Randy Johnson’s Countdown

Randy Johnson has not pitched particularly well this season, for instance see yesterday’s shelling at the hands of the Rockies. In fact, outside of Tim Lincecum, nobody in the Giants rotation has pitched well with their second best pitcher being Barry Zito of all people. Still, Randy Johnson is approaching history and if he can improve him outings and get some offensive support there is a chance for that history to take place in an appropriate spot.

Johnson’s next start, assuming the rotation as is holds will by May 11th at home against the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are not in fact a poor hitting team, but the current slated starter for that game is Daniel Cabrera who has been so awful this year that even the Giants’ pathetic offense stands a chance to bat him around.

Following that start, Johnson will next face the New York Mets at home on May 16th. The Mets have a very good offense and worse yet, according to the current schedule, Randy will be taking the hill opposite Johan Santana. That is going to take quite a bit deal of providence to come out on the winning side of that battle.

So there are some long shot odds that we are dealing with. However, should the Giants, and more importantly in this case Randy Johnson, get wins in both of those games, then Randy Johnson will arrive in Seattle on May 22nd with 299 career wins. His home for a decade, the place where he transformed himself, and the city that has seen Ken Griffey Jr. return home might be on hand to witness Johnson’s first attempt at win number 300.

If it happens, it would be an interesting study to see where the loyalties of longtime Mariner fans lay for that game. There are some times that hometown fans are able to root for returning players to do well and for their team to still win, allowing for some leeway in rooting interest that I am sure some people still see as infidelity. This situation would be even more divisive since if one were to root for Johnson to get win number 300 in Seattle, that would necessitate rooting for the hometown team to lose.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

29 Responses to “Randy Johnson’s Countdown”

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  1. Christian says:

    Randy’s been on and off this season, and really hasn’t been as bad as the numbers insist. He had one AWFUL outing, where he walked 7 of the 16 batters he’s walked on the year. Outside of that outing he has a 3:1 K/BB, but an absurd amount of homeruns allowed. His HR/FB% is 22. Normalize that, and his FIP becomes 4.09, according to THT’s xFIP. Not great, but if you subtract that one awful walk everyone outing, he’s under a 4 FIP. I don’t think the Giants expected anything better when they signed him.

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  2. D Wils says:

    Matt Cain is playing well. Wouldn’t he be before Zito on the performance scale?

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    • Beaten to the punch, but Cain has had one bad outing the whole season, being really good his other starts, in fact, lost two leads, should be 5-1 right now and getting Greinke-type notice.

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      • don says:

        Wait, what? Cain has a low ERA on the strength of an unsustainable 91% strand rate. His K/BB is 1.47 and his BABIP is .254.

        Allow that as an extreme flyball pitcher his BABIP is probably going to be below .300, he’s still been rather lucky. Greinke has been awesome.

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      • KG says:

        Cain has been pretty good, despite the walks, but he seems to do the same thing every year (so I wouldn’t necessarily expect a big regression – and am in fact still hoping for the breakout, as everyone is for Felix). However, he is definitely not in Greinke’s league; Greinke is pitching even better than Johan right now (and certainly more efficiently, 3 CGs and all), and if you watch his games, it’s like the opposition has NO chance from the start. Of course, Santana is more likely to stay on a higher level all season, but right now, Greinke’s in his own world. Still love Cain, but that’s not a close comparison at all.

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  3. Jim says:

    Pretty sure you know nothing about baseball on the West Coast, which is fine (mainly because you’ll likely say baseball on the West is a joke), but don’t pretend like you know something you don’t.

    Zito the 2nd best SP on the staff?!?!

    RJ has pitched better than his numbers indicate. Cain has been steady, walks are up again, but I’d take him over any other #3 SP in baseball. People forget that he is younger than Lincecum. Jon Sanchez has lights out stuff, but has difficulty locating at times. His stuff is dominating. Despite Zito’s past three starts, all four SP’s have thrown better over the first 5 weeks of the season.

    Not sure what the point of this post is, other than to tout Johan and the Mets. Do you like the Mets?

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    • LantermanC says:

      Well, he’s a M’s fan who lives in Seattle, so he does know something about baseball on the west coast. But good job on jumping to random conclusions and insulting people for no reason.

      Yes Cain is a great #3 and Sanchez has good stuff, but you can argue any of the four that aren’t named Lincecum as their 2nd best starter, it’s a pretty close race. I’m pretty sure he just went by FIP or tRA when ranking the Giants pitchers.

      The point of the post was to point out a potential milestone by one of the best pitchers of all time, and that it would be pretty cool if he had the chance to reach that milestone with his former team.

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    • Jason T says:

      I vote ‘thumbs down’ and ‘d-bag’. Congrats, Jim.

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  4. Has not pitched particularly consistent this year: yes. But not pitch particularly well this season? Then I guess you didn’t like his April 19th start when he went 7.0 IP, gave up 1 hit and 2 walks, with 0 R/ER and 7 strikeouts, against Arizona. Or his May 1st start when he went 7.0 IP, gave up 4 hits and 0 walks, with 0 R/ER and 9 strikeouts.

    As experienced as he is, he appears to get the jitters still. First start ever for the Giants, gives up a home run to a pitcher, the first of his career, else he would have had a nice start if you look at everything else. Against Dodgers, he just didn’t have it, it was a truly bad start Against Arizona, it was his first time pitching in Arizona in another uniform, he got emotional and couldn’t get control.

    And lastly, he got blasted in Colorado: whoopie, if every pitcher who had a bad outing in Colorado was considered a bad pitcher, well, the list would be long, and he wouldn’t be the last pitcher to have that happen to him.

    So give him a few more starts before you throw him under the bus. Or pay more attention to the games he actually pitched before you just take a surface look at his stats and proclaim him to have not pitched particularly well.

    What is more galling is that his overall numbers, besides his ERA, is actually pretty good. 1.39 WHIP, .250 BAA, 30 K/16 BB, which is not good, but very close to the 2.0 (it is 1.9) that denotes a good ratio (and easily achieved if you drop his Arizona start), and 7 HR in only 31.2 IP, or a 22.6% HR/FB, clearly an outlier, particularly compared to his 11.8% career since 2002. And ironically, his GB/FB ratio is the best since 2005.

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    • BIP says:

      2 K/BB is actually quite mediocre.

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      • Christian says:

        Well he’s saying is you drop his AZ start, (7 walks, 2 K’s) his ratios are pretty good. And I know you can’t just unilaterally get rid of the stats you don’t like, but it’s clear that that terrible control was an outlier.

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  5. Michael says:

    Sooo… did you just simply forget all about Matt Cain when you wrote this article, or what?

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  6. Aaron B. says:

    Matt Cain’s FIP is pretty awful right now (too many walks is my guess), so his “win value” is low, which is what I’m guessing Matthew here based his statement off of.

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  7. Zack says:

    Seriously guys, have you ever read Fangraphs before? The authors here don’t really evaluate pitchers based on W-L records and ERA. They also don’t just throw out a guy’s bad starts and say that he’s been excellent all year. Zito’s FIP is 4.21, 2nd best on the staff. Cain is at 5.21 and has a nice ERA chiefly because he’s running an unsustainable LOB% of 90.

    As for the actual point of this post, I would think it’d be pretty tough for a M’s fan to root for an RJ win, especially this early in the season and given that the M’s aren’t completely terrible this year anyways. It’s one thing to root for a former position player to come back home and get a couple of knocks while your team still wins. It’s quite another to root for a milestone that essentially means you’re rooting for your team to lose. I think I’d root for the team to win. Then I could root for the milestone to happen against somebody else.

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    • B says:

      Well this seems to be a case where looking at more than just FIP would be useful. The bottom line is Cain has let up 11 runs in 38 innings with a defense that’s in the middle of the pack this year (based on UZR/150 team rankings). His peripherals so far may indicate he was lucky to have those results, but at the same time we know from the past that his ability is above those peripherals, and even if you expect some regression in his ERA, you should expect some positive regression to the mean in his peripherals, as well. His FIP this season is about a run higher than it’s been the last 3 seasons, after all.

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      • Zack says:

        Nobody’s saying Zito is better than Cain. It’s just that so far this year, according to FIP, Zito has been better by a good margin. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say. Even if Cain has been better, it’s certainly not cut and dry, and arguing this misses the entire point of the post.

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    • mkd says:

      I am a diehard Mariner fan. By sheer coincidence I have tickets to the Friday May 22 game. All I can say is that life is too short to not root for Randy Johnson to win 300 in Seattle.

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      • Zack says:

        You make a good point. I’m a diehard M’s fan too, and I rooted for Griffey to do well when he played Seattle a couple years ago. But it’s one thing for me to root for Griffey to crush Ryan Feirabend in a few at bats. I’m not sure I could root for Randy to strike out Ichiro, Beltre, etc and dominate the M’s lineup all game long. It’d certainly be a nice consolation prize though in the event we lost. Of course, knowing the Mariners, we’ll probably lose the game but touch up Randy enough so that he gets a no decision.

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  8. Goose says:

    This place seriously just needs to shutdown comments altogether.

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  9. Aesop Rock says:

    I don’t care if Jesus is starting on the opposite side and my team’s throwing out Hitler. I would never root for the visiting team to WIN, especially if I had paid to see the game.

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    • Andy says:

      Fine, but I hope you’d at least root for some HBPs. Let he who is without sin throw the first beanball.

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    • BIP says:

      So, what you’re saying is… you’re a fan of Hitler?

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  10. rwildernessr says:

    I’ll be attending that game as well.

    Maybe rooting for the Ms to “win” the #1 pick last year has permanently damaged me as a fan, because now I can say that I would probably prefer to be able to tell my son some day that I saw Randy win number 300 than that I saw the Ms win one other game in a 162 game season en route to 78-85 victory year.

    Of course 10 years ago I probably would have slapped someone who made that comment. So I can see both sides…

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  11. CCW says:

    I’ll go the game and will gladly participate in the looooooong standing ovation that the Unit will certainly get in Seattle. My very best memories of M’s games involve him, and, frankly, I like the guy. Regarding his 300th win, I will root for the M’s, but if I see Randy get his 300th win, I will certainly applaud that too, and be happy for him.

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  12. Josh says:

    How about Matt Cain being their #2 pitcher? He’s pretty good and last i checked he pitched six scoreless innings yesterday.

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  13. Brian says:

    Regardless of how well RJ pitches, the offense is not there to support him. With his on again off again starts, it will be tough to win any games. As of today, no Giants starter has a BA above .300. Ask Matt Cain what this does to your win total.

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