Get your notebook and pen out, it’s back to school time as Gavin a.k.a. Tramps is back with a pitching pop quiz for the second half of the season…
I spend more time than is healthy trawling through the stats pages on Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant and Baseball Prospectus. We all know the category leaders for the whole season, but this article is just concerned with the second half.
Despite his disappointing win-loss record, Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom is the clear favourite to win the NL Cy Young Award. He has been the best pitcher of 2018, but no starter has ever won the NL Cy Young award with fewer than 13 wins. It looks like deGrom won’t even reach double-digits. Hopefully, the voters get it right.
Question 1: So if deGrom has been the best pitcher for the entire season. Who has been the best pitcher of the second half?
You need to scroll down for the answers, but check out the other questions first.
Question 2: Starting for the Mets has obviously hindered deGrom’s ability to pick up wins. Which pitcher, who will also be absent from the postseason, has the most wins in the second half?
Question 3: With the Rays utilising openers (relief pitchers at the start of the game), and more teams using their best reliever in the highest leverage situation, the traditional closer is a dying breed. Despite this, one player’s saves tally has eclipsed all others. Who is the second half saves leader?
Question 4: Setting the minimum at 20 innings to exclude underworked relievers, which pitcher has the lowest ERA of the second half?
Question 5: With a rate of over 16.0 SO/9, which pitcher has the best strikeout rate in the game? I’ll give you a clue. We are likely to see him in the AL Wild Card playoff game.
Answer 1: It’s still deGrom. In 11 starts, the Mets ace has posted 1.94 ERA with an even better 1.63 FIP. He has accumulated 3.7 WAR, which is one whole win more than three times Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. And remember, this is just in the second half of the season.
Answer 2: Amazingly the Mets have supported Zack Wheeler to give the right-hander a league-leading nine wins in the second half. This is one better than Rays Blake Snell and two more than seven others, including teammate Noah Syndergaard.
The most extraordinary name on the list is Ryan Yarbrough, who despite having only made one start, is tied on seven wins with workhorse aces like Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber.
Answer 3: Blake Treinen and Wade Davis both have 13 saves, but the clear leader is Mariners Edwin Diaz with 20. The 24-year-old has 15.81 SO/9 with 1.54 ERA. Treinen has an exemplary 0.68 ERA in the second half, but interestingly both players have an identical 1.82 FIP.
Answer 4: This is awesome. With 0.00 ERA over five starts, Red Sox Chris Sale is the second half ERA leader. We know that he has been on the DL, but the left-hander has only allowed one earned run since June 20. He is scheduled to start on Friday vs. Indians, which will likely tarnish his unblemished second half. (Eds note: He gave up two runs over 3.1 innings and struck out seven. Even when he’s bad he’s good.)
Answer 5: After a horrendous April, Dellin Betances has quietly transformed his season. He leads the Yankees’ bullpen in the second half with a 2.40 FIP. His strikeout rate of 16.03 SO/9 is the best in the league.