View From the Center: N.L. Central Aces
Welcome to "View From the Center", where our resident pseudo-expert slash Cincinnati Reds fan Jeff Gentil takes a regular rundown of the topics of interest within baseball's divisional landscape. Last week, fabulous freshmen. This week, team aces
St. Louis: Until Chris Carpenter is knocked off his throne, he will continue to be the ace of the Cardinals. The steady right-handed hurler is 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA. The gap is rapidly closing, though, between Carpenter and his two closest competitors - Adam Wainwright (7-3, 2.28) and Jaime Garcia (5-2, 1.32) - and that competition is a big reason why the Cardinals will be at or near the top of the division again this year.
Chicago: On a team with Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, and Carlos Zambrano, the guy who has really stood out this season is Carlos Silva. The Cubs were wise to insist he be part of the Milton Bradley deal, and it has paid off to the tune of 7-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts. Silva also has 42 strikeouts to just 11 walks. He has easily been the Cubs' best starter to date.
Cincinnati: Not often does a player go straight from college to the majors, but Mike Leake has done that and been the Reds' most consistent and effective pitcher. Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo have more wins (5), but Leake has a lower ERA (2.45) and more quality starts (9). He could challenge Jason Heyward for rookie of the year.
Houston: While Brett Myers has put together a decent season so far and has fewer losses, Roy Oswalt continues to be the Astros' ace. Yes, he's just 3-7 and had a rough outing yesterday, but his ERA and WHIP are lower (2.78, 1.08), and he has struck out over two times more batters than Myers.
Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo certainly hasn't disappointed this season. In a year when his teammates have been downright bad, Gallardo continues to prove he belongs among the elite with his 5-2 record and his 2.78 ERA. Even though he's lost his last two decisions, Gallardo was able to keep the Brewers in the game through the sixth inning both times.
Pittsburgh: Not often does a 3-4 record with a 3.90 ERA qualify as a staff ace. But, when you are the Pirates and headed for the bottom part of the division again, Paul Maholm is your ace. The 3-4 record is a bit deceiving as Maholm has not yet given up more than four earned runs in a game this season. He also is victim of little run support as the Pirates have scored 12 runs total in his four losses.