Monday, April 13, 2009

Phun Phact: (Low) Quality Starts: Part I

We're through six games in the 2009 season and the Phillies have a respectable 3-3 record. Considering the team's tendency in recent years to start off slow, this comes as no surprise. What has been a bit surprising is the poor performance of the Phillies starting rotation, which was a major strength in '08.

Through the first six games, the Phillies have had zero quality starts. (For those of you not familiar with the term 'quality start', it signifies a start in which a pitcher allows 3 or fewer earned runs in 6 or more innings.) That makes the Phillies one of three teams in the majors without a single quality start at this point in the season.

Cleveland and Washington are the other teams without a quality start, which is unimpressive, but then again they aren't the defending World Champions. The Phillies are the first defending World Champions to go six games without a quality start since the 1984 Baltimore Orioles (who coincidentally beat the Phillies in the 1983 Series).

The '84 Orioles went 1-5 in those games and would not get their first quality start until the 8th game of the season, a 6-5 win over Cleveland, the quality start coming courtesy of Storm Davis.

The Orioles didn't end up having a terrible year, finishing 85-77, but that put them in 5th place in the East Division (remember, back then there were only two divisions in each league, so they were 5th out of 8). Oddly enough, the AL West was so poor that year that the Orioles would have actually finished first, ahead of the 84-78 Kansas City Royals.

What does this say about the Phillies? Probably not too much, but it does seem to drive home the point that pitching wins championships and, thus far, the 2009 Phillies rotation has looked nothing like the pitchers that won it all last year.

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