Before yesterday his 2014 campaign consisted of ten starts that had left him with four losses and no wins to his name; however, when you’re pitching for a team that is in rebuilding mode – i.e. not really putting a competitive team on the field at the Major League level – pitching wins can be hard to come by.
Samardzija was doing an excellent job of keeping the opposition from scoring, posting a 1.46 ERA, and he was also pitching deep into games, completing at least seven innings on seven occasions over his first ten starts.
Quite simply, the 0 next to his name didn’t deserve to count against him. His team, the Chicago Cubs, were doing precious little to support him in the task of winning games and that was most clearly in evidence on 5 May when he pitched nine innings against cross-town rivals the White Sox, giving up only one unearned run, and still saw his team lose 3-1 in extra innings (Samardzija getting a ‘ no decision’).
So let’s put his victory yesterday against the Giants into some perspective. It was both something to celebrate – his first pitching win in 16 attempts – and something to recognise as being largely meaningless. Â A pitcher’s win-loss record is as much a reflection on the team as it is on that individual’s own performance beyond the extremes (it’s safe to assume a pitcher with a 20-2 record is performing pretty well, just as a 3-18 record is most likely a fair indication that they haven’t had the season they hoped for).
The saving grace for pitchers is that the designation of a pitching win or loss works both ways.
Clay Buchholz was part of the Boston Red Sox team that managed to snap their 10-game losing streak yesterday with an 8-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves. The fact that he gave up six runs in three innings, walking eight Braves in the process, will not show up his personal loss column, although the 7.02 ERA next his name tells you that his 2-4 win-loss record once again isn’t telling you the whole story