Cliff Lee and Matt Harvey put on big shows for the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets on May 28. Lee gave the Phillies a 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox with eight solid innings, while Harvey largely shut down the New York Yankees before the Mets spared him from his first loss of 2013. However, the Phillies and Mets are in dire straits because Lee and Harvey can’t pitch for them every day.
Lee and Harvey aren’t the only pitchers whose best stuff is being wasted by their poor, disappointing teams. The likes of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Moore, Chris Sale, Hisashai Iwakuma and others are having Cy Young worthy starts, but on clubs that are severely underachieving when they aren’t on the mound.
None of them are as bad off as the Mets without their new young ace, however. Harvey came into his start against the Yankees at 5-0, while his fellow starters had a 5-20 record combined. In addition, the Mets nearly doomed Harvey to his first loss, since they were down by 1-0 going into the ninth against Mariano Rivera. Improbably, Rivera blew the save without recording an out, keeping Harvey perfect for now.
Lee has been far from perfect, but compared to an injured Roy Halladay and a 1-8 Cole Hamels, he has been. After shutting down the Red Sox, the one reliable ace the Phillies have left is now 6-2 with an ERA at 2.34. But thanks to an otherwise depleted staff and an sputtering offense, the Phillies are below .500 and may need to trade Lee at some point in 2013.
The Phillies and Mets have many reasons to be ashamed, with their lack of support for Lee and Harvey chief among them. But Lee, Harvey and their struggling teams are not alone in this regard. Here is a full list of the aces who aren’t getting much help from their mediocre or worse teammates.
The Phillies once had three powerful aces and ruled the NL East. Now it seems only Lee is keeping the Phillies remotely afloat, while everyone else is hurting or in decline. With Philadelphia at 25-27, it hasn’t nearly been enough.
The 24-year-old Harvey has already taken two no-hitters into the seventh inning and made the Mets a must-see team every five days — which is remarkable given the Mets’ 20-29 record. They even wasted his eight-inning, six-hit performance against the Yankees on May 28 until the ninth inning.
Kershaw has the lowest ERA in baseball for a starting pitcher, yet his 1.68 ERA is only supporting a 5-3 record. The rest of the high priced, big name Los Angeles Dodgers were supposed to overwhelm the NL West, but they are in last place instead while Kershaw is the only one living up to the hype.
The Washington Nationals have been the biggest underachievers in baseball, as last year’s NL East champions are struggling to stay over .500. The ace that is keeping the Nationals afloat isn’t Stephen Strasburg, but rather Zimmerman, whose 1.71 ERA and 8-2 record was supposed to be matched by the rest of his staff.
Moore technically has the best start in baseball, as the Tampa Bay Rays’ ace is 8-0. Nevertheless, the Rays have been hovering around .500 for the first two months of the year, and needed to lean on Moore just to get that far.
Felix Hernandez has defined the Seattle Mariners’ pitching staff for years, yet Iwakuma has matched him and more so far. While Hernandez is stuck at 5-4, Iwakuma is 5-1 with an ERA of 2.35, surpassing “King Felix” in both categories.
Sale had missed a few starts before returning to face the Chicago Cubs on May 28. Before that, he’d thrown 23 straight scoreless innings and one-hit the Los Angeles Angels on May 12, despite the Chicago White Sox hovering around .500. He even got lucky when the game with the Cubs was suspended after he was down by 2-0 in the third.
The White Sox are also lucky to have Peavy back in Cy Young form, as he has gone 6-2 with an ERA just under .500. But despite having Peavy and Sale as aces, Chicago hasn’t had the depth to match the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians in the AL Central thus far.