Sports Illustrated has put out a list of the top 20 young pitchers in MLB. You can view it here. Detroit's Justin Verlander is No. 1. Philly's Cole Hamels in No. 3. To renew the queasiness Mets fans feel every time Scott Kazmir's name is mentioned, he is No. 4.
The Tigers' Jeremy Bonderman is No. 13. There is no question Bonderman has the talent to be a top dog. There also is no question he can be a mutt at times too. I saw him toss 7 innings of 1-hit ball against the Phillies in 2004. He struck out 8. He looked like a stud.
His effort that day lowered his ERA to 5.63.
Brilliance such as that, or his great duel with Roy Halladay last April (9 IP, 6 H, 1 R) or ALCS effort against the Yankees in 2006 (8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R) or 1-0 win in Minnesota last year (8 IP, 6 H, 7 K) fuel the excitement surrounding his abilities.
Here are some stats for unnamed pitchers since the start of the 2003 season (Bonderman's first year) with at least 600 IP:
Pitcher 1: 48-45, 4.83 ERA
Pitcher 2: 43-38, 4.95 ERA
Pitcher 3: 54-46, 4.65 ERA
Pitcher 4: 56-62, 4.78 ERA
Pitcher 5: 42-54, 4.53 ERA
Bonderman is among that group. I will tell you his ERA is the 18th worst among all pitchers to throw at least 600 IP since the start of 2003. Granted, Bonderman was very young when he started his career and the Tigers were very bad. And you can't base everything on ERA. And Bonderman pitched hurt the second half of last season.
Yet at some point you are what your numbers say you are. Bonderman's ERA+ by season is 77, 91, 93, 112, 91. Even his best season, in 2006, is hardly exceptional.
Reports out of spring training say Bonderman is pleased with his changeup, which is the pitch that will put him over the top. Let's hope so. I want Jeremy to succeed. Honest. I'm just baffled at the way the scribes continue to gush about him. I hope the 9-1, 3.48 ERA pre-All Star break Bonderman returns in 2008. Hope springs eternal.
Now, the pitcher meantioned above are, in order, Adam Eaton, Claudio Vargas, Jason Marquis, Bonderman, and Nate Robertson. For whatever it's worth.