Stevens: Youth movement surfaces in Major League Baseball
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 11, 2010 1:46 PM
Pitching -- all the cool kids are doing it. Gone are the days when veterans Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were the premier pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Baseball's mounds are now ruled by hurlers who have yet to reach the age of 30. Of the 10 current MLB leaders in earned run average (ERA), eight of them are younger than 30.
Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez holds baseball's lowest ERA at 0.93 and his 11 wins are an MLB best. Earlier this season, the 26-year-old Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies history on April 17 at Atlanta.
Jimenez has allowed a run or less in nine of his 12 starts. He's in the top 10 in baseball in shutouts, innings pitched, fewest hits allowed and walks.
Reigning two-time National League Cy Young award winner, Tim Lincecum, isn't currently among MLB's top 10 in ERA. However, he is tied for third in strikeouts with 89.
At 25, the San Francisco right-hander has averaged 16 wins, 263 strikeouts and an ERA lower than 3.00 in each of the past two seasons.
Tampa Bay lefty David Price, a former No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007, leads the American League with nine wins. The 24-year-old former Vanderbilt standout has pitched into the sixth inning or later in 10 of his 12 starts.
Price has given up more than three runs in a start just once this year and his 2.23 ERA is tied for eighth-best in baseball.
Fellow youngsters Jamie Garcia and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, Josh Johnson of Florida, San Francisco's Matt Cain, Mike Leake of Cincinnati and the Mets' Mike Pelfrey all rank in the top 10 in ERA.
Baseball is littered with blossoming young pitchers and seemingly every franchise has one. Atlanta's Tommy Hanson, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, Boston's Clay Bucholz, Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Kansas City's Zack Greinke prove that promising, youthful talent is everywhere.
Washington's Stephen Strasburg appeared to thrust himself right into the middle of that group with his 14-strikeout, Major League debut on Tuesday evening.
Unlike that movie sequel or new restaurant that fails to live up to the hype, Strasburg more than exceeded expectations. Last year's No. 1 overall pick surrendered just four hits over seven innings and his 14 strikeouts were one shy of the most ever recorded in a MLB debut.
With a fastball that reached 100 mph, the 21-year-old Strasburg struck out seven Pittsburgh Pirates in a row at one point, threw 94 pitches including 65 strikes and didn't issue a walk.
Kids, these days, they think they know everything. When it comes to pitching they're pretty darn close.