There never was one starting pitcher who stood out above the rest on the 2016 Memphis Redbirds.
The Redbirds shuffled the rotation constantly during the season, whether due to injuries (Arturo Reyes and Jeremy Hefner after the spring season-ending injuries to Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney), promotion (Alex Reyes) or ineffectiveness (J.C. Sulbaran sent down to Springfield).
However, one player was a consistent threat on the mound for the Redbirds, Mike Mayers.
Mayers began 2016 with Double-A Springfield and earned a win in his Triple-A debut May 16 vs. Sacramento, fanning four and allowing one earned on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. Following a second stint in Springfield, the right-hander returned to the Memphis rotation in June and never lost his spot.
The right-hander from Ole Miss started 16 games for the Redbirds this season, leading all Memphis starters in ERA (3.73) and second in hits (87) and runs (44) allowed. While Mayers’ record of 4-8 isn’t appealing, the losses can be attributed to a Redbirds offense that finished 13th out of 16 Pacific Coast League teams in runs scored (641).
Through his first eight starts with Memphis, Mayers picked up three wins, did not allow an opposing team to score more than four runs in any outing and posted a 2.94 ERA. The starter’s performances tailed off a little bit toward the end of the season, absorbing six losses over his last eight games. Still, Mayers allowed five runs only twice during the stretch while his K/9 ratio increased (10.2, compared to 6.9).
St. Louis’ third-round pick in the 2013 MLB draft has gotten off to a rocky start in his major league career (27.00 ERA over four appearances totaling 5 1/3 innings), but Mayers remains a promising player in St. Louis’ organization worth keeping an eye on. Proving his durability, pitching almost 150 innings across his three stops this season, was important after Mayers missed much of 2015 due to injury.
Aside from Mayers, Arturo Reyes was a strong weapon in the Redbirds rotation this season.
Reyes led the club in wins (nine) and WHIP (1.31), finished second in innings pitched (101 1/3). The right-hander from Gonzaga finished second on the staff in innings pitched. The starter also executed a five-game win streak in May and a four-game streak in July/August.
However, Mayers had the advantage in ERA, as Reyes posted a 4.17 mark, while the 40th-round pick’s mid-season injury that cost him almost a month hurt his chances at the award as well.
Another starting pitcher who received consideration was The Cardinal Nation’s top prospect, Alex Reyes.
The right-hander from New Jersey was second on the team in strikeouts (93) in roughly half the number of games as the team-leader, but Reyes struggled with inconsistency (1.45 WHIP) and was called up to St. Louis before the season ended.
Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation’s 2016 Memphis Redbirds Starting Pitcher of the Year, Mike Mayers.
Link to master article with all 2016 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the Memphis Redbirds Player of the Year.
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