Originally posted on The Flagrant Fan  |  Last updated 8/17/12

When a pitcher makes twelve starts and has an 0-9 record, is there really a point to try and figure out if the guy is just unlucky or just plain not pitching well? Probably not. Is there a need to break it all down when reaching back to last season, Chris Volstad has lost fourteen straight decisions? Perhaps not there either. Volstad is not threatening (yet) Anthony Young's losing streak, but it sure is becoming a, "thing." But perhaps the discussion would still be interesting since Volstad was a former first round draft pick (2005) and is still only 25 years old.
His season is staggering in its consequences. The Chicago Cubs have won only one of the games Volstad has started this season. Going back two seasons, Volstad is now 5-22 in his combined 2011 and 2012. If the Cubs were to shut him down right now, or if inexplicably, Volstad went the rest of the season without a win, he would become only the sixth pitcher ever to pitch twelve or more starts and not win a game. The list:

  • Russ Miller (1928) - twelve starts, twelve losses.
  • Steve Gerkin (1945) - twelve starts, twelve losses. He put his team in a pickle?
  • Vida Blue (1983) - fourteen starts, 0-5
  • Vladimir Nunez (2000) - twelve starts, 0-6
  • Bruce Chen (2006) - twelve starts, 0-7


The good news from that list is that no one has ever pitched more than fourteen starts and gone without a win. So if he keeps pitching, a win is bound to happen. Oh, and Marco Estrada of the Brewers is in the running to join this list and is 0-5 in twelve starts.
So is Chris Volstad that bad a pitcher? He is not great according to his peripherals. But he is better than his results if you are to believe the statistics. First, he is a contact pitcher who only gets 5.4 percent of his pitches swung and missed. He is more of a ground ball pitcher with healthy ground ball to fly ball rates. And yet his BABIP is .317 this season and .310 last season. You can't really say he has pitched in front of terrible defenses. The Cubs are in the upper end of the middle of the pack this season and the Marlins the same last season.
Volstad has also limited walks better in the last two seasons than before in his career. That means that his strikeout to walk ratio is the highest of his career the last two seasons. So what then? His ERA is a whopping 6.96. But his FIP of 4.57, while not great, is still in line with the rest of his career.
On the other hand, Fangraphs does not give any of his pitches a positive score. So Volstad does not have a single pitch that can be dominant. Perhaps that is part of the reason his homer rates have been so high the last two seasons. Whatever the case, his high homer rate and 11.8 hits allowed per nine innings haven't helped. His WHIP is an extremely high 1.55.
Another thing way off for Volstad this season is his strand rate. He has only been able to strand 57 percent of the batters he has put on base. That will hurt you. Batters have an OPS against him of .830.
Too many base runners. Too many homers. Not enough strikeouts. Six games where his team has supported him with two runs or less. Those will all add up to a record that has nary a win. There is certainly some bad luck thrown in there too for good measure. Whatever the case, Chris Volstad is not winning and his .000 winning percentage cannot be any fun for Volstad or his team. He is still in the Cubs' rotation and we'll have to see how this ends.

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