It wasn't long ago that Ubaldo Jimenez could have been forgiven for clearing space on his mantelpiece for the Cy Young award. He finished May with an ERA below one, and after fourteen starts, he ha a record of 13-1 and an ERA of just 1.15. However, it now seems questionable whether he'll even get the start in the National League for the All-Star Game, partly because of his recent struggles, but mostly the irresistible rise of the Marlins' Josh Johnson.
Johnson pitched eight shutout innings in Los Angeles last night, shutting down the Dodgers' potent line-up. That extended a streak of epic proportions by the Florida hurler: he has gone six or more innings and allowed two or less runs in eleven consecutive games. It's curiously reminiscent of the streak Jimenez put up earlier in the year. After the jump, we'll compare the two and look at how Johnson appeared out of nowhere.
Since Mike Scott went for 14 such games in 1986, there have only been a handful of such streaks in the National League - so to get two overlapping is definitely unique. Jimenez got his run to 13, including the last start of 2009, so Johnson has a couple to go to match that. Here are the details of all five streaks:
If you look at the W-L column, you'll get one clue about why Johnson has been all but ignored until recently. Even though his start has arguable been the most dominating, based on ERA, he has picked up only six victories. Indeed, the Marlins somehow contrived to lose four of those eleven contests, largely because they scored a total of six runs in them. Wins may not "matter", but people still pay attention to them, and 6-2 is not as notable as 12-1.
The other cause is likely that Johnson's first couple of games were horrible - only five innings in each, allowing a total of seven runs in ten IP, on 13 hits and seven walks. If you plot his and Jimenez's ERAs against each other (below), you'll see why no-one noticed Johnson before June. Picking between the two certainly poses an interesting dilemma for NL manager Charlie Manuel