Our weekend reveal of the BlogRedMachine.com National League Central All Division team is down to the final piece in the puzzle. Our selections of the best relievers and starters around the division. These choices take on an added significance when you consider the contestants in the National League Championship Series are improbably both from the supposed weak NLC.
Consider 4 teams lead the division. The Brewers for 88 days, while St. Louis managed 63 days on top, the Reds for just 25, and the Pirates spent a mere 6 games on top.
You have seen the lineup so far as Derek Olsen covered the best infield performances on the season in the Central, while our Senior Editor Steve Engbloom covered the field generals, outfielders, and the most outstanding rookie. That leaves me with 3 outcomes to reveal after tallying with careful consideration who the best pitchers in the division have been, before we complete this study by revealing our player of the year. Let’s see who our honorees are.
Outstanding relief work in a non closing role.
Winner: Sean Marshall
One of the challenges presented by this specific awarding is looking at the Cardinals and trying to determine setup men versus closers. I considered Salas a closer but there are valid reasons why other staff members did not.
Relief Pitcher in a Closing Role
Winner: John Axford
This category offers a couple of contested ideas. First we return to the setup category and when you compare the two lists you notice confusion still exists regarding the closer by committee in St. Louis. The Cardinals had 8 different individuals record saves during the season. Salas earned 24 saves and Motte earned 9 but no one approached the league and division leaders. The Astros used 3 relievers as closers led by Mark Melancon who notched 20 saves . The Cubs also used three pitchers in the closer role led by Carlos Marmol with 34 saves. The Pirates used four to close but this group was overwhelmingly led by Joel Hanrahan who saved 40 games for a team that gave up in excess of 100 runs more than they scored. The Reds had three relievers record saves led by Francisco Cordero who notched his 300th career save, 37 saves in this season. The Brewers complete the picture with just two men earning saves and John Axford leading the league with 46 of them.
Stay tuned for later in this month as I revisit the Quality Relief Outing statistic that not only allows for a slightly different perspective on a relievers usefulness to his manager, it also invites real comparisons between set up men and closers.
Finally, we will finish our pitching review with a look at the best starting pitchers in the National League Central.
Outstanding Starting Pitchers
Starting 3: Yovani Gallardo, Johnny Cueto, Zach Greinke
The 3 top vote earners were selected and it is tough to argue the outcome. Though Johnny Cueto did not qualify for the ERA win due to a lack of innings he still pitched exceptionally well for the Reds this season finishing with a 2.31 ERA. And the combined talents of Gallardo, Greinke and Marcum earned 46 wins and made the Brewers the most complete team in the Central.
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