by Russell Preston, KHTK Sacramento

It’s late July and around the league, rookies have solidified themselves as either future stars, role players or duds. Thankfully for the San Francisco Giants, they have a star in the making with Chris Heston.

As a 27-year-old, Heston may be considered a little old for a rookie, but his experience in the minor leagues have prepared him for the weight he has carried for the Giants this season. After six full seasons in the minors, Heston got his shot when Matt Cain and Jake Peavy broke down early on in the season. He filled in and never looked back.

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Leading all rookie starting pitchers with an 11-5 record and 3.14 ERA, Heston has been the best pitcher on the Giants behind only Madison Bumgarner. He threw a no-hitter on the road in just his 12th big league start and he has allowed more than three runs in just five outings this year.

Some may argue sluggers Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs or Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers deserve the NL award over Heston because they have hit 35 home runs between them. Homers are nice, but neither of them are hitting above .255 and they both strike out a lot. Out of all batters in the league, they both rank No. 2 and 3 in strikeouts behind Chris Davis of Baltimore.

There is no doubt the Giants would be a much worse team if they didn’t have Heston to rely on. He has allowed the third fewest home runs per nine innings and had pitched throughout the sixth inning 13 out of his 20 starts.

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If voters don’t get distracted by the home runs hit by Bryant and Pederson, Heston should get a legitimate shot at winning the same award Buster Posey won in 2010.

Heston does have a teammate running against him in Matt Duffy, who has been as valuable to the Giants as Heston this year. His offensive numbers, however, may not be strong enough by the end of the season compared to the powerful Bryant and Pederson.

Other rookie pitchers in the mix around the NL are Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets (4-5, 2.97 ERA), Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks (3-5, 2.70 ERA) and Taylor Jungmann of the Milwaukee Brewers (5-2, 2.14 ERA). All of which have started at least seven fewer games than Heston this year, hurting their chances of winning the award.

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