How Boston Red Sox Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez Leading MLB in Wins Can Be Deceiving

Eduardo Rodriguez
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox reacts during the seventh inning of a game against the Baltimore Orioles on September 20, 2016 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

MLB Wins Leader

As night falls on the 2019 regular season, one Boston Red Sox starter finally has something to brag about. No, it’s not Chris Sale, not David Price, not Rick Porcello, but Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez — who was considered the fourth-best starter on the team heading into the season — is now tied for the Major League lead in wins with 17.

After winning his last decision, the lefty now joins Justin Verlander and Domingo German atop the MLB in wins. Take this all with a grain of salt however, as wins aren’t always the mark of a dominant pitcher. Verlander is still dominating the trio in almost every category. The Houston Astros hurler has thrown over 20 more innings than Rodriguez and nearly 60 more than German. He also has almost 90 more punch outs than Eddy and almost 120 more than German.

Red Sox Ace

Rodriguez hasn’t been anywhere near Verlander this season, but he has in fact been the most reliable arm on the Red Sox staff. Amongst Sale, Price, and Porcello, Rodriguez has nearly 20 more innings pitched than Porcello who sits in seconds place. “E-Rod” is also the only starter to own an ERA lower than 4.00. Although Sale may have him beat in opponents batting average and WHIP, injuries have plagued his season, leaving him on the shelf for the rest of 2019.

Misleading Statistic

This feat hasn’t come without some help, however. While Eduardo Rodriguez leads the league in wins, he also leads the league in run support. He receives an average of 7.14 runs of support per start. This number leads all of baseball. His rotation mate Rick Porcello sits second on this list at 7.07. The interesting thing about this statistic is that Chris Sale has the seventh-worst number in this category. The southpaw gets just 4.00 runs on average every time he takes the hill. Even though the door is slowly closing on their playoff chances, the Boston offense sits in the top-five in nearly every important offensive statistic. This shows how unreliable the win statistic can be. Rodriguez has undoubtedly been the horse of the rotation, but the team’s offense is as much of a factor into wins as the pitcher is.

The last time a Red Sox pitcher held the most wins by the end of the season was Porcello in 2016. The righty took home the Cy Young Award in the American League that season. He may have not been the right choice, however. Verlander, who narrowly missed out on winning the award that season may have had the better year despite having fewer wins. Porcello finished the season at 22-4, Verlander finished at 16-9. Verlander however, led Porcello in ERA, innings pitched, hits, earned runs, strikeouts, opponent batting average, and WHIP. In that same season, Porcello also got a major boost from his offense. In David Ortiz‘s final season, the Red Sox offense averaged 6.61 runs for Porcello — leading the Major Leagues. Verlander ranked 19th worst in the stat. Only receiving 3.97 runs per start.

Eduardo Rodriguez has had an impressive campaign to this point, but don’t let those win numbers fool you. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts deserve some recognition for “E-Rod” reaching this mark as well. Without the offense to back him, he may not have nearly as many wins as we’ve seen. Rodriguez’s season has been impressive enough with a 3.81 ERA, the 17 wins are just the cherry on top.

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