R.A. Dickey pitched well last night, allowing two runs in seven innings, striking out five and walking none, lowering his ERA to 3.72 on the season. He also took the loss, as the Mets scored just one run against Tim Hudson and the Braves, dropping below .500 on the year. Dickey’s record dropped to 5-10 on the season, and he now owns the fifth-worst winning percentage (.333) in the NL despite having an above-average ERA.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but a lot of times wins are a silly statistic. Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to pay attention to them, though.
Baseball-Reference keeps track of a stat called “tough losses,” which are games in which a starting pitcher makes a quality start (at least six innings pitched, no more than three earned runs allowed) but takes a loss anyway. Dickey now has five tough losses on the season, tying him for second most in the NL with Tim Lincecum, Jordan Zimmermann, and Mat Latos; Hiroki Kuroda and Madison Bumgarner are the real hard luck pitchers, both having six tough losses on the year. Dickey has also taken three no-decisions in quality starts, meaning he’s made 13 quality starts this season and walked away with just five wins. He’s not the unluckiest pitcher in the NL this season, in terms of wins and losses, but he is one of the unluckiest.
And then on top of that, five of Dickey’s 13 quality starts have been “true quality starts,” starts in which he’s pitched at least seven innings and given up two or fewer earned runs. Last night was his fifth such start this season; his record in those five starts is 1-2. Madison Bumgarner has made nine true quality starts on the year, going 4-4 in those starts. Hiroki Kuroda has made seven true quality starts, and he’s 5-0 in those starts. Tim Lincecum has made 10 true quality starts and is 5-3 in them, Jordan Zimmermann has made six and is 2-2, and Mat Latos has made three and he’s 1-2. I believe this makes Madison Bumgarner the king of tough luck pitchers in the NL — he’s getting 2.8 runs per game in support and has taken four “really tough losses” — but R.A. Dickey has a case as the Duke of Tough Luck.
How many of you just got “The Duke of Earl” stuck in your head?
How many did now? Sorry.
But Dickey is not the only tough luck Mets pitcher: Chris Capuano and Jon Niese have taken four tough losses apiece, meaning the Mets have four of the fourteen NL pitchers with at least four tough losses. Hmm. I wonder why that could be.
But the Mets also have one of the luckiest pitchers, in terms of wins and losses: Dillon Gee has made 17 starts this season, with just eight of them quality starts, a 47% quality start rate. This is actually the worst rate on the Mets — Dickey, Capuano, Niese, and even Mike Pelfrey have all made at least 50% of their starts quality starts. Overall, the Mets pitching staff has done a decent job keeping them in games. So you could make an argument that Gee has been the worst Mets starter this season. Not necessarily a good argument, but you could back it up a little with this stat.
But the Mets are 13-4 in Gee’s starts, a .765 winning percentage when he starts the game. This is the second best winning percentage in the league, trailing only the Phillies with Roy Halladay on the mound (.826%). So, in some weird way, you could make an argument that Dillon Gee is the second best pitcher in the National League because his team wins a lot when he pitches. Again, not a good argument, but you could back it up a little.
The moral of the story, as always: Wins are a convoluted and silly statistic, R.A. Dickey is still a very good pitcher, and no one can stop the Duke of Earl.