A week ago, if I told you Masterson, Jimenez and Lowe would each go at least seven innings while allowing no more than two earned runs in their first start of the season, how would you feel about the Tribe’s potential for a successful 2012 campaign?

While it’s easy to be frustrated with the lack of offense and the somewhat shaky bullpen, we knew going into the year that, in order to compete, this team needed to be carried by the starting rotation. And so far, the staff has exceeded all expectations.

Dating back to the beginning of the baseball-reference era (since 1918), the Tribe has opened the season with its starting pitcher going at least seven innings while surrendering two or fewer runs in each of the first three games just five other times.

7 IP, 2 or Fewer Runs Allowed by Indians Starters
First 3 Games of Season, Since 1918
Year
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
2012
Justin Masterson
Ubaldo Jimenez
Derek Lowe
2003
CC Sabathia
Ricardo Rodriguez
Brian Anderson
1989
Greg Swindell
Bud Black
Rich Yett
1956
Bob Lemon
Herb Score
Early Wynn
1951 Bob Lebom Early Wynn Bob Feller
1948 Bob Feller Bob Lemon Bob Feller

The key to the early-season success has been working ahead in the count. Through three games, the Tribe starters have thrown a first-pitch strike to 37 out of 79 batters. Of those 37 hitters who started in a 0-1 hole, only five reached base – good for an on-base percentage of just .135, well below the 2011 league average of .269.

Here are a few more encouraging early-season stats on the starting pitchers:

  • Of the 24 balls put in play against Lowe, 15 were ground balls. And all but one (a Kelly Johnson single) were outs or errors.
  • Only nine of Lowe’s 66 sinkers drifted into the middle or upper portions of the zone. The ones that he did fail to keep low resulted in three of the five hits he allowed.
  • Jimenez worked quickly, recording seven outs on two or fewer pitches.
  • Only 20 of Masterson’s 99 pitches came in hitters counts. And only one of the 13 batters to work his way into a hitters count reached base (Jose Bautista on a walk).
Follow Ryan on twitter @TribeFanMcC

1 Comment

  • Gary says:

    Masterson, Jiminez and Lowe had a combined 1.23 ERA. Why didn’t Manny Acta let Masterson try to finish the game but have Chris Perez ready just in case? If it weren’t for the inconsistent performance of the “Bullpen Mafia”, the Indians would likely be 2-1 or 3-0. Oh well, I guess it’s better to have a slow start and strong finish than to start fast and fade down the stretch.