Forget the Year of the Pitcher. How about the Week of Pitcher?
The week that ended on Sunday featured some of the most dominating starts of the first three weeks of the season. There were no-hit bids, big-strikeout games and a host of impressive performances from pitchers both well-known and unknown.
How good was last week? Let’s use the advanced metric Game Score, a statistic devised by Bill James that rates a pitcher’s start based on: innings pitched, runs allowed, hits allowed, strikeouts and walks.
A Game Score typically is scaled from zero to 100, with the average start rating just below 50. (The higher the number the better the Game Score.)
During the first three-plus weeks of the season, there were 26 starts that featured a Game Score of 75 or higher. Those are upper-echelon starts, meaning: low-run, low-hit efforts in which the starter usually went deep into a game.
Last week, there were 23 such starts.
What were the best pitching performances from last week?
Sanchez came within three outs of his second career no-hitter, settling for a one-hit complete game in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Lohse struck out six in a two-hit shutout against the Washington Nationals.
Matsuzaka had two starts and both were fantastic. He allowed one hit in eight innings in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Earlier in the week, he allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings in a 9-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. There were five games last week in which a pitcher allowed no more than one hit in six or more innings, and Matsuzaka had two of them.
Roy Halladay struck out a career-high 14 in 8⅔ innings on Sunday, April 24, to beat the San Diego Padres (Game Score: 83). James Shields had a pair of complete-game wins for the Tampa Bay Rays on April 19 (Game Score: 83) and on Sunday (84). Felix Hernandez beat the Oakland Athletics 1-0 on Thursday, in a game in which both he and Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy finished with Game Scores of 75 or higher. Hernandez had a 76, one point better than McCarthy.