No Steroids – No Offense

The steroid era of major league baseball is officially over.

Rest in peace, hitters. Pitching is king.

With a bare third of the season having been completed, Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga today came within a single out (and a clearly wrong umpire’s call) of pitching the third perfect game and fourth no-hitter of the season.

The much maligned Dodger pitching staff is currently on a streak of 31 consecutive scoreless innings, after completing consecutive 1-0 extra-inning 1-0 wins.

Four teams currently have team ERAs lower than last years major league low 3.41, which was posted by those same Dodger pitchers.

There will still be a lot of home runs hit, and a lot of long home runs, but overall the tide has turned, and the days of multiple 50+ home run totals in a single season are history; the days of a Brady Anderson breaking that 50 level are over. It’s doubtful that there will be a return to the pitching dominance of 1968 when a single American League hitter broke .300 (Carl Yastrzemski at .301) and the National League’s league ERA was 2.99, led by Bob Gibson’s 1.12, but when the Mets can throw three consecutive shutouts against the Phillies as they did last week, hitters are struggling and there is no quick, or legal, remedy in sight.

The great pitching being turned in by Clayton Kershaw, with little to show for it, is reminiscent of another great pitcher of the pitching-dominant 60s – former Dodger Claude Osteen. Last season Kershaw made 30 starts, compiled a 2.79 ERA, threw consistently well, had a solid offense behind him – solid by 2009 standards – yet won only eight games. This year he started out with similar results: good efforts, few wins. Overshadowed by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Osteen was one of the finest pitches of his era. Season after season he started 37, 38, 39, 40 games per season, pitched 250 to 300 innings, compiled stellar ERAs (3.30 lifetime ERA), yet struggled to end most seasons at .500. His lifetime won-lost record? 196 wins, 195 loses. Kershaw deserves a better fate.

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