Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Lucky Lilly

A couple of weeks ago a fellow writer here mentioned that Ted Lilly was "unlucky". I was confused at the time but realized he was talking about Ted Lilly's won/loss record.

So let me be the first one to say this. A pitcher's individual won/loss record in a single season is the most meaningless stat used by people. It's as simple as this, a pitcher's job is to limit his walks and flyballs (which tend to lead to HR) while striking out as many batters as possible. He is expected to do this job for as many innings as possible.

If things go right for him, he'll end up with a good won/loss record and ERA but effectively, he isn't really responsible for that. After he releases the ball, his job is over. No pitcher is responsible, by himself, for a team winning or losing.

So I've learned to ignore wins and losses. I only notice Carlos Silva's won/loss record because everyone talks about it. Last night on ESPN they also, like my co writer, couldn't stop talking about Lilly's won/loss record so now I'm acutely aware of how unlucky he is supposed to be.

Ted Lilly has been easily the luckiest pitcher on the Cubs. The 3 things that have nothing to do with a pitcher's "skills" but affect his ERA are his strand rate (usually around 70%), his Batting Average allowed on Balls In Play (BABIP usually around .300) and his HR per fly ball (usually around 10%).

Lilly has allowed more balls in play than normal this year because his K rate is down. His fly ball rate, always high is higher than ever this year. But his ERA is only 2.90 because he is stranding close to 80% of all runners and has allowed a BABIP of only .219 and a HR/FB of only 7.8%. That is a recipe for an ERA that is nearly two runs lower than his xFIP which only looks at things ability to K people, keep your BB down as well as fly ball rate.

Statistically, Lilly is going to get worse, much worse this season unless he can get K rate up to a more usable 7 or so K's per 9 and maybe lift his ground ball rate a little. He isn't going to keep this up.

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