It's Thursday, and the weekend is almost upon us. If you're like me, you start looking forward to the weekend on, well, Monday. But before we dig into this full plate of steamy weekend baseball, why not look back and reminisce about the pitchers that flat out got it done last week. These guys are already looking like Cy Young contenders, with stat lines that make baseball fan's eyes go wide upon first view.
Zack Greinke, SP Kansas City Royals: OK, so his early season success is no longer a secret. Greinke gained a lot of attention over the week for his 43 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, which came to an end on Wednesday night. Despite that, he still hurled 7 strong, striking out 8 and ending the game with a 0.50 era. Tack that onto his complete game, 10 strikeout effort against the Tigers on April 24th, and you have quite a week for the young flamethrower. Let's just hope the Royals can continue to provide at least a run a game to keep him in the W column.
Felix Hernandez, SP Seattle Mariners: One of the reasons that Seattle and Kansas City are seeing renewed success this year is because of the emergence of aces like Greinke and Hernandez. King Felix threw up a monster stat line last week (2-0, 15 IP, 0 ER, 16 k's). Has he finally become the dominant pitcher many predicted upon his entry to the MLB? If he keeps making the ball miss the bat like this, we could be talking Cy Young before long.
Frank Fransisco, RP Texas Rangers: Where did this guy come from? Not only is he going against traditional Ranger standards by pitching well, he's dominating AL batters in only his 3rd full season in the majors. After throwing in 58 games last year and compiling a 3.13 ERA, Fransisco has yet to allow a run this year. In fact, he notched 4 saves last week alone. He is 1-0 on the year with 6 saves and 9 k's in 10.2 innings, and looks to have the Rangers' closer role on lock down. As long as he's healthy, he's overpowering. Look for continued success from this guy.
Tim Lincecum, SP San Fransisco Giants: It's no surprise to see this guy doing well. After a slow start, Lincecum went back to his old ways last week, tossing 15 innings and 20 k's while posting a 2.40 ERA and 2 wins. The Giants might be having trouble scoring, but with one of the most highly touted youngsters in baseball regaining his dominant form, they may be on the verge of a turnaround.
Yovani Gallardo, SP Milwaukee Brewers: Talk about a "complete" game. Gallardo, not satisfied with merely shutting down the Pittsburgh Pirates, decided to go big fly as well, providing the games only run in the Brewers 1-0 victory. Tack that HR onto 8 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts? So much for a team effort. Not to mention Gallardo threw 9 innings against the Astros on April 24th, too. Brewers faithful can only hope he doesn't get hurt or traded, which seems to be the trend of Milwaukee aces in the last couple of years.
Ryan Franklin, RP St. Louis Cardinals: Maybe the Cards do have a closer after all. Franklin converted all 3 save opportunities he had last week without allowing a run, moving him to first on my "Pitchers who should close games for the Cardinals" list, one spot ahead of Albert Pujols. This, coupled with success in the closer's slot late last season, could mean a permanent closer for the Redbirds, as well as a nightmare for other teams in the NL Central. For, if St. Louis isn't going to blow 45% of its saves, are they still going to lose games?