2016 is showing the world how pitchers are dominating the game. Everybody is used to stories about home runs, stolen bases, and diving catches. The new baseball season, though, looks to be one that could be controlled by a group of great pitchers. They have been entertaining fans every day in ballparks all over the country. We have already had the opportunity to see some big achievements by pitchers in 2016. Many young pitchers have already shown that they could have historic seasons before the heat of the summer even kicks in.
On April 21, Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. Many experts did not believe that this young right-hander could follow up his amazing 2015 season which also included a no-hitter. Arrieta has been causing problems for batters and helping his Chicago Cubs and their loyal fans believe they can win their first World Series since 1908. On the other side of Chicago, Chris Sale of the White Sox has won his first nine starts. He is the fourth pitcher to do this since 1950. This fast start has the White Sox also thinking about more than just making the playoffs. This is what good pitching can do for a team. If your club has a dominant pitcher then a team is at a major advantage when in a slump. You have that ace that will get you a much-needed win. It is important for a team to get off to a fast start and when a hot pitcher comes out of spring training, a team gets early momentum that will be beneficial during the long 162-game season.
Another historic pitching exhibition was witnessed when Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals threw 20 strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers on May 10th. This was great for Scherzer because the Tigers were Scherzer’s team before he was traded to the Nationals. People think this is as big of an achievement as a nohitter. A game is completely controlled by pitching when a batter cannot get on base or even put a ball in play. A dominant pitcher will get into the head of a batter and also take control of the strike zone. It should also be noted that Scherzer threw two no-hitters last season. This dominance is not new to him. Pitchers are taking control of games and becoming superstars. They have become the new faces of baseball.
The value of pitchers is shown with the $175 million dollar contract that Stephen Strasbourg signed with the Nationals this season. He is considered the next “great thing” and with his fast start is showing he may be worth every penny. His return from Tommy John surgery has kept his progress under a microscope. Teams understand that good pitching is not only critical during the season, but even more important in the post season. Consistency is also crucial for a great pitcher. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is quietly having another successful season that looks to keep him on the top of the list of possibly the best pitcher in the game. With all of the talk of great performances so far this season, Kershaw is compiling statistics that may earn him another Cy Young award.
2016 will most likely continue to show that pitchers have the upperhand in the MLB in all aspects. The strikeouts and shutouts have not been the only performances that people are talking about. Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets hit a homer that was played on ESPN for days because it was his first one at 42 years of age. That set a record for the oldest player to hit his first homer. Colon’s teammate, Noah Syndergaard, who many consider the most talented among the Met’s young rotation, hit two homers in one game this year. That’s the way to make the news on SportsCenter! So far 2016 continues to be the year of the pitcher. Stay tuned, my friends: There is still a lot of baseball yet to be played.
By George Boyle