Kennedy & Putz Pitching Like All-Stars

Photos by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Salvatore

On the night of April 25, while Ian Kennedy was shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies, en route to striking out 10 batters in a duel with Cliff Lee the day after his daughter, Nora, was born, I received this message on Twitter:

I thought the sentiment was perfect. Out Cliff Lee-ing Cliff Lee. Kennedy was a strike-throwing machine that night, peppering the zone with every pitch in his arsenal. If you had no other information, and simply looked at the stat line — 10 strikeouts, no walks, no runs and three hits — and you asked fans to guess which pitcher had that line, Cliff Lee would be a pretty common guess.

Kennedy had one bad day this year (April 13 against St. Louis), but since walking off the field that night, he’s been one of the most valuable players in the National League. In his eight starts since then, here is Kennedy’s stat line:

5-0 – 1.87 ERA – 46 K – 13 BB –57 2/3 innings (7 1/3 per start)

Kennedy is, without question, one of the best starters in the NL this year and he should be rewarded for his fabulous season with the chance to play in the All-Star Game on his home field.

But he shouldn’t be alone.

The man who finished off Kennedy’s win in Colorado last night should have the opportunity to come in after him on July 12 as well.

J.J. Putz has been everything D-backs fans could have hoped for. Following a season in which the team had a historically bad bullpen, the overhaul in that department has been stunning. The D-backs have the seventh-best bullpen ERA in the National League and the 10th best in all of baseball. And it seems there is no bigger reason for that turnaround than the veteran at the back of the ‘pen.

Putz has given up only four earned runs and one home run in 21 innings this season, saving 14 games in 14 chances.

Though you still have time to vote (and vote… and vote… and vote!) for D-backs position players to make the All-Star Game, you can’t vote for these guys. It’s the National League players who pick the bulk of the reserves.

And if you have noticed what these two have done, it’s safe to say the opponents who have watched Kennedy and Putz dominate their teams have doubly noticed.

Top 20 starters in the NL, by ERA:

Player ERA G Tm GS W L IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ HR 2B 3B BA OBP SLG OPS
Jair Jurrjens 1.56 8 ATL 8 6 1 57.2 50 11 10 9 33 235 2 8 3 .235 .269 .329 .598
Josh Johnson 1.64 9 FLA 9 3 1 60.1 39 13 11 20 56 240 2 8 0 .185 .258 .251 .509
Jaime Garcia 1.93 10 STL 10 5 0 65.1 54 20 14 13 57 190 3 9 0 .225 .267 .300 .567
Tim Lincecum 2.06 10 SFG 10 4 4 70.0 51 21 16 24 75 185 4 11 0 .203 .278 .295 .573
Kyle Lohse 2.06 10 STL 10 6 2 74.1 53 17 17 14 41 178 3 14 0 .199 .241 .286 .527
Roy Halladay 2.35 11 PHI 11 6 3 84.1 75 23 22 13 86 161 2 7 0 .237 .266 .278 .544
Shaun Marcum 2.37 10 MIL 10 6 1 64.2 51 19 17 15 62 157 5 7 1 .214 .260 .315 .575
Charlie Morton 2.61 9 PIT 9 5 2 62.0 53 19 18 29 33 146 2 10 0 .233 .318 .304 .622
Tommy Hanson 2.72 10 ATL 10 5 3 59.2 44 20 18 18 61 135 5 12 0 .206 .274 .332 .606
Roy Oswalt 2.77 7 PHI 7 3 2 39.0 36 13 12 10 27 137 2 10 0 .245 .306 .354 .660
Clayton Kershaw 2.96 11 LAD 11 5 3 70.0 61 23 23 23 77 121 6 8 0 .234 .294 .333 .627
Ian Kennedy 3.01 11 ARI 11 6 1 74.2 59 26 25 19 59 132 5 20 1 .219 .276 .356 .632
Anibal Sanchez 3.02 9 FLA 9 3 1 56.2 48 21 19 20 58 130 4 6 3 .229 .299 .343 .642
Ricky Nolasco 3.04 10 FLA 10 4 0 68.0 65 25 23 13 54 129 7 21 0 .258 .297 .425 .722
Cole Hamels 3.06 10 PHI 10 6 2 67.2 54 23 23 15 68 124 5 12 1 .221 .271 .340 .611
Jhoulys Chacin 3.09 10 COL 10 5 3 67.0 50 26 23 24 56 141 7 9 1 .203 .276 .333 .609
Hiroki Kuroda 3.10 10 LAD 10 5 4 66.2 66 27 23 17 51 116 9 12 3 .259 .303 .435 .739
Dustin Moseley 3.15 10 SDP 10 1 6 60.0 58 25 21 19 28 109 5 9 1 .253 .313 .367 .680
Jason Hammel 3.20 10 COL 10 3 4 64.2 62 28 23 20 38 136 5 10 3 .257 .320 .386 .705
Cliff Lee 3.38 10 PHI 10 3 4 66.2 65 26 25 15 78 112 5 12 2 .253 .298 .374 .672
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/26/2011.

Top 10 closers in the NL, by saves:

Player SV Tm Lg G IP H R ER BB SO ERA HR 2B 3B BA OBP SLG OPS
Leo Nunez 18 FLA NL 26 25.0 23 9 9 9 25 3.24 2 4 1 .242 .305 .368 .673
Francisco Rodriguez 15 NYM NL 23 23.2 20 2 2 12 25 0.76 0 2 0 .230 .330 .253 .583
Huston Street 14 COL NL 23 23.2 23 9 9 4 22 3.42 6 2 0 .261 .293 .489 .782
J.J. Putz 14 ARI NL 20 21.0 13 5 4 5 19 1.71 1 3 0 .176 .235 .257 .491
Craig Kimbrel 14 ATL NL 25 24.0 17 8 7 11 36 2.62 0 1 1 .200 .289 .235 .524
Brian Wilson 13 SFG NL 23 23.0 19 9 9 15 23 3.52 0 2 0 .221 .350 .244 .594
John Axford 13 MIL NL 23 22.1 24 11 10 9 30 4.03 1 1 1 .267 .330 .333 .663
Joel Hanrahan 13 PIT NL 22 22.2 22 5 4 5 16 1.59 1 5 0 .262 .303 .357 .661
Heath Bell 10 SDP NL 19 19.0 14 6 4 6 13 1.89 0 2 0 .200 .263 .229 .492
Carlos Marmol 9 CHC NL 20 21.0 11 3 3 10 27 1.29 0 2 0 .157 .277 .186 .463
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/26/2011.

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