Rookie Starting Pitchers Mature or Die in Baseball Playoffs

When the Dodgers and Braves take the field tonight in game three of their Division Series, it will be rookie Hyun Jin-Ryu (14-8, 3.00) for Los Angeles and rookie Julio Teheran (14-8, 3.20) for the Braves: A vital game three in a 1-1 series, in the hands of two rookie pitchers.

Last night, down zero games to one, the Athletics started rookie Sonny Gray against the Tigers and the American League’s most dominant starter over the past few seasons, Justin Verlander. Gray matched Verlander pitch-for-pitch, shutout-inning for shutout-inning, until his A’s brought a run across the plate in the ninth, for a 1-0 win. Gray came into the game with ten major league starts to his name, and all of 64 innings pitched under his belt. But he may already be the best starter on Bob Melvin’s excellent staff.

After St. Louis and Adam Wainwright clobbered the Pirates in their game one, Pittsburgh came back in game two with rookie Gerrit Cole. The former UCLA Bruin and overall number one draft pick just two years ago, with 19 major league appearances to his name,

responded with a brilliant two-hit, six-inning performance, as Pittsburgh evened the series at one game apiece. The Pirates better be awfully careful, though, as the Cardinals still have two super rookie starters of their own, Shelby Miller (15-9) and Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78, in only nine starts).

In the one-game wild-card playoff between Cleveland and Tampa Bay, Terry Francona started rookie Danny Salazar, veteran of ten major league games, 52 innings pitched, and the owner of a grand total of two major league victories. That one didn’t work out so well, as Tampa scored four runs in four innings off of Salazar, sending Cleveland home for the duration.

Tampa got to that game by beating Texas in a one-game playoff, a game that was started by the Rangers’ Martin Perez, who, still a 2013 rookie despite six 2012 starts, had a massive 162 inning pitched to his name before surrendering three early runs to the Rays, and thus the game and the Rangers’ season.
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I never remember so many rookie starters pitching so much and doing so well throughout a season, let alone so many getting so many vital playoff starts. And this doesn’t even include so many excellent second and third year starters, such as Matt Moore, Joe Kelly, A.J. Griffin, and Tommy Malone.

Starters Hyun Jin-Ryu v Sonny Gray in the seventh game of the World Series?

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