Helsley Named The Cardinal Nation July Pitcher of the Month

(photo: Ryan Helsley/Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

This is Part 2 of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series in which we name our Players and Pitchers of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The top July player, Breyvic Valera, has already been named, leaving our top pitcher honors today.

The guidelines

I am a firm believer in letting the comparative data tell the story. In the following table are the nine finalists for the Pitcher of the Month. To qualify, they needed a sub-3.00 ERA and at least 20 innings thrown.

There is solid cross-section of hurlers, as all six of the top levels of play are represented by one or more finalists. Making the analysis a bit more challenging is the fact that four of the nine were promoted during the month. In every case, as one would expect, the result at the higher level was not as dominant as before they were promoted.

When all is said and done, I chose to use the full month’s results, combining those with multiple levels into one stat line.

The data

The nine finalists are listed in ERA sequence from lowest to highest.

Ryan Helsley 22.0 4 4 11 26 10.6 1 8 3.3 0.864 1.64 PB
Jonathon Mulford 25.7 5 10 23 27 9.5 1 16 5.6 1.548 1.75 SC
Jack Flaherty 26.3 6 6 22 25 8.5 3 7 2.4 1.111 2.05 Mem
Mike O’Reilly 44.0 11 11 31 45 9.2 7 6 1.2 0.84 2.25 Peo-PB
Daniel Castano 38.3 10 13 39 36 8.5 0 5 1.2 1.155 2.35 SC
Sam Tewes 33.7 9 11 27 20 5.3 3 7 1.9 1.01 2.41 SC-Peo
Evan Guillory 21.7 6 7 19 19 7.9 1 4 1.7 1.085 2.49 JC
Zac Gallen 33.7 10 11 28 24 6.4 2 6 1.6 1.01 2.67 Spr-Mem
Dakota Hudson 39.7 12 12 36 24 5.4 0 13 2.9 1.235 2.72 Spr-Mem

The winner

Ryan Helsley (Palm Beach Cardinals)

Palm Beach’s Ryan Helsley was actually the fifth of the nine to be promoted, but the 23-year old did not make his Springfield debut until August 1. The latter result will figure into next month’s competition.

Though the right-hander made just four July starts, all with the Beach Birds, Helsley dominated. His 1.64 ERA and strikeout rate of 10.6 per nine innings both topped our list. His very few baserunners allowed also stands out, with any WHIP under 1.00 fantastic. The only negatives are a walk rate that was second-highest among our group and a lower innings-pitched total than some of the other finalists.

In 93 2/3 innings for the Beach Birds this season, Helsley fanned 91 and walked 30 while posting a 2.69 ERA.

In culminating his Florida State League stop with a stellar July, Helsley showed everyone, including the Cardinals player development staff, that his promotion to Double-A was deserved.

Congratulations to Ryan Helsley, The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for July.

Major update

Jordan Hicks (Peoria Chiefs)

Before I get to the honorable mentions, I must make an admission of a major omission. When sorting the data on my 20-inning minimum, I missed another pitcher promoted during the month who had outstanding stats split across two levels.

Jordan Hicks not only would have been the 10th finalist, he should have been the winner.

The right-hander pitched eight innings for Peoria, followed by 17 for Palm Beach and across those 25 frames, delivered a dominating performance. The 20-year old logged a finalist-best 1.08 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP that tied the best of our class. Hicks’ strikeout rate of 10.8 was the best among our group.

My sincere apology to Hicks for initially missing his dominant July performance in its totality.

Jordan Hicks 25.0 3 3 16 30 10.8 0 5 1.8 0.84 1.08 Peo-PB

Honorable Mentions

We will take the other eight finalists by level, starting with Johnson City and working up to Memphis.

Evan Guillory (Johnson City Cardinals)

Evan Guillory (Johnson City) – St. Louis’ 23rd-rounder from Louisiana-Lafayette this June made seven relief appearances, followed by two starts to end the month. The right-hander delivered solid results across the board, though his 2.49 ERA was toward the high side of this distinguished group.

Jonathon Mulford (State College) – The bottom line, a 1.75 ERA is exceptional and the strikeout rate is second highest among the nine. However, there are as many unearned runs as earned on his ledger and the walk rate is a concern.

Daniel Castano (State College Spikes)

Daniel Castano (State College) – The lefty from Baylor got out of the chutes quickly in June and continued to pitch well in July. Castano tied for the lowest walk rate and was one of only two finalists to not give up a long ball.

Sam Tewes (State College and Peoria) – Unable to pitch last season due to Tommy John surgery, the Cards’ eighth-rounder from last June is making up for lost time. The former Wichita State star is not a strikeout king, but does an exceptional job in both limiting hits and walks. His final start of the month was as a member of the Peoria Chiefs.

Mike O’Reilly (Peoria-Palm Beach) – The workhorse was already gone by the time Tewes reached the Midwest League, making three July starts each for Peoria and Palm Beach. As would be expected, O’Reilly dominated at the lower level (1.17 ERA) and was very good, but not great at his new stop (3.43 ERA). Note the oddity in that he allowed more home runs, seven, than walks issued, six.

Zac Gallen (Palm Beach Cardinals)

Zac Gallen (Springfield-Memphis) – The month opened with Gallen filling in for the second and third of three starts at Triple-A before his return to Springfield. The right-hander was consistently strong at both levels and should get another shot with Memphis when the need arises.

Dakota Hudson (Springfield-Memphis) – The month ended with Hudson at Memphis, given his opportunity the next time after Gallen made his maiden voyage to the Triple-A Redbirds. Hudson gave up four runs in seven innings in his Memphis debut. Not bad, but not quite up to winning standards here, but his Springfield numbers (including a 2.20 ERA in 32 2/3 July innings) were clearly indicative of a promotion earned.

Jack Flaherty (Memphis Redbirds)

Jack Flaherty (Memphis) – Last but far from least is the pitcher among this group who appears closest to reaching St. Louis.

In the process of allowing just six runs across his five July starts at the highest minor league level, the top pitching prospect lowered his season ERA by over one run to its current 3.21.

June’s winner in July

Mike Mayers/USA TODAY Sports Images

What a different 30 days makes! Our June Pitcher of the Month, Mike Mayers, began July with St. Louis, was moved to relief at Memphis, then was called to St. Louis again for a single day as an insurance policy.

As noted, Mayers was assigned to the Triple-A Memphis bullpen in what looks to be a permanent move – with all of the above occurring since receiving our last award.

In one start and five relief outings with the Redbirds in July, the 23-year old put together a stellar 1.64 ERA. Mayers struck out nine and issued just one free pass in 11 innings. So, the early returns on his bullpen transition are positive.

What’s Next

Look for the Cardinals organization’s announcement of their choices as the top pitching and hitting performers from July.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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