Graphic by Greg Zumach made from a pic by Todd Johnson

Our award for Starting Pitcher of the Year might be the worst kept secret at North Side Bound. It was a unanimous vote for Luis Devers to win this year‘s nod. In addition, Porter Hodge was also unanimous for second place and he was followed by Luke Little, Tyler Santana, and Jordan Wicks.

At the start of the 2022 season, Luis Devers was a guy who could possibly break out in Myrtle Beach. Todd knew it, Greg Zumach knew it, Jimmy knew it, and I knew it. He had been an All-Star in the Arizona Complex League in 2021 and he was a guy who was coming in with a little bit of fanfare with his changeup.

Heading into the year, last year‘s winner, DJ Herz, proclaimed that he wanted to win back-to-back titles and for 3 1/2 months, it was pretty tight between Devers and Herz along with Porter Hodge.

In April, both DJ Herz and Porter Hodge had ERAs under two. North Side Bound went with DJ Herz as our pitcher of the month as he had a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings while the Chicago Cubs went with Hodge and his 1.56 ERA. Devers was nowhere in the picture with a 3.60 ERA that month.

When May rolled around, Devers put in a month to be reckoned with. In 24.1 innings, he struck out 28 and had a 1.48 ERA. June saw Javier Assad put up a 1.78 ERA as he moved from Tennessee to Iowa. Assad would even make it to Chicago later in the summer. Assad had a good month with a 3.00 ERA with 32 Ks in 27 frames. That got him a promotion to South Bend.

Devers would be joined in South Bend by Porter Hodge for the remainder of the year. Herz and Wicks would go up to Tennessee and this horse race took a dramatic turn.

For the next 2 and 1/2 months, Devers and Hodge both pitched lights out baseball while Herz and Wicks had some adjusting to do at Double-A. Devers dominated the rest of the regular season as he posted a 1.05 ERA at South Bend with 47 strikeouts in 51.1 innings. Hodge was not far behind with a 2.01 ERA at South Bend with 51 Ks in 40.1 innings. But Devers won the award going away.

For Devers, the next logical step is he’ll probably be added to the 40-man this winter and begin 2023 in Tennessee. Over the winter, the Cubs might work on him adding some velocity as he does only throw in the low 90s. However, Devers was seen goosing it up there into the mid 90s a couple of times. If that’s the case, Todd Johnson is all on board. He said,

Most of Devers success this year came on two kinds of pitches. One was a changeup which plays at any level but he also did a lot of quick pitching which may not work as well at AA. However, if he takes his fastball and bumps it from 91 or 92 to 94, then that’s a different story. One wouldn’t think a couple miles an hour would make a difference on a quick pitch, but it does.

For Devers to be added to 40-man, the Cubs have until November 18 to do so. If they don’t, well then that is another post for another day.