Many of the pitchers that participated in March’s World Baseball Classic are considered among the best in baseball. That’s what makes their current results so startling.
There are 26 major league starters who also pitched for their country in the WBC. Among them, only seven have a winning record and they are just 50-62 overall.
They’ve also combined for a 5.58 earned run average – almost a run more than the league average – and, most importantly, they’ve lost a combined total of 19.05 units.
“Obviously these are supposed to be some of the better pitchers in the league and that many units down is something that really strikes you,” says Covers Expert Steve Merrill. “Normally these guys work things in pretty slow in the preseason, it probably disrupted their normal routine. A lot of these guys have been in the league for a long time.”
No team was hit harder by the disruption than the Baltimore Orioles. New pitching coach Leo Mazzone, famous for his consistently dominating staffs in 25 years with Atlanta, complained before the Classic started that an emotional, competitive event like the WBC would entice pitchers to go all out before their arms were ready for it.
WBC organizers tried to limit pitch counts (pitchers were limited to 65 pitches in the first round, 80 in the second round and 95 in the semifinals and finals), but apparently it wasn’t enough. The Orioles, who had four of their five starters participate in the WBC, currently rank second-last in the majors with a 5.70 ERA.
The only team below them is the Minnesota Twins (5.77), another team plagued by the WBC hangover. Starters Johan Santana and Carlos Silva both pitched for Venezuela in the Classic and this season they have combined to go 4-8 with a 5.96 ERA and 4.38 units lost. Santana is quickly rebounding from his WBC woes. He’s won his last three starts after starting 0-3 and even flirted with a no-hitter on Sunday.
Silva, however, has the worst ERA in baseball among those who qualify and has lost 4.55 units. He’s joined at the very bottom of the majors’ moneymakers by many of his fellow WBC participants, including the Dodgers’ Jae Seo (-4.04), the Pirates’ Oliver Perez (-4.82) and the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis (-5.55).
Six WBC starters are also currently on the disabled list, including the Mets’ Victor Zambrano, who is done for the season, and two Angels’ pitchers, Kelvim Escobar and Bartolo Colon.
But not all starters have been Silva-esque. The Chicago White Sox’s two participating starters, Javier Vazquez and Fr