Originally Posted by TDog
Like any stat, sometimes a starter's ERA can be misleading. I've seen some starters who give up a lot of unearned runs because they have a great deal of difficulty pitching over mistakes. In 2008, it seemed Gavin Floyd gave up an excessive number of unearned runs, really many more than you could blame on the defense. Sometimes it's a dropped two-out fly, but even unearned runs aren't created equal. I once saw the Cubs score 10 unearned runs in an inning after a two-out error that loaded the bases in a still scoreless first inning. And sometimes pitchers stay in the game longer than they should to save an otherwise overworked staff. There is something to be said for a pitcher who eats innings, even if he gives up a few more runs by doing so.
ERAs meant more when starters regularly pitched complete games. Now multimplying earned runs allowed per inning by nine feels a little arbritray. Still, I don't know if I've seen a starter with a great ERA who wasn't a very effective pitcher.
I had no idea that Gavin gave up 19 unearned runs. I am willing to bet that that is an exception rather than the rule, I would think the difference between unearned and earned runs is far less.
I also wouldn't say that it indicates a pitcher can't overcome mistakes made by his defense (though sometimes that is the case), I think it is also indicative of a bad defensive team. Buerhle gave up a lot of unearned runs back in 2003, while he had a bad year that year, the 2003 was horrendous defensively. If you're a ground ball pitcher like Buerhle you need your defense to come through for you.