In tonight’s game between the Reds and the Cubs, Cubs starter Rich Harden had already run up a pitch count of 103 through 4 innings of work, despite only allowing 1 run, so Cubs manager Lou Pinella opted to remove him from the game (wisely, I would say, given Harden’s legendary fragility). Harden left with a 4-1 lead, but obviously could not get the win, since he had not pitched the requisite 5 innings.
Rookie reliever Jeff Stevens thereupon entered the game to start the 5th frame, pitching one inning and earning his first ever career win.
The only problem was, in his one inning of work Stevens gave up two singles and a three run bomb to Johnny Gomes, erasing the Cubs’ lead and leaving the game as a 4-4 tie.
The Cubs promptly came back and scored a run in the bottom half of the fifth, and scoreless relief by three other Cubs relievers, including 2 innings of hitless, 3-strikeout work by Aaron Heilman, preserved a 6-4 victory for Chicago, and saved the “win” for Stevens.
This is one of the worst cases of “vulturing a win” that I’ve seen in a long, long time. Stevens was far and away the worst Cubs pitcher in this game, posting a -.265 WPA whereas all the other four pitchers were positive, and yet he was awarded the win.
I know I’m just beating a long dead horse here, but why again do so many people hang so much of their evaluation of a player (not to mention Cy Young Awards), on this incredibly flawed stat?