08/04/2008 1:18 PM ET
Pitchers of the Week
For the week ending August 3
By Bryan Smith / MLB.com
Philip Humber, Rochester
2-0, 2.30 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 15.2 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 19 SO
After a particularly bad start on July 1, one that sent his ERA up to 6.00, the Twins took Philip Humber out of the Rochester rotation for the second time this season. Humber spent more than two weeks in the Rochester bullpen, putting together a scoreless outing in three of his five appearances. Entering this week, Humber -- one of the key pieces in the Johan Santana trade -- had not struck out more than six batters in a start. He had not reached the eighth inning a single time. In two starts this week, Humber accomplished both feats twice, and now has won his last three starts to improve to 7-7 on the season. Since the Triple-A All-Star Break, Humber has allowed just five runs and struck out 25 batters in 22 and 2/3 innings.
Pacific Coast League
Wade LeBlanc, Portland
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 17 SO
Someone seeing Wade LeBlanc's 5.46 ERA would assume 2008 has been a rough year for the Louisianan left-hander. However, that's not exactly true, as the southpaw has allowed one run or less in 10 of his 22 appearances this season. Of course, the ERA is clouded by the fact that on seven occasions, LeBlanc has allowed six earned runs or more. LeBlanc started July doing just that, allowing 14 earned runs in eight innings spread over two starts. His ERA was 6.80. Since then, however, it's been on a slow decline, as Leblanc is starting to find himself in Triple-A. His streak of good performances began with a pair of six-inning outings with just an earned run allowed. On Monday the southpaw pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. On Saturday he one-upped himself, allowing two hits in eight innings, striking out a season-high 11 batters.
George Kontos, Trenton
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO
On July 26, Kontos had his worst outing of the season, allowing six earned runs in six innings. It was the third time in four starts that Kontos hadn't pitched well and he hadn't earned a win since June 21. However, on Thursday, the Northwestern University product came through with the best outing of his career. Kontos allowed just one hit over eight shutout innings on Thursday, walking just one Altoona batter while striking out a career-high 13. It wasn't enough to earn the decision, however, as Trenton didn't score until the 10th inning in a 1-0 win, but for Kontos, the outing was the most validating performance of his season.
David Price, Montgomery
2-0, 1.80 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 15.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 17 SO
David Price gave up a home run to the last batter he ever faced at Vanderbilt University. It was against the University of MichiganD and the Wolverines stunned the first overall pick in the draft to win Vanderbilt's Regional. It was a game that Price will surely never forget, if for nothing else, that it was the last time he lost. On Saturday, the big southpaw won his sixth game for Montgomery in eight starts, moving his professional win-loss record to an even 10-0. Price struck out 10 batters for the first time in Double-A, and for the second straight start, didn't issue a walk. It remains to be seen if Tampa will ask Price to pitch in the Majors down the stretch, but it's hard to think he wouldn't be able to help.
Justin Fiske, Springfield
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO
Fiske's season began this year in the Midwest League, where he served as a set-up man for the Quad Cities River Bandits. He didn't even pitch particularly well, with seven runs allowed in 11 appearances, though he did strike out 16 batters during his time there. The next stop for the smallish southpaw was Palm Beach, and again, Fiske didn't stay long. He made just three appearances with the Florida State League Cardinals, allowing just one hit in over four innings, striking out six batters. The next challenge was thrust upon him quickly, as Fiske made his first Double-A appearance on May 31, two months removed from his Midwest League assignment. For six weeks, Fiske was a valiant reliever, with a 3.44 ERA in 16 outings. However, of late Fiske has been moved to the starting rotation, and on Thursday, the results started to pay off. Fiske had the best outing of his career against Arkansas, allowing just two baserunners in seven innings while using just 83 pitches. Could a fourth stop be on the horizon?
Tim Alderson, San Jose
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 SO
The odds are stacked against any pitcher in the California League, where hitter's stadiums and a higher altitude leaves numbers inflated. The odds for a teenager in the California League are, well, nearly impossible. However, when the Giants drafted Alderson in the first round of the 2007 Draft, they knew his polish was uncanny for a high school pitcher. However, it's unlikely anyone knew that Alderson was this polished. In his last two starts, the right-hander has turned in two of the best outings of his career, a pair of walkless outings with just seven baserunners allowed in 13 innings. Alderson now has 107 strikeouts on the season against just 33 walks and four home runs, and he hasn't lost a decision since June 10. Teenagers aren't supposed to be this good in this league.
John Ely, Winston-Salem
i>2-0, 0.82 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 SO
It wasn't long ago that Ely's season was hanging by a thread, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, his ERA was up to 5.51. Twice in July he failed to make it out of the third inning. However, after throwing five shutout innings on July 24, Ely has been golden, turning his losing streak into three consecutive wins. The latter two came this week, as Ely was effectively wild in a July 29 win over Lynchburg, before an utterly dominant performance in an Aug. 3 victory over Potomac. Ely's second-half numbers are still tarnished by his bad performance in early July, but with one earned run in his last 16 innings, it's hard to deny that Ely turned the worst string of starts in his career into the best.
Florida State League
Tyler Herron, Palm Beach
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO
Surely it was nice for Tyler Herron to return to Florida, back to the Palm Beach sunshine. It was where Herron started this season before earning a promotion after just seven appearances and a 3.00 ERA. Double-A wasn't nice to the Palm Beach native, who had his moments in Springfield but was demoted after a July 27 start that included 11 hits and seven runs in four innings. Returning home was exactly what the doctor ordered, as Herron was stretched out as far as he'd been all season, throwing eight shutout innings in a win over Brevard County. Herron struck out five batters in the outing, but even more importantly, the sinkerballer induced 12 groundball outs.
Trevor Reckling, Cedar Rapids
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 SO
On July 12, Reckling allowed just one earned run over eight innings, an outing that had become very typical for the big southpaw. It was enough to take his ERA down to 2.36. Since a bad first start, Reckling had been dominant, including four straight shutout starts from May 21 to June 13. However, after July 12, it briefly looked like Reckling's season might be declining, allowing 14 earned runs in seven and 2/3 innings over two starts. However, on the week, Reckling showed it was a blip on the radar more than a sign of things to come. Reckling rebounded from the pair of bad starts with two more scoreless starts, both resulting in Kernals wins. For the season, Reckling now stands at 9-4, and his ERA is back where it belongs, under three.
South Atlantic League
Madison Bumgarner, Augusta
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14.0 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 SO
Since Tim Alderson was a Pitcher of the Week, it only makes sense that Bumgarner, the Giants' other first-round pitcher from the 2007 Draft, would be as well. Bumgarner didn't come as polished as Alderson, and as such, began his first season in the South Atlantic League. Maybe he belongs with Alderson, as this mark's his fourth Pitcher of the Week nod this season. For the 10th time in 20 starts, Bumgarner had two scoreless starts this week, lowering his ERA down to a Gibson-ish 1.70. The big southpaw didn't walk a batter, which leaves him with 18 walks against 125 strikeouts in 20 starts this season.
Alejandro Sanabia, Greensboro
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 SO
Joining Bumgarner in representing the South Atlantic League is Sanabia, who might not be as well known, but certainly had just as good a week. In fact, he's had a better few weeks that Bumgarner, as Sanabia hasn't allowed an earned run since July 12. That streak now stands at 25 innings, during which time he's issued just four walks and 13 hits. The right-hander's ERA is down more than two points in his last four starts, and his batting average against is down nearly 50 points.
Gregory Infante, Bristol
1-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 13 SO
The Venezuelan started his season in Kannapolis in May, but the plug was pulled after just four appearances. It's a shame, because while Infante had two disastrous outings, he also had two very good outings, with zero runs allowed in four innings. However, the White Sox preferred Infante to gain some innings in the Appalachian League, and as such, the right-hander has looked like a man among boys. That's been particularly true this week, as Infante allowed just one earned run in two starts, striking out a season-high eight batters in his Sunday win. The victory pushed Infante to 3-2 with Bristol, though his 2.24 ERA is far more indicative of the dominance he's had since joining the league.
Taylor Sinclair, Missoula
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO
The Osprey certainly needed a jolt in the second half, as Missoula finished the first half with the league's worst record by a country mile. Sinclair came as an unlikely savior, as the undrafted southpaw posted a mere 4.62 ERA as a senior at the University of Northern Iowa this spring. However, against wood bats, Sinclair has been a revelation, pitching Missoula to two wins with a pair of dominant starts. The lefty now has 13 strikeouts in three appearances with the Osprey, a quarter of the number of whiffs he had in his senior college season.
New York-Penn League
Trevor Feeney, Oneonta
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO
The Tigers added Feeney to their rotation on June 27, as the right-hander had earned a win in his final relief appearance with three shutout innings. However, in six starts before this week, winning became very difficult to come by for Feeney. Entering his Friday start, the Northern Illinois University product had a 5.33 ERA as a starter with Oneonta. Entering his start, he was in the middle of a three-game losing streak, during which time he had allowed eight earned runs in 15 innings. However, Feeney bounced back in a big way on Friday, allowing just one hit in eight shutout innings with a win over Tri-City in his second straight start against the ValleyCats.
Geoff Vandel, Eugene
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
Remove a seven-run outing on July 16 from Geoff Vandel's nine-start season, and his ERA drops to 1.83. Of course, baseball statistics are not so forgiving, so the best Vandel can do now is continue to pitch like a 1.83 ERA pitcher and keep his numbers dropping. He has certainly done the part in his last two outings, both scoreless starts that give him an 11-inning scoreless streak. Now in his third season in Eugene, Vandel is enjoying his most success as his command has been good and hitters are batting just .231 off the southpaw. Vandel has been particularly dominant against right-handed batters, who are hitting just .172 off the lefty in 116 at-bats this season.
Bryan Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.