Reds team ERA is much improved, from 4.94 end of last year to 4.44 now. Half a run per game.
Yet the league's average ERA is also better this year. Compared with the end of last year, which was 4.43, the league ERA this year is 4.24. The AL league ERA is improved this year too.
I don't know why the league ERAs are better. And I don't know the comparable league ERA for this time last year, just the end of last year.
Despite the team's improvement, the Reds are still about .20 in ERA worse than league average. The Reds have also allowed 47 unearned runs, one of the highest amounts in the league (only three teams seem worse on a quick read), which reflects on pitching to a degree.
Yet it's not the whole pitching staff -- it's the starters.
The Reds starters have a 4.98 ERA which is 13th in the league and compares to a 4.45 league average. Last year the Reds starters had a 4.86 compared to a 4.65 league average. So -- and get this -- the starting pitching (on an ERA basis) has been worse than last year both in absolute numbers and as compared to the league.
The bullpen is dramatically better this year. Last year it was 5.01 compared to a 4.06 league average. This year Reds are 3.52 (4th best in league) compared to 3.87 league wide.
The starters are 6th in the league in hits and in walks, which are not good numbers but aren't the real culprits. The real issues are extra base hits allowed -- team's starters are 2nd in homers allowed and 3rd in doubles allowed.
There are only five starters on a team -- so it's easy to see where the problems have been. Arroyo has a 5.98 in 104 innings. And the fifth starter tandem of Fogg/Belisle/Thompson/Bailey have a combined ERA over 7. Fogg has done better the last few outings, obviously.
In a normal Harang season, he might be counteracting these poor numbers. This year he isn't. Volquez is, but he's only one guy. Actually, four of the five Reds starting slots have ERAs worse than the overall team average ERA.
So there needs to be improvement in the starting performances for the team to succeed. Agree? And what does this tell us about the Reds' potential decisions about its veteran starters at the trade deadline?