons. With the field at 12 possible candidates, we will use the same criteria as last year to narrow them down further.
* 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 is at least ten starts, and that narrowed the gap from 12 down to six. Jonathan Cornelius, Kurt Heyer, and Kyle Hald led the way with over 20 starts each, with Mike Mayers and Seth Blair closer to 10. Cornelius and Hald both collected 11 wins, while Heyer and Sam Gaviglio were the only two starters to sustain double-digit losses. Mayers was about even in terms of wins and losses.
All six starters still eligible threw over 60 innings. Cornelius beat out Heyer as the team’s leading innings eater with 144 1/3. Heyer came in second with 140 innings even though he also made a few starts with Triple-A Memphis. He out-distanced Hald by exactly three innings. Hald went an out further than Gaviglio, who finished fourth in innings pitched. Mayers notched 76 1/3 innings in 13 starts in his late-season arrival at Springfield, beating Blair by 2 2/3 innings before the latter was moved to the bullpen.
The next two parameters help us greatly determine the favorite for the Starter of the Year. Cornelius, Hald and Mayers qualified for both categories, but given Mayers’ lesser time and innings pitched at Springfield, he is eliminated from consideration. Cornelius was right on the line, but his 3.99 ERA kept him eligible and his rotation-leading 1.26 WHIP helps make up for it. Hald qualified once again with a 3.81 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
The two southpaws both had outstanding seasons in a different way. Cornelius hoped to get his name back into the conversation as a prospect and he did so showing the most consistency and dependability of anyone on the staff. He made 14 quality starts, an impressive total. Hald had just two starts at High-A Palm Beach before heading up to Springfield where he yielded the lowest ERA and best starter W-L percentage. The deciding factor was not only Cornelius’s WHIP but his ability to repeat quality starts, one after another.
With that all said and done, Jonathan Cornelius is The Cardinal Nation Springfield Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2014. Best of luck to the second-year Springbird on achieving his goal of a future major-league career.
Link to master article with all 2014 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.
Not yet a member?
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Take advantage of our seven-day free trial.
Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.
© 2014 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.