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Top Five Latin American Pitchers in the 2016 MLB Season

Top Five Latin American Pitchers in the 2016 MLB Season

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on October 05, 2016

The influence of Latin American ballplayers in the 2016 Major League season was very intense at the batting box, but we’d be unfair if we don’t highlight the job done by several pitchers, whose results were great. PanamericanWorld proposes a list of the top five pitchers in a campaign marked by the tragic death of the most promising Latin American pitcher in MLB: Cuban Jose Fernandez.

Jose Fernandez (Cuba – Miami Marlins)

Not many people thought that, after the complex surgery by Tommy John, the arm of Cuban Jose Fernandez would be the same again. The rookie of the year in the 2013 National League lived moments of uncertainty in 2014 and 2015; however, in 2016 he was back and in great shape, with a straight pitch above 95 miles and an undecipherable slider, especially for right batters.

Fernandez was the star of Marlins, a franchise that, led by Don Mattingly, was trying to grow stronger. Since the very beginning of the championship, Fernandez showed that his arm was fully recovered. His results helped him be handpicked to play in the All-Star Game, held in San Diego, a game that has passed to history as his “battle” against David “Papi” Ortiz.

With a record of 16 games won and only 8 lost, 253 strikeouts and 2.86 ERA, the Cuban pitcher would’ve finished the year in a grand way. Perhaps he wouldn’t have obtained the Cy Young award, but he was hoping to be included in the final voting. Unfortunately, the career of this promising pitcher abruptly came to an end on Sunday September 25, when his motorboat collided with a breakwater structure in Miami. His passing, at the age of 24, shocked baseball fans around the world.

Johnny Cueto (Dominican Republic – San Francisco Giants)

After conquering the World Series in 2015, with the Kansas City Royals, Dominican Johnny Cueto, as a freelancer, got the best contract and signed with the San Francisco Giants.

His first steps in the season were spectacular, so he was chosen to open the All-Star Game, with the National League. After that game, things got worse for the Giants. It seemed that the team managed by Bruce Bochy, which has won three World Series over the past six years, would miss the postseason, but a final recovery against the Los Angeles Dodgers, guaranteed the team’s advance to the playoff.

30-year-old Cueto was the best pitcher of the Giants by far. He opened 32 games, won 18 and lost only 5, with 198 strikeouts and 2.79 ERA.

Aroldis Chapman (Cuba – Chicago Cubs)

After six years with the Cincinnati Reds, where he became the most spectacular closer in Major League, with a straight pitch beyond 100 miles per hour, Cuban Aroldis Chapman, who has been already nationalized in the United States, signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees. The Yankees got the most complete trio in MLB, with Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances; however, the team faced several problems and the executives decided to sell both Chapman and Miller.

The Chicago Cubs, the best MLB team, with 103 games won, acquired Chapman and the Cuban pitcher truly fulfilled the high expectations of executives and fans.

With the Yankees, Chapman saved 20 games, totaled 2.01 ERA and delivered 44 strikeouts in 31.1 performances; but his best results were achieved with the Cubs, since he saved 16 games, in 26.2 innings he barely allowed 12 hits, there was no homerun, 46 batters where taken out, 10 walks were given and his ERA was 1.01.

The Cubs are the favorite team to win the World Series and Chapman’s work, with his “missiles”, will be crucial.

Bartolo Colon (Dominican Republic – New York Mets)

When a MLB ballplayer is near 40 years old, he knows that his active baseball life is about to come to an end. But there is an exception to every rule and, in terms of sport longevity, 43-year-old Dominican Bartolo Colon has a lot to teach.

As National League champions, in 2015, the New York Mets had difficult moments in the present season and many people thought they wouldn’t make to the playoff. The injuries suffered by David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steve Matz undoubtedly had an impact on the team managed by Terry Collins; but, surrounded by all of these problems, Colon became the most reliable figure in the pitching lineup, right behind Noah Syndegaard.

The Dominican player finished with 15 wins and 8 games lost, opened 33 games, worked 191.2 innings, delivered strikeouts to 128 batters and his ERA was 3.43. These are spectacular numbers for a pitcher with an iron arm.

Carlos Martinez (Dominican Republic – San Luis Cardinals)

At the age of 24, Carlos Martinez became the most stable pitcher in the San Luis Cardinals’ staff. This team was looking forward to playing in the postseason; nonetheless, it didn’t make due to the defeat against the Mets and the Giants.

Dominican Martinez opened 31 games, won 16 and lost 9. He worked in 195.1 innings, delivered 174 strikeouts (an average of eight every nine innings) and his ERA was 3.04.

The 2016 season was a failure for the Cardinals, but among so much disappointment, the fans at least can “save” two players: Dominican Martinez, for his consistence and Cuban Aledmis Diaz, a revelation in the short field.

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