If you still don’t believe that the era of unbridled pitching prowess is upon us, here is one fact—among the many—to potentially sway you. Currently, there are 21 pitchers who have ERAs lower than 3.00. Rewind back only seven years, and the 2007 campaign saw just one finish below that mark.
The list of outstanding pitchers today is plentiful—from Kershaw and Cueto to King Felix and David Price. Each has had superb seasons so far, but there are a select list of arms that have been especially hot of late. Here are eight that are on fire.
8. Doug Fister, Washington Nationals
Fister’s time in the nation’s capital has seen plenty of success upon his arrival off the disabled list in May. Acquired by the Nationals in an offseason trade with the Tigers, Fister has made a smooth transition to the NL—posting a 12-3 overall record and an ERA at 2.34.
He’s been exceptionally sharp over the past month-and-a-half. In his last seven outings, Fister has turned them into six quality starts along with a 6-1 mark. He baffled the Cincinnati Reds for seven innings on July 27—allowing no runs, one walk and just three hits.
The New York Mets fared little better on Tuesday in being shutout for seven innings, accounting for just seven hits and failing to draw a walk.
7. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
The timing of this list is of no matter to King Felix—he’s always going to be on it.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) August 12, 2014
For all the great things Hernandez done in his career, he is on track for his best season yet. His ERA is 1.93, WHIP is 0.83, he’s recorded 194 strikeouts and his record is 13-3. Naturally, that makes Felix the favorite to land his second Cy Young Award—and maybe even more accolades—as Seattle makes a push for a playoff spot.
And of all the great months Hernandez has produced in 2014, he may be in the midst of his best month. He’s already attained two wins in two starts with just two earned runs and seven hits allowed in 15 innings in August.
6. Huston Street, Los Angeles Angels
The transition up the coast from San Diego to Anaheim is sitting well for Street. The former Padre has come through on all seven of his save chances as a member of the Angels. Even more impressive, Street has yet to allow a run in the 10 innings he’s pitched in a Halos uniform.
His insertion into the L.A. bullpen has been quite impactful—turning what was once a weakness into a team strength and further enhancing its chances for success come playoff time.
5. Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox
The 2014 edition of the Boston Red Sox have failed miserably to duplicate the magical championship run of 2013. But for all the disappointment, their closer continues to pitch up to the level he showed last year.
Uehara has converted on all five of his save opportunities in August (to push his season total to 26) and he has yet to allow a run against him this month.
Opponents have managed 13 hits and two walks in his last 18 innings with his last blown save coming on July 18 against the Kansas City Royals.
4. Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs
On Independence Day, the Cubs rotation—which was once somewhat formidable—became depleted with the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.
Thus came the call-up from AAA Iowa to the big leagues in Chicago. Helping provide some promise to the North Side, Hendrick’s style has already drawn comparisons to a pitching legend (Greg Maddux) that used to call Wrigley Field home. His stats reflect great promise: a 4-1 record and a 1.73 ERA in his first six starts.
Kyle Hendricks is easy to root for and fun to watch. Smart. Controlled. Pitches to bad content expertly. Sure looks like a guy who can last.
— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) August 13, 2014
This hasn’t come against flimsy competition, either. Hendricks went 7.1 shutout innings against Milwaukee on Aug. 12. Eleven days earlier, he held the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run in seven frames while walking only one.
It’s safe to say he’s in the major leagues for good.
3. Jon Lester, Oakland A’s
Not that the move was loudly criticized, but the trade for Lester in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is proving to be a real triumph for Oakland. The former Red Sox lefty has made A’s management look smart thanks to an AL-best 3-0 mark in August with 20 strikeouts.
Even before he left Boston, he was on a roll. Lester is unbeaten in his last seven decisions—last losing on June 12—and has allowed just one home run over the past 80 innings of work.
Lester can benefit this young rotation furthermore in October, as he’ll likely take the experience of two World Series runs and a stellar postseason output (6-4, 2.11 ERA) into this year’s playoffs.
2. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
As recent as 22 days ago, all signs were pointing to Hamels being dealt away from the only professional team he’s known. With each passing start in July, the longtime Phillie upped his trade value that much more.
So as general manager Ruben Amaro held his cards through the trade deadline, Hamels’ continued brilliance is done for a team buried in last place—rather than for a contender. That doesn’t make what he’s done any less impressive.
Hamels’ only loss since July 7 came in a 4-0 Phillies defeat to the Washington Nationals on August 3—a game in which he received little support (both offensively and defensively). He went seven innings, allowed four hits and the only run scored on him was unearned.
The southpaw hasn’t given up more than one run any start over the past month and his ERA in August is a miniscule 0.64.
1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
With all due respect to the sitcom, Kluber is giving new meaning to being hot in Cleveland. The months of April and June didn’t sit well with him, as his combined record from those two periods was a subpar 3-6.
But he has sizzled since the start of the season’s second half—having posted the best ERA (0.68) and the best WHIP (0.65) since the All-Star break and going 4-0 during that span. The Indians’ once dim hopes of landing the second AL Wild Card spot have brightened slightly thanks to Kluber’s efforts on the mound every fifth day.
His most recent start last Saturday saw him fan 10 Yankees and give up just four hits in six shutout innings en route to his 13th victory. Over his past five outings, he has averaged nine strikeouts.
Kluber’s remarkable summer stretch—which includes one run allowed in his last 31.1 innings—will most certainly be put to the test when he takes on the Orioles and their hot bats on Friday.