Livo and the Quality Start

Yesterday, Livan Hernandez pitched a pretty good game. He started out a little shaky, but settled down, and ended up retiring 16 of the last 17 batters he faced.  He also managed to go 6 innings, while only allowing 2 ER. This falls into the category of a quality start, which, as you know, required 6 IP or more, and 3 ER or less. Normally I don’t pay attention to this number, because it doesn’t always indicate an actual good performance. But with Livo, it’s a little different.

Last year, Livo made quality starts in 67% of his games started. That was his highest percentage since 2003, and his first year of 60% since 2005. The years in between he approached 60% at times – in 2007 and 2009 he was at 58%. But in those years his ERA was not impressive, never having an ERA+ of even 100. In fact, since his rookie season, he’s only had 5 seasons with an ERA+ of 100 or better. In 4 of those 5 seasons, his QS percentage was over 60%. Only in 2004, when he had an ERA+ of 126 did he have a QS percentage as low as 57%. Fittingly, those 4 seasons of great ERA+ were the only time his QS percentage was above 60% in his career.

This may not be a very revealing indicator. Of course when he is good, he’ll have more quality starts. My point, however, is that when he is good, he is quite consistent. Usually 2/3 of his starts are for at least 6 innings and have 3 ER or less. When he’s good, he’s usually not unstoppable, but he’s the picture of a quality innings eater. If yesterday was any indication, he could be heading for one of those seasons once again.

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One thought on “Livo and the Quality Start

  1. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc April 1, 2011 at 9:51 am - Reply

    People don’t like the QS stat (certainly in theory I think it tracks nothing but mediocracy in starting pitching) but it does do a good job tracking when a starter gives his team a good shot at winning.

    I track what i call “real quality starts” which I define as 2 ER or less in 6ip or more. by this measure, livan had 57.6% of his starts as a “real QS.” What’s interesting is that for the most part, the entire staff pitched these “real quality starts” if they pitched the quality start last year.

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