If you don’t know anything about Justin Duchscherer, you might think tonight’s 1-hit shutout of Boston is just one of those fluky things that happens in baseball: any bum can have a good day. Heck, Mike Warren threw a no-hitter once.
There was nothing fluky about Justin Duchscherer’s performance tonight. Justin Duchscherer is flat out a great pitcher. This is exactly the sort of thing he’s been doing for years. He should have been a starter years ago, but he got stuck in the setup role (a) because the A’s have had a lot of good starting pitchers, and (b) he’s been so damn good in the setup role.
This year, he’s finally getting his shot at starting. Take a look at what he’s done so far this year:
5.0 IP, 1 ER.
5.0 IP, 2 ER.
5.0 IP, 1 ER.
7.0 IP, 2 ER.
6.2 IP, 1 ER.
5.0 IP, 3 ER.
8.0 IP. 0 ER.
Now look at his career ERAs since he came to Oakland:
2007: 4.96 (*injured hip)
There’s a lot of trade speculation about Rich Harden and Joe Blanton, and those two guys are good pitchers, but if you judge by actual career performance, Justin Duchscherer has been a better pitcher than both of them:
Duchscherer: 3.36 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Harden: 3.56 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Blanton: 4.08 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
Duchscherer doesn’t get his due, because he doesn’t throw 99 MPH like Harden or even 93 like Blanton, and he’s been stuck in an unglamorous role for too many years. But mixing those precision mid-80 mph cutters with his 12-to-6 curveball, he keeps getting hitters off balance, and generating out after out after out. If the Angels keep racking up wins, and the A’s can’t keep up and decide to become sellers in July, the smart teams will be asking about Duchscherer just as much as Harden and Blanton.