John Maine, Tim Hudson, Brad Penny and Rich Hill top the list of best pitchers in the month of April for the National League.
The criteria I use to determine the elite pitchers each month includes wins, ERA, K/BB ratio, hits allowed and quality outings. All four pitchers exemplified great skill in most categories and while some pitchers did not accumulate the most victories, they had the best quality performances.
New York Mets right-hander John Maine entered the 2007 season as the third starter in the rotation, but ended the month of April as the Mets' ace. In 33.1 innings pitched Maine surrendered a mere five earned runs and 18 hits against some of the leagues top offenses. The 25-year old ended the month 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA and captured the award as the NL's pitcher of the month. On top of that Maine is arguably baseball's best performing pitcher through the first five weeks of the season.
After a disappointing 2006 campaign where he went 13-12 with a 4.86 ERA, Atlanta Braves right-hander Tim Hudson is 3-0 on the season with a immaculate 1.40 earned run average. In 45 innings pitched this season Hudson has allowed seven earned runs, 29 hits and one long ball.
His most impressive stat might be that he has 32 strikeouts compared to 12 walks in the month of April. With a shaky starting rotation the Braves need stability and they have found that in the 9-year veteran who has gone at least seven innings in all five outings and has yet to permit more than three runners to score.
Dodgers hurler Brad Penny has continued the success that landed him as the starter in last years All-Star Game by going 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA. In give games started he has yet to allow more than three earned runs and in each outing has lasted at least six innings.
While the 28-year old's walk and hit count were high, he has been lethal at keeping opposing offenses at bay. With Jason Schmidt injured L.A. will need to rely on Penny for quality outings and so far the Oklahoma native has proven he's up for the test.
Lastly, Chicago Cubs youngster Rich Hill has been nothing but unhittable this season. He enters the month of May 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA and in four out of his five outings he has permitted two runs or less.
A bright spot for the left-hander has been that he's kept his hit total low and his K/BB ratio at nearly 3:1. In only his second full major league season the 26-year old is transforming into one of the elite left-handed pitchers in the NL. It might be the start of May, but there can be a serious case made for Hill to be an All-Star come the middle of July.
While the four starting pitchers mentioned had excellent first months of the season, there are several other hurlers that deserve credit for pitching outstanding. That list includes Brewers starter Chris Capuano, Padres ace Jake Peavy, Cubs right-hander Jason Marquis and Brew Crew closer Francisco Cordero.