**Kevin Gausman** didn’t have his best stuff on April 1.

The righthanded pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays managed to work six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, though most of them were messy. Only once did Gausman go three-up, three-down. He allowed eight St. Louis hits and a total of 10 baserunners in the other five innings.

The Cardinals scored three runs off the Toronto starter en route to a 4-1 victory, saddling Gausman with his first loss of 2023.

He was also credited with **a quality start.**

You’re certainly familiar with the QS. Scorekeepers award it to any starting pitcher who works at least six innings and surrenders three earned runs or fewer.

The concept has a certain appeal. If a starter is both efficient and durable, why shouldn’t he be statistically rewarded?

But the QS fails to meet any test of basic logic. It is not a reliable indicator of pitching excellence. It is, instead, **a TTDMS** — a thing that doesn’t make sense.

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There are a couple of major problems with the quality start.

The first one: If a pitcher allows three earned runs in a six-inning start, his earned run average for that game is 4.50. That’s 14 percent higher than the combined ERA of 3.96 for all big-league pitchers last year. It is, in fact, worse than the ERAs for all but two seasons since the year 2000.

The QS clearly does not set an adequate standard for efficiency.

And this: A pitcher who works six innings has gone only two-thirds of the way, leaving him far short of a complete game. A total of 419 CGs were recorded as recently as 1992, dwarfing 2022’s minuscule total of 36.

The QS obviously is not an ideal measure of durability.

Gausman’s quality start was warranted in one respect. The three runs that he allowed were unearned, the result of a throwing error by third baseman **Matt Chapman**. But he didn’t help his cause by yielding three hits in the fatal inning, nor could he have been happy with an outing in which 10 opposing batters reached base.

There were dozens of worse examples a year ago. Seven pitchers who were credited with quality starts in 2022 allowed 12 baserunners apiece. Another 24 QS pitchers let 11 opponents reach base.

That’s a total of 31 quality starts that were marred by massive congestion on the basepaths. The record for the starters’ teams in those games was 12 wins against 19 losses, yielding an abysmal winning percentage of .387. Not exactly the definition of quality.

The logical move would be to completely abandon the QS as an official statistic, given that it tells us virtually nothing of value. But if it must remain — when did a stat simply vanish? — let’s at least tighten the standards.

Scorekeepers certified 1,776 quality starts in the majors last season, an average of 59 per team. That’s an absurdly high figure, the baseball version of grade inflation.

A true quality start (TQS) should require a minimum of seven innings, making the pitcher work past the three-quarters mark of a game. And the threshold for earned runs should be stringent, allowing no more than two per outing.

The ERA for two runs in seven innings is 2.57, which is 35 percent better than last year’s big-league average of 3.96. Only 587 pitching performances in 2022 involved sufficient durability and efficiency to earn the TQS designation, slashing by two-thirds the inflated official QS count of 1,776.

Now that’s a sign of quality.