The race for The Cardinal Nation’s Memphis Redbirds Reliever of the Year Award was a tight one with multiple pitchers making strong cases for the honor.
However, when it came to selecting the winner of the team’s Starting Pitcher of the Year Award, this was not quite the case, as left-hander Tim Cooney proved himself to be the Triple-A squad’s top starter by a wide margin.
In fact, the 23-year-old was one of the most effective pitchers in all of the Pacific Coast League, amassing a 14-6 record that gave him the Redbirds’ franchise record for wins in a season, and also put him in first place in the PCL with two more wins than the next closest hurler.
Cooney’s boasted an ERA of 3.47, which ranked fourth in the PCL and was the best among Memphis pitchers with at least 10 starts. Over the course of the season, the left-hander struck out 119 batters, walked 47, and gave up 158 hits and 21 home runs in 158 innings pitched. Cooney’s WHIP of 1.30 was the best among regular Memphis starters.
The lefty was solid to start the season, but really turned it on towards the end of the year. Cooney assembled his best month of the season in July, making four starts that resulted in a 3-0 record and an ERA of 1.95. In eight starts after the All-Star break, Cooney was 5-1 with an ERA of 2.85 while dramatically improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 4.75, compared to 2.07 before the break.
Despite the late-season improvement, Cooney’s best performance of the year actually came on May 29. In a nationally-televised game against the Iowa Cubs, Cooney nearly became the first pitcher in franchise history to toss a no-hitter, but yielded a two-out single in the ninth inning to come up just short in a complete game, one-hit shutout.
Had he appeared in more games for the Redbirds, fellow left-hander Marco Gonzales would have given Cooney a battle for the award, but Gonzales did not make his Memphis debut until July 11. In his eight games in a Redbirds uniform, Gonzales accumulated a solid ERA of 3.35 to go along with a 4-1 record and a 4.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
26-year-old Tyler Lyons had an impressive record of 8-2, but an ERA of 4.43 and only 14 starts in a Memphis uniform kept him out of the running for the award.
Congratulations to the The Cardinal Nation’s 2014 Memphis Redbirds Starting Pitcher of the Year, Tim Cooney.
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 Memphis Redbirds Player of the Year.
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