Predictably, the analysis of last night’s game is showering Jarrod Washburn with praise. Washburn himself called it “one of the best games I’ve ever pitched”. Mike Hargrove said he didn’t “know that he left a ball out over the plate all night long.” Geoff Baker talks about how this is the “prototype the Mariners envisioned for the mound staff.”
In this Mariner-centric analytical universe, the results on the field are dominated by the influences of the Mariners players. In this case, since Jarrod Washburn threw a complete game shutout, he’s getting credit for having pitched a great ballgame, with few hints that other people factored into the outcome as well.
In reality, Jarrod Washburn was a witness to the A’s shutting themselves out. They ran out a line-up that would have trouble scoring against a PCL pitching staff, then proceeded to hack their way into easy outs. There’s not a pitcher in the major leagues that would have struggled to shut down last night’s A’s team. Their offense is a mess.
However, that’s not how mainstream baseball analysis works. For whatever reason, it’s not good enough to note that the competition imploded upon themselves. Instead, we’re required to shower our guys in accolades, because clearly they were responsible.
Jarrod Washburn was throwing the same 86 MPH below average fastball he throws every game. He threw it over the plate, just like always, and the opposing hitters put it in play, just like always. This was the same stuff, and the same location, he has every time he takes the mound. Good hitters tee off on his below average fastball, while bad hitters get themselves out.
Unless the Mariners play the A’s every game the rest of the year, you won’t see that approach to pitching achieve those results again. The A’s shut themselves out last night. Jarrod Washburn just happened to be the scheduled pitcher.