Run Support Winners and Losers Through May
Last month, I broke down the five luckiest and unluckiest pitchers in terms of run support. Now that the month of May is long gone, it's time to see how things changed at the position - which pitchers have been fortunate with a lot of run support, and which ones have seen a poor record because their teams can't hit the ball? Let's take a look.
Note: All stats where pitchers are league leaders are among starters who have started five or more times.
Pitchers with the Best Run Support
|Player||Runs per Game|
It’s no shock to find a Rockies pitcher at the top of this list, especially with their 5.00 runs per game average, which is third-best in the Majors. The reality, however, is that Juan Nicasio hasn't been impressive thus far in the season. His ERA is a rough 4.68, and he possesses even worse FIP of 5.07. He has an average WHIP at 1.40, and his K/9 is a career-low 5.6. While a lot can be attributed to the fact that he’s pitching in the Rocky Mountains, he's had some rough games on the road, too. It's worth noting that Nicasio had a more reasonable ERA at 4.06 before he allowed seven runs against the Braves in his last start, but it's clear that the righty is definitely no ace.
Maintaining his spot among the top-five run-getters in the bigs is Jesse Chavez. The Oakland righty continues to show impressive numbers this season, with a 3.04 ERA and a 3.64 FIP. The A’s continue to have success when he pitches, too, posting a 9-3 record as a result. Through two months, he continues to be impressive and should be able to do so through the All-Star break, too.
Although the Texas lefty isn't getting as many runs as he did a month ago, C.J. Wilson still finds himself among the top pitchers in terms of run-support in the league. Wilson has done well in the past month, even though he allowed five runs against Toronto in his second start of May. Wilson threw his first shutout of the season against the Rays though, and only allowed one run against the Royals after that. He looks like he is sharpening his stuff, so don’t let his flop against Houston be an accurate indicator of his value.
Three pitchers round out this list: Mark Buehrle, Felix Hernandez and James Shields. Although he’s the oldest, Buehrle seems to be the most impressive, with a 10-1 record, 2.10 ERA and a 3.07 FIP. Though one could argue that Hernandez is equally impressive, as he's 8-1 with a 2.57 ERA and leads MLB starters with a 2.13 FIP. Shields has been solid at 6-3 with a 3.68, but his FIP is a little high at 4.13, and he's clearly been the least effective out of utilizing his run support when compared to Buehrle and Hernandez.
Pitchers with the Worst Run Support
|Player||Runs per Game|
Well, it’s no shock to anyone baseball fan to see Jeff Samardzija at the top of this list. It took Samardzija 11 starts to get his first win, improving his record to 1-4. He suffered his fifth loss in his last start, giving up eight runs over the course of three innings. This was his only start under five innings though, and his only start where he allowed more than three earned runs. Through his 12 starts, his offense has scored two runs or less eight times, losing in 10 of Samardzija’s 12 starts.
The Cubs’ ace is in the top 10 amongst National League starters in ERA at 2.54, and up until his last start, that number was 1.68. Samardzija also has a good 3.02 FIP, which is 11th-best in the NL amongst starters. His walks per nine is at the lowest of his career, too, at 2.7.
To be fair, Samardzija's K/9 (7.7) has dropped from his 9.1 average since he began starting every five days for the Cubbies. The Indiana-native needs to find his way out of Chicago if he wants more wins though, because they're one of the worst teams in terms of runs per game, ranking 21st in the league.
Next on the list is Ian Kennedy, who, in his first full season in San Diego, seems to have found himself once again. Kennedy's posted a 3.39 ERA and 2.83 FIP through 13 starts. The Padres, however, continue to have offense struggles as a ball club, averaging only 3.18 runs per game. They have the worst average in the bigs by a quarter of a run.
Kennedy's had a bit more luck in terms of wins and losses than Samardzja, with a 5-6 record on the season. While he's allowed four or five runs three times, Kennedy has churned out eight quality starts thus far. San Diego is 6-7 throughout Kennedy’s starts, and it doesn’t look like the Padres are going to start producing more runs, with the league worst batting average (.221) and on-base percentage (.283), on top of the second-worst slugging percentage (.351)
Brandon McCarthy hasn't had the best start to the season. With his lack of run support, the Arizona righty has logged the most losses in the Majors. Even though his offense hasn’t helped him all that much, his numbers display that he is having trouble pulling his own weight. His 5.13 ERA is less than impressive, and the fact that he's allowed the most hits and earned runs in the NL raises cause for concern.
On the other hand, the nine-year MLB veteran has a rock-solid FIP of 3.79, and he's managed to only walk 14 batters. McCarthy also has an impressive 8.2 K/9, the best of his career by 0.9 strikeouts. A big problem for him has been home runs, serving up 12 over his 13 starts.
Michael Wacha continues to have success in his first full campaign, striking out 76 hitters through 79.1 innings for an 8.6 K/9. He has also logged a low WHIP at 1.08 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.80. His FIP is amongst the top 15 starters in the league at 2.75, walking or hitting only 25 batters and only letting four batters leave the yard.
Unfortunately for Wacha, the Cardinals offense has been unable to back him throughout the year. St. Louis is only averaging 3.80 runs a game and dropping off from their MLB third best runs per game (4.83) in 2013. Although they don’t have the stable bat of Carlos Beltran in their lineup anymore, they still have a lot of pop and will figure their offense out soon.