Luke Weaver (© Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports Images)

Luke Weaver and Austin Gomber share The Cardinal Nation’s top starting pitcher award for the month of July.

Luke Weaver and Austin Gomber share The Cardinal Nation’s top starting pitcher award for the month of July.

This is the first of The Cardinal Nation's monthly three-part series our Players and Pitchers of the Month – from the latter group, starters, and relievers separately - across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals themselves recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.

Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of July system-wide leaders in a group of key pitching categories.

Stats leaders

With a full month of short-season action officially in the books, 54 pitchers in the system made at least one start during July, but those making up the population considered were required to throw at least 20 innings.

From that process, six finalists were chosen - those with July ERAs under 2.60.

The representation skewed toward High-A Palm Beach, with two starters among the finalists, including one participant who made a spot-start at Double-A Springfield early in the month, and two of the three lowest ERAs.

In addition, the Springbirds are represented by a hurler who made six starts in Double-A, along with Low-A (short-season) State College, Rookie Johnson City, and Rookie Dominican Summer League Cardinals each having one representative among this month's finalists.

Five of the six finalists are spread out across the organization, with the Cardinals represented at each level of the system - unlike past months such as when Low-A Peoria had a whopping five of six finalists.

TCN July Pitcher of Month Finalists

Luke Weaver, Spf       38.2 1.40 0.85 9.8 1.4 7.0/1
Austin Gomber, PB/Spf 43.0 1.67 0.76 8.8 1.9 4.7/1
Matt Pearce, PB        46.2 1.93 0.75 5.6 0.4 14.5/1
Ronnie Williams, SC    26.1 2.05 0.83 5.1 1.4 3.8/1
Ian Oxnevad, JC        29.2 2.43 1.28 10.0 2.1 4.7/1
Noel DeJesus, DSL      21.2 2.08 1.24 5.8 4.2 1.4/1

ERA and WHIP leaders

I essentially grouped the six finalists in terms of ERA. Luke Weaver and Austin Gomber have the lowest with Matt Pearce and Ronnie Williams in the middle of the pack. Ian Oxnevad and Noel DeJesus had successful months, but not enough to win this month's honor.

Leading the pack is Weaver, who yielded six earned runs through 38 2/3 innings, and Gomber, who yielded eight earned runs through 43 innings, truly superb numbers this past month.

Pearce deserves attention for his 0.75 WHIP, the lowest mark of the finalists. While his 1.93 ERA is terrific, is not nearly as strong as the marks of the frontrunners.

Strikeout and walk leaders

Oxnevad led the finalists in strikeouts per nine innings, but in less innings than Weaver and Gomber, who tied for the Minor League-best in total strikeouts for the month of July. The latter two continue their neck-and-neck race as we inch our way to announcing the winner.

While Pearce isn't known as a high-strikeout pitcher, his game is control and command, and that fit the bill of his performance this past month, leading the group in stinginess of allowing free passes by a considerable margin.

Key ratios

Pearce again paced the group with an otherworldly mark of 14.5:1 strikeout to walk ratio, but unfortunately, he will not be able to top the overall performances of Weaver and Gomber, who finished second and fourth in K:BB, respectively. Still, those latter numbers are very strong.

The winner(s)

Taking all measures into account in a tight, tight competition, it was so tight that we could not decide on an honoree. So, The Cardinal Nation's July Co-Starting Pitcher(s) of the Month are Springfield's Luke Weaver and Austin Gomber, the latter who spent the majority of the month with the Palm Beach, but finished with a one-hit seven inning shutout in his just his second start with Springfield.

The new Double-A rotation mates are prominently-placed in TCN's top 40 prospect rankings, at #4 (Weaver) and #13 (Gomber), respectively.

Prior award winners

Interestingly, both pitchers are repeaters here in 2016, with Gomber having won this award in April and Weaver the reigning Cardinals organization Pitcher of the Month.

  Pitcher of Month Starter of Month Reliever of Month  
2016 Cards organization The Cardinal Nation The Cardinal Nation 2016
April  Andrew Morales Austin Gomber Kevin Herget April 
May Jake Woodford Jake Woodford Rowan Wick May
June Luke Weaver DNA DNA June
July   L Weaver/A Gomber   July
Aug       Aug
  Player of Month      
2016 Cards organization The Cardinal Nation   2016
April  Harrison Bader Harrison Bader   April 
May David Washington David Washington   May
June Brian Sanchez DNA   June
July       July
Aug       Aug

Coming soon

The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Month and Relief Pitcher of the Month for July will be announced next.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Cardinals Prospect Interview: Daniel Poncedeleon

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