Thanks to Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis, the Cubs have gotten two great starts in three games. How great was
it for those guys?
According to Bill James’ formula for starting pitchers’ Game Scores
, Lilly’s Cub debut on Wednesday—7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 9 K and just 1 BB--earned a score of 75. In Ted Lilly’s world, that’s not just good, it’s not just very good, it’s three-years-and-63-starts good. Yes, it was all the way back in 2004, August 23rd to be exact, when Lilly threw a three-hit complete game shutout at the Red Sox, that the lefty last tallied a Game Score as high as, or higher than, Wednesday night’s.
As for Marquis, his effort on Thursday—6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 K and 2 BB—amounted to a Game Score of 62. Nice, but hardly a number for the ages.
Still, it was better than the righthander did in any of his last 12 starts with the Cards in ’06, when Marquis had the lowest average Game Score in the National League (42.79) and had the league's two lowest single-game scores, including a harrowing -11 against the White Sox in June.
Another thing that struck me going through his career numbers was how frequently Marquis throws low-strikeout, low-walk games like Thursday’s. Ten times last year, he pitched six or more innings while striking out four or fewer hitters and walking two or fewer. He pulled off the trick ten times in ’05.
As others have pointed out, Marquis doesn’t miss many bats. So he’s going to have to keep the ball on the ground and get lots of help from his defense if we’re going to see many starts like Thursday’s.
(In case you're wondering, the highest Game Score recorded last season in the National League was a 92 by our very own Rich Hill against the Reds in September: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 10 K, 1 BB.)