Chat with Rob Neyer
Consider: in 2007 only three National League pitchers younger than 24 pitched enough innings (162) to qualify for the league's ERA title. And none of them were rookies. So when a kid pitcher comes along who can actually, you know, pitch ... well, I'm sure you'll pardon us for getting just a little bit excited.
Eight pitchers younger than 24 pitched more than 100 innings, and only three of those eight made their major-league debuts last season. Those three? 21-year-old Yovani Gallardo, 22-year-old Kyle Kendrick and 23-year-old Tim Lincecum. Which one of them has the most promising future?
With due respect, we're going to summarily eliminate Kendrick from the competition. Why? Because while Gallardo and (especially) Lincecum feature overpowering stuff, Kendrick struck out only 3.6 batters per nine innings, which ranked 73rd among the 76 National Leaguers with at least 100 innings pitched last season. Granted, Aaron Cook ranked 76th and Cook is a pretty good pitcher. But you have to look at strikeout rates when comparing young pitchers, and Kendrick just doesn't stack up with Gallardo and Lincecum.
The case for Lincecum
The case for Gallardo
The ChoiceEntering last season, Lincecum and Gallardo both were listed among the top five or six pitching prospects in the minors, and both justified their status after reaching the majors. Perhaps we should be frightened by Lincecum's small frame -- he's listed as 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds -- but I find his strikeout rate irresistible, and he's also past the age at which we might be particularly concerned about a serious injury. But what do you think? Vote: Which young pitcher would you rather have?
Archive: Hot Stove Heaters