Kenshin Kawakami is the unluckiest pitcher in the world

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Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami is providing this season’s best example of why wins and losses for individual pitchers are so often misleading (or worse). He lost to the Rays yesterday, falling to 0-9 despite a decent 4.42 ERA, six Quality Starts in 13 tries, and zero outings with more than five runs allowed.
To put that in some context, consider: Johnny Cueto is 6-1 with a 4.50 ERA. John Lackey is 7-3 with a 4.54 ERA. Dan Haren is 7-4 with a 4.61 ERA. Freddy Garcia is 7-3 with a 4.94 ERA. Nick Blackburn is 6-3 with a 4.96 ERA. Brian Bannister is 6-4 with a 5.40 ERA.
Even his rotation-mate Derek Lowe is 8-5 with a 4.81 ERA. In fact, a total of 20 pitchers have at least five wins despite an ERA higher than Kawakami. Not surprisingly Kawakami has received terrible support from the Braves’ lineup, bullpen, and defense.
He ranks ninth-worst in run support, third-worst in bullpen support, and errors behind him have also accounted for six unearned runs. It always bothers me when announcers talk about pitchers who “know how to win” because their win-loss record is better than their other numbers would suggest, and unfortunate guys like Kawakami at the other end of the spectrum are why.

A.J. Hinch responds to Ken Giles’ negative comments about Astros

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On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:

I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.

While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”

Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.

At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.