SP Lance Lynn has experienced a rather unusual beginning to his 2014 season. Despite sporting a hefty 6.55 ERA in his first two starts, the St. Louis Cardinals starter somehow managed to record the win in both games. On Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, Lynn made it three in a row, and put up much better peripherals in the process.
The Brewers entered the contest riding an impressive nine-game winning streak, but Lynn took care of that quite handily. The right-hander was masterful, allowing only three hits in seven scoreless innings for the win. He also struck out 11 while completely dominating the Brewers. Lynn did this on the road against the hottest team in MLB, while earning a much more conventional victory than his previous two starts.
There are many ways to measure the performance and value of a pitcher, but wins and losses should not be particularly high on the list. Lynn’s first two starts of the season, both victories coming against the Cincinnati Reds, produced lines not befitting of a winning pitcher. However, the Cardinals scored seven runs in each of the two games. The run support received by a pitcher is for the most part arbitrary, although a pitcher consistently matching up with the opposing team’s best pitcher may tend to receive less run support.
These types of statistics usually even out over the course of a full season, and a pitcher who gives up five or six runs but escapes with a victory may throw a gem and lose 1-0 later in the season. However, there are pitchers who seem to trend in either direction when it comes to run support, with some receiving an inordinate amount of support and others receiving much less.
Wins and losses simply cannot be trusted as a reliable tool of evaluation because it can make a mediocre pitcher look good and a dominant one merely average.
In regard to Lynn, the right-hander clearly put it all together against the Brewers, lowering his ERA to 4.00. Even though he had been knocked around some in his previous two starts, Lynn did register 11 strikeouts in 11 innings, which is right in line with his career average. This indicates that his stuff was still good, and based on his performance in Milwaukee, Lynn should be fine going forward for the Cardinals.