The Run Support Curse of #37

Stop me if you’ve heard this headline before; Henderson Alvarez puts forth strong outing, Blue Jays bats go silent. Over the course of his young career, it’s almost gotten to the point where you can copy/paste that same headline for nearly every one of his starts.

Poor Henderson Alvarez … the guy just cannot seem to catch a break when it comes to run support. But this isn’t an isolated incident for Alvarez, it’s quite the ongoing trend.

In his 14 career starts with the Blue Jays dating back to August 10th of last year, the Blue Jays have averaged just 3.14 runs in support of him. Not surprisingly, Henderson Alvarez has just six decisions in those starts and just one win to show for all his hard work.


With last night’s loss, Henderson’s teammates have posted just one run in support in five … count them, five of his 14 career starts as Blue Jay. Essentially, Alvarez has to post a line of zeros to ensure himself as chance at a win.

Obviously it isn’t Henderson Alvarez’ fault, he did everything he possibly could have to give his team a chance to win. But perhaps there’s something else going on here … something supernatural … something to do with the number on the back of his uniform.

@Daxacer cleverly coined it the “Curse of #37”, which invariably is the curse of little to no run support.

All we have to do is look back to the patron saint for the number 37, Dave Stieb. He notoriously received little to no run support during his tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays, as his teammates averaged 4.5 runs in support over the course of his career.

Most notably in 1981, Dave Stieb tossed 11 complete games posting an 11-10 record with a 3.25 ERA and yet only received an average of 2.8 runs in support. So if there’s anybody who knows about tough luck losses, it’s Dave Stieb.

Incredibly, the curse of number 37 doesn’t stop there. Thanks to @Minor_Leaguer for pointing out that Jo-Jo Reyes was the one to don the infamous number 37 last season, who not surprisingly also had trouble with run support.

Instances like this really go to show the futility of the win statistic for a starting pitcher, as it hardly tells the entire story. At first glance, Henderson Alvarez might not look like that great of a pitcher, but if you break it down much further than the win-loss record you’ll see he’s quite the serviceable arm.

But just one small piece of advice for any young Blue Jays pitcher who has their choice of number on the back of their uniform; perhaps it’s best to stay away from #37.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

10 thoughts on “The Run Support Curse of #37

  • April 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I think that the Jays should have already retired number 37 in honour of Stieb.

    • April 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      Chris, that's a fantastic idea. Stieb is after all on the Level of Excellence … I think retiring #37 should be the next progression.

  • April 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Love the picture, Ian. Dave Stieb is watching over Prince Henderson.

    While his run support has sucked, I'll take it as a good omen that Henderson's wearing Stieb's old number. (I'm going to forget that Jo-Jo wore it, and forget altogether that he pitched for Toronto.)

    Finally: I look forward to Alvarez's no-hitter.

    • April 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Kinda creepy, isn't it? And it's the Dave Stieb bobblehead nonetheless!

      Henderson has had some hard luck, but really I'm really impressed with what he's done this year already. Maybe he performs better under pressure with little to no run support?

  • April 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    He should change it to 39. Ah, Gustavo Chacin, King of Run Support. The smell of victory.

    • April 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      That's a very good strategy … the next step? Alvarez … by Henderson cologne.

    • April 26, 2012 at 2:20 am

      If he avoids the high ERA, we'll be partying like it's 1992-93!!!

  • April 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    "Most notably in 1981, Dave Stieb tossed 11 complete games posting an 11-10 record"

    11 CGs in a strike year too. Jays only played 106 games.

    • April 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      A strike-shortened season? That makes it even MORE impressive then!

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