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Big-Game O's, Part 2

We review the five biggest pitching performances of 2013.

Mitchell Layton

Welcome back, everyone. If you haven't read part one, do that now to understand what we're talking about here. Then let's return to the Chris Tillman show ... er, I mean, the five biggest pitching contributions of the year.

5. Chris Tillman vs. San Francisco Giants, August 9th

Tillman’s line: 8 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 9 K, 0.414 WPA. O’s win 5-2

Although the Orioles won this game, they almost didn’t. Jim Johnson blew a 2-1 lead that Tillman handed him, pushing the game into extras. Luckily, the O’s scored three in the top of the 10th to pull ahead for good.

4. Scott Feldman vs. Chicago White Sox, September 6th

Feldman’s line: 9 IP, 0 R, 5 H, BB, 3 K, CG, SHO, 0.423 WPA. O’s win 4-0

This game was Feldman’s first career shutout. He didn’t dazzle all that much, striking out just three, but he got outs when he needed them and the O’s were able to pull together enough offense for a 4-0 win. He had just one baserunner after the fifth inning.

3. Chris Tillman vs. Los Angeles Angels, May 2nd

Tillman’s line: 8 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 0.452 WPA. O’s win 5-1

Tillman’s best start of the year in terms of WPA wasn’t his best in terms of skill. He struck out only three and walked two, but he gave up only three hits besides, and no runner came around to score. The reason this performance is worth so much WPA is that four of Tillman’s five base runners came in the first two innings of the game. Baserunners that early in the game don’t hurt your chance to win as much as they do later on. Also, when Tillman surrendered his last hit of the game, a single in the 6th, the O’s were ahead 2-0, so that baserunner didn’t represent a huge threat to the O’s.

2. Wei-Yin Chen vs. Oakland A’s, April 26th

Chen’s line: 8 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0.582 WPA. O’s win 3-0

Chen’s finest start of the year was not only the first time he went past the sixth inning in 2013, it was his only eight-inning game of the season. Even more impressive is that while he was pitching in the eighth, the O’s were up only 1-0. Chen didn’t have lot of leeway, and that’s part of the reason he was able to rack up such a high WPA for the game. Buck Showalter must have been more nervous than usual, but Chen and Jim Johnson got it done, and the O’s won 3-0.

1. Freddy Garcia vs. Washington Nationals, May 30th

Garcia’s line: 8 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 0.588 WPA. O’s win 2-0

Wow, Chris Tillman is so … wait, wha? Freddy Garcia?!?!! I was gobsmacked when I found out that he contributed the biggest pitching performance of the year. He’s not that great of a pitcher, and for awhile he became the symbol of O’s fans’ frustrations with the team’s starting pitching.

But for one day he was excellent, shutting down the Nationals in Camden Yards, of all places. He allowed two base runners in the second inning and then one more in the 6th, when the O’s were up 1-0. Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth for the save.

In terms of WPA, it was his second-best start of his career and his best start in a decade. Sadly, he couldn’t build on it and was DFA’d less than a month later.

Here we conclude the pitching portion of our series. Check in next week as we examine the best single-game offensive performances of 2013.