The five AL Central teams played in four games on Saturday. You’re probably already aware that the Minnesota Twins topped the Seattle Mariners 4-0 behind Sam Deduno‘s 7.0 inning, three hit shutout. What you might have missed is that the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers turned in shutouts of their own and all four teams have been getting exceptional pitching since the All-Star break.
Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale did his best to get in on the action and threw a complete game but the one run he allowed to the Royals was one run too many. Apologies to the Sox tough-luck lefty (he’s 6-10 with a 2.69 ERA), but that run excludes him from the AL Central’s Saturday Shutout Club.
Deduno has been Minnesota’s best starter this season and it’s not debatable. (Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Tigers’ starter RHP Max Scherzer (6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO) had the shortest outing of the group but much of that had to do with the fact Detroit pounded the Phillies en route to a 10-0 win. He surely could have gone longer if needed but with the game in hand Scherzer threw just 75 pitches. His was the most dominant and most comfortable start of the bunch. He allowed fewer hits than his divisional peers and was the only one to not walk a batter. Topping it off, 66.7% of his pitches went for strikes which was also the best of the group. Scherzer is now 15-1 with a 3.01 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He’s struck out 164 in 143.2 IP.
Indians righty Justin Masterson (7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) improved to 12-7 on the season by outdueling Yu Darvish and the Rangers. The result was a 1-0 victory as the Cleveland’s All-Star threw 61.9% of his 113 pitches for strikes on the day. Masterson has now tossed an even 150.0 innings with a 3.42 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 153 SO.
As Minnesota’s only starter with an ERA+ over 100 Deduno has emerged as the team’s de facto ace and continued to carry that banner on Saturday (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO). 63 of 110 pitches thrown went for strikes (57.3%) in what was his best start of the season. Deduno has lasted at least 5.0 innings in all twelve of his starts this season and has pitched through 7.0 innings in half of them. The 30-year old has a 3.18 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 42 SO in 76.1 IP.
Royals RHP Wade Davis (7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) turned in the fourth best of the four shutouts on the day. His was also the most unlikely as he’s been scuffling for much of the season and opponents have hit 0.316 off of him. He threw 61 of 101 pitches (60.4%) for strikes as he dropped his ERA nearly half a run (0.42) and his WHIP by 0.06. All told he has a 5.50 ERA, 1.75 WHIP and 94 SO in 104.2 IP on the year.
The division pitching four shutouts is just one of those random things that happens in baseball, but looking at team ERA leaders since the break you’ll find that the Indians (2.06), Royals (2.33) and Tigers (2.42) currently rank one, two and three in MLB. Despite all the issues with their rotation the Twins have also been pitching well since the break and their 2.89 ERA ranks 6th in the league. The White Sox, if you’re wondering are a distant 5th in the division and are tied for 19th in baseball with a 3.56 ERA.