Tampa Bay's Matt Garza threw this year's fifth MLB no-hitter Monday, giving sports fanatics one more reason to call 2010 the Year of the Pitcher.
Garza, 26, joined an elite club of hurlers whose most recent inaugurates include Ubaldo Jiménez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, and Edwin Jackson.
The Rays' no-no further solidifies 2010 as a year marked by great performances on the mound.
But not every pitcher will finish this season with an award or World Series ring—only a gifted, perhaps lucky few will get the hardware.
The following is an analysis of 2010 pitching superlatives, broken up into these categories:
- Best Rookie
- Best No-Hitter
- NL Cy Young
- AL Cy Young
- Least Likely to Get a World Series Ring
- Most Likely to Get a World Series Ring
Runner-Up: Neftali Feliz
Honorable Mentions: Stephen Strasburg, Mike Leake, Jonathon Niese
Stats sheets are a sports fanatic's favorite weapon in any argument.
In other words, sports analysis has a lot to do with the "what" and not the "how."
So, how, one might ask, does Jaime Garcia deserve to be called the 2010 best rookie pitcher?
It's called a breaking ball. Garcia, 23, throws them unlike any other pitcher in MLB.
The Cardinals' only lefty starter, Garcia throws at average speeds. His sinker, however, is a threat to any hitter.
Garcia is 9-4 with an ERA of 2.21, the third-lowest in MLB.
He's making the Major League minimum, but he's helping the Cardinals maximize damage on the the mound.
Garcia's unexpected dominance is a relief to the Cardinals, whose injury-ridden starting rotation has struggled when Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter is not on the hill.
Although Rookie of the Year honors often go to dominant hitters, this year should be different.
Many analysts want to give Stephen Strasburg the award, but Jaime Garcia has been dealing since day one—should he win even three or four more games, he should get the prize.
Runner-Up: Roy Halladay
Honorable Mentions: Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jiménez, Edwin Jackson
Who is Dallas Braden?
"That Oakland A's guy who threw that perfect game."
Welcome to Dallas Braden's legacy.
The 26-year-old starting left-hander is one of hundreds of MLB pitchers. He's one of dozens who have losing records, one of many who have a career ERA over four.
But Braden is one of only 20 pitchers in MLB history to throw a perfect game.
A Mother's Day victory, Braden's perfect game was a gift to not only his mother and grandmother (who raised him), but also to baseball history.
Although he is average at best on paper, Braden will go down as a member of one of MLB's most fabled groups of pitchers.
Runner-Up: Adam Wainwright
Honorable Mentions: Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, Josh Johnson
When you're mentioned in the same sentence as Bob Gibson, you have to be more than great on the mound.
Ubaldo Jiménez has been that guy in 2010.
Right now, the 26-year-old from Nagua, Dominican Republic is 15-2 with a 2.75 ERA.
For many weeks, Jiménez owned the spot for lowest ERA, dominating teams with a sub-1.00 mark.
Now, Colorado's ace must watch his back, as the St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright is on his tail with 14 wins and an ERA under two.
If the Cy Young were chosen today, Jiménez would win, but there's still plenty of season left.
The close race for NL Cy Young award is yet another reason 2010 is the Year of the Pitcher.
Runner-Up: David Price
Honorable Mentions: Cliff Lee, Clay Buchholz
The AL Cy Young may very well be determined by who wins the American League pennant.
Boasting the best record (and arguably the best lineup) in MLB, the New York Yankees seem to have the best shot at the pennant.
If the Yanks win the World Series, the AL Cy Young will likely go to one of their pitchers—probably CC Sabathia again.
Sabathia is 13-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
But who will win the AL Cy Young is truly a toss-up.
Let's say the winner of the pennant actually does determine the winner. Keeping that idea in mind, here are the other potential AL Cy Young Award winners:
Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees
Alternate name for this slide: best for the worst.
Stephen Strasburg is a rookie beast. In only 54.1 innings pitched, the 22-year-old Washington National has five wins and 75 strikeouts.
The youngster offers a deadly arsenal of pitches, and sometimes throws over 100 miles per hour.
The problem? He plays for a terrible team.
Many sports analysts have already put tremendous pressure on Strasburg—they say he has the ability to carry the Nationals to the playoffs in the future.
This year, Strasburg will simply be working on racking up big numbers—no playoffs for the young gun just yet.
The Texas Rangers have never won the World Series. This year, they have excellent hitting, and with the addition of veteran Cliff Lee, they have excellent pitching.
On paper, the Yankees should win the World Series almost every year. They won it last year—they had their fun.
The 2010 season is one of firsts—of no-hitters, perfect games, stolen perfect games, and steroid-free (hopefully) stats.
Why should the World Series follow a different suit?
The Texas Rangers have the right pieces for a World Series title, and Cliff Lee is going to be the extra push.