Preston: From Jekyll to Hyde in consecutive starts

From SABR member J.G. Preston at The J.G. Preston Experience on August 27, 2015:

On August 16, 2015, Colorado Rockies lefthander Chris Rusin shut out the Padres on five hits, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that it came in the hitters’ paradise of Denver’s Coors Field. Six days later Rusin returned to the mound at Coors Field to face the Mets and was pulled from the game before he could retire a batter in the third inning, allowing 11 runs. The contrasting results led me to wonder three things:

  1. What’s the greatest difference in runs allowed between consecutive starts by a pitcher?
  2. What’s the most runs a pitcher has allowed in his next start following a shutout?
  3. What’s the greatest difference in “game scores” between consecutive starts by a pitcher? (“Game score” was developed by Bill James in an effort to roughly rate the quality of a starting pitcher’s performance; I’ve written more about it here. Rusin went from a score of 80 in his shutout to -11 in is follow-up, for a difference of 91.)

If I had some ability to manipulate the data accumulated by the volunteers at Retrosheet, I might be able to definitively answer questions 1 and 2, at least for the years in their database. Retrosheet doesn’t list game scores, but does; alas I can’t figure out a way to use their spectacular Play Index tool to answer question 3.

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Originally published: September 2, 2015. Last Updated: September 2, 2015.