I enjoy taking a look at how the season has gone at different stages. Recently I've been interested in how the now solid rotation has performed, somewhat akin to Schmenkman's stat notes today. I see the season so far in three phases. The dates and games may be different for others, but I think most us can agree that the season started strongly until mid-May, dropped off drastically through the All-Star Break, and then picked up with the 8-game winning streak that began on July 22nd in St. Louis. My breakdown would be Part I: 26-15 (.634) through May 21st. Part II begins with the Dice-K one-hitter, the first of four shutouts within five games, and extends through the Carpenter(s) game of July 21st, with a record of 22-31 (.415). Finally, Part III runs through today at 30-12 (.714), an astounding achievement for approximately a quarter of a season. You can see that it is 3 1/2 games better than the record at the start of the year.
All that means is that for about half a season the team has played exceptionally well, and for about a third of a season they were the Kansas City Royals. One thing that stands out, of course, is the number of shutouts suffered. In Part I there was one shutout game, a 2-0 win on April 18th by new Phillie/then-Marlin Nate Robertson over (who else?) Cole Hamels. In Part II there were seven shutouts. And in Part III there have been three more, two by 1-0 (Hamels) and the one-hitter by Kuroda on Monday.
The rotation since July 22nd has been a steadying force, especially since Roy Oswalt replaced JA Happ on July 30th. The rotation had made eight complete turns through Thursday's game. In those 40 games they went 28-12. Happ made one start, Oswalt made seven, the others made eight starts. Their numbers in just those 40 games are impressive: Hamels 1-3, Halladay 6-2, Kendrick 4-3, Oswalt 4-1, and Blanton 3-0 (he manages to avoid defeats in some of the strangest games). The bullpen was 10-3, with Durbin getting three wins to lead the team during this period. Brad Lidge had 12 saves and two blown saves during those 40 games. Two fifths of the way through another turn of the rotation, with an extra pitcher about to be added to the mix on Monday, and there are 26 games left in the season, meaning five more starts for each starter. If they can keep up the recent pace, each starter should be in line for two or three more wins. Let's hope so.
One last observation, on ending losing streaks. This year the team has had four losing streaks of four or five games. The streaks were all ended with a strong pitching performance from four different starters. The terrible five-game streak with four shutouts was snapped by Kyle Kendrick with a 3-2 win over Florida (the night before Halladay's perfect game). Halladay then snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over San Diego his next time out. Cole Hamels threw the brilliant game against the Cardinals on July 22nd that ended a four-game losing streak and started the resurgence, leaving after 8 innings with the score 0-0. And just last Friday, Roy Oswalt stepped up and pitched 8 one-run innings against the Padres in an eventual 12-inning win after the four-game sweep by the Astros.