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September 28, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Tim Lincecum and the Worst Regular Seasons By Playoff Starters

by Ben Lindbergh

The table below lists the worst regular-season performances by pitchers who made playoff starts in the wild-card era, ranked by park-adjusted ERA relative to league average (similar to ERA+, but tweaked a bit). League average is 100, twice the league average is 0, and 1.5 times the league average is 50. As you can see, I’ve added one starter (in bold) who isn’t yet in this group, but is probably about to be.

Year

Team

Name

IP

ERA#

2006

Mets

Oliver Perez

112.7

56

2012

Giants

Tim Lincecum

180.0

59

2001

Astros

Dave Mlicki

167.7

62

2006

Cardinals

Jeff Weaver

172.0

69

2010

Rays

James Shields

203.3

73

2005

Padres

Woody Williams

159.7

74

2002

Twins

Joe Mays

95.3

75

2004

Astros

Pete Munro

99.7

77

2001

Indians

Chuck Finley

113.7

78

2001

Diamondbacks

Brian Anderson

133.3

79

2011

Yankees

A.J. Burnett

190.3

79

It’s not news to you that Tim Lincecum is having a lousy season—Lincecum leads the NL in earned runs allowed, wild pitches, and losses, three not-very-advanced statistics that still sum his season up nicely. But it might be surprising to learn that by this measure, Lincecum (who has one regular-season start remaining) has had a worse season than any pitcher who’s gotten a playoff start since 1995. Any pitcher, that is, except for Oliver Perez.

Of course, there are at least five reasons why Lincecum is a safer start than Perez (who allowed six runs in 11 2/3 innings in his two NLCS outings):

  1. The 2008 Cy Young Award
     
  2. The 2009 Cy Young Award
     
  3. A 4.07 FIP in 2012, compared to Perez’s 5.58 FIP in 2006
     
  4. He’s actually been pitching pretty well lately, aside from that four-inning adventure on Tuesday
     
  5. He is a human being other than Oliver Perez

San Francisco probably should start Lincecum and probably will start Lincecum, unless his mechanics look like even more of a mess in his final tune-up. Still, the Giants can’t be encouraged that their erstwhile ace lies just below Oliver Perez on a leaderboard.

Thanks to Colin Wyers for research assistance.  

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

Related Content:  Playoffs,  Tim Lincecum,  Starters,  Oliver Perez,  Postseason

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