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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

April 8, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Felix Hernandez and the Opening Day starters

As Geoff pointed out in his blog today, a lot of Opening Day starters had bad days — the likes of C.C. Sabathia, Aaron Cook, Jeff Suppan, John Lannan (the fact that John Lannan is starting on Opening Day tells you all you need to know about the Washington Nationals) and both reigning Cy Young Award winners, Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum.

And many Opening Day starters had very good days, especially Atlanta’s Derek Lowe, but also Josh Beckett (Red Sox),Gil Meche (Royals), Joe Saunders (Angels), Hideki Kuroda (Dodgers) and Kevin Millwood (Rangers). But no one, arguably, had a better game than Felix Hernandez, when you take into consideration the fact that he twisted his ankle in the first inning. Lowe, who blanked the Phillies on two hits, was the only other pitcher to work eight innings. Seven others worked seven innings.

There’s no saying how Felix’s season will play out, of course. In each of the past two seasons, he’s gotten off to spectacular starts (15 innings without giving up an earned run in his first two starts last year — both Seattle losses, by the way; and 17 innings without giving up an earned run in his first two starts in 2007, including a one-hit masterpiece against Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox at Fenway Park). He finished with good seasons each time, but not quite the breakout season that fans are waiting for. Maybe this bodes well for such an occurence this year…or maybe not.

Just for the heck of it, I made a chart of all 30 pitchers who made the Opening Day start for their team, and how they did. They worked a cumulative 169 2/3 innings, gave up 178 hits, 98 runs, 95 earned runs and 56 walks while striking out 116 — a 5.04 earned run average. Winning pitchers (11 of them) racked up a 2.22 ERA, losing pitchers (12 of them) had a 7.96 ERA, while those with no decison (seven of them) had a 5.35 ERA.

Winning pitchers ip h r er bb so
Derek Lowe 8 2 0 0 0 4
Joe Saunders 6 2/3 3 0 0 2 2
Felix Hernandez 8 5 1 1 3 6
Jeremy Guthrie 6 7 3 3 3 3
Kevin Millwood 7 5 1 1 1 5
Roy Halladay 7 6 5 5 1 2
Johan Santana 5 2/3 3 1 1 4 7
Ricky Nolasco 6 6 5 4 0 6
Carlos Zambrano 6 5 1 1 3 6
Hiroki Kuroda 5 2/3 4 1 1 1 2
Josh Beckett 7 2 1 1 3 10
Totals 73 48 19 18 21 53

(ERA: 2.22)
Losing pitchers ip h r er bb so
Brett Myers 6 8 4 4 1 6
Francisco Liriano 7 4 4 4 0 3
Dallas Braden 6 9 3 3 1 3
C.C. Sabathia 4 1/3 8 6 6 5 0
Cliff Lee 5 10 7 7 1 5
Justin Verlander 3 2/3 8 8 8 2 4
Aaron Harang 5 7 1 1 3 2
John Lannan 3 6 6 6 0 1
Roy Oswalt 7 7 3 3 1 2
Jake Peavy 7 7 4 3 2 8
James Shields 5 1/3 9 5 5 3 2
Jeff Suppan 4 6 6 6 1 1
Totals 63 1/3 89 57 56 20 37

(ERA: 7.96)

Pitchers with no decision ip h r er bb so
Aaron Cook 2 1/3 7 6 6 1 2
Brandon Webb 4 6 6 6 2 2
Paul Maholm 6 2/3 7 2 1 1 1
Adam Wainright 5 1/3 4 2 2 5 7
Gil Meche 7 7 1 1 0 6
Mark Buehrle 5 6 2 2 3 3
Tim Lincecum 3 4 3 3 3 5
Totals 33 1/3 41 22 21 15 26
(ERA: 5.35)

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