For the senior circuit, there have been several pitchers who have impressed so far in the 2013 season. However, who has been the best?
In my mind, the race comes down to 2 pitchers- Adam Wainwright and Matt Harvey. Rookie Shelby Miller forced himself into the conversation early in the season when he posted a 2.05 ERA in April and 1.99 in May, but has since fallen off of the table a little bit. Since the start of June, Miller has pitched to a 4.31 ERA and a .264 opponent’s batting average.
Clayton Kershaw, the Dodger’s ace, has also been having a great season. His 1.93 ERA leads the National League, and his 7-5 record is solid. However, his performance seems to be a bit luck-inflated, as his .240 BABIP is far below the league average of .294. In addition, his 2.59 FIP and 3.12 xFIP indicate that, while he’s pitched well this season, he hasn’t been as good as his ERA makes him out to be.
Homer Bailey has been the opposite of Clayton Kershaw this season. Ranking 5th in the NL in WAR for pitchers at 2.9, Bailey has a fairly unimpressive 5-6 record with a 3.57 ERA on the season. However, his advanced metrics are much kinder, as his FIP of 2.67 ranks 5th in the NL, and his xFIP of 2.98 ranks third. His recent no hitter will give him an outside chance to make the roster, however.
What can be said about Matt Harvey that hasn’t already been said? The only starter in baseball to consistently reach 100 mph fastball, Harvey has been dominant. His ERA of 2.00 ranks second in the NL, only to Clayton Kershaw, and his FIP (2.00) and xFIP (2.64) both rank first. He’s striking out 10.15 batters per 9 innings, tops in the NL. His WAR of 4.2 ranks second in the NL, only to Adam Wainwright.
Speaking of Adam Wainwright, it’s hard to be much better than he has this season. His ERA of 2.22 is fourth in the NL, and his FIP (2.02) and xFIP (2.67) are second only to the previously mentioned Matt Harvey. His strikeout rate of 8.16 isn’t as impressive as Harvey’s, but he supplements that with a minuscule walk rate of 0.86, tops in the NL. Oh, and he happens to have an 11-5 record. The most impressive thing about Wainwright is that his BABIP, unlike Matt Harvey’s, is actually above the league average at .307. So, yes, with neutral luck, he’d be even better than he already is.
In terms of All Star Game starters, Harvey and Wainwright are the cream of the crop in the NL. Either one of these guys could be the starter for the NL, and in separate years they probably would. Harvey has the better strikeout stuff, but Wainwright has the veteran presence and control that would benefit the National League in the All Star game. While you could make a strong case for either of these guys, I think that Adam Wainwright, who leads baseball pitchers in WAR at 4.3, should start the All Star Game for the NL.