If early returns are any indication, 2013 could be the year of the pitcher in Major League Baseball. Eight starting pitchers have totaled at least 50 innings and have earned-run averages below 2.00. How special is that? Well, consider that the last six Cy Young Award winners posted an average ERA of 2.45. And while eight starters with a sub-2.00 ERA is a crazy number at this point in the season, three pitchers came up just short of joining the club — Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers (2.05), Madison Bumgarner of the Giants (2.18), and Travis Wood of the Cubs (2.03). Here are the eight starters who are playing two-below.
(Editor's note: This was originally The Nasty Nine, but Detroit's Justin Verlander gave up eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings against Texas on Thursday and saw his ERA rise from 1.93 to ... 3.17. Ouch.)
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Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
6-0, 1.52 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 53.1 innings pitched, 6.92 K/9
I bet the pitching-starved Angels wish they hadn't traded Corbin to Arizona in 2010 as part of the Dan Haren deal.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
5-1, 1.84 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 58.2 innings pitched, 8.44 K/9
Countryman Yu Darvish gets the hype because of K's, but the 32-year-old Iwakuma has been consistently better.
Shelby Miller, Cardinals
5-2, 1.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 51.1 innings pitched, 9.99 K/9
The 22-year-old has nine career starts. And they all have been awesome.
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
7-1, 1.69 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 58.2 innings pitched, 5.98 K/9
If you said before the season that Zimmerman would be better than Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, you are a fibber.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
4-2, 1.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 64.1 innings pitched, 9.37 K/9
Kershaw is so good he can almost make you forget the Dodgers are in last place. Almost.
Matt Harvey, Mets
4-0, 1.44 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 56.1 innings pitched, 9.91 K/9
Harvey gives the struggling Mets something to be excited about. He faces the Cubs on Friday.
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
6-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 58.2 innings pitched, 9.20 K/9
Sunscreen or not, Buchholz is blocking out hitters' dangerous effects. He faces the Twins on Friday.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
5-2, 1.53 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 64.2 innings pitched, 8.91 K/9
The King's velocity may be declining, but his level of dominance is up.