Explosive 8th Saves Astros, Not Justin

How many wins would Cy Young have today were he to be reborn as the same talented pitcher, but playing the game anew under a pitch count?


This morning we learned that the 14-total runs 8th inning of the Angels @ Astros game at MMP last night, Sat, 9/22/18, was the highest scoring stanza of the 2018 season for all MLB teams. It saved the Astros from losing ground to Oakland and, for that, we Astro partisans are grateful. Unfortunately, it did not spare starter Justin Verlander from another lost “W” credit that in every way ~ every way ~ beyond the poorly fitting rules of pitching win credit belonged to the mighty Astros ace.

Get this firmly in mind. ~ Verlander ate up his pitch count in six innings. While he was there, Astros had squeaked out a 1-0 lead that would have qualified him for the win, had the club been able to protect the lead without once giving it away later to a tie or deficit.

While Verlander worked those six innings, he gave up only one hit, he walked none, and he struck out eleven. He now has a league-leading 280 strikeouts on the season, his highest “K” count to date for any season he’s pitched so far in his Hall-of-Fame-likely career. He also left the mound last night with a 16-9 record from previous 2018 W/L earnings, and he left too with a season ERA that now has descended to 2.60 on the season.

Reliever Ryan Pressly struggled, but was able to protect the 1-0 lead in the 7th, but Hector Rondon and Joe Smith came on in the 8th and gave up 4 earned runs and 1 unearned run before Colin McHugh came in to quell further damage going into the bottom of the 8th.

At 5-1 LA going south in the 8th, and in spite of all the old “it ain’t over til it’s over” wisdom, the Astros goose looked cooked and ready for the gravy-ladeling.

It wasn’t meant to be. The Astros answered the Angels with a 9-run wake-up bomb that saved the game and the day as a much needed pennant chase win. And, oh yes, the rally also produced a “W” for Colin McHugh as the pitcher of record for this two outs of work and presence in the game at the time of the big Houston run explosion.

Roberto Osuna finished the game in the 9th to seal the victory for the Astros and “the pitcher of record,” Colin McHugh.

Nothing against McHugh here, but the question still stands, in spite of all the tedium and inconvenience that would come from a needless reassignment of wins and losses over all eras of play.

The current rules fit most eras of baseball, except for the recent times of relief pitcher assignments and now the use of pitch counts on starters. Baseball is a different game today. No matter how good they are, starters today aren’t going to get many wins today for a five to seven inning good job if they are pitching for a club that gets them poor early inning run support.

Verlander is 16-9 by the current rules. By rules that are more up-to-date, he could already be at least 20-5 or better. Surely he would have been the winner last night by rules that valued his contribution to the win as greater than the 2/3 inning contribution of McHugh.

Just my two cents. The actual conditions of change should be carefully considered by baseball’s greatest experts on how the use of pitchers has changed the game. Otherwise, stop keeping W/L stats. These grow more meaningless to distortional by the game and season under the traditional rules still in place.


Top Ten AL Batting Averages 

Thru Games of Sat., 9/22/18: 


1. Betts • BOS ~ .339

2. Martinez • BOS ~ .329

3. Altuve • HOU ~ .317

4. Trout • LAA ~ .316



Thru Sat., 9/22/18:

Houston 10 – LA Angels 5.

Oakland 3 – Minnesota 2.

Seattle 13 – Texas 0.



Morning of Sun., 9/23/18





















LA Angels


















































Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Explosive 8th Saves Astros, Not Justin”

  1. Fred Soland Says:

    Bill, the W-L balances out in the long haul. How many starters that were staked to big leads early and barely hang on until the end of the 5th inning, even though they had already surrendered the bulk of the lead and get a win? That happens quite a bit.

    Unless you want to change the rule to be scorekeepers choice on who was the most effective pitcher to award the wins, we are stuck with it.

    Also remember that a win is the outcome of a team effort.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Here is the best stat comparison I can think of to describe why things are different today ~ and why today’s great starters are no longer in the game long enough beyond the 5th to participate in a team effort to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat:

      Cy Young (1890-1911): Started 815 games and completed 749 for a CG percentage of .919%.

      Justin Verlander (2005-2018): Ongoing from 9/22/18, he has started 418 games and completed 24 for current CG percentage of .057%.

      What a difference a century makes in the way the game is played. Starters aren’t often around late to make a contribution to the team effort, but they have to live with the absence of early run support when it comes to their chances for a “W” designation.

      I’m not interested in any judgment call solutions, but I do think we owe it to the integrity of the game to shed our “stuck with it” notions and kick the can down the shared mental road for some solution that works better than something designed in the Cy Young era.

      Thanks for your input.

  2. bhick6 Says:

    In some respects, the nature of an opportunity for a pitching win has always been changing. More than half of Cy Young’s major league career occurred during the 19th Century, when he was on a 4-man pitching staff, and starting games with great frequency. “Old Hoss” Radbourn was on essentially a 2-man pitching staff in 1883 and 1884 with Providence of the National League when he won 48 and 59 games respectively.

    Bill Hickman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: