Bronson Arroyo, Have Yourself a Game


Upon the announcement of the NLDS starting rotation, Cincinnati Reds fans were wondering why have Bronson Arroyo pitch Game 2. Well, we saw last night why. That statement could be said as a bit of hindsight, but I previously stated I had no issue with the rotation.

Of course, the monkey wrench inserted into the rotation revolves around Johnny Cueto and his back. There is a chance he could take the mound for Game 4 should that be necessary. As things sit, Homer Bailey will take the ball in Game 3.

I was in attendance when Arroyo was in the process of dealing a potential no-hitter back on June 26 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He carried a no-no into the 8th inning and was practically untouchable until that 8th inning. He walked away from that game with a no decision as Drew Stubbs would crack a home run in the bottom of the 8th (after Arroyo’s exited with 7.2 IP) as the Good Guys notched a 4-3 win.

But until that 8th…

(Kelley L Cox – US PRESSWIRE)

Last night, Arroyo was clicking by every means. His performance brought about an interesting question from the Twitterverse. Was last night Arroyo’s best game since coming to Cincinnati? The answer was no, but one of his better outing that did not result in a complete game. As you may have guessed, it was Joel Luckhaupt that answered the call on that.

But if you’re using the old “eye-test”, it most likely was. It would be hard to argue against it. Yes, the Giants did hit a few balls rather hard, but outs are outs, right?

If you’re using Baseball Reference’s Game Score system (developed by Bill James), last night’s outing wasn’t even among Arroyo’s top 5 outings since joining the organization in a trade that sent Wily Mo Pena to the Boston Red Sox. Reds fans can criticize previous trades and Arroyo himself during his stint as a Red, but it’s difficult to argue the Reds came out on top of this deal.

In using the Game Score configuration, last night’s game would be tied for 6th (with two other outings) among all of Arroyo’s career Reds outings. Hard to fathom last night’s game is not among his top 5 especially considering how he performed last evening.

Here’s how that calculation of game score from last night’s game breaks down…

1. Base score of 50 for each start
2. Add 1 point per our recorded. Arroyo pitched seven innings, thus earning another 21 points. Subtotal: 71
3. Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th inning. Arroyo went seven, earning him another 6 points. Subtotal: 77
4. Add 1 point per strikeout. Arroyo whiffed four Giants, adding another 4 points. Subtotal: 81 points.
5. Subtract 2 points per hit allowed. Only one hit, take away 2. Subtotal: 79.
6. Subtract 1 point per walk. Again, only one. Total: 78 points.

There are also factors for allowing a run (-4 points per run allowed) and unearned runs (-2 points per unearned run allowed), but considering the Giants didn’t dent the plate, well, no subtractions. There is also a deduction of a point per HBP. Again, none to calculate. Arroyo earns a 78.

As you may have seen in Aaron’s Week in Review post from when Homer Bailey hurled his no-hitter, Bailey’s game score was 96.

There’s more to add to Arroyo’s effort from last evening.

Jeff Sullivan on Fangraphs has a nice take on Bronson’s gem from last night. Within his piece (if you watched last night’s game and heard Tom Verducci), you will read the now familiar tone of how Arroyo was extremely effective in changing speeds. That could be possibly the understatement of the postseason so far. Sullivan also explores the various arm angles (as detailed last evening by Chris Welsh during Reds Live) and provides images of such.

So you may now be wondering about the five outings where Arroyo supposedly pitched better. Of the those five, four of them involved a complete game shutout. The other was an 8-inning outing. And of those five, two were at Great American Ball Park. Digest that fact for a moment…

Here’s the top 5 Arroyo Reds outings (in descending order):

5. July 10, 2009 v. New York Mets at Citi Field. Line: CG-SHO, 4 H, 5 SO. Game Score: 84
The first season for the Mets at their new home. Citi Field has the reputation for being a pitcher’s park. Still does despite moving the walls in a bit.

4. August 13, 2009 v. Washington Nationals at GABP. Line: CG-SHO, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 SO. Game score: 85
Okay, it was the Nats of ’09 (they lost 103 games that season), but the Nats offense wasn’t horrible. In fact, in most categories, they were around league average. All right. That might be sugar-coating this a little…

T2. April 26, 2006 v. Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium. Line: 8 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 8 SO. Game score: 86
RFK was also considered a pitcher’s park. The Nats current home (Nationals Park) has had a single-season PPF (pitcher’s park factor) over 100 once, 2009 (101). A PPF of 100 is neutral, which is what Nationals Park has been for 4 of its 5 years of use. RFK for 2006 held a PPF of 95.

T2. September 5, 2006 v. San Francisco Giants at GABP. Line: CG-SHO, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 SO. Game score: 86
Even after last night’s outing, this is still Arroyo’s best game in facing the Giants, and at Great American no less. But the ’06 Giants had that Bonds guy. Converse among yourselves on that topic…

1. July 6, 2012 v. San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. Line: CG-SHO, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 SO. Game score: 88.
This was two starts after Arroyo flirted with the no-no in June. The process of returning to “Goodroyo” was slowly developing. Add two things here: PETCO is a nice park for pitcher’s and the Padres hadn’t started on their roll in early July. The Padres roll began in earnest in August.

In doing the work on this post, my appreciation for what Arroyo has brought to the Reds organization has been expanded. I know someone who is a HUGE Arroyo fan. Now, I understand a little more as to why that is the case.