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It's late in the season and you are desperately searching for wins, what do you do?
You could try and trade for CC Sabathia or Justin Verlander, but you know that would be a fruitless strategy because their owners are not about to trade their superstar pitcher.
You could scan the waiver wire, but who would you target?
Most of the quality pitchers are already on a roster.
As the title of this article suggests, an alternative strategy is to seek out pitchers who are getting the most run support.
Run support is a curious thing. Some pitchers get plenty of support and others are unlucky and get very little. And it's not always about the offense. Guys can be on great hitting teams and get very little support or pitching for a "pop-gun" offense and get plenty of help.
This season the Baltimore Orioles are the ninth-best scoring team in the American League, averaging just 4.16 runs-per-game. However, when Jake Arrieta pitches, they turn into a run-scoring machine. In 2011 they have averaged 8.97 runs per nine innings pitched with Arrieta on the mound. Which explains how he can be 10-8 with his ugly ERA of 5.05 and WHIP of 1.46.
Compare Arrieta's statistics to Boston Red Sox starter Josh Beckett who pitches for the top scoring team in baseball - the Boston Red Sox (5.41 runs- per-game). But Beckett has been the "unlucky" one on his team's staff, getting just 5.10 runs support. Beckett (9-5, ERA 2.40, WHIP 0.967) has pitched much better than Arrieta, but has one less win.
Another example of run support helping a pitcher can be seen in Mets starter Jonathon Niese. Niese pitches for a team that averages 4.5 runs-per-game, but in his games they are posting a 7.21 run support. So despite his middle-of- the-road 4.03 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, Niese has accumulated 11 wins.
Lefty Cliff Lee of Philadelphia is getting just 4.60 run support. Of course the Phillies "ace" doesn't need many runs to win, with his stellar ERA of 2.83 and WHIP of 1.09. But compare his win total to Niese. Lee (12-7) has just one more win than Niese despite his much superior statistics.
The moral of the story is that if you need wins this late in the season, searching for run support could be your best strategy.
Below you will find the top-10 in the major leagues in run support.
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