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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Giants’ turmoil ahead with Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija? -

Jeff Samardzija needs to worry about getting outs first otherwise the only action he’ll be getting is mop up duty.

When Giants starter Jeff Samardzija recently called the concept of openers “a load of crap,” and Madison Bumgarner seemed of a like mind, it looked like the team could be heading for friction and turmoil this season.

But it’s spring training, for goodness’ sake, a time to be positive.

So, the Giants are perfectly positioned to help major-league baseball ease into the new creative use of pitchers era.

Samardzija told The Chronicle’s John Shea that pitchers who accept the “opener” concept — a normal relief pitcher pitching the first inning — are like sheep. Wimpy sheep.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 12, 2019 at 01:43 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, jeff samardzija, madison bumgarner, opener

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   1. filihok Posted: February 12, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5814635)
As opposed to the Strong Sheep that accept the starting pitcher concept.
   2. Rusty Priske Posted: February 12, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5814637)
So starting pitchers are supposed to be happy with teams hurting their future earning potential?

Closers would say the same thing if teams told them they were going to use them as 'stoppers'.
   3. filihok Posted: February 12, 2019 at 02:03 PM (#5814639)
Will openers get higher salaries than middle relievers?

Does the entire compensation system need a makeover?
   4. Walt Davis Posted: February 12, 2019 at 04:45 PM (#5814684)
I think the pitching compensation system has already had its makeover. Reliever salaries have "skyrocketed" over the last few years as relievers (as a group) have taken on more of the workload. It's not clear whether starter salareis have come down as a result but (a) those are mostly long-term deals signed before the addition of the 8th reliever and (b) there may be evidence of a drop in the deals that Arrieta and Darvish had to settle for and ths sorts of small deals that guys like Lance Lynn took (1/$12 last year, 3/$30 this year).

When pens initially pushed past 490-500 innings a couple of years ago, those extra innings were mostly taken away from 4/5+ starters. The second push out to 550-560 resulted in taking innings away from top starters -- which I'm not sure made sense but that's what happened. In 2018, nobody topped 220 IP, only 13 starters made it to 200 innings, only 32 made it to 180. Snell won the CYA with 181 (is that a non-reliever, non-strike record?). Even as recently as 2015, 6 guys topped 220, 28 made it to 200 and 56 made it to 180.

So even a team's top 2 starters have seen a reduction in innings around 10-11%. Given that trend, his age and his past fragility, the Cubs probably weren't expecting more than 160-180 innings even in healthy seasons from Darvish. They expected them to be really good innings but why pay him like a 200-220 inning starter of the past (say $27 M AAV) when you expect him to throw about 80% as many innings (say about $22 M AAV).

But individual relievers aren't throwing more innings, at least not yet. Any savings from starter salaries therefore should be going into quality bullpen depth. A difficult question though is how much depth do you really need. Is there much point in a $5 M reliever who's the #7 guy in your pen and pitching mostly garbage innings? Probably not if everybody's healthy and effective but maybe so if we figure that at various points of the year he'll be the #5-6 reliever. With Kimbrel, we might be seeing the first attempt at bringing closer salaries down.

On openers, I don't see any reason they should be paid more than middle relievers unless maybe they regularly work more than one inning. A "traditional" 2017-18 pen primarily consists of the following roles:

#1/closer: primary job is high-leverage 9th innings ($12-$18 AAV)

#2 and #3: primary job is high-leverage 7th and 9th innings ($8-11)

#4, #5 and sometimes #6: whenevers ... high-leverage 6th innings/LOOGy/ROOGy; high-leverage 7th innings when one of #2/#3 are tired/hurt; tied/close deficit 7th-9th innings; some mop-up.

#6, #7, #8: some medium-leverage innings when other guys are tired, mostly low-leverage

Those last 2-3 roles in a standard pen are pretty much replacement level. That's where the AAA/waiver churn goes on. Even if your top 5 relievers are healthy, you're probably only getting 300-320 innings out of them which means those last 3 slots have to somehow cover about 250 innings. But no individual reliver throws 80 innings anymore so youe gotta just churn through those guys. They're the red shirts.

Anyway, as currently employed by the Rays and occasionally elsewhere, the opener has generally been that #4-#6 reliever -- they're swapping a 6th inning for a 1st inning. That doesn't seem a particularly big difference to me -- arguably it's harder because the opener is always facing the other team's best hitters but he does that sometimes anyway, he's probably not particularly effective at it and it's not yet clear whether teams will have a particular reliever who opens a lot or whether they'll just be spread around evenly.
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 12, 2019 at 04:54 PM (#5814688)
So starting pitchers are supposed to be happy with teams hurting their future earning potential?
You really think win totals will have anything to do with Bumgarner or Samardzija's future earnings? Please.
   6. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 12, 2019 at 05:22 PM (#5814699)
They're helping these guys' future earnings. It might not necessarily save runs for the team to swap the first and sixth innings, but it will certainly save runs for the pitcher who faces the bottom of the order a third time instead of the top. It's not like Samardzija is a good enough pitcher to dictate his usage. He's a sunk cost as it is, and his behind can be in front of a closed door before you can say Jack jumped over the candlestick.
   7. bbmck Posted: February 12, 2019 at 06:30 PM (#5814705)
Average number of innings in Starts for Top 30, 31-60, 61-90 and 91-120 starters adjusting 30 to number of teams for 1993 and earlier and slightly understating innings because of .1 and .2 IP:

2018: 197, 170, 147, 120
2017: 196, 170, 148, 121
2016: 205, 180, 157, 125
2015: 211, 184, 162, 127
2014: 215, 194, 171, 140

2013: 213, 192, 166, 135
2008: 214, 192, 172, 137
2003: 220, 198, 177, 136
1998: 231, 207, 174, 142
1993: 238, 206, 175, 136

1988: 247, 212, 188, 147
1983: 250, 208, 178, 143
1978: 266, 221, 188, 146
1973: 292, 242, 197, 142
1968: 274, 232, 199, 159
   8. Srul Itza Posted: February 12, 2019 at 06:31 PM (#5814706)
You really think win totals will have anything to do with Bumgarner or Samardzija's future earnings? Please.

As long as they are not the opener themselves, why would an opener affect their number of wins? It might be the opposite: since they don't start, they don't have to go 5 innings to be credited for the win. And if the opener does not give up runs, it means they enter in a better condition to take the game into the 7th.

Now if the opener gives up runs, it makes it harder for the starter to win, but it may also shield them from losses, since they don't enter the game ahead. If they don't have it, and give up a bunch of runs, they are still not the losing pitcher, the opener is if he gave up the first runs.

Or am I missing something?
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 12, 2019 at 06:39 PM (#5814708)
Or am I missing something?
You're missing the fact that I didn't think that through enough before I posted. Although in my defense, neither did Rusty.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: February 12, 2019 at 06:39 PM (#5814709)

Or am I missing something?

No. The opener system is good for the traditional starter's W-L record. The traditional usage works slightly against a starter in terms of W-L, particularly given the movement toward shorter starter stints.

   11. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: February 12, 2019 at 06:44 PM (#5814712)
These objections from the starting pitchers have nothing to do with earnings potential or wins or anything other than "I like things the way they are." Same = good, change = bad.
   12. Srul Itza Posted: February 12, 2019 at 07:24 PM (#5814719)
The opener system is good for the traditional starter's W-L record.

Maybe we'll see a "return" to 300 game winners, as the "Second Man In" system leads to more wins, and possibly longer careers for starters with the reduce usage.

Or not.
   13. Ginger Nut Posted: February 13, 2019 at 06:34 AM (#5814783)
The openers just need a better name. "Closer" leads to metaphors like "slamming the door" that sound like the guy is doing something heroic. "Opener" sounds too much like someone standing there holding a door open for more important people to walk through, or like your waiter is bringing you a drink and will open it for you. There would also need to be a heroic sounding stat like "saves" that they could accumulate--like if they pitched a scoreless first, they would get one of this stat. Ideas:

Launchers/ launches
Boosters/ liftoffs
Plungers /plunges
Blitzers/ blitzes
Anbrecheners/ anbrechs
Flatteners/ flatlinings
Fluffers/ money shots

Off course the teams would be against this but the players should try to get the media to buy into it so they could go to arbitration and talk about how many money shots they had the previous season, or how many teams they flatlined to start the game.

   14. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 13, 2019 at 09:08 AM (#5814792)
I'm sure no one at the commissioner's office realizes the delicious irony that even as they contemplate rules changes to combat the game's supposed lack of excitement and strategy, the changes they propose to make are designed to stop the most interesting strategies recently devised.

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