It's time to change how pitchers get "W"s

It's time to change how pitchers get "W"s

Pedro Strop blows lead
But he gets a “W”
Tyler Chatwood? Robbed

It was a Sunday afternoon in April, but at Wrigley Field it felt like June. Temperatures in the 70’s, sun shining, and the Cubs were playing the rubber game of their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tyler Chatwood was on the mound and walked the first batter on 4 pitches – the first of which would have been a wild pitch if a runner was on base. Cubs fans were understandably a little nervous about the prospects for a winning afternoon.

But Chatwood settled down, the defense gave him a double play, and he had one of his best performances in a Cubs uniform. Chatwood gave up 2 hits and walked 2 batters while striking out 3 over 6 shutout innings. The bullpen kept the Diamondbacks scoreless through the 8th until Pedro Strop came in to close.

After striking out the first batter on 4 pitches, Strop gave up a game tying – and save blowing – home run to Jarrod Dyson.

When I’m optimistic, as I was on Sunday, it’s exciting to anticipate the walk-off victory that could come when the game is tied going into the bottom of the ninth. And that optimism was rewarded.

A lead-off double by Javy Baez – who ended up on third due to a fielding error – Contreras was hit by a pitch. Cubs on the corners, nobody out, and soon to be new father David Bote at the plate. As Jack Brickhouse used to say, “any old kind of hit” would get the Cubs a victory, and Bote did not disappoint.

A single to center, Baez scored, the crowd was ecstatic, and the music started playing. A great pitching performance by Chatwood, and the victory goes to … Pedro Strop?

There is no world in which this scenario is fair. I know, I know, in these days of advanced metrics a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t as important as we used to consider it. But, still.

As I told my daughter while exiting the ballpark, something should change about assigning wins to pitchers. Nobody in the ballpark thought Strop deserved the win after blowing the save. Everybody in the ballpark would have awarded the win to Chatwood, recognizing his outstanding performance.

Here are a couple of ideas.

More appealing to fans who like strict rules and consistency, when a relief pitcher blows a lead he should not be eligible for a win. The “W” should go to the pitcher who was in the game when his team scored the run that gave them the lead the reliever blew. There might need to be a few details added, but in the case of Sunday’s game Chatwood would be the winning pitcher and Strop would have just gotten the blown save.

An alternative would be to let the official scorer designate the winning pitcher. While this is not as precise, we already let the scorer make decisions about whether to award a hit or assign an error on a particular play. That can affect no-hitters, which end up being important games in a pitcher’s career. Why shouldn’t we let them assign wins? Particularly because, as noted earlier, W-L stats are considered less meaningful these days.

Yes, I’m obsessing here about a pitching stat I admit is not as meaningful as others, but what happened Sunday doesn’t feel right. And part of baseball is “the feels.”

Do you agree? Should be change the way wins are assigned to pitchers? Do you have other ideas besides the two suggested here? Speak up in the comments.


I would consider it a small victory if you subscribe to my email list. You’ll be alerted whenever something new is posted here, you will never be spammed, and you can opt out whenever you want. Just click here for the sign up page. 

Filed under: Baseball, Cubs, Statistics

Leave a comment