2011 may not quite be like 1968, when runs were a rare commodity, but the pitching in the Majors is clearly miles ahead of the hitting around the league. Games are shorter. The pitching is better. Run production is at its lowest since 1992.
Apparently the baseball Gods responded to umpire Joe West's comments that games take too long to complete when he commented on the Yankees and Red Sox games in April of last year. Whether or not more pitching and less offense is a good thing, it depends on your baseball tastes as a fan.
A big part of the changing game, and a huge contributor to the Indian's success has been fourth year starter Justin Masterson and sophomore right hander Josh Tomlin. Neither of them are house hold names, but without them, the Tribe would not be in first place this July. Masterson has never had an earned run average north of the 3.28 mark all year, and is tied for fewest home runs allowed (4) by any starter with more than 100 innings logged. His sinker can be untouchable at times, and he keeps hitters guessing as well as anyone in the American League. A little known figure about Masterson is that he led the AL in pitcher putouts in 2010. Masterson's 2.66 ERA is strikingly lower than that of superstar hurlers C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, and Felix Hernandez.
Tomlin's pitching arsenal is different, yet just as good. Relying on pinpoint accuracy and finesse, Tomlin has walked only 13 hitters in 17 starts; by far, the fewest in the Big Leagues. Tomlin has lasted at least six innings in every start this year except one, which came against the Yankees on June 12th. His ability to be around the plate even when he is off has gained him a unique advantage in that the home plate umpire will likely give him the borderline calls near the strike zone.
Starting rotations everywhere in baseball are getting younger, and are more prosperous. It was critical that the Indians have someone step up in order to keep pace with the better pitching in this league. Though the dynamic duo may still be infantile, they will be what will keep the Indians in the race for the AL Central title.