High Heat

Iwakuma, Hernandez now atop AL ERA leaderboard

By Gary Hill

Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox has not pitched since beating the Angels on June 8. He had a sensational start to the season (9-0, 1.71 ERA) until a neck strain derailed his impressive progress. His innings-pitched total has not budged in over a month (84 1/3). The Red Sox played their 85th game Tuesday night, which means that Buchholz has fallen below the threshold of at least one inning pitched per game played to qualify for the ERA title.

When Felix Hernandez toes the rubber in Texas Wednesday he will take the second-best ERA in the American League (2.70) to the mound with him. The intriguing aspect of the AL ERA situation is that Felix is now chasing down his own teammate for ERA supremacy. Hisashi Iwakuma will follow Felix on Thursday and now boasts the best ERA in the league (2.42).

The MLB season just inched over the halfway point and two pitchers from the same team are one and two in the ERA race. This raises an interesting question: How many times have teammates led the league in ERA?

It is certainly a rare feat, but not as infrequent as one might assume. For instance, there were only eight teams in the American League in 1944. The number has ballooned to 15 in today’s game. Simple mathematics made the occurrence much more of a possibility from the establishment of the National League in 1876 through the 1960s.

The following is the list of teammates who have finished one and two in ERA:

2005 NL, Astros

1. Roger Clemens, 1.87
2. Andy Pettitte, 2.39

2002 AL, Red Sox

1. Pedro Martinez, 2.26
2. Derek Lowe, 2.58

2001 NL, Diamondbacks

1. Randy Johnson, 2.49
2. Curt Schilling, 2.98

1996 AL, Blue Jays

1. Juan Guzman, 2.93
2. Pat Hentgen, 3.22

1981 NL, Astros

1. Nolan Ryan, 1.69
2. Bob Knepper, 2.18

1979 AL, Yankees

1. Ron Guidry, 2.78
2. Tommy John, 2.96

1975 NL, Braves

1. Buzz Capra, 2.28
2. Phil Niekro, 2.38

1968 AL, Indians

1. Luis Tiant, 1.60
2. Sam McDowell, 1.81

1967 AL, White Sox

1. Joe Horlen, 2.06
2. Gary Peters, 2.28

1966 AL, White Sox

1. Gary Peters, 1.98
2. Joe Horlen, 2.43

1964 NL, Dodgers

1. Sandy Koufax, 1.74
2. Don Drysdale, 2.18

1963 AL, White Sox

1. Gary Peters, 2.33
2. Juan Pizarro, 2.39

1959 NL, Giants

1. Sam Jones, 2.83
2. Stu Miller, 2.84

1957 NL, Brooklyn Dodgers

1. Johnny Podres, 2.66
2. Don Drysdale, 2.69

1957 AL, Yankees

1. Bobby Shantz, 2.45
2. Tom Sturdivant, 2.54

1956 NL, Milwaukee Braves

1. Lew Burdette, 2.70
2. Warren Spahn, 2.78

1940s: 7 occurrences
1930s: 3
1920s: 5
1910s: 5
1900s: 3
1890s: 1
1880s: 2

The 1927 Yankees featured the top three pitchers in ERA: Wilcy Moore (2.28), Waite Hoyt (2.63) and Urban Shocker (2.84). It hardly seems fair considering the offense featured Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs and Tony Lazzeri.

The 1906 Cubs and 1925 Reds also featured the top three finishers in ERA.


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