Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Chicago 8, Detroit 0

Jon Garland just keeps winning after pitching is second straight shutout Sunday against Detroit. Garland gave up only four hits, struck out six and walked only one.

I don’t know that there’s anything else to say about it. After Sunday’s game, his ERA is a ridiculously low 1.38. His WHIP is a meager 0.79. His batting average against is a crazy-silly .133.

Now, even the most optimistic of Sox fans knows this won’t continue. But we’re all still curious as to whether this is just a hot start for Garland, or if he’s really turned the corner. I think we’ll just have to wait and see.

For what it’s worth, Garland’s season so far reminds me of the season Derek Lowe had with Boston in 2002. There are some parallels between the two, such as both being sinker balers, but beyond that their histories diverge a bit.

Lowe was 29 when he had his monster season, and before that he was primarily a reliever. In fact, he saved 42 games for the Red Sox in 2000. Meanwhile, Garland has been a mainstay in the Sox rotation since moving to that role full-time during the 2001 season.

Here’s a look at what Lowe did in April, and what Garland has done so far.




























Both players benefited from insanely low BAAs. Lowe had an edge in striking guys out, but Garland is better in the walks department. But neither guys picked up a ton of punchouts.

This may not be very instructive, but it’s a fun comparison. There’s not really any way to glean what Garland will do based on what Lowe did (though he did finish the season with a 2.58 ERA with a .211 BAA).

Looking at Lowe, however, gives us an obvious example of how flaky batting average can be. When he was hit for .272 in 2003, his ERA jumped to 4.47. When his went all the way up to .299 last season, he was hammered to the tune of a 5.42 ERA.

Garland has been pretty similar in his career, though more consistent with the BAA.






















The only year that defies the correlation between BAA and ERA is 2001, but the difference there is that Garland came out of the bullpen in 19 of his 35 games.

So, pretty much all we know so far is that if Garland can keep from giving up hits, he’ll keep dominating. Big surprise, huh? But not likely. The BAA will go up, so will the ERA. But at least we can dream about a season like Derek Lowe had in '02.


Garland was the first Sox pitcher to throw back-to-back shutouts since Jack McDowell did it in 1991.

Sox fans all know McDowell was a good pitcher, and that he was an innings horse. Starting in 1990, Black Jack had inning totals of 205, 253.7, 260.7, 256.7, 181.7*, 217.7 and 192.0. From 1991 to 1993 he had complete game totals of 15, 13 and 10. He led the league in complete games three times in his career.

He pitched pretty badly for Cleveland that last season in the run of IP listed above, and after that he was pretty much washed up, never pitching more than 76 innings in his next three seasons with ERAs north of 5.00 each year. He was done by 30.

So are the Sox going to burn Jon Garland out? I don’t think they will, not like McDowell was.

I don’t have pitch count totals for McDowell, but what can you say about Garlands? In his five starts, he’s averaged fewer than 100 pitchers (98 to be exact). He had 116 pitches in his first shutout, but he needed only 107 to finish off the Tigers on Sunday. And that was with his six strikeouts.

That’s not to say it won’t happen, though. McDowell was the picture of pitching health, and who though he would break down at 29 after five seasons of taking the ball every fifth day.

Looks like another wait-and-see issue.

Timing is everything:
Timo Perez has only five hits, but has driven in eight runs. For a guy that would have a hard time hitting water if he fell out of a boat (.216 BA/.634 OPS through Monday), that’s pretty good.

Perez drove in three on a pair of hits Sunday, including his second home run.

I would give Perez credit for doing what he can with sporadic playing time, but he’s never hit outside of a half season with Norfolk (AAA Mets) in 2000 (and still only a .906 OPS).

He is what he is, though, and I can sort of understand the fascination with him after that bunt for a base hit he put down against Minnesota last year. You hardcore Sox fans know the one.

Scott Posednik went 1-for-4 with a walk to again modestly lift his OBP from .354 to .357. Now that he’s got 71 at-bats in the pipe, it’s probably a matter of streaks and slumps that raise and lower him significantly from here. Lets hope general suckitude doesn’t drag him back to last year’s level. That would be bad for the Sox.

On Deck:
Mark Buehrle (3-1, 3.89) will go against Brian Anderson (1-2, 7.54) and the Royals in a battle of left-handers. My mouth is watering thinking about the Sox facing Anderson, so imagine how the Pale Hose hitters feel.

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