Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Strasburg leads the league in ERA in Losses


Unlucky Stephen. Photo via

Thanks to the website for this interesting phenomena:

We know Stephen Strasburg has been suffering from some pretty crummy run support so far in 2013 (2.7 runs per start, and it took the team 7 games to score more than 3 runs for him).  What’s also interesting is the table in the above link; Strasburg leads the league in ERA in losses.  He’s got a 3.38 ERA in his 5 losses.

Whats special about that?  Well, most pitchers have dazzling ERAs in their Wins, awful ERAs in their losses, and mediocre-to-bad ERAs in their no-decisions.  Through his first nine starts though Strasburg doesn’t really show this.

  • in 2 wins: 0.60 ERA; he’s given up just 6 hits in 15 innings.  Pretty much unhittable.
  • in 2 No-Decisions: 4.15 ERA
  • in 5 losses: 3.38 ERA.

Compare these numbers to what he did last year:

  • in 15 wins: 1.88 ERA
  • in 7 No-Decisions: 3.12 ERA
  • in 6 Losses: 7.39 ERA.

By and large you see his 2012 numbers for nearly every starting pitcher; when they’re on, they win.  When they’re off, they lose.  Usually the No-decision ERA gives you a relatively decent indicator as to the “true” talent of the pitcher.  I’ve never seen a loss ERA as low as his 2013 number frankly, and it seems to support what we’ve kind of know all along about Strasburg’s 2013 season; no run support, lots of errors and unearned runs behind him, and a lot of bad luck have contributed to an ugly W/L line.

Given these numbers, there’s just no way his W/L record continues to be this bad.

Written by Todd Boss

May 18th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Majors Pitching

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5 Responses to 'Strasburg leads the league in ERA in Losses'

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  1. Strasburg’s lack of mental toughness has been a big factor, particularly in that last loss. It’s another strange quirk of baseball scoring that if a fielder commits an error with nobody on and two outs that even if the pitcher subsequently allows four runs to score they are all unearned. Seems like at some point it goes from being the fielder’s fault to the pitcher’s fault.

    Lack of run support notwithstanding, Strasburg simply hasn’t pitched like an ace this year. That needs to change, especially if the Nats are going to continue to stink it up on offense, throw the ball all over the field on defense, insist upon allowing Storen to pitch in tight games and sticking with bullpen disasters Duke and Rodriguez.


    18 May 13 at 6:23 pm

  2. Kind of agree with bdrube that pitchers get too much of a pass on yielding unearned runs. I honestly don’t know what the right way to account for it is, and acknowledge that not all unearned runs should be treated the same, but it seems they should bear more responsibility for it than they do. I mean, when a defender makes a sensational play behind them, we don’t say ‘well, an average fielder would not have made that play and two runs would have scored, so let’s add that to his ERA’. And I think if Billy- Ball ran numbers including all runs allowed in losses, I think Stras doesn’t look so good.

    That being said, I still think Stras is fine, and has pitched pretty well. He has been susceptible to the big inning, which is a classic problem of a young pitcher. Even so, they could have won half his games with just a tiny bit of O.


    18 May 13 at 7:10 pm

  3. Strasburg hasn’t been all that bad. He got one loss because the offense couldn’t offer more than the 2 runs he allowed. Allowing two runs isn’t terrible. It’s not even bad. It’s crap offense. And this last loss…yes, I suppose he could have held it together and gotten that last out after Zimmerman let ALL the air out of the balloon, totally stopping dead in it’s tracks the momentum that had gotten them 5 straight wins, but he didn’t hold it together. Frankly, I didn’t either and turned it off shortly after Zimmerman threw it away. All in all, I think Strasburg has done fairly well and suffers from the same problem Jordan Zimmermann had last year…working like a dog to have no offense, lousy defense and laughably bad errors give the game away over and over.


    18 May 13 at 8:43 pm

  4. Oh–and here is another one, all special just for J-Zimm: if the PITCHER commits the error, all runs that score as a result should still be earned.


    19 May 13 at 12:07 pm

  5. Agree with previous comments; those 4 unearned runs were mostly on Strasburg. Its yet another reason why stat nerds hate ERA. But then again, I don’t particularly like FIP either (if a pitcher strikes out 8 but gives up 8 runs, he’s “better” in fip than a pitcher who strikes out 2 but gives up zero runs).

    I also think Strasburg is fine. Law of averages shows his run support should rise and he’ll return to his winning ways. Unless Zimmerman throws it away again 😉

    Todd Boss

    19 May 13 at 4:35 pm

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