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Does that count of days adjust for number of pitchers at all? Pitching staffs have grown even between 1999 and 2011, so of course more pitchers would produce more DL days.
The delta is also small enough that it could be influenced by just a couple outliers, like Curt Schilling's final non-season. 1999 sounds like a selective endpoint.
In 2011, according to research by FanGraphs.com, pitchers spent a total of 14,926 days on the disabled list.
And yet, for all the increased importance of pitching, pitchers are getting hurt more often than they used to. In 2011, according to research by FanGraphs.com, pitchers spent a total of 14,926 days on the disabled list. In 1999, that number was 13,129. No one is sure why this is happening, or what to do about it, but what is certain is that teams are trying desperately to divine answers to those questions.
But, give the rather draconian imposition of pitch counts, if injuries aren't down, MLB teams are substantially under-utilizing their best pitchers.
Bingo! This has been happening for years. Teams have been shifting innings from their best pitchers to less capable pitchers in the name of injury prevention. Only it doesn't actually prevent injuries so...
Eventually it will swing back the other way a little.
Various MLB stats, 2012 vs 1999 [...]
The big difference of course is in the 120+ pitch games. And those high pitch counts were probably mostly top pitchers (and Livan) so, yes, that suggests more innings today are being pitched by lesser starters (although technically that doesn't have to be true). You see fewer starts at either extreme now (<80, >120) which suggests the work load has been increased a bit on the back end of the rotation (everybody has to make it to 80 pitches now, nobody goes over 120)* but again that's not necessarily true.
Pit 2012 # 2012% 1999 # 1999% 2012 IP 1999 IP
-80 708 15% 900 19% 3.86 3.77
81-90 794 16% 740 15% 5.48 5.37
91-100 1422 29% 1057 22% 6.02 6.07
101-110 1397 29% 1074 22% 6.54 6.56
111-119* 465 10% 618 13% 7.02 7.03
120+ 74 2% 467 10% 7.66 7.44
Total 4860 100% 4856 100%
* 111-120 476 10% 674 14% 7.02 7.05
Randy Johnson 17
Livan Hernandez 16
Pedro Martinez 13
Russ Ortiz 13
Rick Helling 12
Al Leiter 11
Roger Clemens 10
Pedro Astacio 10
Orlando Hernandez 10
Scott Erickson 9
Jose Rosado 9
Freddy Garcia 9
119 others 328
Justin Verlander 9
Jake Peavy 6
James Shields 5
Yu Darvish 4
Jon Lester 3
C.J. Wilson 3
CC Sabathia 2
David Price 2
Johnny Cueto 2
Clay Buchholz 2
Matt Harrison 2
Felix Hernandez 2
Max Scherzer 2
Ian Kennedy 2
Tim Lincecum 2
26 others 26
I'm not sure that any of these relievers (stud 8th inning guys) really are being protected. Teams seem to have no problem throwing their 8th inning studs out there 75+ times a year multiple years in a row, which is probably part of why they all seem to have 2-3 years of awesomeness before flaming out.
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