Sunday, May 27, 2012

Has Clayton Kershaw Been Unlucky?

There has been some online discussion about Clayton Kershaw being unlucky in the sense that the opposing starting pitchers he has faced have pitched really well. Much better than opposing pitchers have done against other Dodgers starting pitchers.

Eric Stephen at True Blue LA pointed out in his article (linked in previous paragraph) that Kershaw's opposing starting pitchers have an ERA of 3.09 and have pitched a Quality Start in 7 of 9 games, while opposing pitchers facing any other Dodgers starter have only gotten quality starts in 17 of 35 games.

This got me interested in digging a little deeper from a different perspective at this research. What I would like to do is account for the talent level of the opposing pitchers Kershaw has faced (in the 2012 season). Maybe Kershaw has faced better pitchers on average than the rest of the Dodgers staff. What I did is looked at the Vegas odds and expected run totals of all games that Clayton Kershaw pitched in. From this I can compute how many runs the Dodgers and their opponents were expected to score in games that Kershaw started in. This also adds bullpens in to the mix, which I will get to a little later. Here is what I've found.

Number of Kershaw starts: 10
Dodgers runs scored in games Kershaw starts: 36
Dodgers opponents runs scored in games Kershaw starts: 25
Dodgers record in games Kershaw starts: 7-3, 0.700
Dodgers pythagorean in games Kershaw starts: 0.675

Now some Vegas numbers...

Dodgers expected runs in games Kershaw started: 36.5
Dodgers opponents expected runs in games Kershaw started: 27.4
Dodgers expected record in games Kershaw started: 6.4-3.6, 0.640

So the Dodgers have actually done a little better according to Vegas compared to what they've actually done (won 0.6 more games than expected). But what about those opposing pitchers. You would expect to see the Dodgers actual runs scored to be much lower than the Vegas expected runs scored. But what we see is that the Dodgers have only scored a half a run less than what was expected. On the otherhand, the Dodgers have given up 2.4 more runs than expected in Kershaw starts. So the problem, if there is one... is that the Dodgers are giving up too many runs in Kershaw starts. That could be from Kershaw himself, the bullpen or the defense. So it doesn't really appear that the Dodgers are scoring a significantly less amount of runs than expected in games that Kershaw starts. Whether that be off of the opposing starting pitcher or the opposing bullpen.

The next step here would be to repeat this study for the games in which Kershaw did not start.

For reference here is how the Dodgers bullpen has done in games that Kershaw has started:

4/5/20121@ SD63334214.505.03
4/10/20122vs PIT21003000.000.20
4/15/20123vs SD3.672002300.004.56
4/21/20124@ HOU21111304.506.70
4/27/20125vs WAS10001000.001.20
5/2/20126@ COL123323127.0021.20
5/8/20127vs SF11000000.003.20
5/14/20128vs ARI21111014.508.70
5/19/20129vs STL00000000.000.00
5/25/201210vs HOU22002300.005.70

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