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The Numbers: Jose Lima was a statistical roller coaster

Big League Stew

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Each week, Big League Stew stat doctor Alex Remington will bring you a few baseball numbers you need to know. Today's edition focuses entirely on the up and down career of Jose Lima(notes).

The number of shutouts Lima pitched in his career — one in the regular season, one in the playoffs. The regular season shutout came in his breakout year of 1998, his first full year in the rotation, when he went 16-8 for the Astros and pitched 233 1/3 innings. His victim, ironically, was the Royals, for whom he pitched in 2003 and 2005. He allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out seven. The second shutout came in his third and last postseason game, pitching for the Dodgers against the Cardinals and outdueling Matt Morris(notes). He again allowed five hits and just one walk, striking out four, and holding the Cards 2-4 hitters — Larry Walker, Albert Pujols(notes), and Scott Rolen(notes) — to a collective 0-for-12.

The number of seasons in which Lima gave up at least 30 home runs, third-most of all time, behind only Fergie Jenkins (7) and Robin Roberts (9). Roberts is also the only pitcher with a longer streak of consecutive 30-homer seasons: Roberts gave up at least 30 in eight straight seasons, from 1953-1960, while Lima gave up at least 30 in 4 straight seasons, from 1998-2001.

+ 1/3. His career high innings total, set in his career year of 1999, when he won 21 games for the Astros. He was never the same after that — he never pitched 200 innings again, never started as many as 34 games again, and never had an ERA under 4.00 again — and it's fair to speculate that the overload may have killed his arm. But it was a glorious season. It's the 14th-highest inning total of the last 12 years, behind only Randy Johnson(notes), Roy Halladay(notes), Curt Schilling(notes), CC Sabathia(notes), Kevin Brown, Livan Hernandez(notes), Jon Lieber(notes), and Greg Maddux(notes).

The number of times he led the league in a basic stat category. In 1998, he led the league in K/BB, with a scintillating 5.28. In 1999, the year that he won 21 games and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, he led the majors in starts with 35. In 2000, he led the majors in earned runs, with 145, and home runs allowed, with 48. Then, in 2005, he again led the league in earned runs, with 131. Those 48 home runs in 2000 are the second-most of all time, behind only Bert Blyleven's 50 in 1986.

The number of times he walked more than 70 batters. Lima was an excellent strike-thrower. Perhaps too excellent — he might have given up fewer gopherballs if he were a little wilder. But his career walk rate is a terrific 2.3 BB/9, and his career K/BB is a very good 2.49. The man knew how to find the strike zone.

His career save total. Early in his career, he was used as a swingman, pitching out of the bullpen and making spot starts. He may not have ever been the exclusive closer, but he was the last man out of the bullpen for much of 1996 and 1997 and managed to pile up five saves for the Tigers and Astros — and also wound up with four blown saves for his troubles.

The number of seasons in which he lost 16 games and finished with an ERA above 6.50. He is, not surprisingly, the only pitcher with two such seasons. (Jim Abbott in 1996 is the other most recent pitcher to have such a year; the others are Mike Parrott in 1980 and three guys who pitched before WW II.) Lima went 7-16 with a 6.65 ERA for the Astros in 2000 after pitching his arm out in 1999; he went 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA for the Royals in 2005 after having a comeback year with the Dodgers in 2004. He really didn't have anything, but he was colorful and a fan favorite, so his teams kept sending him out every fifth day. It's hard to imagine that anyone will break this record.

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