How Lack of Run Support Indirectly Affects Dodgers’ Starting Pitching

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(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A slumping offense can affect the performance of a team in more ways than one, especially from a psychological angle. On Thursday, we saw the Dodgers push one run across the plate in the opener against the Brewers, spoiling a complete-game effort from starter Trevor Bauer. It wasn’t Bauer’s most brilliant endeavor with regards to strikeouts or runs surrendered, but he gave his club exactly what it needed in terms of bullpen conservation.

Bauer was always one of those pitchers who garnered decent run support from his team, especially during his five-year run with the Indians. From 2013-17, his team averaged more than 4.2 runs scored for every nine innings he was on the mound. It’s not an overwhelmingly great number, but it’s certainly more than most starting pitchers are accustomed to seeing.

In his Cy Young season with the Reds last year, Bauer received just 2.10 RS/9, something we’d expect from Cincinnati, a team who has seemingly struggled with offensive production the last few seasons. So far with the Dodgers, Bauer is averaging 2.70 runs for every nine innings he’s on the hill.

For those who are unaware, run support per nine innings measures how many runs an offense scores for a certain pitcher while that pitcher is in the game. That number is then set over a nine-inning timeframe. MLB.com is one of several sites who uses this calculation on its advanced stat section for pitchers. The site indicates that “it’s important to note that for this metric, run support constitutes only the runs that are scored for a pitcher while he is in the game.”

Staff ace Clayton Kershaw is actually getting less run support than Bauer this season, a figure that Kersh has become accustomed to seeing. So far this season, he’s getting an average of 2.33 runs for each nine innings he’s on the mound. Last year, he received 2.78 RS/9 which was a bit better than Bauer.

Back in 2016, Kersh garnered an unfortunate 1.87 RS/9, the lowest of his career. Although injuries limited him to just 21 starts, he threw the ball perhaps the best that season than any other year of his career, registering career-lows in ERA at a ridiculous 1.69 and WHIP at an insane 0.72. What’s more, throughout his 13+ year MLB career, Kershaw has received an average of just 2.43 runs per nine innings.

Walker Buehler has fared much better than both Bauer and Kershaw in terms of run support. Last year, Buehler collected an average of 4.42 runs per nine innings of work. So far this year, Buehler has received 3.16 RS/9. Over the course of his career, he has garnered 5.24 RS/9.

Dustin May is just a few ticks behind Buehler, having received 2.95 RS/9 so far this season. Julio Urias has gotten the most run support of all Los Angeles starters with a 3.52 mark, which isn’t high by any stretch of the imagination.

Because RS/9 is mostly out of a starting pitcher’s control, there really isn’t a moral to this story aside from the potential psychological effect it might have, alongside an unusually high number of hard-luck losses. Nevertheless, it’s still a fantastic example of how wins should not be emphasized when determining the overall success of a starter, especially when they’re throwing for a club that’s subject to stretches of offensive woes.

40 thoughts on “How Lack of Run Support Indirectly Affects Dodgers’ Starting Pitching

  1. I doubt any of our guys would want to switch places with Jacob deGrom. Haven’t checked, but I would guess his run support is worse than anyone we have.

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      1. I wonder if batters tend to ease up a little when they have a really good pitcher going for them, thinking (subconsciously) that they don’t need as many runs that day.

        If my theory is correct, we need to comb the roster for our worst pitcher and start him every game. That should be all it takes to get our guys out of their hitting slump.

        Dennis, you’re a lucky guy that I don’t charge you for the wisdom I impart here on a daily basis. Feel free to forward to my strategy to Andrew.

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      2. That was always my underlying thought when guys like Kersh take the bump. Hitters in the lineup seemingly sometimes take his pitching skills for granted, figuring they can take it a bit easier that day. Even if it’s from a purely subconscious perspective.

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      3. As only a rebuttal, no butt like a rebutt, maybe the opposing pitcher knows he has to pitch his ass off if his team is to have a chance against deGrom or Kershaw. Just a thought. I have so few these days I’m compelled to share every one.

        As a former hitter I never took an at bat off. Of course, I never played a 200 game season. I’d prefer to believe something is wrong with Betts, Seager will eventually wise up to this being a contract year, Muncy’s confidence will return and Lux will figure it out. There’s a lot of things I’d prefer to believe, but, people prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.

        Roberts raises eyebrows no doubt. He’s raised mine. But, I’m a Roberts believer as the stats don’t lie. He’s the winningest manager in Dodger history – .614. You just can’t argue that.

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  2. I find myself getting annoyed at the Dodgers this year. Not the players as having slumps are part of baseball. More at Roberts or management or whoever is making decisions on guys resting. Seems like scheduled days off for guys like Betts and Seager are decided whether they are hot or cold, whether the team is winning or losing, whether the offense is clicking or not. I just don’t get it. Sitting 20 something superstars when the are healthy. Especially early in the season. It almost seems obnoxious to me. We will sit stars and win anyway. Well, no you are not. Last night just might have been the game that Betts broke out with 3-4 hits or a two homer game leading to a win. We will probably be OK over the long run but winning the division and making the playoffs is not guaranteed. Stop resting players in first month of season and play to win every game. Rant over until the next one.

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    1. I guess I didn’t finish. On the pitching side, we have 5 healthy starters! Why are we starting a rookie to give extra rest to them? I hate bullpen games with a passion. I know I’m old school, but come on. Most of the time they throw 90-100 pitches and don’t make more than 32 starts per season. Go with the first string.

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      1. Schedule maybe.

        There’s many things done differently now. In his last year Koufax made $3,000 a night to pitch. Trevor Bauer makes about $1.4 million ever night he pitches. Ripkin, Seaver, Clemens, Ryan, the list is long. We won’t see guys like that ever again. But, we saw them. Lucky us.

        It’s a long season. 100 wins is the goal every year. Lucky us.

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  3. Can’t argue with any of your points Gary. I was also totally stumped at why Roberts would use last night as a bullpen game. I assume it was something to do with giving the starters an extra day of rest, but at this point it’s the bullpen guys who should be resting, just to keep them away from the mound. The starters seem to be just fine.

    I hate bullpen games because it seems to me that you decide to use 5 or 6 pitchers and at some point one (or more) will screw up the game for you. It’s baseball’s version of Russian Roulette. Just a matter of time until you get to the chamber that will kill you. The irony of it all is that the bullpen defied the odds last night and pitched well and the only guy who gave up a run would probably be considered the best of the group.

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      1. Yep. And maybe there was a reason May got an extra days rest. It’s impossible to know everything about what is going on behind the scenes.

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  4. I’ll be shocked if the diagnosis is anything but a torn UCL and headed for Tommy John. It looked bad. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think I am.

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      1. He’s not yet on the 40-man, although they’ll be able to create a spot if they move Knebel to the 60-day DL. I guess there’s always the chance they DFA somebody, too. Carrillo and Jackson are the only two left on the 40-man who haven’t been recalled yet.

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      2. Not that difficult to see what’s going on at the Major League level. The Dodgers just aren’t able to make the plays. Seager at short looks drugged. And his last at bat looked amateurish. Betts getting caught stealing was just bonehead. Kershaw pinch hitting, again, with the bases loaded. That should never happen once, let alone twice.

        I still believe in this team and think they will turn it around soon. There’s always the trade deadline if a move is necessary. And it isn’t May’s wrist, it’s his elbow and I’d be very surprised if he pitches again anytime soon. Bummer of course, but we’re allegedly deep so next man up. And by the way, pitching hasn’t been the problem of late. This offense is sputtering and this team doesn’t win the Division without it.

        As bad as it’s been we could be in first place by this afternoon.

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      3. Can you imagine picking a team which has lost 9 of 12 because of horrible offense to score 14 runs and being on the low end of the correct score?

        Ain’t baseball great.

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      4. Question? So does Roberts give Beaty and Pollock the day off tomorrow? I mean they must be tired and worn out!

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      5. Just talked to Dave who tells me that by his calculations those guys have used up their hits and RBI for an entire month so they won’t play again until June 1st.

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      6. Sorry Dennis, they were ready to sign him but then realized that Quito as almost twice as high as Denver, so his homer totals don’t count.

        Get me a guy who won a home run derby at sea level (or below) and we can talk.

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      7. You keep picking non-outfielders to play left field, but Blake did play a few games there for the Cubs so I’ll let you get away with this since you’ve put such great effort into solving our problem.

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      8. Back during the brief Gibbons/Scotty Podsednik/Garret Anderson era, Ned was struggling so bad to find a capable left fielder that they stuck Jamey Carroll out there for a few games. That’s when things were really, really bad. I think Xavier Paul, Trent Oeltjen, and Reed Johnson were all part of that hodgepodge as well.

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      9. Yeah, we’ve come quite a ways since those days. I seem to remember that Xavier was considered a bit of a prospect at one time but the others were all spare parts.

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      10. I talked to X-Man a few times when he was out here in Pittsburgh. I also had a chance to pick Jamey Carroll’s brain a time or two. Carroll is a really, really good dude.

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