It comes in other forms, such as "You're only as good as your next day's starting pitcher," or "Pitching wins championships."
You get the idea.
However, the series between the Red Sox and Mariners this weekend puts that theory to the test.
Boston is on top of the American League with a 59-37 record in large part because of a world-class offense that has run roughshod through the rest of the circuit. The Red Sox lead the majors in runs, batting, RBIs, doubles, extra-base hits, walks, slugging, on-base percentage and, obviously, OPS.
Their starting rotation has an ERA of 4.11, good for only 10th in the AL.
Meanwhile, Seattle has lost 12 straight and could be destined for the AL basement for the second straight season, in large part because of an offense that is historically bad. It ranks last in the league in nearly every one of those aforementioned categories.
The M's starting rotation has an ERA of 3.35, second-lowest in the league. No other rotation has a lower WHIP.
This is the adages' ultimate test. If anything were to hold true to form, Seattle would exit Fenway Park with a series win; the M's top two pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, will both appear.
But in this Year of the Pitcher Part II, offense has trumped the old sayings. And it's not just limited to these two teams.
The only club whose starters own a better ERA than Seattle is Oakland, which sits tied with the Mariners in last place in the AL West at 43-55.
Conversely, the top three teams in the league based on record (Boston, New York and Texas) rank in the top three in runs scored but are 10th, sixth and fourth in ERA among starters.
Of course, there is so much more to it than ERAs and batting averages. Bullpens, defenses, situational hitting — it all comes into play. But the only way the old adage holds true this weekend is if one of the worst teams in the league beats up on one of the best.
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