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Friday, August 24, 2012

Phil Niekro makes his pitch for R.A. Dickey

And get off my kinetic lawn art!

Hall of Famer Phil Niekro finds himself shaking his head from time to time when tuning in to watch today’s Major League Baseball pitchers.

“Six innings is a quality start?’’ Niekro, 73, asked rhetorically. “Sometimes I want to throw up at that.’‘

...Not only is Dickey enjoying one of the finest seasons by a knuckleball pitcher in Major League history — 15-4 with a 2.82 ERA for the New York Mets — but he’s doing it the old-fashioned way in Niekro’s opinion — with guts.

“He’ll go out there and pitch eight or nine innings for you,’’ Niekro said. “I’m sure he doesn’t pitch six innings and look at the bullpen.’‘

“When I got the ball, my objective was to give the ball back to the manager after the game,’’ Niekro said. “I got paid to pitch nine innings, and if not nine, 8 2/3 innings.

“And don’t ask me if I’m tired, because I’ll lie to you, I get paid to pitch nine innings.’‘

...“Some guys go out there and their objective is to pitch nine innings, but most of the time managers won’t do that,’’ said Niekro, who lives in Flowery Branch, Ga., on Lake Lanier.

“Sometimes I just want to throw up when the pitch count comes into effect, when a guy is up to 105 pitches, or 110,’’ he said. “There’s so much money in the game now, they don’t wanna ruin anybody’s arms.

Repoz Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:22 AM (#4216470)
What's interesting about modern bullpen usage is that MLB pitching improves substantially after the starter leaves the game. Almost 40 points of OPS so far this year.

So, really, starters go deep into games primarily to maintain that advantage. But a completely unused bullpen forfeits that advantage. It's an interesting strait to navigate and probably the single most difficult (and therefore important) strategic element a manger has to deal with.
   2. Dale H. Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4216478)
Making it more difficult would be your frequent bouts of nausea.
   3. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:18 AM (#4216481)
“And don’t ask me if I’m tired, because I’ll lie to you, I get paid to pitch nine innings.’‘
Actually, you get paid to help your team win games. And if you're tired and lying to your manager, you're not helping.
   4. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:51 AM (#4216490)
It might have been a wee bit easier to pitch deeper into games for the guy whose fastball rarely broke 80 MPH.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:06 AM (#4216492)
In 1984, the NL averaged 54% QS, 6.2 IP/start ... and had 234 CG. In 2011, the NL averaged 54% QS, 6.0 IP/start but just 80 CG. Alas, I don't think they do BF/GS and pitch/GS doesn't go back that far.

OK, in 1988 they did have pitch counts. Those duded did manage 60%QS and 6.4 IP/start ... but just 94 pitch/GS vs. 2011's 96. In fact, most pitchers per start since 1988 when b-r tracks them ...

2000: 98
2012: 96
2011: 96
2010: 96
1999: 96

Everything else in the last 25 years is below that, never lower than 92. The distribution around that mean is a lot tighter than it used to be with >120 pitch starts and <80 down. The >120 are especially down heavily in 2012 with just 17 so far compared to 59 last year and 79 in 2010.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4216643)
Great information Walt. The name quality start is what I think invites the detractors. Heck Phil Niekro only threw a quality start in 62% of his starts. He's not much better than the current league average, and he's a hofer, compared to the hofers pitching now, he's worse (Halladay 67%, Sabathia 64%, Felix 67%, Verlander 64%, Santana 65%, Wainwright 68%, Kershaw 64%, Buehrle 63% etc.)

People who want to bag on the quality start focus on the minimum to qualify for the stat, and not what it is really saying. It's a better stat for pitcher than wins, and that isn't remotely debateable.
   7. Poisonous Moose Posted: August 24, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4216669)
Sigh
   8. aberg Posted: August 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4216707)
“And don’t ask me if I’m tired, because I’ll lie to you, I get paid to pitch nine innings.’‘


So, which part of that is the lie?

The name quality start is what I think invites the detractors.


Good point. And along with that minimum bar point, the "average" QS would obviously still look pretty good because you get the best games and filter out the chaff. If it was called "games where the pitcher did not suck," or "acceptable starts" it would probably be less controversial.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4216728)
There have been some good threads on this topic recently, and I've learned a lot of stuff I didn't know previously. It seems clear to me that today, although pitchers are not expected to go much beyond 7 innings, every starter is expected to throw 5 or 6. Back in the day things were more loosey goosey - a starter would go 9 and then go 9 again but he was far more likely to get pulled in the 3rd inning if he wasn't doing well.
   10. aberg Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4216739)
There have been some good threads on this topic recently, and I've learned a lot of stuff I didn't know previously. It seems clear to me that today, although pitchers are not expected to go much beyond 7 innings, every starter is expected to throw 5 or 6. Back in the day things were more loosey goosey - a starter would go 9 and then go 9 again but he was far more likely to get pulled in the 3rd inning if he wasn't doing well.


Definitely parallels the de-emphasis on the swing man. If most relievers are really accustomed to one inning roles, it is harder to patch together 6-7 IP of relief.

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