Tucson Padres manager Pat Murphy knows in baseball - especially in the Pacific Coast League - good pitching wins games.
And frankly, the Tucson Padres haven't had a whole lot of good pitching the past two years.
The numbers don't lie.
In 2011, Tucson's four most-used starting pitchers combined to post a 5.50 ERA. Last season, it wasn't much better at 5.27. The result was a combined two-year record of 121-167.
This season, it's been a different story.
Entering Saturday's ____ win/loss over/against Round Rock at Kino Stadium, Tucson's top four starters - Tim Stauffer, Sean O'Sullivan, Robbie Erlin and Thad Weber - have combined for a 3.96 ERA and an 11-5 record.
"The starting pitchers have been the leaders of this team," Murphy said. "We have a lot of bright, experienced, strong-willed guys. They take their craft real serious.
"Everybody feels good when your starting pitchers are confident and doing well."
Here's a closer look at the four hurlers.
• By the numbers: 2-2, 3.53 ERA in 35 2/3 IP (entering Saturday)
• His background: Stauffer, 30, is the most experienced of the group with 441 career big-league innings. He was hampered by injuries in 2012 and is trying to work his way back to the major leagues. The right-hander is getting stronger and stronger as the year progresses. In his last five starts entering Saturday, he had given up just seven earned runs in 29 innings. He can opt out of his contract by June 1 if he's not called up to San Diego.
• Quotable: "I'll worry about the (opt-out) when it gets here and I'll play it by ear. Right now, I'm feeling strong and more comfortable each time out. I'm changing speeds and I'm in the strike zone more." - Stauffer.
• By the numbers: 2-2, 4.74 ERA in 38 IP
• His background: Even though he's just 25, O'Sullivan has plenty of experience as well. The 6-foot-1-inch, 242-pound right-hander has pitched 193 2/3 innings in the majors and more than 800 innings in the minors. He's had success in the PCL with Omaha and Las Vegas, winning 14 games in the league last season and eight in 2011. Like Stauffer, O'Sullivan can get out of his contract by the end of the month, but at this point, he seems less likely to do that than his teammate.
• Quotable: "He goes out and gives us innings. He's cleaned up his delivery and can get the ball down in the zone. He's just a guy who has been around and goes out and competes every single night." - pitching coach Bronswell Patrick.
• By the numbers: 3-0, 3.00 ERA in 24 IP
• His background: The biggest prospect of the bunch, Erlin, 22, has gotten better recently, giving up just one earned run in his last 10 2/3 innings. The lefty was briefly up with San Diego earlier this season, but is back to fine-tune his delivery and continue to work on his stuff. Erlin has a bright future and has impressed Murphy and Patrick this season.
• Quotable: "He has a good, clean delivery that continues to get better. He attacks hitters and he's making adjustments on the fly. He's using his off-speed pitches and he's able to get them over early in the count and that's a plus for him. He gives us quality innings every fifth day." - Patrick.
• By the numbers: 4-1, 4.28 ERA in 27 1/3 IP
• His background: Like Erlin, the 28-year-old right-hander has spent some time in San Diego this season and has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings there. He's been shuttled back and forth twice, but hasn't let it bother his performance. The University of Nebraska product has shown he has good command, walking just four batters for Tucson this year and hasn't walked more than one hitter in an outing yet this season. Like Stauffer and O'Sullivan, he's a veteran with plenty of experience. This is his fourth year in a row pitching in Triple-A.
• Quotable: "Thad is doing a great job. He's done a great job in San Diego and here. He's a true professional and has the experience to bounce back and forth." - Patrick.
• Who: Round Rock at Tucson
• When: 6:05 p.m.
• Radio: 1290-AM
Contact reporter Daniel Berk at email@example.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.