Nation Station: Starting to show quality

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Nation Station: Starting to show quality

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

Do you remember when the Sox started off 1-7? That was when Henny Penny (or was it Brad Penny?) was shouting that the sky was falling. It turns out that it was a tad of an overreaction.

The almost .500 Sox are not entirely out of the woods yet, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Those of you who were boiling the tar and plucking the feathers to dress new Sox pitching coach Curt Young can chillax, Sox starting pitching is producing at a high rate of quality. And quality is the key word.

"Quality starts" is a somewhat controversial statistic for starters. A quality start is defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs. The controversy is that six innings of three-run ball results in an ERA of 4.50, certainly not a reflection of quality. As a result, the stat -- created in 1985 by Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter John Lowe -- is often minimized in certain quarters of the baseball fan community.

Red Sox Nation should not be amongst the doubters. The quality start will prove to be a critical measure over the next number of years for Boston, as its deep, run-producing lineup should provide enough support to presumably enable starters to pick up wins by holding the opposition to three or fewer runs in six innings.

Lets go to the numbers: The Sox are now 10-11, but lets take a look at the Sox first 20 games, a nice round number that basically reflects four rotations of a five-man staff. In those games through Saturday, the 9-11 Sox had 10 quality starts.

Heres a look at the starters:

Josh Beckett has four starts with three quality starts resulting in two wins and one no-decision (in his last start against the Angels). The Sox have been 3-1 in his starts.

Clay Buchholz did not have a quality start in his first four starts with one win, two losses, and one no-decision. The Sox were 1-3 in his starts.

John Lackey had three starts (he now has four), with one (now two) quality start. Overall, Lackey is now 2-2 and the team is 2-2 in his starts. One of his losses occurred in his first quality start. One of his quality wins occurred Sunday.

Jon Lester has made five starts and has already thrown four quality starts. One of his quality starts resulted in a loss. Lester is 2-1-2, while the Sox are 2-3 in his starts.

Daisuke Matsuzaka has made four starts and made two very high quality, with two stinkers. Not surprisingly, his record is 2-2.

Overall, in the first 20 Sox games the Sox starters were 8-8-4 with 10 quality starts. There were two quality start losses and two starters picked up wins in non-quality start games.

If we go under assumption that quality starts are key to ultimate team success, you might wonder how the competition (code for Yankees) is doing.

Here is a chart (through Saturday) that shows how every AL teams starters are doing and shows wins, losses and no decision by starters, quality starts and the percentage of quality starts by the starters.

TeamGS
Wgs
Lgs
ND
QS
QS
LAA
21
10
5
6
16
76
CLE
20
10
5
5
15
75
DET
21
8
8
5
14
67
OAK
21
8
5
8
13
62
KC
21
7
6
8
12
57
SEA
22
6
12
4
12
55
TEX
20
12
4
4
12
60
BAL
19
6
10
3
11
58
TB
21
7
10
4
11
52
LgAvg
20
8
7
5
11
56
BOS
20
8
8
4
10
50
CWS
21
6
9
6
9
43
MIN20
6
10
4
9
45
TOR
20
4
8
8
8
40
NYY
17
737741

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com.

Heres one more Delicious Stat (so yummy I gain weight thinking about it)

From April 1-7, the Sox played seven games and lost all but one. They had one quality start, Jon Lester in the 1-0 loss to Cleveland.

From April 16-24, the Sox played nine games and won eight and had eight quality starts. The only game they lost (Oakland, 5-0) John Lackey had a quality start, allowing one run in six innings. Clay Buchholz was the only pitcher without a quality start and he fell two outs shy of a QS as he was pulled after 5 13 innings having given up just one run but had thrown 102 pitches.

Good starting pitching bolsters the batters and lessens the pressure on the bullpen. Watch the starts, the more of they are of quality the more wins that will result.

The quality Nation STATion will continue to track quality starts for our quality readers as the season progresses.

Next stop: .500.

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.