The Rise And Fall Of National League Pitching

(Chris Swede / Chicago Tribune)

Half of the best National League pitchers of 2016 have taken a hit, but the other half is still going strong. The three pitchers, Jake Arrieta, Noah Syndergaard, and Madison Bumgarner have been either hurt or terrible this year, but the other three pitchers, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and Clayton Kershaw, have been definite all-star material. Here’s a comparison of their 2016 and 2017 seasons:

NOAH SYNDERGAARD

2016: Thor stood at third in baseball in Earned Run Average at 2.60 and brought the Mets to the playoffs. Syndergaard led the team to fantastic 87-75 and he was the bane to 218 at-bats, coming in ninth for strikeouts in baseball.

2017: Things looked optimistic at the beginning of spring training when Syndergaard arrived in the best shape he’s ever been in. Throwing faster than ever, he decided to whip the ball too hard for his own body: he tore his right latissimus and is now currently serving time on the disabled list.

JON LESTER

2016: The three-time World Series champion was second in baseball in ERA at 2.44. At 197 K’s and 19 and 5, Lester helped lead the Cubbies to a 103 and 58 record and their first World Series win in 108 years.

2017: Lester has stayed strong in 2017 with the 3.83 ERA, the 97 strikeouts, and has an only 1.25 Walks and Hits over Innings Pitched. Going 5-4, Lester will clearly be a major part of the team’s future.

JAKE ARRIETA

2016: With a 3.10 ERA, he came in ninth for defending his 2015 title of National League Cy Young Award Winner. With the NL pitcher’s Silver Slugger under his belt, he, alongside Lester, was essential in bringing to the Curse of the Billy Goat to its knees.

2017: Arrieta has barely shown up on the map: his ERA is high at 4.36, his strikeout numbers are low at merely 89, and his 7-5 record is deceiving. In most of his wins, the Cubs score above ten runs, but they score close to five, a usually substantial number, in most of his losses. Clearly, Arrieta is not what he used to be.

CLAYTON KERSHAW

2016: The three-time National League Cy Young Award Winner absolutely dominated the Majors last year. His ERA was 1.69, struck out 172 batters, and went 12-4 in only 21 games. He missed a large part of the season and still dominated, in fact those few missed games are what most likely prevented him from his fourth Cy Young Award.

2017: Now, 11-2, Kershaw is on pace for his best season, yet. His ERA is a tiny 2.47, third in all of baseball. Kershaw is still one of, if not, the most dominant pitcher in baseball.

MADISON BUMGARNER

2016: At fourth in all of baseball, the MadBum only gave up one average, 2.74 runs per every nine innings. He struck out 251 batters, which was impressive because Bumgarner became one of the few pitchers to remain dominant even after pitching a ton of innings late in the postseason. Despite going for the long haul versus the Royals in the 2014 World Series, the San Francisco ace continued his reign as the Feared Beard from the Bay in 2015 and ‘16.

2017: Well, there’s not much to say about his pitching this year, but based on his preseason incident, let’s just say he hasn’t done a whole lot. Early on in Spring Training, the Giants’ star suffered a season ending injury from a dirtbiking accident. Maybe he’ll be back to his former glory in 2018…

MAX SCHERZER

2016: The blue and brown eyed 20 game winner left the world speechless when he performed brilliantly, again. With a 2.96 ERA, he led baseball with 284 K’s. These insane numbers led to his second Cy Young Award, first in the NL (he won it in 2013 in the American League with the Detroit Tigers).

2017: Despite the no-hitter that was lost by A.J. Ellis smacking a chopper off of hi glove, Scherzer leads the Majors with a 2.09 ERA. He leads the NL with 145 strikeouts, second in baseball only to Boston’s Chris Sale with 155. With the year he’s having, another great award looks to be in the near future…

By all intents and purposes, without the Designated Hitter, the NL pitching stats should be better than the AL’s, but that’s not as true, now, for a fair deal of the league’s former aces. Lester, Kershaw, and Scherzer are all well on their way to coming back atop the NL. The NL’s starting pitchers have split in quite opposite directions, but the second half often brings a quite noticeable change in player’s season stats, so let’s wait and see for how the statistics look by October.

 

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