The great starter W famine of 2013

Wade wonders, "Where have the wins gone?" - Denis Poroy

Ian Kennedy was lifted after 4.1 inning today, becoming the 21st consecutive Diamondback starting pitcher to walk away from a game without a win. It's now the second-longest such streak in franchise history.

Let's start off by reviewing the saga of the last 21 games

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc WPA
1 Ian Kennedy Jun 06 STL L 8-12 GS-4 ,L 4 13 10 10 2 4 3 99 60 -2 -50.1%
2 Patrick Corbin Jun 07 SFG W 3-1 GS-8 7.1 7 1 1 0 4 0 101 74 64 16.9%
3 Trevor Cahill Jun 08 SFG L 5-10 GS-4 ,L 3.2 9 8 8 1 3 1 76 46 13 -33.3%
4 Tyler Skaggs Jun 09 SFG L 2-6 GS-5 ,L 5 8 5 5 3 4 2 102 63 32 -30.5%
5 Wade Miley Jun 10 LAD W 5-4 GS-6 6 9 3 3 2 4 1 94 57 44 -12.8%
6 Ian Kennedy Jun 11 LAD L 3-5 GS-7 6.1 4 2 2 2 6 1 94 60 61 -1.3%
7 Patrick Corbin Jun 12 LAD W 8-6 GS-5 5 8 4 4 0 2 0 65 45 37 -32.8%
8 Trevor Cahill Jun 14 SDP L 1-2 GS-6 ,L 5.2 5 2 2 3 10 0 117 73 58 -13.1%
9 Wade Miley Jun 15 SDP L 4-6 GS-6 ,L 6 6 6 1 1 4 2 82 52 49 -48.3%
10 Ian Kennedy Jun 16 SDP L 1-4 GS-7 6 4 1 1 1 6 1 104 72 65 4.6%
11 Patrick Corbin Jun 17 MIA L 2-3 GS-8 8 2 2 2 1 7 1 106 71 76 24.3%
12 Randall Delgado Jun 18 MIA W 3-2 GS-7 7 8 2 2 0 6 0 91 66 59 16.4%
13 Trevor Cahill Jun 19 MIA W 3-1 GS-1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 20 11 51 4.6%
14 Wade Miley Jun 21 CIN W 11-5 GS-5 4.2 5 3 3 4 5 1 105 61 43 -16.1%
15 Patrick Corbin Jun 22 CIN W 4-3 GS-8 8 3 1 1 4 5 1 104 62 73 38.3%
16 Randall Delgado Jun 23 CIN L 2-4 GS-5 ,L 5 6 4 3 1 4 2 85 56 44 -24.3%
17 Trevor Cahill Jun 25 WSN L 5-7 GS-5 ,L 5 8 6 6 2 5 1 93 63 30 -29.3%
18 Wade Miley Jun 26 WSN L 2-3 GS-7 ,L 7 7 3 2 1 4 1 100 66 56 -6.6%
19 Patrick Corbin Jun 27 WSN W 3-2 GS-7 7 5 2 2 2 6 1 111 76 63 11.6%
20 Randall Delgado Jun 28 ATL L 0-3 GS-6 ,L 6 8 2 2 3 3 1 106 64 48 1.3%
21 Ian Kennedy Jun 29 ATL L 5-11
GS-5
4.1 5 4 4 4 4 1 97 50 37
-16.3%

Total



118 131 71 64 37 96 21



Truly something for everyone there. We've had great starts, dismal starts, blowouts on both sides and others which have gone into extra inning nail-biters. Obviously, you need to feel particularly for Patrick Corbin, who has racked up five consecutive no-decisions, despite excellent performances, with four of those starts falling into the "good enough to win" category, and an ERA overall of 2.55. But a couple of the other pitchers can also consider themselves hard done by. Here are the collective stats for every Diamondback starter who has contributed to the streak (their number of appearances is in brackets after the game).

Rk IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
1 Patrick Corbin (5)
35.1 25 10 10 7 24 3 2.55
2 Wade Miley (4)
24.0 27 15 9 8 17 5 3.38
3 Randall Delgado (3)
18.1 22 8 7 4 13 3 3.44
4 Ian Kennedy (4)
20.2
26 17 17 9
20
6
7.40
5 Tyler Skaggs (1)
5.0 8 5 5 3 4 2 9.00
6 Trevor Cahill (4)
15.1 23 16 16 6 18 2 9.39

The last column in the main chart, Win Probability, gives an idea whether to blame the starting pitcher or some other factor - most commonly, a lack of offense. If the WP is positive, the starter likely did his job, but didn't get run support. If negative, it's probably on them. There are a couple of exceptions: Miley's June 15 start included five unearned runs, but that isn't reflected in his WPA, and Cahill has a positive WPA on June 19, despite only pitching one inning. Those two should probably be blamed on the defense and injury respectively. All told, ten of the starts have been bad (WP of worse than -10%); five have been good (WP +10% or better), and six fall somewhere in the middle.

What are the odds of a streak like this? Well, that's a collective ERA over the period of 4.88. Not good, but even at that level, you'd still expect to win every once in a while. To find out the odds, some checking came up with two active starters whose NL career ERAs are in that ballpark: Dave Bush (4.80) and Chis Volstad (4.95). Between them, they have 282 appearances in the National League, 267 starts and 81 wins, with a collective ERA close to what we've produced over the streak. So, if you get a W in 81/267 or about 30% of your games, the odds of going 21 starts without one work out to 0.05407%, or about one in 1,850.

Going into today, the NL were 587-599. But if you take out the 391 times the starter has won, the record in the remaining contests drops to 196-599 - less than one-quarter of the time. Given that, the fact that the D-backs are 8-13 over the streak, is about three games better than it should be. And, as noted in the preview today, we started play with exactly the same lead we had in the National League West after Miley's W on June 5. Since then, we still have a better record than the Giants, who have gone 7-14, and the Rockies only passed us this afternoon, to reach 9-13. If we're going to struggle, Arizona chose a good time to do it, and have had lots of company.

But, you might be surprised to learn, it''s still almost a week away from being the longest such streak in franchise history. Before we get to the all-time champion, here are the ten longest streaks between regular-season wins for the Diamondbacks - obviously, excluding over the winter! Items marked with an asterisk were helped by covering the All-Star break.

  • 1. 29 days
    Apr 16-May 15, 1998
  • 2. 24 days and counting
    June 5-???, 2013
  • 3. 22 days
    July 4-July 26, 2004*
  • 4. 14 days
    June 17-July 1, 2004
    Aug 29-Sep 12, 2008
    May 22-June 5, 2010
  • 7. 13 days:
    June 19-July 2, 1999
    July 2-July 15, 2006*
    Sep 2-Sep 15, 2009
    Apr 12-April 25, 2013

The current record belongs to a monumental 24-game winless streak which started less than three weeks after the Diamondbacks played their first game in 1998. Willie Blair, Brian Anderson, Jeff Suppan, Joel Adamson and Andy Benes were the main victims, with Omar Daal taking over for Adamson in the later stages of the streak. It wasn't quite as successful as the current run, Arizona going 6-18 over that time, compared to 8-13 of late. The pitching in this run has also generally been a bit better - the median Game Score this streak is 51, compared to 46.5 back in 1998.

But there were still some impressive feats, such as Adamson managing to avoid getting a W in a 15-4 victory - he lasted only 3.2 innings, and left with the score tied at two. There were also no-decisions snatched from the jaws of victory. Both Suppan and Anderson had starts where they allowed one run over 6.1 innings. The latter even left with a 2-1 lead only for - and, stop me if you've heard this before - the bullpen to cough it up late. This one was, admittedly, in truly spectacular fashion, somewhat reminiscent of this afternoon, as Clint Sodowsky and Barry Manuel combined to give the Mets a seven-run eighth, on five hits and three walks.

Curiously, the streak was bookended by complete games. On Apr 16, Benes threw 129 pitches and allowed two runs in an 8-2 victory, in the night-cap of a double-header against the Cardinals in St. Louis, the first complete game victory for any Arizona pitcher. And, on May 15, Suppan finally ended the streak, holding the Pirates to just three hits and an unearned run, in a 6-1 win which was the first complete game ever at Bank One Ballpark. Certainly, when you don't let the bullpen into a game, it's hard for them to be responsible for the outcome. Maybe that's a tactic Corbin et al should look into going forward...

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