Stats & Info: Randy Johnson

Top stats on Hall of Fame selections

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6

Rich Pilling/Getty ImagesRandy Johnson ranks second all time in strikeouts.
Three pitchers in their first year of eligibility were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, and they were joined by a player who missed induction last year by two votes.

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz led the balloting of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, making this year the first time three pitchers were elected in the same year. Craig Biggio got votes on 82.7 percent of the ballots after receiving 74.8 percent -- 0.2 percent short of the necessary threshold -- last year.

Below are some of the most remarkable statistical accomplishments of this year’s class.

Randy Johnson
Johnson, who received votes on 97.3 percent of ballots, had the fifth-most wins of any left-handed pitcher (303).

He ranks second all time with 4,875 strikeouts (behind Nolan Ryan, who had 5,714). Johnson had six 300-strikeout seasons, tied with Ryan for the most. No other pitcher has had more than three such seasons.

His 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings are the most for anyone with at least 1,000 career innings pitched.

Johnson won five Cy Young Awards (more than anyone else except Roger Clemens), including four in a row from 1999 to 2002, and was a 10-time All-Star.

Johnson is one of five pitchers with 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts and a no-hitter. The others are Ryan, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver.

Among pitchers with at least 300 wins, Johnson’s .646 career win percentage ranks fifth.

Pedro Martínez
Martínez (voted on 91.1 percent of ballots) won 219 games and three Cy Young Awards and was an eight-time All-Star. At his best, he was one of the game's most dominant pitchers.

Martínez’s peak can stack up against anyone else’s in MLB history. From age 25 to 33, Martínez produced 69.7 WAR, the third most by any pitcher over those ages in history.

The Elias Sports Bureau offered this to put Martínez's top two seasons in perspective: Since ERA became an official stat, there have been five instances of pitchers posting 40 wins, 500 strikeouts and an ERA under 2.00 over a two-year span. Martínez’s performance in 1999-2000 is one of them. The four others are by Sandy Koufax (1963-64, 1964-65 and 1965-66) and Bob Gibson (1968-69).

Among pitchers with at least 200 wins, only Whitey Ford had a higher career win percentage (.690) than Martínez (.687).

John Smoltz
Smoltz (82.9 percent) is the only pitcher in baseball history with at least 200 wins and 100 saves. Smoltz had 213 and 154. He joins former Atlanta Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in Cooperstown. Smoltz was an eight-time All-Star.

Smoltz was known during his career as a big-game pitcher. He was 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 41 career postseason appearances.

Smoltz became a full-time closer from 2002 to 2004. During that stretch, his 144 saves were second in baseball behind Eric Gagne's 152 and 23 more than Mariano Rivera.

Craig Biggio
Biggio is the Astros' all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and extra-base hits.

During a seven-year run from 1993 to 1999, Biggio ranked as the fourth-best player in baseball. He had 41.5 wins above replacement in that time, trailing Barry Bonds (53.3), Ken Griffey Jr. (49.2) and Jeff Bagwell (47.2).

Biggio is one of four players with at least 2,500 hits, 250 home runs and 400 stolen bases. The other three: Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan.

Biggio's 668 doubles rank fifth all time and are the most of anyone whose career began within the past 50 years.

Next closest
Mike Piazza (69.9 percent) received the most votes among those who weren’t selected, followed by Bagwell (55.7) and Tim Raines (55.0). No one else received more than 40 percent of votes.

Stats to know: 2015 Hall of Fame preview

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6

ReutersRandy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are among the most likely Hall of Fame selections.
The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its newest elected members at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Early returns (compiled on Twitter by baseball fans Ryan Thibs and Darren Viola) indicate that there is a strong likelihood that four candidates will be elected by the BBWAA: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio, with the potential for a fifth, Mike Piazza.

The writers have elected four or more candidates three times, with the last instance coming in 1955, an inaugural class headed by Joe DiMaggio.

Johnson, Martinez could be close to unanimous
Johnson and Martinez have received the public support of almost every writer who has filed a ballot. They will not be unanimous selections but could come close to that level of support.

The record for highest percentage of votes received is 98.84 percent by Tom Seaver in 1992. Five players have received at least 98 percent of the vote: Seaver, Nolan Ryan (1999, 98.79), Cal Ripken Jr. (2007, 98.53), Ty Cobb (1936, 98.23) and George Brett (1999, 98.19).

Johnson ranks second all time with 4,875 strikeouts and had the fifth-most wins of any left-handed pitcher (303). He won five Cy Young Awards, including four in a row from 1999 to 2002, and was a 10-time All-Star. His 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings is the most for anyone with at least 1,000 career innings pitched.

Martinez won 219 games and three Cy Young Awards and was an eight-time All-Star. At his best, he was one of the game's most dominant pitchers.

The Elias Sports Bureau offered this to put Martinez's peak in perspective: Since ERA became an official stat, there have been five instances of 40 wins, 500 strikeouts and an ERA under 2.00 over a two-year span. Martinez’s 1999-2000 performance is one of them. The four others are by Sandy Koufax (1963-64, 1964-65 and 1965-66) and Bob Gibson (1968-69).

Smoltz's distinct combination
Smoltz is the only pitcher in baseball history with at least 200 wins and 100 saves. He has the chance to join former teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in Cooperstown. Smoltz won 213 games and was an eight-time All-Star.

Smoltz was known during his career as a big-game pitcher. He went 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 41 career postseason appearances.

Biggio the leading returnee
Biggio finished two-tenths of a percentage point shy of election last season, receiving 74.8 percent of the vote. He is the Houston Astros' career leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and extra-base hits.

Biggio's 668 doubles rank fifth all time and are the most of anyone whose career began within the past 50 years. He is one of four players with at least 2,500 hits, 250 home runs and 400 stolen bases. The other three are Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan.

Piazza trying to make a big jump
Piazza received 62.2 percent of the vote last year, his second year on the ballot, but early returns indicate he's poised to make a jump.

Piazza is the career home run leader as a catcher, a 12-time All-Star and a 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He's one of 10 players to hit .300 and hit at least 400 home runs, and he is the only one of those 10 not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bonds and Clemens still have a ways to go
Bonds and Roger Clemens, each in their third year on the ballot, are not expected to be elected. In fact, both received less than half of the needed 75 percent of votes last year.

Bonds is the career home run leader and a seven-time MVP (no one else has won more than three). Clemens ranks third in strikeouts and ninth in wins and has won seven Cy Young Awards (most all time).

Fernandez keeps Indians off balance

August, 3, 2013
Hector Gabino/El Nuevo Herald/Getty ImagesJose Fernandez has 27 strikeouts in his last two starts.
Jose Fernandez is quickly emerging as one of the most impressive young pitchers in Major League Baseball.

After striking out 13 batters with no walks in eight innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his previous start, Fernandez struck out 14 batters with one walk in eight innings against the Cleveland Indians on Friday.

Fernandez is the first pitcher with consecutive 13-strikeout games since Randy Johnson in 2004. He’s the first pitcher age 21 or younger with multiple 13-strikeout games in a season since Kerry Wood had five such games in 1998.

Not only is Fernandez striking out batters at a high rate, but he’s doing so without walking many batters. He’s the first pitcher with consecutive games of at least 13 strikeouts and one or fewer walks since Curt Schilling in 2002.

Fernandez is the fifth pitcher age 21 or younger with consecutive 13-strikeout games in the modern era (since 1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He’s the fourth-youngest pitcher with consecutive 13-strikeout games. Only Dwight Gooden in 1984, Kerry Wood in 1998 and Jose Rijo in 1986 were younger.

How did Fernandez dominate the Indians?

• Fernandez registered 22 of his 24 outs via strikeout (14) or ground ball (8). He's the first pitcher in the last two seasons to go at least eight innings and get just two or fewer of his outs in the air.

• Despite his fastball averaging 95.5 mph (his second-fastest this season), Fernandez threw a season-high 50 percent offspeed pitches. He recorded a season-best 18 outs on those offspeed pitches, including 13 strikeouts.

• Fernandez's breaking balls, in particular, were dominant. Twelve of his 14 strikeouts came on his curveball or slider, tied for the most by any pitcher in the last five seasons.

• Fernandez had success getting Indians hitters to expand their strike zone, particularly with two strikes. He threw 13 two-strike pitches out of the zone and Indians hitters missed on all nine they swung at. His nine strikeouts out of the zone were one shy of the most in baseball this season.

Darvish striking out opponents at elite pace

August, 2, 2013
AP Photo/LM OteroYu Darvish struck out 14 Diamondbacks batters for the second time this season.
After striking out 14 batters and allowing no walks in Thursday’s win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Yu Darvish has put himself in elite company.

Darvish is the third pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) with three games of at least 14 strikeouts and no walks in a single season, joining Randy Johnson in 2001 and Roger Clemens in 1997.

Since 1900, Darvish, Johnson, Clemens and Pedro Martinez are the only pitchers with at least three career starts of at least 14 strikeouts and no walks.

Two of Darvish's four 14-strikeout games this season have come against the Diamondbacks. He's the first pitcher with multiple 14-strikeout games against the same opponent in a single season since Johnson in 2001.

There have been six 14-strikeout games in the majors this season.

Darvish now has 407 strikeouts in his first 50 career games, which ranks second among pitchers to debut since 1900. The only pitcher with more strikeouts in their first 50 career games is Dwight Gooden (418), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Darvish’s 16 games with at least 10 strikeouts also rank second to Gooden in the modern era in a pitcher’s first 50 games.

Darvish is pitching well as of late. He has allowed only one run in his past three starts (0.47 ERA in 19⅓ innings). He’s the third different Rangers pitcher since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972 with back-to-back games of at least 11 strikeouts. Nolan Ryan did it four times and Jim Bibby accomplished the feat twice.

How did Darvish shut down the Diamondbacks hitters?

• Darvish struck out 14 of the 20 hitters he took to a two-strike count. Every Diamondbacks hitter faced a two-strike count Thursday but Cody Ross was the only one not to strike out at least once. Overall, Darvish has taken 14 different Diamondbacks hitters to a two-strike count this season and he's struck out all 14 of them at least once.

• Seven of Darvish's strikeouts came on his breaking balls, five on his fastballs (2/4-seam) and two on his splitter. Darvish's fastballs averaged 91.9 mph before two strikes and 95.3 mph with two strikes, the second-largest differential (3.4 mph) of his career.

• Darvish had nine strikeouts in the zone and five strikeouts looking, both career highs.

ESPN Stats & Information

Top stats to know: 2013 All-Star Game

July, 16, 2013
The National League and American League will meet in the All-Star Game for the 84th time on Tuesday night at 8 ET. Let's run through some of the notable storylines for this game.

Statistical overview
The NL leads the all-time series 43-38-2 and has won the past three games, but the AL won the previous seven. The winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, which is meaningful when you consider that teams with home-field advantage have won 22 of the past 27 World Series.

The NL has claimed both the All-Star Game and the World Series title in each of the past three years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, should the NL win both again this year, it would tie the record (the NL also did it from 1979 to 1982).

The past five All-Star Games have been relatively low scoring, with the leagues combining for 32 runs. The AL has managed only two runs combined in the past three games, hitting a combined .189.

The NL will try for its longest All-Star Game winning streak since winning 11 straight from 1972 to 1982.

AL lineup: mashers galore
The AL has the advantage on paper in terms of offensive firepower in its starting lineup, with the top two home run hitters in the sport hitting cleanup and third in Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera.

The NL starting lineup features seven batters with .300-or-better batting averages to the AL's six. But the AL has the advantage in home runs, 185-136, featuring six hitters with at least 19 homers this season.

Starting pitching matchup: Scherzer vs. Harvey
The starting pitchers Tuesday night will be Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.

Harvey, who at 24 will be the youngest pitcher to start the All-Star Game since 23-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1988, will hope to fare better than the last pitcher to start the All-Star Game in his home ballpark. As a member of the Houston Astros, Roger Clemens allowed six runs to the American League in the first inning of the 2004 All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park.

Scherzer has a statistical connection to Clemens as well. He was the first pitcher to start a season 13-0 or better since Clemens did in 1986. Clemens started and won the All-Star Game that year, taking home MVP honors for his three perfect innings en route to a win in the Astrodome.

Harvey (7-2) and Scherzer (13-1) have a combined .870 winning percentage this season. According to Elias, it's the third-highest percentage for opposing starters in an All-Star Game. Randy Johnson and David Wells combined for an .879 winning percentage in 2000, while Johnson and Hideo Nomo had a combined .882 percentage in 1995.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Harvey has 29 career starts on his résumé, the fewest of any All-Star Game starter since Nomo (13) in 1995.

For more on the pitching matchup, check out our post from Monday afternoon.

Rivera’s last All-Star Game
Mariano Rivera was named to his 13th All-Star Game, the second most for any pitcher in major league history, trailing only Warren Spahn’s 17.

Rivera has actually appeared in eight All-Star Games. The only pitcher with more appearances is Clemens with 10.

Rivera has four All-Star Game saves, the most all time (one more than Dennis Eckersley), with his last coming in 2009. Rivera’s All-Star Game ERA is 0.00, with one unearned run allowed in eight innings. The only pitcher with more career All-Star innings and no earned runs allowed is Mel Harder with 13.

Rivera is tied with Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio for the third-most selections in Yankees history. Only Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18) have more.

13-0 Scherzer induces chases and whiffs

July, 4, 2013
A favorite opponent and a familiar result. Now Max Scherzer is a win away from matching Roger Clemens.

Scherzer's 13-0 record puts him behind only three starters in the Live Ball Era: Clemens (14-0 in 1986), Dave McNally (15-0 in 1969) and Johnny Allen (15-0 in 1937). Scherzer's next start figures to come Monday on the road against the Cleveland Indians, a team he's defeated twice already this season.

On Wednesday he faced his favorite American League opponent. His 1.59 ERA against the Toronto Blue Jays entering the game was his lowest against any AL opponent he's faced multiple times. After allowing two runs in six and one-third innings in the win, he's now 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Blue Jays.

How he did it
Here's a breakdown of what Scherzer did well to beat the Blue Jays:

• Mixed up his out pitches: he recorded at least one strikeout with four different pitches for just the third time this season.

• Tough with men on base: four of his seven hits allowed came with the bases empty. With men on, batters were just 3-for-13 and all three hits came in the sixth inning when he allowed both runs.

• Got batters to swing at bad pitches: his chase percentage of 36.4 was his second-highest of the season and four of his eight strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone.

• Continued to mow down lefties: five of his eight strikeouts were against lefties. This season his 85 strikeouts against lefties are the most in baseball.

• Survived: Scherzer cruised through five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six. In his last inning and a third, the Blue Jays went 5-for-9 (3-for-6 vs his fastball & 2-2 vs his changeup) and scored both runs.

Winning and whiffing
As the Elias Sports Bureau notes, not only has Scherzer avoided a loss in every start this season, he's also recorded at least six strikeouts in each one of them. Elias reports that Scherzer is the first pitcher to fan six or more batters in each of his first 17 starts of a season since 2000. Both Pedro Martinez (his first 29 starts) and Randy Johnson (first 23) did so that year.

Matt Cain's perfect game: Best ever?

June, 14, 2012

AP Photo/Jeff ChiuMatt Cain threw the first perfect game in Giants franchise history.
It had never been done by a San Francisco Giants pitcher. It had never happened to the Houston Astros. It had only happened 21 times in Major League Baseball history.

But that was before Matt Cain joined the exclusive perfect game club on Wednesday.

Cain reached perfection in style. He struck out 14 batters along the way, tying Sandy Koufax (1965) for the most strikeouts in a perfect game since 1900.

Cain's Game Score was 101, the highest of any pitcher since Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in 1998 (105). In terms of perfect games, Cain ties Sandy Koufax for the highest ever.

Game Score is a statistic that rates pitchers’ starts (usually from 0 to 100) based on innings pitched, runs, hits, strikeouts and walks. The average Game Score is between 49 and 50.

It’s the 14th no-hitter in Giants franchise history, tied for fourth-most by a team in MLB history, but only their sixth since moving to San Francisco and only their second in the last 35 years (Jonathan Sanchez threw one in 2009).

How did Cain accomplish this feat?

• Eleven of his 14 strikeouts came on fastballs, seven of which were looking. The other three were via the changeup (2) and curveball (1).

• Cain increased his velocity as the game progressed. While he maxed out at 93 mph and threw three fastballs less than 90 mph over the first six innings, Cain threw two fastballs at 94 mph in the last three innings. He didn't throw a fastball less than 91 mph in the 9th inning.

• Cain used the fastball with success to all locations, throwing 66 heaters at an average velocity of 91.6 mph (fastest of the season). Cain changed eye levels with the pitch, gaining at least eight outs in each vertical location.

• With two strikes, Cain mixed his up pitch selection, using each of his four pitches. Along with the 14 strikeouts, Cain got eight more outs in at-bats with a two strike count.

• Cain threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 27 batters he faced (70.4 percent). With Cain ahead in the count, he was able to retire 19 of 27 batters, including 11 of his 14 strikeouts.

Including Philip Humber’s perfect game in April, there have now been two of them this season. It’s just the third time in MLB history -- Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden in 2010, and Monte Ward and Lee Richmond in 1880 -- there have been two perfect games in the same season.

The only other no-hitter on June 13 was also by a Giant: Christy Mathewson in 1905.

How about some love for the umpires?

The home-plate umpire for Cain’s perfect game was Ted Barrett. Barrett was the home-plate umpire for David Cone’s perfect game on July 18, 1999. He’s the first home-plate umpire in a pair of perfect games in MLB history.

The third-base umpire for this perfect game was Brian Runge, who was also the home-plate umpire for both Humber’s perfect game on April 21 and the Mariners’ combined no-hitter last Friday.
Jamie Moyer will make his ninth start of the season for the Colorado Rockies on Monday when he faces the Miami Marlins.

Forty games into the season and the Rockies will look to the 49-year-old lefty to be the first Colorado pitcher to win back-to-back starts this season. (Moyer beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in his last start.)

The Rockies are the only team that does not have a pitcher who has won consecutive starts this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Moyer will oppose Mark Buehrle, marking the first time in almost four years that opposing starters had made a combined 1,000 starts. On Sept. 19, 2008, Barry Zito and the Giants beat Greg Maddux and the Dodgers, in what turned out to be the final loss of Maddux's career.

Also when Moyer takes the mound on Monday at Marlins Park, it will be the 50th major-league stadium he’s pitched in during his 25-year career. The only active stadium that Moyer has not pitched in is Target Field in Minnesota. Among players to debut since 1900, Moyer has pitched at the most parks (regular-season games only), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The matchup will also feature a pitcher with more than 250 wins (Moyer, 269) against one who has thrown two no-hitters. According to Elias, the last time a pitcher with at least 250 wins opposed a pitcher with at least two no-hitters was June 21, 2005, when Randy Johnson faced Hideo Nomo.

- Kenton Wong, Doug Kern and Nate Jones contributed to this post.

Could streaking Verlander win 25?

September, 2, 2011
Justin Verlander goes for his 21st win on Friday, as the Detroit Tigers host the Chicago White Sox. Presuming he starts every fifth day, mark Verlander down for six more starts in 2011. That puts some notable milestones within his grasp.

Could Verlander be the first pitcher in 21 years to win 25 games in a season? In 1990, Bob Welch went 27-6 for the A’s on his way to the Cy Young Award. Since then, two pitchers reached 24 wins (John Smoltz in 1996 and Randy Johnson in 2002), but no one made it to a quarter-century. In fact, only two AL pitchers have even reached 23 wins (Pedro Martinez in 1999 and Barry Zito in 2003).

If he reaches 25 wins, Verlander would be just the sixth pitcher to do so since the designated hitter arrived in 1973. In the past 30 years, Welch’s season stands alone.

On Friday, Verlander could be the first Tigers pitcher to reach 21 wins since Jack Morris in 1985. You have to go back to Mickey Lolich in 1971 to find their last 25-game winner.

With 218 strikeouts, Verlander also has a shot at a rare 25-win, 250-strikeout season. In the past 65 seasons, only four pitchers have pulled that off: Steve Carlton (1972), Lolich (1971), Denny McLain (1968) and Sandy Koufax (three times).

Verlander has put himself in this position thanks to wins in each of his past eight starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brandon Webb in 2008 was the last pitcher to win nine straight, and the last Tigers pitcher to do so was McLain in 1968.
Justin Verlander

With these lofty numbers potentially looming, MVP buzz now accompanies each start. Appearing only every fifth day, starting pitchers are debatable MVP candidates. However, in terms of value to his team, it’s hard to ignore what Verlander has done.

Consider the following from Elias: Verlander is 14-3 in games following a Detroit loss. In the past 30 years, only two pitchers have earned 15 victories following a team loss in a single season: Felix Hernandez (15 in 2009) and Roger Clemens (15 in 1992).

Verlander has already reached the historical minimum win total for a starter to win the award. In 1943, Spud Chandler won 20 games on his way to the MVP. The eight starters to win it since have all won at least 22 games.

Even with more wins, Verlander’s ERA might not be low enough. Four of the last five starting pitchers to win an MVP finished with an ERA below 2.00. The exception was Roger Clemens (24-4, 2.48 ERA) for the 1986 Red Sox.
Nate Schierholtz
In a game that featured a combined 36 strikeouts -- a modern-era record for a game lasting 14 innings or fewer -- the San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres on a walk-off home run by Nate Schierholtz in the 14th inning.

It was his second home run of the game, the first Giants player with a multi-homer game that included a walk-off home run since Bengie Molina did it in April of 2008, also against the Padres.

Schierholtz, who hit his first home run in the fourth inning, became the first Giants player to hit two homer 10 innings apart in the same game since Barry Bonds who did so in September of 2001.

It marked the latest walk-off home run in the history of AT&T Park. In fact you have to go back to 1996 for the last time a Giants player hit a walk-off home run in the 14th inning or later. That was Tom Lampkin, whose three-run home run in the bottom of the 15th inning lifted the Giants to a win over the Florida Marlins.

Speaking of the Marlins they notched a walk-off victory on Mike Stanton's solo home run in the 10th inning to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies. It was Stanton's first career walk-off home run, and a rather special one according to Elias.

At 21, Stanton was the third-youngest player since 1900 to hit a walk-off home run against the Phillies. Eddie Mathews was 20 years old in 1952 when he hit a game-ending homer for the Boston Braves, and Alex Gonzalez was a "younger 21" than Stanton when he did the same for the 1998 Marlins.

While these games provided some late heroics, no game was more exciting on Wednesday than the tilt between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds narrowly escaped with a 9-8 victory in 13 innings -- after holding an 8-0 lead through five innings.

Elias tells us it was the first time in 57 years that the Cardinals lost a game after erasing a deficit of eight or more runs. On July 17, 1954 at the old Busch Stadium, St. Louis rallied from down 9-0 to tie the Giants, but New York won in 11 innings, 10-9.

Elsewhere Around the Diamond:

Jair Jurrjens continued his stellar 2011 campaign with six innings of one-run ball as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Colorado Rockies. Jurrjens heads into the All-Star break with a 12-3 record and a 1.87 ERA. According to Elias he is the first Major League pitcher to head into the break with 12 or more wins and an ERA below 2.00 since Randy Johnson in 2000.

Perhaps more impressive, he is just the third Braves pitcher all-time to have accomplished the feat joining Greg Maddux in 1998 and Tom Glavine in the 1991 season.

Jurrjens is a strong possibility to start for the National League in the All-Star Game, something Maddux and Glavine each did that season.
James Shields
Recently anything James Shields has started he's gone on to finish. For the third consecutive game Shields pitched a complete game as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros. He is the first pitcher in Rays history to throw three consecutive complete games.

Shields hasn't just been piling up innings, but he's also been keeping players off the bases. In each of the starts he's allowed five hits or fewer, just the fourth pitcher since 2000 to compile such a streak.

Two of the previous three -- Roy Halladay in 2003 and Randy Johnson in 2000 -- went on to win the Cy Young award. You have to go back to Greg Maddux in 1998 for the last time a starter did so in four consecutive outings.

This is already Shields' sixth complete game this season, which sets the record for most in a season in franchise history. He is only the sixth pitcher with six complete game victories in his team's first 76 games in the last 20 seasons.

The list is rather impressive with Pat Hentgen in 1997, Randy Johnson in 1994 and John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and David Cone in 1992.

Shields continued to dominate with his changeup, relying on it as an out pitch even more than usual. He recorded 18 of his 27 outs with the pitch.

Astros hitters were 0-for-17 with five strikeouts and a double play on at-bats ending with a Shields changeup.

Just three of his 30 two-strike pitches were fastballs, his lowest in a start in over two years. As a result, all nine of his strikeouts were with his offspeed pitches. All 24 of Shields' strikeouts over his stretch of three consecutive complete games have been with offspeed pitches.

While the Astros were outdueled by Shields, Houston's staff did complete an extremely rare feat. The Astros had three pitchers pitch Friday, all with the last name Rodriguez (Wandy, Fernando, Aneury). Our good friends at Elias passed along this gem. This was the first game in the modern era (since 1900) that a trio of teammates with the same surname pitched in the same game.

Elsewhere around the diamond:

• Jon Lester became the latest pitcher to go for his 10th victory only to come up short as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Boston Red Sox. According to Elias, excluding 1981 (strike delayed season), the last time that the Majors didn't have a 10-game winner until at least June 25 was in 1950. Four pitchers earned their tenth wins of the season on June 28 that year (Art Houtteman, Bob Lemon, Preacher Roe, and Johnny Sain).

-- Dan Braunstein contributed to this report
Today’s Trivia: When Bartolo Colon, 37, takes the mound Wednesday for his first start with the New York Yankees, he will be the oldest pitcher to start a game this season. Who currently holds that distinction?

Quick Hits: With some of the hottest pitchers set to take the mound, Wednesday sets up to be quite a day for pitching.

• Of the 34 starters scheduled for Wednesday, 11 have an ERA under 2.00 and nine are looking to start 3-0 or better. Eight of the MLB’s top ten in ERA draw starts Wednesday.

Gio Gonzalez
• Gio Gonzalez, Justin Masterson, Aaron Harang, Jered Weaver and Matt Harrison are all scheduled to pitch. Each has allowed 1 ER or fewer in 6+ innings in each of their first three starts. (According to, the last pitcher to start a season with four straight such starts was Cliff Lee in 2008 (who did it in five straight).

• The last time multiple pitchers started the season with four straight starts of 1 ER or fewer in 6+ innings was 1998: Chuck Finley and Greg Maddux.

• Weaver (4-0, 1.30 ERA) looks to become the first pitcher in MLB history with five wins by April 20, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• He faces Harrison (3-0, 1.23 ERA), who looks to be the first Texas Rangers pitcher to win each of his first four starts since Darren Oliver in 2001.

• Gonzalez (2-0, 0.47 ERA) faces the Boston Red Sox with the MLB’s best ERA. He’s boasts a streak of 17 scoreless innings and opponents are 0-for-13 with RISP.

• Masterson (3-0, 1.33 ERA) has held right-handed hitters to a .103 BA (3-for-29).

• Jaime Garcia (2-0, 1.35 ERA) takes on the Washington Nationals. In his career, he is 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA. In seven career April starts, he’s never allowed more than two earned runs.

Dustin Moseley
• Dustin Moseley is 0-3 despite a 1.83 ERA. A big reason? The San Diego Padres haven’t scored a run in any of his three starts. According to Elias, the only pitcher in the last 30 years whose team was shut out in each of four consecutive starts was Arizona's Randy Johnson in June-July 1999.

• Harang (3-0, 1.50 ERA) draws the second start of the day for San Diego. He looks to become just the third pitcher to win his first four starts of a season with the Padres. Only Randy Jones (1976) and Andy Hawkins (1985) have done so. Dennis Rasmussen won his first four starts with the Padres in 1988, but was a midseason acquisition.

Trivia Answer: Derek Lowe, who also takes the hill Wednesday, is the oldest pitcher to start a game so far this season. Also 37, he’s just eight days younger than Colon. Last season, Jamie Moyer (47) and Tim Wakefield (44) were the oldest to start a game.
Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay won the National League Cy Young Award Tuesday, receiving all 32 first-place votes, the first time he’s won in the NL and the second Cy Young he’s won in his career. He is the fifth pitcher ever to win the award in both leagues, joining Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

He’s the fourth Philadelphia Phillies pitcher to win the award and the first since reliever Steve Bedrosian won it in 1987. After winning six times in the 16 seasons from 1972-1987, this is the first time in 23 years that a Phillies pitcher won the award.

Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA, with 219 strikeouts and just 30 walks in 250 ⅔ innings. He’s just the fourth National League pitcher since 1994 to throw at least 250 innings with an ERA of 2.50 or below, joining Johnson, Greg Maddux and Kevin Brown. Halladay led the league in wins, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched and K/BB ratio. He was second in the league in strikeouts and WHIP (1.04), and third in ERA, and he threw the 20th perfect game in major league history when he beat the Florida Marlins on May 29.

The superior start is a statistic created by Stats & Information designed as an enhanced version of the quality start. For each start a pitcher is assigned a probability he gave his team of winning based on his innings pitched and earned runs -- the same statistics used to determine a quality start.

A superior start is deemed to be any start where the pitcher gave his team at least a 75 percent chance to win. The four pitchers who tied for the lead finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals finished second, his second top-three finish in the last three seasons. Wainwright went 20-11 with a career-low 2.42 ERA and a career-high 213 strikeouts in 230 ⅓ innings pitched. He won 20 games for the first time in his career and had five complete games, after throwing three combined in his career entering this season.

xWIN is another statistic created by Stats & Information that measures how many wins a pitchers team should get based on his combination of innings pitched and earned runs allowed in each start. It eliminates the adverse effect of a having a bad offense on a pitcher's win total. Wainwright barely outpaced Halladay to lead the National League this season.

Ubaldo Jimenez finished third after having one of the best seasons in Colorado Rockies history. He went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 214 strikeouts in 221 ⅔ innings. That’s the second-best ERA by a starting pitcher in Rockies history and his 214 strikeouts set the all-time franchise mark.

Jimenez was counting on the fact that the NL Cy Young winner had fewer than 20 wins for four straight seasons before this one. With Halladay’s win, just twice in the last eight years has the winner registered 20 wins or more.
Cliff Lee turned in a performance for the ages on Monday, holding the Yankees to just two hits over eight innings while striking out 13 to give the Rangers a 2-1 series lead in the American League Championship Series. While the 8-0 victory was a team affair, the superlatives regarding Lee’s performance are many. Here are our five favorites:

1 -- Lee lowered his postseason ERA to 1.26, the third-lowest mark for anyone with at least five postseason starts, behind only Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson.

2 -- His 13 strikeouts tied his career-high and marked the third-most vs the Yankees in a postseason game.

3 -- He now has six consecutive starts of seven innings and a win, one behind the all-time record (Bob Gibson).

4 -- Lee now has three straight postseason starts with at least 10 strikeouts, tying the all-time record.

5 -- Lee’s five career 10+ strikeout games in the postseason is tied for the all-time record with Randy Johnson and Bob Gibson.

On the other side of the fence, the performance was an all-time low for the Yankees:

The three baserunners for the Yankees is the fewest they've ever had in a postseason game. They had four baserunners in Game 2 of the 2001 World Series and in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series.

The two hits recorded by the Yankees ties the fewest in their postseason history. It happened twice before - the 2001 ALDS Game 3 vs Oakland Athletics and the 1958 World Series, Game 4, vs the Milwaukee Braves.

The 8-0 shutout loss marks the worst shutout loss for the Yankees in their postseason history.

The Rangers have outscored the Yankees 20-8 in this series, including 14-2 before the seventh inning. The Rangers have led 25 innings while the Yankees have led only two.

The Yankees 1-through-6 hitters were 0-20 with 10 strikeouts in Game 3.

How Cliff Lee dominated the Yankees:
Lee relied on his cutter yet again, continuing the trend from Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rays. Lee threw 41 cutters in Game 5 and 37 on Monday against the Yankees, the most he's thrown in any two starts this year.

The Yankees have struggled against Lee's cutter all season. Before Jorge Posada's single broke up Lee's no-hit bid in the fifth, Yankee hitters were 0-for-27 this season against Lee's cutter. They finished with two hits (Posada, Gardner singles), making them 2-for-30 this year, including eight strikeouts.

Relying more on his cutter of late has helped Lee miss more bats. The Yankees swung-and-missed on 17 of their 57 swings (29.8 pct) on Monday, Lee's highest miss percentage in a start this season. He also recorded 17 swings-and-misses in Game 5 against the Rays. Nine of Lee's 13 strikeouts were swinging, tying a career-best.

Lee didn't pound the strike zone as well as usual -- an impossible standard he's set -- instead relying on Yankee hitters to expand their strike zone and chase. He threw just 62 of his 122 pitches in the strike zone (50.8 pct), his second lowest percentage in a start this year and well below his regular season average of 60.6 pct, which led all starters. He recorded eight outs on pitches out of the strike zone, second most in a start this year. All of those eight outs came with two strikes, and seven came via the strikeout.

Lee also mixed in more changeups than usual to keep the Yankees off balance. With hitters likely looking for the lefty to pitch off his fastball, Lee threw 10 of his 15 changeups in early in the count (first three pitches). The 15 changeups were the third most for Lee this season. Yankee hitters put just one of their nine swings against the pitch in play (A-Rod groundout).
Today’s Trivia: As Tim Lincecum appears on his way to a third consecutive season leading the NL in strikeouts ... who was the last right-handed pitcher to lead the NL in strikeouts for three straight seasons?

Quick Hits: September has been quite a month on the mound, as eight pitchers are 4-0 or better. There are 15 starting pitchers with an ERA below 2.00, 11 of whom reside in the NL. Let’s dive into some September numbers:

LoweDerek Lowe is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in September, but the rest of the Atlanta Braves rotation is just 4-11 this month. Wednesday against the Florida Marlins, Lowe looks to become the first Braves pitcher to go 5-0 in September since Dave Jolly in 1954. Jolly picked up all five wins in a relief role.

Both Lowe and Carlos Zambrano (4-0, 0.78) have a shot at a 5-0 September with an ERA below 1.00. Over the last 50 years, that’s only been done five times in the NL: Randy Johnson (2002), Orel Hershiser (1988), Joaquin Andujar (1982), Don Sutton (1976) and Tom Seaver (1969).

Madison Bumgarner is just 1-2 this month despite a 1.00 ERA. That’s on pace to be the lowest September ERA for an NL rookie (min. 25 innings) since 1974 when Dale Murray of the Montreal Expos had a 0.26 ERA in 14 relief appearances.

The San Francisco Giants’ 1.85 ERA is on pace to be the lowest in September for any team since the 1967 Giants posted a 1.79 ERA.

With his start on Thursday, Jon Lester has a shot at becoming the first pitcher to go 6-0 in September since Jose Contreras in 2005. The last Boston Red Sox pitcher to do it was Bobby Ojeda in 1983. In his career, Lester is now 15-2 in September.

Carlos Marmol has 12 saves this month and hasn’t allowed an earned run. Since saves became an official stat, the only pitcher with more saves and a perfect ERA in September was Ryan Dempster with 13 in 2005.

RogersMilwaukee Brewers rookie Mark Rogers has faced 18 batters this month (and in his career) without allowing a hit. Over the last 50 years, which rookie faced the most batters in September without allowing a hit? Would you believe that it’s NBA Hall-of-Famer Dave DeBusschere? In September 1962, he faced 24 batters for the Chicago White Sox and did not allow a single hit. Unlike Rogers, DeBusschere had pitched in the big leagues earlier that season.

It’s not all positives. Jason Vargas takes the hill today for the Seattle Mariners trying to avoid an 0-6 September. The last pitcher to do that was Bud Black in 1992 for the Giants. In the AL, you’d have to go back to Jim Clancy for the 1986 Toronto Blue Jays. Clancy, who lost another one in October, was 14-7 going into September.

Today’s Leaderboard: How good has the pitching been in the National League this September? The league as a whole has a 3.85 ERA this month, which would be the lowest over the course of ANY full month since April 1993.

Key Matchups
Not only is Derek Lowe pitching on three days rest, but he faces a team that has hit him hard this season. In a pair of starts, he has a 9.35 ERA thanks in part to eight walks in 8 2/3 innings. But a much bigger problem has been Dan Uggla. A career .429 hitter against Lowe, most of the damage has been done recently. Going back to last season, Uggla has six hits in his last seven at-bats against Lowe, including two doubles and a home run.

LincecumWith Adam Wainwright (213) done for the season and Roy Halladay (219) unlikely to pitch more than the equivalent of a side-session, Tim Lincecum (220) is in the driver’s seat to take home his third straight NL strikeout title. And guess who he gets to face Wednesday: The Arizona Diamondbacks, the team that’s struck out more than any in MLB history. Mark Reynolds (13 K in 21 AB vs Lincecum), Stephen Drew (12 K in 36 AB) and Chris Young (13 K in 36 AB) are the main targets.

Trivia Answer: Dizzy Dean led the NL in strikeouts in four straight years from 1932 to 1935. The three to do it since – Johnny Vander Meer (1941-43), Warren Spahn (1949-52) and Randy Johnson (1999-2002) - were all lefties.