During the recently concluded three-game series between the Brewers and Pirates, we got to see no less than three starting pitchers who participated in the 2013 World Baseball Classic – Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, and Wandy Rodriguez. When Gallardo got off to a slow start in Monday’s game, broadcasters Brian Anderson, Craig Counsell, and Jerry Augustine discussed something I think we’ve heard more than once – that Gallardo’s participation in the WBC is partly to blame for his less-than-stellar April.
A number of MLB starting pitchers participated in the WBC, and have 5-6 starts under their belts at this point. Brewers fans have a pretty good idea of how Gallardo and Estrada are doing, but can other WBC participants claim to be feeling fatigued? Although some WBC teams played longer than others, all these pitchers had to get ready to work earlier than usual. Let’s have a look at their earned running averages, opponent batting averages, and walks/hits per inning pitched (as of Wednesday evening).
Wandy Rodriguez (Dominican Republic/Pirates)
3.91 / .213 / 1.07
These numbers are pretty good, but they’re even better if you throw out his poor showing against the Brewers on Monday. Before that, his ERA was a measly 1.66.
Edinson Volquez (Dominican Republic/Padres)
6.39 / .315 / 1.74
Contra Rodriguez, Volquez was having a pretty lousy April before a good start against the Brewers dropped his ERA more than two runs. He scuffled again in his last start against the Cubs, though.
Jhoulys Chacín (Venezuela/Rockies)
1.46 / .193 / 0.89
Chacín was mowing batters down through four starts, before being sidelined with an injury. Could the WBC be partially to blame? Enquiring minds want to know…
Anibal Sanchez (Venezuela/Tigers)
1.34 / .213 / 1.04
Chacín’s countryman Sanchez has also been tearing through opposing lineups through five starts – including eight shutout inning against the Braves last week – and he remains blissfully uninjured. Maybe Chacín’s back spasms are due to Denver’s altitude?
Ross Detwiler (United States/Nationals)
2.03 / .298 / 1.36
Detwiler has not given up a lot of runs, but opponents are getting their hits and he has lost his last two starts…which were against the Reds and Cardinals. C’mon, Ross, you’re not doing Brewers fans any favors.
R.A. Dickey (United States/Blue Jays)
4.50 / .239 / 1.31
Last year’s NL Cy Young winner has not been setting the world on fire in 2013, and his numbers here are fairly close to Gallardo's and Estrada's. Dickey did have a quality start his last time out, so maybe things are turning around.
Gio Gonzalez (United States/Nationals)
5.34 / .220 / 1.38
Through Gonzalez’ six starts, half have been good to great, and half have been clunkers. He followed up an eight-inning-one-run outing against the Reds with a four-inning-five-run lemon in Atlanta. You can never tell with pitchers.
Derek Holland (United States/Rangers)
3.38 / .195 / 0.95
Holland seems to be doing well. Four of his five starts have been quality.
Ryan Vogelsong (United States/Giants)
6.23 / .303 / 1.55
Vogelsong has given up more than three earned runs in four of his five starts. If anyone is feeling a WBC hangover, Vogelsong has the strongest case.
Like everything else in baseball, the root causes of inconsistent pitching are difficult to isolate. If participation in the WBC contributed to poor performance, one would hope to see more evidence, even in this small sample size. But when a guy like Wandy Rodriguez – who pitched 9.1 WBC innings compared to Gallardo’s 3.1 – has had a decent April for the Pirates, it suggests that the WBC is (shall we say) an imperfect explanation for underperformance.