Philip Humber: Is a ‘perfect game’ curse haunting him?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Philip Humber

Philip Humber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber gets his eighth start of the season and sixth since his perfect game tonight at home against the Minnesota Twins. Since his perfect game on April 21 in Seattle, Humber has an 0-2 record with three no decisions and an ERA of 7.86 (more on that ERA in a second). He may be thinking that the perfect game was more of a curse than a blessing considering his performance since that game.

There may be something to this “Perfect Game Curse,” at least for some of those pitchers. Of the 17 pitchers who threw a perfect game in the last 100 years (since 1912) their record in the next start was 5-8 with four no decisions. Also, we can make a case that there might be a “White Sox Perfect Game Curse” when you look at Humber and Mark Buehrle‘s post-perfect game starts (see numbers below).

While Humber became the 19th pitcher in modern baseball history to throw a perfect game, his ERA in the next five starts among those other perfect game brethren is at the bottom of the list. Humber’s 7.86 ERA in his next five starts after the perfect game is the highest of any perfect game pitcher.

Following are the perfect game pitchers who had the best ERA in the five starts after their perfect game. (Note: Game stats were not available for Cy Young (May 5, 1904) and Addie Joss (October 2, 1908) to evaluate their first five starts after their perfect games so they are not included in this research.)

ERA in five starts after Perfect Game, Player (Date of Perfect Game)

1.54 Sandy Koufax (September 9, 1965)

2.63 Jim Bunning (June 21, 1964)

2.85 Len Barker (May 15, 1981)

3.00 Roy Halladay (May 29, 2010)

3.18 Mike Witt (September 30, 1984)

3.41 Tom Browning (September 16, 1988)

3.45 David Cone (July 18, 1999)

3.45 Randy Johnson (May 18, 2004)

4.00 David Wells (May 17, 1998)

4.09 Dennis Martinez (July 28, 1991)

4.15 Charlie Robertson (April 30, 1922)

4.45 Dallas Braden (May 9, 2010)

5.51 Catfish Hunter (May 8, 1968)

5.85 Mark Buehrle (July 23, 2009)

6.41 Kenny Rogers (July 28, 1994)

7.11 Don Larsen (October 8, 1956)

7.86 Philip Humber (April 21, 2012)

In taking a look at the last 17 pitchers to throw a perfect game (from Robertson to Humber) and their won-lost records in the first five starts after their “perfecto,” these pitchers won 30 games and lost 35 (with one tie) and 19 no decisions. Only two pitchers, Browning and Johnson, were undefeated in their next five starts after their perfect game. Here’s a look at the records of each perfect game pitcher after that historic performance.

Record, Pitchers

5-0: Johnson

4-0: Browning

4-1: Wells

3-1: Koufax

2-2-1: Hunter

2-2: Robertson, Bunning, Barker

2-3: Halladay

1-3: Witt, Martinez, Cone

1-4: Rogers

0-1: Larsen

0-2: Humber

0-3 Buehrle, Braden

Did you know? In the five starts following his perfect game, Koufax threw three shutouts. In the five starts after his perfect game, Barker had four complete games.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @ StatsonTapp

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