You might have heard about all the young pitching talent in the National League this season. Even aside from Jose Fernandez, guys like Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran would be fantastic Rookie of the Year candidates in most years. Oh, and there's also Wily Peralta and Zack Miller and Tony Cingrani and Gerrit Cole and Michael Wacha, too.
You might also have heard that the American League's young pitching talent pales next to the National League's.
Well, it's true.
But there's some hope in the American League.
Wednesday night in what now seems the biggest start of his young career, Cleveland's Danny Salazar goes against the Royals. Salazar's started just eight games for the Indians, and he's won just one of those starts. But he's pitched brilliantly, with a 2.66 ERA and a tremendous strikeout-to-walk ratio!
Salazar isn't some eight-start fluke, either. He entered this season as the Indians' No. 6 prospect, and pitched brilliantly in the minors before joining the big club for good in early August. He's for real.
Oakland's Dan Straily and Sonny Gray both seem for real, too. Gray entered the season as the A's fifth-best prospect, Straily sixth-best. Straily leads the American League rookies with 140 innings, he's pitched decently enough, and at 24 he's young enough to get better. Gray's a year younger, with only 54 innings in the majors this season, but he's actually pitched better than Straily.
The Rangers actually have three rookies with exactly 17 starts apiece ... Alas, only Martín Peréz has pitched effectively. Actually, Nick Tepesch has shown some good things, too. Justin Grimm, not so much.
Houston has deployed a few rookie starters, of course. Pay no attention to Jarred Cosart's 1.95 ERA; he's actually got more walks that strikeouts this season. Brad Peacock hasn't pitched well, either. But Brett Oberholtzer's tremendous minor-league control has translated to the majors, as he's issued only nine walks in 60 innings while posting a 2.98 ERA. He's still not a great prospect because he doesn't throw hard, but there's something there.
Seattle's Taijuan Walker is a great prospect. Sure, he made only three starts before the Mariners shut him down. But he's healthy and he's brilliant and he'll probably enter next season as the league's No. 1 Rookie of the Year candidate. Speaking of which, Kansas City's Yordano Ventura made his big debut Tuesday night, against the Indians. Ventura came away with a no-decision because the bullpen failed. Forget about that, and remember this:
.@Royals Yordano Ventura hit 101.9 mph in his MLB debut Tuesday, the fastest pitch thrown by any starter in last 5 seasons.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 18, 2013
Any number of other talented rookie pitchers have showed up in the American League this season, even if statistics don't seem all that talented. Tampa Bay's Chris Archer has everything, though. He's got the excellent ERA, the fine strikeout-to-walk ratio, and the pedigree of the organization's No. 2 prospect. He probably won't be Rookie of the Year because he's not going to throw enough innings or win enough games. But he's got a look of a star.
It's likely that the National League does have more future star pitchers than the American League. But it's not terribly more likely. I'll bet that when we look back in 10 years, we'll find that the actual talent -- as opposed to the statistical snapshot of six months -- was actually not so different between the leagues in 2013.