The theme continues today with the JetHawks' best hurler.
There were a number of interesting names that worked for Lancaster's pitching staff this season. Who can forget Joe Musgrove posting a 43-to-1 strike out to walk ratio in 30 innings of work? Other arms, now considered top prospects in the system, logged time for the playoff-bound team, showing encouraging flashes of success in one of pro baseball's toughest home environments.
But none of those blue chip prospects did what Keegan Yuhl did. He began the season with Quad Cities, where he tore up the Midwest League out of the River Bandits' bullpen (0.93 ERA). He continued his solid bullpen work for Lancaster after being promoted in mid-May, posting a 1.77 ERA for the club during May and June.
Then, something remarkable happened.
On July 1st, he tossed 3.2 innings for the JetHawks, a new season-high. The following outing saw him pitch 4.1 innings, and another four-inning outing followed that one. Yuhl had moved from the bullpen into the tandem rotation. It was a similar situation to what we've seen since Luhnow and his group adopted the system; unheralded bullpen guys, like Tommy Shirley in 2014, getting a shot to pitch more innings and prove themselves as potential starters.
The fact that Yuhl's role changed wasn't the remarkable part. How well he did, however, was. He posted a 1.35 ERA in July as a member of the rotation, and a 2.25 ERA in August. He had multiple starts of six or more innings, including two back-to-back outings of seven innings in late August. From July until the end of the season, he posted a 3.64 K/BB ratio as a rotation pitcher. Lancaster went 7-4 in his July and August games.
His overall numbers would be gaudy anywhere, much less in Lancaster; he finished with a 1.94 ERA in 79 innings for the club, an almost unfathomable level of success. I went back in the records and discovered that the last JetHawks pitcher to post a sub-2.00 ERA in at least 50 innings of work was Sean Spencer...in the 1997 season, 18 years ago. Yuhl and Spencer are the only two guys to do it in the history of Lancaster's current ballpark. Given that Yuhl pitched 18.2 more innings than Spencer and that Spencer was the team's closer and worked exclusively as a reliever, it would not be a stretch to say that Yuhl had the best season of any pitcher who has ever called The Hanger his home park.
Honorable mentions include Francis Martes, Joe Musgrove, and Brian Holmes, but all of those guys posted inferior ERAs in half or fewer innings than Yuhl pitched. So, yeah, your JetHawks Cy Young for 2015 is Keegan Yuhl.