How many pitchers would kill to have one of their bad games be one where they go seven, give up four runs and still get the win? Hundreds, I’m sure. It wasn’t Roy Halladay’s worst start of the season, no, that was his six earned run in six and two-thirds showing where he yielding 10 hits and allowed walked a season-high two.
His Memorial Day effort during which he allowed three home runs, easily a season-worst, yielded his second lowest Game Score of the season at 46 yet he still managed to strike out five, walk nobody and as I mentioned, earned the win. Still don’t think wins are a fluky, unpredictable whore of a stat?
What I found most interesting about Halladay’s start yesterday was that he gave up those three home runs yet still got a win. How often does that happen? More on that in that in a second. Halladay doesn’t normally give up home runs, in fact even accounting for his Memorial Day three pack, his HR/9 rate is up to a still-tiny 0.5.
Since becoming a full-time starter back in 2001, his rate hasn’t topped 1.0. In the parts of three years before that homers were a major issue for the young Halladay (21-23 years old in that span). That said, he isn’t averse to allowing three or more in a start even during his reign as baseball’s best pitcher, or at least one of them.
In his Cy Young season of 2003 when he went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and league-best 6.4 K/BB rate, he twice allowed three bombs in a game. The first was against the Royals where the homers proved to be the only earned damage against Halladay as he went six leaving before there was a decision. Toronto won the game 6-5.
The other was a bit more damaging, but again he didn’t expire the bullpen going 7.3 innings allowing six runs striking out seven and walking just one. He had a similar outing the following year going 6.7 innings allowing seven, six earned against Detroit, but struck out nine and walked a pair.
He has allowed 3+ home runs seven more times since 2007 which is tied with eight others for the third-most in major league baseball, including Johan Santana interestingly enough. In those games, he is a seemingly impossible 4-2 (.667 winning percentage) outclassing his mates with a 5.47 ERA (next best is 6.95; worst is 12.20) and 1.31 WHIP (1.43; 1.96).
One of his four wins even came when he allowed four home runs in a game. That was last year in September against Milwaukee. They were all solo shots and the only four runs allowed by Halladay.
Now, how often does a starting pitcher give up three home runs and still come out on the other end with a win? Here’s a clue, it’s not two-thirds of the time like Halladay. In that same 2007-2011 span, the league is 70-449 (.135 winning percentage) in 3+ home runs allowed starts for major league baseball pitchers.
Not surprisingly, Halladay is also the best at saving the bullpen during those poor outing going 51 innings with Santana and James Shields checking in behind him at 44 each. Of the 35 players with 5+ three home runs allowed outing since 2007, only he and now teammate Cliff Lee have a complete game under their belt. Even when he’s doing poorly, Halladay is still better than everyone else.