Last year’s NL Cy Young award winner, and quite possibly the best pitcher to come along in the last 50 years, is still pitching like an ace in his prime. Unfortunately for him, the Astros have been awful at giving him any semblance of run support. Roger Clemens, at the age of 42 (soon to be 43 in August), is pitching well enough to warrant another all-Star start, and another Cy Young award. His success, unfortunately, will depend upon the bats of the poor hitting Astros.
Roger Clemens has the statistics and track record to be considered a modern day legend. His record of 329 – 165 (.666 winning percentage) is the best among modern day 300 game winners, he ranks second all time in strikeouts, has won 7 Cy Young awards, and an MVP. He also holds the record for most strikeouts in a 9 inning game at 20, and he did it twice in his career. Below is how Clemens has fared against other recent 300 game winners:
This year, Clemens has allowed only 6 earned runs in his 6 starts, yet his record stands at 1-1. All of his starts qualify as quality starts, which will lead many to conclude he should be 6-0 or maybe 5-1. His one loss was to Greg Maddox in a well pitched game (though statistically his worst of the season) where Clemens’ line was: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks. Let’s take a look now at his 4 no-decisions. 1) 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks; 2) 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks; 3) 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks; and 4) 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 8 Ks. To say that Roger should have won 3 of those games would be an understatement.
If we strip away Roger’s record and compare his statistics to the NL leaders, he does quite favorably. His ERA of 1.29 is second behind Dontrelle Willis (1.07), his strikeout total of 44 is third behind Pedro Martinez (52) and Jake Peavy (49), his innings pitched of 42.0 is tied for ninth, with the league leader Livan Hernandez at 49.0 (Livan has 1 more start this year), and his WHIP of 0.95 is fifth best behind Martinez (0.70), Willis (0.86), Peavy (0.91) and Myers (0.94). The season is still young, but given Roger’s track record, we should expect Roger to be a Cy Young candidate if he starts getting some of the wins he deserves.
The Astros have scored exactly 13 runs for an average of 2.2 runs per game. However, in 2 of Roger’s starts, the Astros did not put up a run until extra innings. If one were to look at the number of runs Houston has scored for Roger while he is still in the game, the RPG drops to 1.8. Roger may have thrown 6 gems in his first 6 starts, but he has nothing to show for them. It is unrealistic to think that the Rocket will finish the season with a sub 1.80 ERA at the age of 42, so it is possible that Roger may actually have a losing season unless the Astros start scoring some runs. The addition of Lance Berkman will certainly help the fledgling offense, but will it be enough to send Roger out with a record he deserves? Only time, and the Yankees record come the trade deadline, will tell.