Henderson Alvarez of the Marlins, Andrew Cashner of the Padres, Yusmeiro Petit of the Giants, and David Price of the Rays are your choices for September as voting is under way at MLB.com to decide Major League Baseball's Pitching Performance of the Month presented by Head & Shoulders.
The monthly award is part of the ongoing "Season of the #Whiff" campaign. Will the final-day no-hitter by Alvarez make it two straight awards to the Marlins, following Jose Fernandez for August? Perhaps you were more impressed by the near-no-hitters by Cashner and Petit, who both had fewer walks (0) and more strikeouts (7) than Alvarez. Or is Price's complete-game win in the 163rd game worthy of the top pick?
Here is a closer look at your candidates for September:
Henderson Alvarez, Sept. 29 vs. Detroit
No-hitter, 9 IP, 1 BB, 4 K's
True, Tigers manager Jim Leyland rested Miguel Cabrera and pulled Prince Fielder early. But this was a Justin Verlander start for the American League Central champs, and no one will forget what happened in the Marlins' finale. Standing on deck, Alvarez watched a wild pitch allow the only run he needed in the bottom of ninth, completing his no-no.
Alvarez needed just 76 pitches to get through seven innings, 86 through eight and 99 for the gem. It was a great way to end a year that started with him on the disabled list due to inflammation in his right shoulder. He didn't make his first start until July 4.
"I really was focusing on finishing strong, and to go out there on my last day and have a good start," Alvarez said. "The no-hitter just makes me go into the offseason wanting to work even harder. It's a way to motivate me and prepare me for next season."
Andrew Cashner, Sept. 16 at Pittsburgh
SHO, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 7 K's
Cashner's perfect game was broken up by Jose Tabata's leadoff single in the seventh, and the Pirates, fighting at home for postseason position, never managed another hit. Andrew McCutchen eventually erased Tabata on an inning-ending double play, meaning Cashner finished the game -- his first complete game in 31 career starts at the time -- having faced the minimum 27 batters.
"He's a good, good young pitcher. A power arm -- he had a three-pitch mix tonight … breaking ball, changeup -- right on right -- fastball command," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Not only was the stuff sharp, he was very efficient, throwing strikes all night long. There's more there. Earlier in the season, [he] was dialing it up to three digits. Just a really good start by him."
Yusmeiro Petit, Sept. 6 vs. Arizona
SHO, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 7 K's
Petit was one strike away from perfection. Eric Chavez, pinch-hitting for D-backs starter Patrick Corbin, saw his fourth four-seamer of the at-bat, all around the same 88-89-mph range, and lined the 3-2 pitch to right for a single, just eluding Hunter Pence's diving attempt. A groundout then ended it. Petit, a right-hander who had built a long journeyman career with various organizations, came so close to joining Tim Lincecum with a second Giants no-hitter in 2013.
"I felt the same as if I would have thrown a no-hitter," Petit said through an interpreter.
David Price, Monday at Rangers
W, 9 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K's
Price brought little success against the Rangers into the tiebreaker start, having gone 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in eight career regular-season starts against Texas and 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA in three postseason starts.
This time, Price threw 118 pitches and elevated his game to another level, setting up a matchup at Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game. And by going the distance, he importantly conserved the bullpen for anything ahead.
"These are the moments I thought about as a kid," Price said. "It feels unbelievable. Just running out there for the ninth inning. It's what I've wanted to do my entire life. I want to do that again -- Game 7 of the World Series or Game 4 or something like that. I appreciated Joe (Maddon) letting me go back out there. I feel like he thought I was in control of that game. That was fun."
In addition to voting for the monthly award, you can continue to be part of the ongoing Season of the #Whiff campaign throughout the postseason. See a whiff, tweet a #Whiff to @HSforMen.