The Cardinal Nation May Pitcher of the Month

Closer Fernando Salas, briefly promoted to St. Louis from Memphis, is our choice as top pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system in May.

Relievers rarely receive the attention they deserve, especially in the minor leagues.

Even without his first-ever call up to the majors, known in advance to be limited to two days in duration, Memphis closer Fernando Salas is a most deserving recipient of our second The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month nod for 2010.

While Salas earned the nod with his consistent mound work all month long, the native of Huatabampo, Mexico received a much bigger honor when he was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster and promoted to St. Louis on Thursday.

That gave Salas the unique opportunity of being in uniform in four cities in four days late this past week.

As the Cardinals came off a 13-inning game against the Padres on Wednesday, they needed immediate relief. When starter Kyle Lohse was placed on the disabled list, Salas joined the Cardinals in San Diego on Thursday. The Redbirds were playing in Fresno at the time.

Salas made his major league debut at Chicago's Wrigley Field on Friday. The right-hander faced four batters, collecting three outs while working around an error committed behind him. That would be his one and only MLB appearance to date.

By Saturday, Salas was returned to Memphis and on Sunday, he earned a save after tossing a perfect inning for the Triple-A Redbirds. It was his 25th birthday.

Salas' line for Memphis during May was amazing. In 11 1/3 innings pitched over 12 games, he did not let a run to cross the plate. Salas logged 11 strikeouts and allowed just one seven baserunners – one walk, one batter hit by a pitch and five hits, all singles. Pacific Coast League batters averaged just .138 against him and he induced three double plays during the month.

Salas picked up seven of his eight 2010 saves during May, tying Round Rock's Casey Daigle for most in the PCL this past month. His season total is second in the Cardinals system to Eduardo Sanchez of Springfield, who has nine saves.

Congratulations to Fernando Salas, The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for May.

Honorable mentions

Working in middle relief, Palm Beach's Ramon Delgado posted an 11:1 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 2/3 scoreless innings.

Before suffering an elbow injury, our April Pitcher of the Month Scott Gorgen was making a repeat bid, with an 0.77 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 23 1/3 May innings.

Then with Memphis, P.J. Walters had three impressive starts, registering an ERA of 0.48 while fanning 23 and walking just three in 18 2/3 innings.

Deryk Hooker, the tandem partner of last month's organizational winner Scott Schneider, was in the hunt with a 1.89 ERA and a 25:4 strikeout to walk ratio in 19 innings prior to a rough outing on the final day of the month.

Coming up

Check back here Wednesday for the announcement of the winner of The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for May. The Cardinals organization should be making their corresponding Pitcher and Player selections public, as well.

Update: On Wednesday, June 2, the Cardinals organization named Memphis starting pitcher Lance Lynn their Pitcher of the Month.

Previous winners

Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles.

Player  of Month Pitcher  of Month
2010 Cards org Cards org
April  Jon Jay Jay Scott Gorgen Scott Schneider
May Fernando Salas

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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