How they won: Cy Young contenders


Sunday was quite a day for good starting pitching. Thirteen different starters went at least seven innings and six pitchers who can make a case as a Cy Young contender pitched great en route to an eventual victory.

Here’s a statistical snapshot of what those pitchers did best.

Kershaw makes them chase

Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw held the Washington Nationals to two runs and two hits in seven innings in Sunday’s sweep-completing win.

Kershaw made Nationals hitters chase his pitches. They swung at 22 of 50 thrown out of the strike zone. Kershaw’s 44 percent chase-rate was his highest in any start this season.

Nationals hitters were 0-for-9 against the pitches they chased, with six strikeouts.

They missed on nine of 18 swings they took against Kershaw’s curveball and slider.

Harvey dominant

What made NL All-Star starter Matt Harvey so good against the Philadelphia Phillies? Try this combo:

Good day for HR Hitters too

23 swings-and-misses, 1 shy of his career high set April 3, 2013 vs Padres

An average fastball of 97.4 mph (career-best)

Nine strikeouts with offspeed pitches (ties career-high)

Four strikeouts with his changeup (ties career-high)

Went to 2-0 count on only one hitter in seven innings

Harvey has owned the Phillies from the start of his career.

He’s yielded only four earned runs in 33 1/3 innings against them.

Locke’s key: shutting down righty bats

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Locke dropped his ERA to 2.11 with a six-inning effort in which he allowed one run and one hit in a win over the Cincinnati Reds that averted a Reds sweep.

Locke shut down the Reds right-handed hitters, holding them to 0-for-11 in this contest.

Righties are hitting .186 against Locke this season, the lowest of any of the 29 lefties who are currently qualified for the ERA title.

Wainwright handles Padres … again

Adam Wainwright beat the San Diego Padres, holding them to two runs over eight innings. He’s now 5-2 against the Padres with a 1.47 ERA and 4-0 with an 0.84 ERA in four home starts against them.

Wainwright won without his best curveball/slider combo. He allowed six hits with those pitches, his most in any start in the five seasons for which we have pitch-performance data.

Wainwright has thrived recently because of his escapability. In his last six starts, he’s held opponents to a .161 batting average and .434 OPS with men on base.

Colon cruising

Bartolo Colon threw his third shutout of the season, and his second since he turned 40 on May 24. In the past 25 seasons, only 3 other pitchers threw multiple shutouts in the same season after turning 40—Nolan Ryan (1989, 1990, 1991), Dennis Martinez (1995) and Randy Johnson (2004).

Colon won in his usual method, by spotting a fastball that he threw 101 times in 110 pitches and was tough to hit far. Colon induced 12 fly ball outs. In his last three starts, Colon has generated 23 fly balls. Of those, 22 have been caught.

Also consider this about Colon: His road ERA (2.54) is almost identical to his home ERA (2.50). Eighteen other ERA-title qualifiers have an ERA as good or better than Colon at home this season. But only seven have a road ERA as low as his.

Astros easy work for King Felix

Felix Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings in a win over the Houston Astros. Hernandez has a 1.54 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his last five starts.

Like with Wainwright, Hernandez has found a way to escape tough situations. In his last five starts, opponents are 1-for-16 against him with multiple men on base, including 0-for-3 on Sunday.