If presented simply with St. Louis Cardinals SP Jake Westbrook‘s strikeout-to-walk ratio — 18 strikeouts to 17 walks — it would be nearly impossible to imagine that he led the National League with a 1.07 ERA. Though Westbrook (6 IP, 1 ER) didn’t need much run support, the Cardinals aided him in his pursuit of win 100, as they bombed Milwaukee Brewers SP Wily Peralta, en route to their 6-5 win. While many will compliment this win as a major career accomplishment for Westbrook, pitcher wins are in fact a generally meaningless stat.
In Jake Westbrook’s 13-year career, he has made 259 starts (and 40 relief appearances). In those 259 starts, he has 135 quality starts — good for a 52 percent quality start percentage. While quality starts are barely a better barometer of a pitcher’s performance than wins, the fact that — regardless of his run support — he has exceeded the low bar of a quality start on 52 percent of the time. His career 4.24 ERA and 95-career xFIP are both underwhelming and representative of his career success.
While the Cardinals are surely enjoying Westbrook’s early season run and are celebrating his 100th victory, his 4.24 career ERA and 4.57 current xFIP are much more representative of what to expect from Westbrook for the remainder of the 2013 campaign. With Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller performing as an elite 1-2 combo of starters, Jaime Garcia functioning as a serviceable No. 3 and Lance Lynn as an above-average No. 4 starter, the Cardinals certainly can afford for the steep regression that is due to hit Westbrook. However, with their elite farm system — ranked No. 1 by many evaluators — it remains very possible that the Cardinals acquire a starter midseason.
In such an event, even with his current run of great luck, it seems that Mr. 100 Jake Westbrook is the leading candidate to be pushed into the bullpen.