There is no way to explain it, but it is a fact of every team's starting rotation every season. There will be a pitcher who gets tremendous support from his team's hitters, and there will be a pitcher who gets very little. And that support or lack of support obviously goes a long way in a starting pitcher's win-loss record.
Through the first 26 games of the Orioles season, a pattern has developed. The Orioles have only three wins from their starters, the fewest in the majors. Why? Consider that three of the Orioles five starters are among the American league leaders in lowest run support.
Here is a look at the pitchers who are most starving for run support in the AL, with David Hernandez having the "honor" of the worst run support in the league.
1. David Hernandez - Baltimore - 1.63
2. Jeremy Guthrie - Baltimore - 2.15
3. Justin Masterson - Cleveland - 2.36
4. Kevin Millwood - Baltimore - 2.48
5. CJ Wilson - Texas - 2.48
On the Orioles staff, Brad Bergesen has been given the most support overall, and Brian Matusz has the best support of the four starters who have not missed a turn this season. In Matusz's five starts the O's scored 17 runs while he was in the game.
In contrast the O's have scored a total of just five runs while Hernandez was in the game. And three of those runs came in Hernandez's last start. The O's didn't even score a run with Hernandez in the game until his third start.
Kevin Millwood also has deserved a much better fate to begin his season. Despite having the best ERA of all the Orioles starters at 3.15, Millwood is (0-3) because the O's have scored a total of just 11 runs while he has been in the game. The O's are fortunate that as the veteran leader of the staff, Millwood hasn't allowed the lack of support to affect him while he's been on the mound. He knows he can't control it, so he doesn't allow it to be a distraction.
Here's a look at the run support for the Orioles rotation through 26 games:
Bergesen - 5.87
Matusz - 4.99
Millwood - 2.48
Guthrie - 2.15
Hernandez - 1.63
There is a theory in baseball that eventually everything evens out. So I suppose Millwood and Hernandez can look forward to getting their share of support. But it remains one of baseball's big mysteries - who gets the support and who doesn't.
There is no reason other than coincidence that a team will score more for one pitcher than another. And the Orioles' offensive struggles as a team over the first three weeks of the season especially contributed to the overall poor support. To put that in perspective, in the first 26 games, the Orioles have scored two runs or less in 11 games and are 0-11 in those games. That just adds to the frustration.
The number one job of every starting pitcher is to give his team a chance to win when his turn comes up. And for the most part the Orioles rotation has done that. It just makes it easier to do that if the pitcher gets some wiggle room with run support. Here's hoping the Orioles' bats will begin to support what has been a frustrating start.