We've been talking for awhile about the struggles of our bullpen. But last time I checked (which was just a few minutes ago), no one in the starting rotation has an earned run average under four, unlike the bullpen that has four in Mike Timlin, Chad Bradford, Mike Myers and Curt Schilling, if you don't count his ERA as a starter.
Our starters have been - to put it simply - pretty bad. Matt Clement, who was our only pitcher to make the All-Star team, has ballooned his ERA from 3.81 to 4.67. No one in our rotation has been steady or a `rock,' so it's hard to know what we are getting from a starting pitcher when one day he goes eight innings, while the next time he goes two.
Here I break down each of our five regular starters in some of the major categories:
(The Defense Independent Pitching Statistic (DIPS) system was invented by Voros McCracken. His studies of pitching statistics suggest that major league pitchers do not differ greatly on their ability to prevent hits on balls in play. The rate at which a pitcher allows hits on balls in play has more to do with defense and luck than to his own skill, and can vary greatly from year to year. Source)
As you can see, we don't clearly have an ace on the staff now that Clement has decided to blow up and give up seven runs a game on a regular basis. The closest thing was have to an ace right now is Tim Wakefield, who has the lowest ERA, lowest average, and is second on the team in strikeouts. But with that comes 21 home runs, which leads the team, and 54 walks which lead also.
Maybe Clement is still the ace? His DIPS is very good, his strikeouts are high, home runs somewhat low, and is in the middle of the pack for walks and average. He may be our best pitcher, but by no means can he be considered an ace with a 4.67 ERA.
Bronson Arroyo has one of the better ERA on the team, but isn't striking anyone out and has given up the most runs on the team with Wakefield. His numbers are still good, though, but being the best on the team is doubtful.
My conclusion is that we don'thave an ace and we don't have a best pitcher on the staff at this moment. Every single one of these pitchers have had their great games, and they've all had their games where they left in the third inning or earlier. And honestly, unless these guys pitch to their potential, we are not set up to make a run in the playoffs. We need a guy we can turn to at least two times in a seven game series if we really need that pitcher. And right now, he's not there.
But don't forget: we will have Curt Schilling.