The Travel Travails of Jackson Rutledge

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

This short Point-CounterPoint is a lightly edited Twitter DM exchange between Don and Steve that occurred after Jackson Rutledge‘s last start.

Looks like Rutledge has a traveling issue 😃. The former 1st round pick (17th overall) of the Washington Nationals in the 2019 draft, at one-time looked like the next great thing for the Nats. The 6’8″ right-handed pitcher with a large 240 pound frame looked like general manager Mike Rizzo’s prototype for the hard throwing starter that he wants on his mound.

While Rutledge dominated in his draft year, the COVID canceled season of 2020 seemed to change everything. Rutledge bounced around in 2021 and dealt with some injury issues and found himself back in Single-A ball for the 2022 season where he has had a mixed bag of results if you dive into his home/road splits.

Don: I decided to look at Rutledge’s game logs after his good game yesterday. Noticed a pattern that is interesting. All but one of his bad games are on the road. Might be an interesting question to research.

You can click on the image if you want to see the table at BaseBall-Reference so you can experiment with it (e.g., sort it by different criteria). For example, if you sort by opponent, it appears that is not a discriminating factor.

Steve: Interesting with Joel Hanrahan as his pitching coach. You would hope they see the analytics.

Don: Might be interesting to send this observation to Joel. I assume he knows it however.

Home ERA is 2.95. Road is 8.51. The pattern is consistent. It is not like he had just one bad road game that blew up his road ERA.

Steve: That is pretty incredible. The last game was a road game though.

Don: Yes – there are exceptions. But the pattern is there.

Steve: Maybe he was able to do something to correct it. That is a wide margin.

I think it’s interesting for sure.

Don: Something to keep an eye on.

He had consecutive road games twice this year. Each time he was good for the first one; bad for the second one. And most/all of this other road games were well into a road trip.

Steve: Interesting. Almost like he has to get used to time on the road. Then you have a player like Josiah Gray who does better on the road.

Don: I assume that minor league pitchers aren’t sent ahead for road games like many MLB pitchers are.

Steve: You would be correct.  Let’s see how his next start goes.

Don: Next game is likely a home game. So we likely won’t learn anything from the next game in terms of the pattern.

Steve: Right and he could be promoted, or at least should be promoted.

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