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May 1, 2007 at 1:37 PM

More on “quality starts”

Thought we could have some fun on this topic, just to prove how annoying it can be for someone trying to spot quality. Or determine who is truly defined as a No. 2 starter. Here are the top-20 so-called “quality start” leaders from 2006. Remember, the stat is defined as a pitcher who throws at least six innings while allowing three earned runs or less. I’ll put the guy’s total number of starts in brackets.
Roy Oswalt — 25 (32)
Chris Capuano — 25 (34)
John Smoltz — 24 (35)
Johan Santana — 24 (34)
Mike Mussina — 23 (32)
Brandon Webb — 23 (33)
John Lackey — 23 (33)
Bronson Arroyo — 23 (35)
Carlos Zambrano — 22 (33)
Tom Glavine — 22 (32)
Kevin Millwood — 22 (34)
Brett Myers — 22 (31)
Jake Peavy — 21 (32)
Vicente Padilla — 20 (33)
Erik Bedard — 20 (33)
Derek Lowe — 20 (34)
Barry Zito — 20 (34)
Andy Pettitte — 20 (35)
Nate Robertson — 20 (32)
Kelvim Escobar — 20 (30)
So, we can determine that the “quality starters” throw such a start two out of every three times. Interesting. Now, we’ll get the recognized staff aces and recent Cy Young Award winners out of there and start looking to see who we can judge as a quality No. 2 guy. Let’s take that list and see how many “quality starts” of seven or more innings they had:
Bronson Arroyo — 19 (35)
John Lackey — 18 (33)
Brett Myers — 17 (31)
Jake Peavy — 17 (32)
Chris Capuano — 16 (34)
Vicente Padilla — 15 (33)
Nate Robertson –15 (32)
Kelvim Escobar — 15 (30)
Derek Lowe — 15 (34)
Erik Bedard — 12 (33)
Andy Pettitte — 12 (35)
Tom Glavine — 11 (32)
So, I think it is reasonable to conclude from this list that the true No. 2 starter is a guy who can give a seven-inning “quality start” roughly every other time he takes the mound. Some of the guys in the above list are already considered the No. 1 guy on their staff. But there is a difference between being a No. 1 and being an ace. Erik Bedard wouldn’t be the No. 1 guy in Minnesota, or Seattle, for instance. But he would certainly be a No. 2.
Let’s see who provides the best ratio of seven-inning “quality starts” for their teams every time out.
Brett Myers 1:1.82
John Lackey 1:1.83
Bronson Arroyo 1:1.84
Jake Peavy 1:1.88
Kelvim Escobar 1:2.00
Chris Capuano 1:2.13
Nate Robertson 1:2.13
Vicente Padilla 1:2.20
Derek Lowe 1:2.27
Erik Bedard 1:2.75
Tom Glavine 1:2.91
Andy Pettitte 1:2.92
So, there you have the top dozen candidates to be, if not a No. 1, at least a No. 2 starter. What, no Ted Lilly? Didn’t the Cubs just pay him all that money? Wasn’t he a 15-game winner last season? Sorry, chumps. By the way, just for kicks, let’s take the top-7 guys from our list and check out their won-lost records.
Brett Myers — 12-7, 3.91
John Lackey –13-11, 3.56
Bronson Arroyo –14-11, 3.29
Jake Peavy — 11-14, 4.09
Kelvim Escobar — 11-14, 3.61
Chris Capuano — 11-12, 4.03
Nate Robertson — 13-13, 3.84
Not a single 15-game winner in the bunch. Three of the seven had losing records and one was a .500 pitcher. But chances are, get them on the mound and they’ll give their team a better hope at winning each time out than any other No. 2 starters in the game today. For those who wondered this spring why I was so high on Angels starter Escobar, there you go. The Mariners? They don’t have anyone on the list. But Washburn gave it a go his last two outings. Let’s see what happens tonight.
To answer a question below, yes, Peavy and Lackey are consensus “No. 1” guys on their staff. But are they true “aces” of their staffs? I’d argue that a true “ace” has to win at least 15 games and have an ERA under 4.00 as a minimum. The term “ace” is overused so often these days. Is Felix Hernandez an ace? In my book, he’s a 12-game winner with a great upside. Proving is everything in this game.



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