Graph of the Intermittent Time Period
We haven’t done one of these in a while, which I guess is why I call it an “intermittent time period”. Cole Hamels starts for the Phillies tonight in San Francisco opposite Madison Bumgarner. The Phillies are on their heels after back-to-back shutouts at the hands of Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, which really isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. They could be shut out for a third consecutive game against Bumgarner, which would mean Hamels isn’t likely to get any run support. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
I went through each of the box scores for Hamels’ starts and looked at the run support he got while he was in the game. The Phillies failed to score for him in eight of his 17 starts this year, just under half at 47 percent. They scored one run for him once, two runs for him once, three runs five times, four runs one time, and eight runs one time. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s an average of 1.76 runs per game.
In trying to answer the question “why do the Phillies fail to score for him so often”, my hypothesis was that, as a #1 starter, he opposed other teams’ #1 starters often. But that hasn’t been the case:
Maybe ERA is more instructive in this case, rather than xFIP. But the results were largely the same. The Phillies have also faced nine pitchers whose ERA’s are lower than their xFIP (“lucky”) compared to eight whose ERA’s are higher (“unlucky”).
The starters who have shut them out include: Clay Buchholz (#1), Doug Fister (#5), Dan Haren (#4), Chad Bettis (#3), Mike Leake (#3), A.J. Burnett (#2), Ivan Nova (#5), and Shelby Miller (#3). There’s no real pattern. The numbers indicate their general place in their respective teams’ starting rotations, but they don’t mean much. Bettis is a #3 on the Rockies but a #8 on the Nationals, for instance.
The likely answer to the question is that it is just random. Most times when I shuffle a deck of cards and deal four cards face up, there won’t be any discernible pattern. But there is a non-zero chance that I will deal myself four sevens in a row. Doing so doesn’t reveal that the deck is rigged, or that sevens are lucky, or what have you; it just means that I hit one of many possible configurations of dealt hands. For the Phillies, they simply haven’t hit when Hamels has been on the mound and they have when Sean O’Sullivan and Jerome Williams started — O’Sullivan has received 4.1 runs of support per start on average while Williams has received 3.8 runs of support on average.