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White Sox Thu Aug 23 2012

Bad Mojo Bedevils Sox Lefty

On Sunday, Jose Quintana was yet again the unheralded rock in the Sox pitching rotation, quietly hurling another splendid game - Two runs allowed in seven innings, pitching out of a couple jams, inducing a few timely double plays. He even kept the Sox in the game, despite the offense being no-hit until the seventh inning.

And as is typical for Quintana, he took a no-decision for his efforts.

One could argue that Quintana was fortunate that he didn't pick up the loss (Chicago scored two in the top of the eighth, tying the score). Yet the fact remains: Jose Quintana is quite unlucky, and, as Hawk Harrelson always says about Q, "If he didn't have bad luck, he wouldn't have any luck at all."

A quick look back at some of the examples of his misfortune in 2012:

August 8, vs. Kansas City - Quintana gives up only two runs (both homers), while the Sox score zero runs while their starter is on the hill. Sox lose 2-1, an L is awarded to Quintana.

July 24, vs. Minnesota - You hear that the Sox win in a rout, 11-4, and you would assume their starting pitcher earned a win, right? Nope. Though Quintana dug his own grave in this contest (four runs on eight hits and one walk, to only one strikeout), the offense exploded for nine runs in the seventh and eighth, after Quintana already departed. Nate Jones gets the win.

July 19, at Boston - The bullpen failed Quintana on this night. Can't blame the starter too much, though - he threw eight innings of shutout ball, and gave up five hits (zero walks). The Sox mustered only one run on Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, and that was not enough to cover Cody Ross' towering three-run bomb in the ninth that won the game for his team, and gave Quintana a no-decision.

June 24, vs. Milwaukee - Familiar story: Quintana pitches eight innings with impeccable control (zero walks, again). Shuts the Brewers out. Only... Mike Fiers does just about the same for Milwaukee, walking one and yielding zero runs likewise. Sox score a run in the tenth for a 1-0 win, Q gets another no-decision.

June 17, at Los Angeles Dodgers - Just a week earlier, Quintana foreshadowed his Brewers outing by throwing eight innings of shut-out baseball. Chicago only scores one run, though, and a sacrifice fly off Addison Reed ties the game in the ninth inning. The Dodgers score the winning run in the tenth; yet another no-decision for Quintana. By the way, Reed has only blown three saves in 2012, and two of them came on Quintana starts (and Quintana would have earned wins each time).

June 6, vs. Toronto - Quality start, tough loss. Quintana goes six innings, allows only two runs, yet Jays' pitcher Brandon Morrow was simply better that evening - complete game shutout, and the Sox only got two hits off him.

Counting my initial example, that is seven instances where Quintana could have earned a victory for himself. He did all he could do, and external forces (the Sox offense, Sox bullpen, and/or the opposing pitcher) spoiled his outing. Of course, this is baseball. Stuff happens. Every pitcher suffers due to those same variables.

But do they to the same degree that Quintana does?

The rookie lefthander is sixth in the AL in ERA, with a minimum of 100 innings pitched.
Here's a list of the top-10 in ERA (minimum 100 IP), and how they fared in games where they pitched at least six innings while allowing two or less runs. Those guidelines ensure that the pitcher had a really good outing.

David Price - 17 games, 12 wins, 1 loss, 4 no-decisions (team: 12-5)
Justin Verlander - 16 games, 11-1-4 (team: 13-3)
Felix Hernandez - 18 games, 11-1-6 (team: 14-4)
Chris Sale - 15 games, 13-0-2 (team: 13-2)
Jered Weaver - 14 games, 12-0-2 (team 13-1)
Jose Quintana - 9 games, 3-2-4 (team 4-5)
Scott Diamond - 10 games, 7-1-2 (team 7-3)
Hiroki Kuroda - 16 game, 12-2-2 (team 12-4)
Jake Peavy - 14 games, 8-3-3 (team 10-4)
Matt Harrison - 13 games, 10-2-1 (team 11-2)

Quintana is the only pitcher on the list to have more no-decisions than wins in said contests. And he's the only pitcher whose team has a losing record in those games. It's really not even close for each, actually. Also, it's not even his team specifically that's letting him down - Sale and Peavy are on the list, and each are doing fine in their best games, and the team is a combined 22-6 in their best starts.

As we can see, Quintana's bad luck is costing him wins, which, granted, is not the most perfect measurement of how good a pitcher is, as we can see. The bad mojo is also costing the White Sox wins, but that's a pretty meaningful stat to me.

 
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