Less than three games into the Major League Baseball playoffs, a startling trend is emerging. Terrible starting pitching.
Houston’s Justin Verlander just exited after six innings of two-run ball with a six-run lead, thanks to three homers by Jose Altuve and clutch hitting from the bottom of the Astros lineup.
His counterpart, Boston’s Chris Sale, looked entirely human, surrendering seven runs in five innings of work. Sale has plenty of company in his October misery as the other four starting pitchers to this point in the playoffs have been bad to really bad.
Last night, Arizona’s Zack Grienke left after 3.2 innings and four runs. Colorados’ Jonathan Gray gave up as many runs (four) as he recorded outs. On Tuesday, New York’s Luis Severino was yanked after getting one out and digging a 3-0 deficit. Minnesota’s Ervin Santana got the hook two innings in after letting the Yankees come back.
Not counting Verlander, starting pitchers have a 16.05 ERA. Including him, it’s still a sky-high 11.78. The postseason is supposed to be about power arms shutting down opposing lineups and every run carrying great value. What we’re getting instead is a staff of Oprah Winfreys, doling out crooked innings like sponsored giveaways.
Common sense suggests this bloated number will continue to go down. But five out of six top-line guys struggling this much is fairly remarkable.