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Starters Who Starred In Post-Season Debut (Since ’95)

Posted by Steve Lombardi on October 9, 2009

A.J. Burnett makes his first ever post-season career start this evening - when the Yankees host the Twins in Game 2 of the ALDS. This got me wondering: How do starting pitchers perform in their first ever start in the post-season? More so, which pitchers, since the Wildcard has come into play, have been excellent in their first career post-season start?

To address this, I used Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index Post-Season Pitching Game Finder and set it to show "In the Postseason, From 1995 to 2009, as Starter, In first 1 games, (requiring game_score>=70), sorted by most recent date in a game." And, this is what it found:

  Cnt CarGm Player            Date       Series G Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP   H  R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GmSc IR IS BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF GDP SB CS Pk BK WP   ERA
+----+-----+-----------------+-------------+------+-+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+---+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+---+--+--+---+--+--+--+--+--+------+
    1     1 Cliff Lee         2009-10-07 NLDS   1 PHI  COL W  5-1  CG 9  ,W   9    6  1  1  0  5  0 113  79   76       32 32  3  0   0   0  0  0   0  0  0  0  0  1   1.00
    2     1 Fausto Carmona    2007-10-05 ALDS   2 CLE  NYY W  2-1  GS-9       9    3  1  1  2  5  1 113  77   80       31 29  0  0   0   0  0  0   2  1  0  0  0  0   1.00
    3     1 Brandon Webb      2007-10-03 NLDS   1 ARI  CHC W  3-1  GS-7  ,W   7    4  1  1  3  9  0  89  58   71       30 26  1  0   0   1  0  0   0  0  0  0  0  1   1.29
    4     1 Chris Young       2006-10-07 NLDS   3 SDP @STL W  3-1  GS-7  ,W   6.2  4  0  0  2  9  0 102  63   73       25 23  1  0   1   0  0  0   1  1  0  0  0  0   0.00
    5     1 Jon Garland       2005-10-14 ALCS   3 CHW @LAA W  5-2  CG 9  ,W   9    4  2  2  1  7  1 118  83   77       30 29  1  0   0   0  0  0   1  0  0  0  0  0   2.00
    6     1 Mark Prior        2003-10-03 NLDS   3 CHC  ATL W  3-1  CG 9  ,W   9    2  1  1  4  7  0 133  89   82       34 28  1  0   0   1  0  1   1  0  0  0  0  1   1.00
    7     1 Josh Beckett      2003-09-30 NLDS   1 FLA @SFG L  0-2  GS-7  ,L   7    2  1  1  5  9  0 112  63   73       28 23  0  0   1   0  0  0   0  0  0  0  0  1   1.29
    8     1 Woody Williams    2001-10-10 NLDS   2 STL @ARI W  4-1  GS-8  ,W   7    4  1  1  1  9  0 133  88   73       26 25  0  0   0   0  0  0   0  0  0  0  0  0   1.29
    9     1 Bobby Jones       2000-10-08 NLDS   4 NYM  SFG W  4-0  SHO9  ,W   9    1  0  0  2  5  0 116  73   88       30 28  1  0   0   0  0  0   0  0  0  0  0  0   0.00
   10     1 Kevin Millwood    1999-10-06 NLDS   2 ATL  HOU W  5-1  CG 9  ,W   9    1  1  1  0  8  1           89       29 29  0  0   0   0  0  0   0  0  0  0  0  0   1.00
   11     1 Orlando Hernandez 1998-10-10 ALCS   4 NYY @CLE W  4-0  GS-8  ,W   7    3  0  0  2  6  0 115  69   75       27 24  1  0   0   1  0  0   0  2  0  0  0  0   0.00
   12     1 Jeff Fassero      1997-10-04 ALDS   3 SEA @BAL W  4-2  GS-9  ,W   8    3  1  1  4  3  0 136  82   71       30 25  1  0   0   0  1  0   0  0  1  1  0  0   1.12
   13     1 Kevin Brown       1997-09-30 NLDS   1 FLA  SFG W  2-1  GS-7       7    4  1  1  0  5  1  97  60   70       24 24  1  0   0   0  0  0   0  0  1  0  0  0   1.29
   14     1 Ismael Valdez     1995-10-04 NLDS   2 LAD  CIN L  4-5  GS-7       7    3  2  0  1  6  1  99  61   72       25 24  0  0   0   0  0  0   1  0  0  0  0  0   0.00
   
Games found: 14.

That's it - just 14 games. I would have expected more.  That's 14 times out of 134 chances.    Needless to say, it doesn't happen very often.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009 at 1:23 pm and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Starters Who Starred In Post-Season Debut (Since ’95)”

  1. [...] The odds are really against it happening. [...]

  2. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    11.1% of all regular season starts since 1995 are at least a 70 Game Score, compared to the 10.4% you found above. Of course, the postseason pitchers should be a better group overall, but they are also facing better offenses. 14.1% of all postseason starts since 1995 have been at least a 70. So the average pitcher making his first postseason start appears to perform slightly worse than those who have started before. First-timers are probably lesser pitchers overall, and it is possible that nerves have some effect as well.

    Anyway, one can have a very good start while coming up short of 70. Lincecum's average Game Score this season was 64; I'd certainly take an average Lincecum start.

  3. 11.1% of all regular season starts since 1995 are at least a 70 Game Score, compared to the 10.4% you found above.

    Johnny - True, but, it could be suggested that there's more pressure in making your first ever career start in the post-season than making career start # 67 in a game against the Royals, in July, when your team is 15 games out of first...

    So, does it make sense to use "all regular season starts GS 70+ ratio" as the yardstick for first ever career start in the post-season? Just a thought...

  4. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Well I mainly wanted to provide some context to the numbers. I wasn't really sure until I looked further whether 10% of starts at that threshold was poor, typical, or what. A .300 BA in the postseason isn't the same as a .300 BA against the Royals either, but at least we have an idea what it means.

    Anyway, a nice average Greinke start of 63 for Burnett tonight (if I remember how to calculate GS correctly...)