If you’re looking for a good way to screw up your pitching staff, look no further than a blowup start. The “Johnny Wholestaff” effort, as it is affectionately known.
They can throw a bullpen into chaos and prompt unplanned roster moves, shuttling in fresh arms in from the minor leagues as the ever-valuable “player options” are used and abused. Can a team get out of these ugly starts in one piece?
63 times this season, a team’s starting pitcher failed to record more than six outs. Not all these starts are ugly outings, as weather delays sometimes end the starters night early as well. The damage done to the relievers is all the same.
The most recent blow-up start was last night, when Angels starter Jerome Williams of the Los Angeles Angels failed to escape the second inning, giving up seven runs to the Cardinals in a game the Angels went on to lose 12-2.
Teams are 13-50 in these games, with the bulk of the victories (six of the 13) coming in games cut short by weather or pitcher injury. Are some teams hit harder by these blowups than others?
Unsurprisingly, a team with one of the worst, most patchwork starting rotation has fallen victim to the most blowup starts of the year: your Toronto Blue Jays.
Five teams are yet to experience a short start like this: Baltimore, the White Sox, the Cubs, the Mets, and the Marlins. Not exactly the finest groups of starters in the league, and many a last place team among them. Conversely, the Pirates have the best record in baseball yet there they are, right at the top of the list with five blowup starts.
This is hardly a scientific study but maybe these starts aren’t the end of the world in their own right? Some servicable long work after punting on a game and a team can survive. If anything, the Jays run of terrible starts shows that it isn’t the explosions that kill your team as much as the four and five inning slow burns in which the starter proves incapable of bearing down and giving the team more innings.
On Tuesday night, Doug Fister of the Tigers gave his team six innings after allowing six runs in the first two innings. He didn’t get the “win” but he’s escape act saved the team using a long man or, worse yet, putting them even further behind.
Every little bit helps. But mostly, don’t blowup. It’s not a good look.
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