This could be a year of the pitcher. There are so many starters off to a fast start that candidates for the All-Star team are as thick as mosquitoes at a swamp. If they all keep it up there could be more 20-game winners in one year than there have been in ages.
They won’t, of course, because baseball hardly ever plays out on a smooth path. Yet there are a remarkable number of guys who have simply owned opposing batting orders since the beginning of April.
It’s crowded at the top. And no one has gotten off to a better start than Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore. Moore is a southpaw who turns 24 in a month and after an 11-11 rookie year has begun 2013 witha 7-0 record accompanied by a 2.44 earned run average.
Nice job, but he is not leading the pack by much. The Boston Red Sox alone have two starters breathing on Moore’s shoulder as potential major winners this season. Clay Buchholz, who has a 1.78 ERA, and Jon Lester, 2.72, are each 6-0.
Over in the National League, Arizona’s Patrick Corbin is also 6-0 with a 1.52 earned run average. Corbin, who has slightly less experience than Moore, will turn 24 in two months. He’s another southpaw simply overpowering hitters in the early season.
Lined up behind Corbin is another young hurler, Matt Harvey, who made 10 appearances for the New York Mets last year. Harvey is 5-0 with a 1.55 ERA. He turned 24 in March.
It’s kind of difficult to imagine the sport being inundated with an entire crop of Walter Johnsons all at once, but those are just the starting pitchers who are undefeated. There are a whole bunch more off to starts that nearly equal that group. There are so many it’s a wonder any position player can get on base.
Jordan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals, who is supposed to only be the third-best starter in his team’s rotation, is 7-1 with a 1.69 earned run average. Yu Darvish, the second-year hurler from Japan now gracing the Texas Rangers mound, is 7-1 with a 2.97 ERA. Lance Lynn of the Cardinals is 6-1, 2.88.
The Seattle Mariners are getting pretty good mileage out of another Japanese pitcher, Hisashi Iwakuma, who is 5-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Jake Peavey, a veteran who has been battling injuries for the last couple of seasons, is showing that you don’t have to be 24 to be a star. Peavey stands at 5-1 and 2.96. Yet a third Japanese pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda, is 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA for the New York Yankees.
And that’s still not all. Three pitchers whose earned run averages are even better than the others have somehow managed to lose a couple of games. St. Louis’ Shelby Miller is 5-2 with a 1.40 ERA. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is 4-2 with a 1.40 ERA. And The King, Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, is 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA.
All of this represents a snapshot of the moment because a week from now they could all be slumping. Hitters may have figured out their deliveries and tendencies. Not every one of these pitchers are young, but a majority are. Skipping Kuroda (38) and Iwakuma (32), who essentially had almost complete careers before coming to the United States, Peavey, at 31, is the only other pitcher in this entire group over 30.
Including those previously noted birthdays, we’ve got Harvey, Corbin and Moore all at 24, Miller the youngest at 22, Kershaw at 25, Lynn and Darvish at 26, Hernandez and Zimmerman at 27, Buchholz at 28, and Lester at 29.
They could be symbolic of a new crop of young, tremendous pitchers that baseball fans will be cheering on for years to come.