Jarrod Washburn’s Still An Idiot
After last night’s game, Jarrod Washburn continued to give credit for his recent drop in ERA to a mechanical tweak made by his pitching coach a few weeks ago. The local media continues to repeat his claim that he’s pitching better since then like its the gospel.
Apparently, we’re the only ones around willing to actually do any kind of fact checking. I wrote this post a few days ago, and it still stands as true. Let me quote the relevant parts:
Pitchers do this all the time – they struggle, they make some minor change, and the struggles end, so therefore, the minor change fixed the problem. Unfortunately, itâ€™s almost never true. Hereâ€™s Washburnâ€™s performance up to the phone call and since, broken down by metrics that actually judge pitching effectiveness, rather than a useless measure such as ERA.
April 4th – May 21st: 47 2/3 IP, 1.89 BB/9, 5.67 K/9, 11% HR/FB, 4.75 FIP, 4.93 xFIP
May 25th – June 21st: 29 IP, 4.97 BB/9, 6.21 K/9, 4% HR/FB, 3.92 FIP, 4.98 xFIP
If we were going to evaluate the usefulness of Washburnâ€™s mechanical tweak based on a ridiculously small sample, weâ€™d be forced to conclude that it destroyed his ability to throw strikes and was otherwise pretty useless. The uptick in strikeout rate is basically meaningless (itâ€™s two strikeouts total over five starts), and the decrease in allowing runs is due to one very obvious unsustainable performance – the home run per fly rate.
If we update that second line to include last night’s start, his new ratios since “The Tweak” are 4.18 BB/9, 5.41 K/9, and a 5.1% HR/FB.
His command – not better. His stuff – not better. His pitching – not better.
His opponents in his last four starts: Toronto (4.12 R/G, 3rd worst offense in AL), Atlanta (4.56 R/G, but Chipper didn’t start that game, so hack off a quarter of a run), Washington (3.65 R/G, 2nd worst in baseball), and San Diego (3.58 R/G, worst in baseball). Yea, I have no idea why his results are better. It’s not like he’s had a run of starts against terrible teams that can’t hit, including a couple where he got to face the pitcher hitting instead of the DH.
Results based analysis is stupid and wrong. Jarrod Washburn isn’t pitching any better now than he was at the start of the season. Learn from your mistakes, people – ERA is useless. Stop using it to draw conclusions.