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July 25, 2013

BP Unfiltered

ERA, Falling Slowly

by Andrew Koo

On Tuesday against Houston, Jarrod Parker pitched seven innings of one-run ball. After a rough start to the season, Parker has lowered his ERA to 3.79. Cory Schwartz of MLB.com noted an interesting fact about Parker’s last 15 starts:

A good research problem for the Fun Fact Department. I dived into BP’s database and found out just how rare Parker’s feat is:

Year

Name

Consecutive ERA Drops

1992

Mike Morgan

17

2013

Jarrod Parker

15

1983

Jack Morris

15

1976

Don Sutton

15

1996

Erik Hanson

14

1994

Kevin Appier

14

1999

Randy Johnson

14

1977

Phil Niekro

14

1986

Mike Scott

14

2009

Bronson Arroyo

13

2008

Justin Verlander

13

2000

Brian Bohanon

13

2009

Adam Wainwright

13

1975

Burt Hooton

13

Relief appearances, if any, are excluded.

Since 1970, Mike Morgan is the only pitcher to have lowered his ERA in more than 15 consecutive starts. Morgan, then in his first season of a four-year contract with the Cubs, opened the year allowing six runs in five innings (a 10.80 game ERA), and pitched well enough to lower his ERA down to 2.66 by his 18th start.

It takes some bad starts early on, plus a good four months of consistency, to build such a streak. Parker’s next two starts come against the Angels and Rangers, where the Athletics hope he’ll pitch well enough to extend his streak and their division lead.

Update: Per SC’s comment below, I ran my SQL query in the opposite direction. Here are the streaks of consecutive games that increased the starter's ERA in a season (since 1970):

Year

Name

Consecutive Increases

Note

2007

Dan Haren

18

ERA rose from 1.58 to 3.12

1975

Andy Hassler

12

Pulled from rotation

1980

Pete Redfern

12

Pulled from rotation

2004

Esteban Loaiza

12

Pulled from rotation

2009

Scott Richmond

12

End of season

2010

Jeff Niemann

11

ERA rose from 2.65 to 4.49

1985

Mike Krukow

11

ERA rose from 1.45 to 3.56

1993

David Wells

11

ERA rose from 1.83 to 4.49

1979

Don Robinson

11

Pulled, returned after two relief games

1976

Dick Ruthven

11

End of season

1989

Charlie Leibrandt

11

Pulled from rotation

1999

Jim Parque

11

End of season

1999

Kevin Tapani

11

ERA rose from 2.30 to 4.50

2008

Zack Greinke

11

ERA rose from 0.60 to 3.77

2010

Livan Hernandez

11

ERA rose from 0.00 to 2.94

Dan Haren tops this list of all streaks 11 or higher. He posted a 1.58 ERA in his first 14 starts, and it went up (or down?) from there for 18 straight starts.

These stretches end for an assortment of reasons. A few starters were pulled, though they might've returned for a few bad starts, which my query counted. Charlie Leibrandt's streak was the worst of this group, posting a 10.01 ERA over ten starts (plus an 11th, a two-inning, six-run outing). That year, Leibrandt was the number three starter for a 92-win Royals team.

Andrew Koo is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Andrew's other articles. You can contact Andrew by clicking here

Related Content:  Jarrod Parker,  Streaks,  Mike Morgan

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