Florida Marlins rookie pitcher Chris Volstad made his first career start Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was magnificent, earning the victory after allowing just one run in 8 2/3 innings.
Volstad seemed to be wearing down in the 9th inning, allowing a run, followed by a single to bring up possible future Hall of Famer Jeff Kent to the plate representing the tying run.
So Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez wisely removed his young pitcher from the game, assuring that Volstad could not earn a loss after pitching so well, and because he had reached 100 pitches. The Marlins don't want Volstad going more than 100 pitches or so yet to protect his great young arm, and heck, few pitchers in all of baseball will go more than 120 pitches these days.
But if Volstad could've have gotten just one more out, he would've been the first Marlin to pitch a complete game since late 2006.
Meanwhile, north of the border in Toronto, Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay put together a masterpiece of his own Friday night against the New York Yankees. The 31-year-old right-hander went the distance against the Yankees in a two-hit shutout.
But for Halladay, this was just another day at the office. The possible A.L. starting pitcher for the All-Star Game now has seven complete games on the season. Not impressed yet? Seven complete games is more than any other team has from their pitchers this season. Halladay has that many by himself. The Marlins haven't tossed a complete game since 2006, and Halladay's tossed seven in just this first half of the season. Think about that.
And the Colorado native has done this for years. He now has 38 career complete games, 14 of which since the beginning of 2007, and 11 career shutouts.
In an era where pitchers are going down with arm injuries like never before, Halladay is simply one of a kind. Ask the Mark Mulder's and Mark Prior's of the world how easy it is to stay healthy as a pitcher.
The amount of innings Halladay is able to throw each year is remarkable, but what's even more impressive is how well he is able to pitch in all of these innings. There's some pitchers out there that can throw 200+ innings a season without much strain on their body, but none are able to do it with results even comparable to Halladay.
At 31, Halladay just seems to be getting even better too, even after all of these innings pitched. He has an ERA of 2.71, down exactly one run from his 3.71 ERA in 2007. "Doc" Halladay has 11 wins, while pitching for a team with one of the worst offenses in the American League.
What's really eye-opening are his strikeout numbers in comparison to the last few seasons. In 2006, Halladay went 16-5 with a 3.19 ERA, striking out 132 batters in 220 innings pitched. Last year he went 16-7, with the aforementioned 3.71 ERA, and 139 strikeouts in 225.1 innings pitched. He was very effective as displayed by the wins and ERA's, but the strikeout numbers weren't all that spectacular.
Well, in 2008, he's amassed 121 strikeouts in 146.1 innings pitched, averaging 7.44 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. That's the best rate he's striking out hitters since 2001. Furthermore, he's able to be a power pitcher again without walking hitters, as he has 100 more strikeouts than walks.
What's unfortunate is this guy doesn't get the recognition he deserves, because he plays in Canada. He's one of the best pitchers in baseball year in and year out, but many casual baseball fans know little about him. One thing's for sure though: MLB hitters are well aware of who he is, and they certainly don't enjoy facing him.
The 2003 AL Cy Young winner has a great chance to win the award again this season. With his consistency, and the fact he'll go out there every fifth day without a problem, I wouldn't bet against him.