Last night, Pedro Martinez was the Pedro of old. He wasn't as good as his career-defining (to me) six innings of no-hit relief in that crazy game 5 of the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, but he was damn close. The Phillies' win was the seventh for the team when Pedro starts, and he's only started seven games.
The remarkable thing about the Phillies' 7-0 record in Pedro's starts is that he's not the only major mid-season pitching acquisition who has had this effect on the team. The Phillies are 6-2 in Cliff Lee's starts this year. That means the Phillies are a remarkable 13-2 in starts by their major acquisitions.
In fact, if you take out Lee's and Martinez's starts for the Phillies, the Phillies have played horribly since Lee and Martinez joined the team. Since July 31 (when Lee joined the team first), the team is 11-16 in games started by pitchers not named Lee or Martinez, good for a .407 winning percentage. As I wrote above, the team is 13-2 in starts from Lee and Martinez, good for an .867 winning percentage.
Something's going on here, isn't it? No, small sample size, you say? Let's go back a few years to give us a bigger set of data. In the last three full seasons, the Phillies have made major starting pitching acquisitions in July or August. In 2006, it was Jamie Moyer. The team went 6-2 in his starts. In 2007, it was Kyle Lohse. The team went 9-4 in his starts. In 2008, it was Joe Blanton. The team was 9-4 in his starts.
Put this all together, and you have a team that has gone 37-12 in starts from its major mid-season pitching acquisitions over the past 4 years. That's a .756 winning percentage over 49 games for the team. Compare that to the rest of the team's games since Moyer was acquired. He joined the team for his first start on August 22, 2006. Since that day, the Phillies have won 76% of starts by mid-season acquisitions (37-12) but only 55% of starts from their other pitchers (249-206).
Now, we all know that wins are not a good metric of a pitcher's ability or performance. However, they are a great measure of a team's ability and performance. And, based on these records, it sure seems like the Phillies, as a team, have been doing something different when their new acquisitions are on the mound.