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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sorry Nats fans, but history is not written by the losers | HardballTalk

History won’t be any kinder if Strasburg blows out his arm at some point and never gets to the playoffs.

Nats fans can look at Zimmermann and Jackson’s bad starts and say “hey, they would have started anyway, so it’s not the fault of the shutdown.”  They can look at Ross Detwiler‘s great start on Thursday and say Stephen Strasburg’s playoff rotation replacement did just as good a job as Strasburg would have done, if not better.  They can also say that they twice came within one strike of advancing last night, and Stephen Strasburg would not have been throwing those pitches.  But guess what: it’s futile.

Because everyone else will note that the Nationals (a) willingly chose to enter the playoffs with their best pitcher on the bench; (b) lost a series in which they gave up 32 runs and had only one quality start in five games; and (c) used a starting pitcher in relief in Game 5 on short rest, so all hands — except for their best hand — were obviously on deck.

And no matter what holes you can poke in that argument, Nats fans, the fact is that your team did not advance. They lost, and losers do not get to write the history when it comes to such matters. Believe me. I know from experience.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM | 390 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, playoffs

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   201. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4270875)
But if shutting Strasburg down in April had wound up preventing the Nats from even making the postseason---and please don't wave away that possibility---then what?

I hope I addressed that in my next post. I think the ideal balance was to not delay the start of his season, but once July rolled around and some form of playoffs appeared likely (division title or wild card), approach a break like a standard non-throwing injury and extend Strasburg's availability into early October.

Again, it's all about balance: you don't want to take a playoff appearance for granted, so you start him like normal for the first half, but you don't want to fail to acknowledge playoff goals altogether (or vital late September games, for that matter) by blindly marching off the cliff of an early September hard shutdown.
   202. phredbird Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4270881)
If Storen gets one more strike nobody is arguing about this.


well, this is BTF so we'd be having some other multi-hundred argument thread.

but ... fwiw, and maybe my memory is fuzzy, but storen was pitching well in my estimation. he wasn't getting calls and he wasn't getting bites by the cardinal batters. they had been going up hacking a lot in other games *ahem bases loaded nobody out game one ahem* and if i was the nat staff i would have been expecting that. instead everybody started doing quality at bats and making the nat staff work. i couldn't believe some of the pitches the cards started laying off of. maybe they got coached to stop swinging at everything, i dunno. but the results weren't all storen's fault.
   203. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4270883)
Reading this thread still depresses me :-/
   204. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4270885)
Yeah, I'm sure the Braves fans all love that Medlen only pitched 138 regular season innings so he could lose a wildcard game, instead of winning the division and not letting him pitch at all.

Rizzo picked the simplest path, normal time off from last season, normal spring training, normal usage in the regular season. I don't think it's CYA at all, no one would have complained if he went 170 or 180 healthy innings with the guy (unless of course he had three or four crappy starts that brought the Braves closer, in which case they would have said we want Lannan), because he never said 160 is the limit. They determined there was less benefit to that last start than there was risk of injury. That is yet another indication of how cautious they are with this guy, and in keeping with the pattern established. This pattern is totally consistent with Rizzo's caution in player development, and with the "babying" of Strasburg in particular. The development system that is proving productive in getting talented players through the system happens to also be the one with the cautious approach to young pitchers and injury recovery. Going for it, for Rizzo, means acquiring guys like Gio and Jackson, not pitching Strasburg 200 innings in 2012. He goes 160 so that he can then go 200 in 2013.
   205. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4270894)
But if shutting Strasburg down in April had wound up preventing the Nats from even making the postseason---and please don't wave away that possibility---then what?

I hope I addressed that in my next post. I think the ideal balance was to not delay the start of his season, but once July rolled around and some form of playoffs appeared likely (division title or wild card), approach a break like a standard non-throwing injury and extend Strasburg's availability into early October.

Again, it's all about balance: you don't want to take a playoff appearance for granted, so you start him like normal for the first half, but you don't want to fail to acknowledge playoff goals altogether (or vital late September games, for that matter) by blindly marching off the cliff of an early September hard shutdown.


I guess that's the best "middle ground" proposal, but it still doesn't amount to much more than squeezing the balloon in a different place. No matter what month** Strasburg were to be shut down in, you'd be running the risk that his absence from the roster might cost his team a postseason berth. You'd think you'd have a better handle of that by July, but there's no guarantee whatever that things would turn out as expected.

**And given the distance between early September and November 1st, it's really more like 6 or 7 weeks, not just a month, that he'd have to be shut down, unless you also demand to extend his innings limit beyond 160. That "three weeks" shutdown really would have amounted to seven weeks if the Nats had advanced to the World Series, which would have meant that he'd have had to have been shut down from (say) mid-July to early September. A lot can happen to a team in that long a time period, as both fans of the 2011 Red Sox and 2012 Yankees can testify.
   206. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4270899)
The irony is that two of the more prominent BTF exponents of "the regular season is the truest test of everything", "games in April are just as important as games in September", and "the postseason is just a series of crapshoot exhibition games" are also two of the more insistent voices here for making this one World Series the overriding priority.

Andy, I have to call you on this f@cking bullsh!t. My argument is absolutely nothing at all similar, in any way, to "making this one World Series the overriding priority." Nothing at all. No one who deserves to be taken the tiniest bit seriously could possibly construe what I've written that way. What the hell are you doing?
   207. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4270901)

Following from that, I'm not seeing how such a move, done very carefully and closely monitored, could not have been done in July/August given the standings, aiming for a September return and effectively pushing the target 160 IP date back about a month, allowing them to maximize Strasburg's usage in either critical pennant race games and/or potential playoffs, without over- or under-shooting the desired 160 IP target too much. With the same caveat as every other plan, that his actual physical condition/performance could always change the plan further.


Here's what Dr. Andrews said, when asked about that possibility:

“The problem with shutting him down and getting him out of his cycle and then all of a sudden putting him back in, means you’ve got to recycle him,” Andrews said. “In other words, you can’t take him at a high level, shut him down for a month and then get back immediately to a high level. That could be dangerous, also.

“But that’s a good question,” Andrews continued. “The problem with that is starting him back up. You all know that the major injuries occur any time when you start somebody back up early in the season when they’ve been off. So it’s a little bit unknown to be able to do that and do that safely. I don’t know how that would actually benefit him. It could benefit him, it could benefit the team, but also it may be dangerous to start him back up with appropriate rest. So I’m sorry to say, but it’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t deal.”


Not a ringing endorsement. And this goes back to my known vs. unknown risk and reward post above.
   208. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4270932)
Andy, I have to call you on this f@cking bullsh!t. My argument is absolutely nothing at all similar, in any way, to "making this one World Series the overriding priority." Nothing at all. No one who deserves to be taken the tiniest bit seriously could possibly construe what I've written that way. What the hell are you doing?

Your position is to favor some poorly-defined "flexibility," with great benefits but no plausible method of delivering them. Andy's interpretation of your position seems quite reasonable given what you've written (but I'll take you at your word that he's wrong). From what you've written here (I may have missed other threads on this), what comes through most clearly (or least muddled) is that you wanted the Nats to make Strasburg available in the post-season, but you also don't want to take any responsibility for the fact that doing so means either 1) taking a greater risk you won't reach the playoffs, 2) taking a greater risk Strasburg won't be available when you need him in future pennant races or playoffs (due to injury), or 3) both. I understand why that's an emotionally attractive positioning, but IMO it isn't serious baseball analysis.
   209. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4270946)
The irony is that two of the more prominent BTF exponents of "the regular season is the truest test of everything", "games in April are just as important as games in September", and "the postseason is just a series of crapshoot exhibition games" are also two of the more insistent voices here for making this one World Series the overriding priority.

Andy, I have to call you on this f@cking bullsh!t. My argument is absolutely nothing at all similar, in any way, to "making this one World Series the overriding priority." Nothing at all. No one who deserves to be taken the tiniest bit seriously could possibly construe what I've written that way. What the hell are you doing?


Maybe just trying to figure out exactly what your point is. Echoing what Guy just wrote, if the World Series (or the postseason in general, which is what I meant and should have written) isn't an overriding priority for you, then what are you complaining about to begin with? If adding an extra few percentage points to the Nats' odds in the "crapshoot" wasn't the point behind all of these anti-Rizzo arguments, then what was?
   210. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4270955)
Here's what Dr. Andrews said, when asked about that possibility:
“The problem with shutting him down and getting him out of his cycle and then all of a sudden putting him back in, means you’ve got to recycle him..."
Not a ringing endorsement. And this goes back to my known vs. unknown risk and reward post above.


Again, what do the Nationals do if Strasburg suffers a non-throwing injury in July, maybe tweaks something while batting or running the bases, and can't pitch for 2-4 weeks?
   211. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4270961)
Your position is to favor some poorly-defined "flexibility," with great benefits but no plausible method of delivering them.

I've specified multiple options, all feasible, none unprecedented. Nothing about it is "poorly defined," and there is nothing implausible about pitching staff management approaches that have been empirically deployed for many decades. You have failed to address any of this.

Andy's interpretation of your position seems quite reasonable given what you've written

No, it doesn't. At all.

you wanted the Nats to make Strasburg available in the post-season, but you also don't want to take any responsibility for the fact that doing so means either 1) taking a greater risk you won't reach the playoffs,

Wrong. I "took responsbility" for this explicitly and categorically.

2) taking a greater risk Strasburg won't be available when you need him in future pennant races or playoffs (due to injury)

What part of my writing, multiple times, "there is risk inherent in every choice" do you not comprehend?



   212. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4270971)
Maybe just trying to figure out exactly what your point is.

Re-read #80, #85, #88, #91, #95, #126, and #183. I don't know how many more times I need to keep making the point. The idea that you don't understand it is ludicrous.
   213. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4270978)
And given the distance between early September and November 1st, it's really more like 6 or 7 weeks, not just a month, that he'd have to be shut down, unless you also demand to extend his innings limit beyond 160


You don't have to plan on a complete postseason run, or even every series going the distance with two Strasburg starts in each. Maybe you leave room for 5 starts to hit 160 IP in Sep/Oct after tune-ups, and you can allocate those for regular season or postseason as the situation and schedule dictates.

Again, it's all about balancing the likely outcomes. Although they forecast to be in the thick of it at the beginning of the season, you don't want to take that for granted and hold out Strasburg then, I agree. But they were given an absolute gift of building a big lead early and having 4 other effective starters, so they could re-assess that balance of likely outcomes in July. No decision will ever be 100% fool proof, certainly not the path they chose either.
   214. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4270981)
Anyone who suggests Strasburg should have been shut down and restarted is insane.

Not just because of any potential health risk, but because of a much more likely risk that he needs 3-4 starts to get back to his full level of performance, and that would make his "restart" a negative value that would hurt the teams playoff chances.

If Rizzo had confidence the team would compete, it's not unreasonable to delay Strasburg's season starts to have him ready for the playoffs. But that seems a bit presumptive and it's the clear area of the omniscient second guessers. Starting him with the other players is not just more efficent, but it gives him longer rest for 2013, his presumed break-out season, and timing it to when the team looked to be more ready to compete than in 2012, to any rational pre-season observer.

And obviously, all this kerfuffle over how the Nat's could have gotten more out of someone who was clearly no better than their 3rd best starter at seasons end, as he was clearly gassed and struggling by seasons end, is hilarious. Again, Strasburg likely could never even have pitched 10% of the Nats playoff innings, given his season ending condition and situation, he's clearly only a minor increase in win expectancy.

Strasburg had great FIPs, but lousy innings per start that devalued his FIPs. The short starts may have come from cautious handling by the Nats, or from his lack of conditioning or own super high exertion levels during games, either way it doesn't matter. The fact is his limits would have continued and gotten worse if he was continued to be used beyond the 160-190 innings limits (we know there never was a hard 160 inning limit, just that Strasburg was never going to see 200 innings according to Rizzo) the Nats book recommended.

I do admit the idea of pitching him out of the pen on good rest doesn't seem an unreasonable compromise, and much of the anti-Rizzo fever would have been dissipated if he did so. But I also don't know what the results of the study he did on recovering TJ pitchers told him, how strong and scary the innings/pitch counts to reinjury correlations were. If they were strong and scary, kudos to Rizzo for sticking to his guns.

This is a rehabbing pitcher who could potentially mature in into the best and most valuable pitcher in the league, worth 7-8 wins alone each year for the Nats. That alone is a reason to treat him carefully, you don't need a study of rehabbing TJ pitchers subject to high work loads their first year back to tell you it's likely a bad idea to stress a healing tendon that much right away.

Comparing this to one shot teams like the 2007 Diamondbacks, who had a Pythag of doom while ownership locked up much of their limited payroll on a aging and superfluous outfielder, is equally silly.

The Nats have a good team. Without Strasburg they have the opportunity to make several playoff appearances in the next few years. With a healthy Strasburg that likelihood goes up, maybe substantially. If he improves into a superstar, over the next 3 years they'll have a massive bargain that makes putting together strong teams much easier, and exclusive rights to lock him up at some (presumably reasonable due to risk concerns) discount to market, locking up a centerpiece for a decade of playoff competitive Nationals teams.

I love all this results oriented second guessing. The result oriented guys say "see the Nats lost, it proves they needed Strasburg", the results say "see the Nats lost, but won Strasburg's start so you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to say he'd have made the difference, the difference in getting to a 2nd round, not a World Series".

All playoff teams, with or without Strasburg, are potential World Series champions. He just would have made the odds slightly better for his team, this year. But in future years, he may have a much more massive impact if he's pitching 7 + innings per start and improves on his already gaudy peripherals.

The results oriented guys jumped on Beane for "tanking the season" before the season began. Then, the As actually started winning and not a peep has been heard from the results oriented guys since, EVEN WHEN BEANE SAID PUBLICLY THAT HIS PLAN WASN"T TO WIN THIS YEAR BUT TO BUILD FOR FUTURE YEARS. They let that go without comment, because the As won. So now it's okay for the As to piss all over the sanctity of the regular season if they over perform and fluke into a division title, but it's not okay for the Nats to slightly diminish their playoff expectations by carefully handling their most important future player?

Y'all are a bunch of hypocrites.
   215. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4270982)
Again, it's all about balancing the likely outcomes.

Precisely. What about this is hard to figure out?

No decision will ever be 100% fool proof, certainly not the path they chose either.

Absolutely.
   216. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4270987)
Again, what do the Nationals do if Strasburg suffers a non-throwing injury in July, maybe tweaks something while batting or running the bases, and can't pitch for 2-4 weeks?


If he's recovering from TJ surgery within the last year? Shut him down or rehab him extremely carefully before bringing him back in that season.

If he's in his 2nd season, or later, removed from TJ surgery? Put him through the standard recovery process and get him back in the rotation as soon as he's ready.

"The re-injury rate is highest in the second year," Andrews said. "So standard procedure is to watch the fatigue factor the first year back [pitching]."

... Andrews' Tommy John patients have an 85 to 90 percent recovery rate from the surgery, but for those unlucky few that have to redo the procedure, the success rate drops to 25 to 35 percent.

"A redo is a career-threatening operation," Andrews said. "You're dealing with the existing scar issue, and you have to re-drill holes into already weakened bones. The scar tissue bleeds more, so the infection rate is higher. You don't wish that on anybody."


Anyone who tries the "pitchers are always at risk to get injured no matter what" argument, and doesn't understand that a pitcher in the first year back from TJ surgery has a vastly higher potential injury rate than a "healthy" pitcher, where re-injury means catastrophic risks to the pitcher ever being effective again, just is clueless.
   217. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4270993)
Anyone who suggests Strasburg should have been shut down and restarted is insane.

...

Again, what do the Nationals do if Strasburg suffers a non-throwing injury in July, maybe tweaks something while batting or running the bases, and can't pitch for 2-4 weeks?

If he's recovering from TJ surgery within the last year? Shut him down or rehab him extremely carefully before bringing him back in that season.

If he's in his 2nd season, or later, removed from TJ surgery? Put him through the standard recovery process and get him back in the rotation as soon as he's ready.


So does your suggestion of "rehab him extremely carefully before bringing him back in that season" make you insane?
   218. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4270997)
And obviously, all this kerfuffle over how the Nat's could have gotten more out of someone who was clearly no better than their 3rd best starter at seasons end, as he was clearly gassed and struggling by seasons end, is hilarious

Gee, maybe they should have done a different usage pattern for the guy then. It ain't the innings that is the problem is the stress one causes when pitching fatigued and or with improper mechanics that is the problem.

We curently have evidence that the Nationals let Strasburg pitch at least 15 or so innings at the end of his season fatigued so even if you want to say that setting a pitch limit and sticking with it is a good thing you still can't say Rizzo did a good job with it since he let Straburg pitch in dangerous situations at the end.


As for Andrews, again, what Andrew describe in terms of shutting him down and starting him back up again is not what was/is being suggested. It does not apply. Secondly taking his view as some absolute is simply stupid. As spycake already mentioned, what would happen if after Strasburg's second start he sprains his ankle and goes on the DL? Do the Nationals shut him down for the season because they don't want to start and stop him? Of course they don't. He would sit on the shelf for a month or so, rehab, and then finish out the season and everybody would be fine with that. It seems absurd to me that everyone is perfectly willing to accept Strasburg going down for a month with a sprain and then pitching again but sitting him down when he is healthy for a month and then rehabbing is verboten. How are the situations different? Why couldn't it be done.
   219. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4270999)
KT's Pot Arb: your rant in #214 might be fine if directed at a particular person. To my knowledge, it does not apply to most of the critics/criticisms presented at this site this past season.
   220. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4271000)
So nop matter what happens he can't go over 160 IP? 160 equals perfect but 165 is horrible? If you give Strasburg a month off and then a week to two weeks to get back in shape he then can't pitch 20 more innings? Why? What is the evidence that throwing 170 innings in a season a year after TJ is bad but 160 is perfect? What is the evidence that taking a rest for a month when you get fatigued and then coming back and pitching 4 to 5 more games when you are fresher is bad?


There is no evidence. None. None at all.

"Rizzo did it" seems to be the only evidence needed. As SugarBear pointed out, people have this bizarre obsession with thinking that "insiders" know all and should be trusted without question. Even when they know what isn't so.


The Treder plan is basically based on flexibility and that is what most of us have been saying Rizzo needed to be. I'm not Treder but I seriously doubt his reply is going to be "tough" if a situation occurs where the Nationals are in jeopardy of losing the division and Strasburg is on the bench.
I think that trying to limit Strasburg's innings is sensible. I would have started him a bit late and skipped a few more of his starts, and maintained twin goals of (a) keeping Strasburg fresh to pitch his best down the stretch and in the playoffs and (b) limiting the stress of his arm. This is what every organization in baseball would do. It's an art, it requires weighing risks and working with the players and the doctors and the trainers.

It would be possible, under this scenario, that Strasburg might end up <gasp> breaking his innings cap by 20 or 30 innings. He probably wouldn't - as the season played out, you probably could have kept him to 140 and been fine. If he ended up having to throw 160 innings in the regular season and 30 innings in the postseason, it would be because the Nationals first had a pennant race go down to the wire and then made a deep run into the playoffs. That's obviously worth the risk of those 30 extra innings.


It's funny how you guys keep arguing over a non-existent innings limit that no one has ever found any actual evidence that existed. Rizzo never claimed a 160 innings limit, that is for sure.

Treder wants a flexible plan. Rizzo HAD a flexible plan. He said he would shut down Strasburg essentially when he showed signs of fatigue.

If Strasburg hadn't faltered at the end, he likely would have pitched another 20 innings for the Nats, that's the fact. So you guys arguing over whether YOU would have given him another 20 innings are being silly.
   221. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4271006)
Treder wants a flexible plan. Rizzo HAD a flexible plan. He said he would shut down Strasburg essentially when he showed signs of fatigue.

This word, "flexible"? I do not think it means what you think it means.
   222. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4271007)
So does your suggestion of "rehab him extremely carefully before bringing him back in that season" make you insane?


LOL, cherry pick much?

My "insane" argument centered around two risks, injury and performance. The significant risk of shutting him down for a month then having him perform poorly in his first starts back, COMBINED with whatever increased injury risk that approch would produce (which could be tiny, could be significant, but you need to assume is non-zero) makes it dumb.

Ignoring team performance considerations, just looking at it as a rehab season, if he already has a decent amount of innings in, i would just shut him down in the given July injury scenario. But it's not unreasonable if ithe team wanted to use an extra careful rehab process to bring him back for a few more innings that year, obviously shutting him down at any sign of problems.
   223. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4271009)
This word, "flexible"? I do not think it means what you think it means


Ok, Steve Treder has a "more" flexible plan. But what does that matter?

Does the Treder plan involve continuing to pitching Strasburg when he's starting to tire late season and that inverted W is getting worse and putting even more stress on his new elbow and all those little drill holes are bleeding slightly more? How "flexible" is that?
   224. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4271010)
This conversation is already more tedious than Bonds-steroids and is quickly approaching Rose-HOF level craptastic.
   225. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4271017)
Ok, Steve Treder has a "more" flexible plan. But what does that matter?

It matters because it would allow the Washington Nationals more options that could improve their chances of winning baseball games in the late regular season and post-season of 2012.

Does the Treder plan involve continuing to pitching Strasburg when he's starting to tire late season and that inverted W is getting worse and putting even more stress on his new elbow and all those little drill holes are bleeding slightly more?

I suggest that you argue against something I actually wrote, or something that could possibly be inferred from what I wrote. This isn't that.
   226. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4271021)
that's the fact.

Cute. You call out people on the 160 inning limit and then state a "fact" based on zero evidence,
   227. CrosbyBird Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4271022)
And obviously, all this kerfuffle over how the Nat's could have gotten more out of someone who was clearly no better than their 3rd best starter at seasons end, as he was clearly gassed and struggling by seasons end, is hilarious. Again, Strasburg likely could never even have pitched 10% of the Nats playoff innings, given his season ending condition and situation, he's clearly only a minor increase in win expectancy.

This is a little much. In 5 of his last 7 starts, he gave up 4 or fewer hits and 2 or fewer runs in 6 innings. His second-to-last start was pretty dominant; 2 hits and 1 BB in 6 innings. Even his bad starts weren't outrageous; it's not like he was giving up 4 HR or 6 BB in a game. I don't think there's really evidence that he was "clearly gassed and struggling."
   228. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4271023)
KT's Pot Arb: your rant in #214 might be fine if directed at a particular person. To my knowledge, it does not apply to most of the critics/criticisms presented at this site this past season.


Sure it does.

Advocating the stop/start is silly, as I've pointed out, given the restart is likely to provide a lower performance so you increase injury risk for less gain than just pitching him to his end season fatigue point.

Multiple posters have ranted about Rizzo violating the "sanctity" of the MLB by not putting his best team out there, even on this thread, for shutting down an injured, recovering pitcher. I've never seen those "competitive obsessives" say squat about Beane since the As started winning. They are results oriented hypocrites because they feel since Beane over-achieved, he couldn't have tanked the season, even when Beane admits he tanked the season and just got lucky.

And again, the number of people arguing about a mythical 160 inning limit that never existed is just icing on the cake of hilarity.
   229. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4271027)
The bottom line is, Rizzo wasn't creative enough to figure out a way to have one of his best, non-injured starting pitchers available in the postseason. He failed.
   230. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4271029)
Cute. You call out people on the 160 inning limit and then state a "fact" based on zero evidence,


Yea, you keep declaring there was a 160 inning limit doesn't make it so.

The last time we had this conversation the only evidence you could produce was a quote from a random baseball person who wasn't Rizzo speculating that Rizzo might have a 160 inning limit on Strasburg, but never said they actually talked to Rizzo.
   231. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4271047)
The bottom line is, Rizzo wasn't creative enough to figure out a way to have one of his best, non-injured starting pitchers available in the postseason. He failed.


The bottom line is that Strasburg was pitching with a substantially higher injury rate than other starters on the staff, and a far higher risk of catastrphic injury than other starters on staff. He pitched a good amount of innings already that season and his last start was terrible.

And his availability in the post season unlikely to make a significant increase in the Nats win expectancy, while he also has a high likelyhood of being one of the most valuable starters in baseball the next three years if he is healthy.
   232. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4271053)
his availability in the post season unlikely to make a significant increase in the Nats win expectancy

Is this another fact?
   233. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4271064)
This is a little much. In 5 of his last 7 starts, he gave up 4 or fewer hits and 2 or fewer runs in 6 innings. His second-to-last start was pretty dominant; 2 hits and 1 BB in 6 innings. Even his bad starts weren't outrageous; it's not like he was giving up 4 HR or 6 BB in a game. I don't think there's really evidence that he was "clearly gassed and struggling."


His K rate actually was very good all the way to the end, and his walk rate improved. But the last half of his season his HR rate skyrocketed, haven't looked at his pitch velocity data to see if maybe decline in speed was the problem there.

Even so, it's hard to imagine that you could get the best out of Strasburg in the playoffs this year, given the risks that hang over him in his first year back from TJ, and all the hoops you'd need to jump through to make him available.

Bullpen? Probably safest, most effective route, still some minor risk of adaption, but more importantly you only get to use him for at most, 5% of your pitchers innings? How much difference can he make that way. Obviously a huge difference if he pitches the highest leverage spots and is the difference between winning and losing. But what if you use him in a med leverage spot and he isn't able to make much difference, and then the next day you have a super high leverage spot and he's unavailable?

Starting? Again the stop/start means he's a crap shoot as a starter. He could come in the first start out of rhythm, without his best control, and walk a guy an inning and leave two fat pitches over the center of the plate to sluggers.

Obviously the Nats would have had a better playoff team with Strasburg in either role. But it's not likely to be significantly better. And the math on his re-injury risk is clear, and enormously scary.
   234. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4271066)
You don't have to plan on a complete postseason run, or even every series going the distance with two Strasburg starts in each. Maybe you leave room for 5 starts to hit 160 IP in Sep/Oct after tune-ups, and you can allocate those for regular season or postseason as the situation and schedule dictates.

I think this is the least-implausible "middle path" -- let SS throw, say, 140 IP thru August, and then give him 4 Sept. starts if you are in a tight pennant race, shut him down if you are out of it, or save him for post-season if you have a big lead. But I still don't think it works. If shut him down for five weeks, and then try to start him up again, he will need a lot of throwing and/or rehab starts to get ready. You may effectively hit the 160 IP limit just doing that. Maybe you can thread the needle here and get a couple of post-season starts. But it won't be easy.
   235. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4271068)
The bottom line is that Strasburg was pitching with a substantially higher injury rate than other starters on the staff, and a far higher risk of catastrophic injury than other starters on staff. He pitched a good amount of innings already that season and his last start was terrible.

And his availability in the post season unlikely to make a significant increase in the Nats win expectancy, while he also has a high likelihood of being one of the most valuable starters in baseball the next three years if he is healthy.


It's no use, KT. It just goes flying over their heads like one of Rick Ankiel's old heaters.
   236. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4271071)
Obviously the Nats would have had a better playoff team with Strasburg in either role. But it's not likely to be significantly better.

So, you're saying those grapes are sour. Got it.
   237. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4271072)
The last time we had this conversation the only evidence you could produce was a quote from a random baseball person who wasn't Rizzo speculating that Rizzo might have a 160 inning limit on Strasburg, but never said they actually talked to Rizzo.

I think you are mixing up people. I don't recall going on some hunt to prove there is a limit. Can you prove that Rizzo did not have a limit? But you talking about me looking for 160 inning limit doesn't actually address the point of the statement you are quoting.

Anyway, 160 inning limit has been the limit talked about since either before the seasons started or soon after it. Reporters and journalists wrote about it and TV/radio hosts talked about it at great length for most of the season. Yet somehow we are to believe that no one ever talked to Rizzo about it and that all of these people simply ignored what he had to say about the issue and kept on insisting it was 160 innings.

Strasburg had a limit and it wasn't like Rizzo was going to have him throw 220 innings just as long as Strasburg felt good. There was a limit and that limit in all likelihood was going to be around 160 to 180 innings and the full amount would be largely based on fatigue. If that is true there are ways of preventing fatigue and maximizing innings beyond doing absolutely nothing besides having Strasburg pitch every 5th or occasionally 6th day until he gets tired.
   238. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4271074)
The bottom line is, Rizzo wasn't creative enough to figure out a way to have one of his best, non-injured starting pitchers available in the postseason. He failed.

Thank you. I think this is the real sentiment behind most of the Rizzo bashing. It's good to have it articulated clearly.

Translation: "We simply refuse to accept the reality of tradeoffs. We wanted to have our cake and eat it too, you [Rizzo] didn't give us that, so you suck."
   239. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4271076)
Is this another fact?


Refute it. Show how a guy who the Nats couldn't get more than 5.5 innings out of in the regular season, with a massive reinjury risk that demands careful handling if you do use him the playoffs, could have pitched enough innings to make a significant difference in their playoff outcome, and shows by how much.

Could he have pitched 10% of their playoff innings? Only if the Nats were to throw health concerns out the window entirely.

How much better would we expect him to be than the alternatives the Nats would use, it's not like they were going to be forced to use replacement level pitchers with Strasburg out.

He would have been better, but not greatly so, than their alternatives, over a small percentage of the Nats innings, increasing their pitching effectiveness by again, a small amount. And pitching is less than half of the teams win expectancy, with hitting and fielding providing more than half.

So again, show how he makes a big difference, and show your math.
   240. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4271079)
USA Today-February

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Monday that Strasburg will be limited to 150-160 innings this season. Zimmermann threw 161 1-3 innings last year following surgery and hopes to reach 200 this season

Though there might be a temptation to have Strasburg skip a few starts in order to extend his year, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Monday that was not in the team's plans.

"There's not going to be a whole lot of tinkering going on," Rizzo said. "We're going to run him out there until his innings are done … He's a young pitcher that's still learning how to pitch in the big leagues. I think it's unfair to get him ramped up in spring training and start the season on a regular rotation and then shut him down or skip him. We're just going to make him comfortable



Hmm, we're just going to run him out there until his innings are done. Yep, certainly sounds like Rizzo never said 160 innings or that the amount of innings was not some fixed number.
   241. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4271081)
Anyway, 160 inning limit has been the limit talked about since either before the seasons started or soon after it. Reporters and journalists wrote about it and TV/radio hosts talked about it at great length for most of the season. Yet somehow we are to believe that no one ever talked to Rizzo about it and that all of these people simply ignored what he had to say about the issue and kept on insisting it was 160 innings.


You have to be kidding.

You claim that "reporters and journalists" said it, but can't cite one, and of course, even if you can you are assuming that what they said wasn't speculation, but fact. Right.

If an ESPN talking head speculates that Rizzo has roughy a 160 inning limit on Strasburg, the baseball journalist telephone game means that 20 baseball writers will write about the "160 inning limit" by seasons end based on that speculation alone.

There never has been a single direct quote from Rizzo saying there was a 160 inning pitch limit.

I have never seen a single quote from a reporter/journalist/analyst/player/baseball exec yet even saying "Mike Rizzo told me they have a 160 inning limit".
   242. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4271086)
You may effectively hit the 160 IP limit just doing that.

Do you people not understand that pitchers throw a baseball in situations other than in a regular season game? Do you also not understand that a month of rest can and does refresh and heal the body?

Now that Strasburg hit 160 innings is he to never ever pitch again because he hit his limit? How about in the offseason? You think it is wise to have Strasburg do absolutely nothing with his arm until February?


The 160 innings is a number that has side sessions baked in. So stopping for a month and then starting up again with side sessions will not cut into his limit and since he won't be fatigued it is likely that he'll be able to go over 160 innings if the need should arise.
   243. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4271089)
He would have been better, but not greatly so, than their alternatives, over a small percentage of the Nats innings, increasing their pitching effectiveness by again, a small amount. And pitching is less than half of the teams win expectancy, with hitting and fielding providing more than half.

Yes. But in a short series (especially best-of-five, but nearly as true in best-of-seven), small things can and do have dramatic impact. One decent five-inning start that they didn't get, or one key late-inning out or save they didn't get (game 5, I'm looking at you), could have been the difference between the Nationals winning and losing against the Cardinals.

To pretend that Stephen Strasburg's availability to a pitching staff in a post-season series is a triviality is to deny the abundantly obvious.
   244. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4271090)
You claim that "reporters and journalists" said it, but can't cite one, and of course, even if you can you are assuming that what they said wasn't speculation, but fact. Right.

Cute. Just did. It is absolute revisionist history to argue that Rizzo did not have an innings limit on Strasburg and that it was 160 innings.
   245. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4271093)
If shut him down for five weeks, and then try to start him up again, he will need a lot of throwing and/or rehab starts to get ready.

The Yankees had to shut down Andy Pettitte for a long stretch this summer. He came back and was great (1.62 ERA) in three September starts.

Chris Carpenter missed the entire season until three September starts, and then was pretty good (3.71 ERA, almost exactly his career average).

I'm sure the Nats are sitting at home and laughing at those teams for handling their pitchers in such a silly manner.

You may effectively hit the 160 IP limit just doing that.


You need to read KT's posts. There was no 160 IP limit!
   246. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4271099)
Hmm, we're just going to run him out there until his innings are done. Yep, certainly sounds like Rizzo never said 160 innings or that the amount of innings was not some fixed number.


I never said "Davey Johnson", I said Rizzo:)

But seriously, Davey Johnson has been quoted about the 160 inning limit multiple times. But I've never seen it ever attributed to Rizzo, not even by Johnson.

Rizzo saying "his innings are done" has always been consistent with meaning " when his body shows he's pitched enough".

Davey's quotes have always been responses to reporters trying to unscrute Rizzo's unscrutable comments. "Davey, how many innings will Strasburg pitch this year?", "Oh, I guess round 150, maybe 160" etc.

Rizzo has clearly sayed multiple times that Strasburg would not pitch an excessive amount of innings (I think he said he'd never get to 190-200, so in that sense he had a limit), but that there was no fixed limit, it would be based on their analysis of his performance.
   247. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4271100)
Show how a guy who the Nats couldn't get more than 5.5 innings out of in the regular season, with a massive reinjury risk that demands careful handling if you do use him the playoffs, could have pitched enough innings to make a significant difference in their playoff outcome, and shows by how much.

AS you would say, prove it. How was Stephen Strasburg a massive reinjury risk? Did he get injured? How many pitchers the first full season after TJ surgery reinjure the same old injuries?
   248. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4271107)
The Yankees had to shut down Andy Pettitte for a long stretch this summer. He came back and was great (1.62 ERA) in three September starts.

Chris Carpenter missed the entire season until three September starts, and then was pretty good (3.71 ERA, almost exactly his career average).

I'm sure the Nats are sitting at home and laughing at those teams for handling their pitchers in such a silly manner.


Some veteran pitchers not recovering from recent tommy john surgery who came back and pitched well after a short rehab stint? I'm shocked you can cherry pick so well!

So you are saying that all pitchers, even TJ recovering pitchers, perform as well in their first start after a multi-week break as they were before they were shut down?

That would be extraordinary if true, if you could prove it.
   249. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4271113)
AS you would say, prove it. How was Stephen Strasburg a massive reinjury risk? Did he get injured? How many pitchers the first full season after TJ surgery reinjure the same old injuries?


"The re-injury rate is highest in the second year," Andrews said. "So standard procedure is to watch the fatigue factor the first year back [pitching]."

... Andrews' Tommy John patients have an 85 to 90 percent recovery rate from the surgery, but for those unlucky few that have to redo the procedure, the success rate drops to 25 to 35 percent.

"A redo is a career-threatening operation," Andrews said. "You're dealing with the existing scar issue, and you have to re-drill holes into already weakened bones. The scar tissue bleeds more, so the infection rate is higher. You don't wish that on anybody."


Proven.
   250. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4271126)
So, you're saying those grapes are sour. Got it.


Steve, how much do you think the Nats playoff chances should increase in order to make it worthwhile risking Strasburg pitching?

Maybe I"m wrong. Dr. Andrews has put forth some scary statistics, but they aren't linked to an exact inning count. A few more innings increases the risk, maybe it's worthwhile.

But first, quantify what your expectation of the benefit of having Strasburg is.

Do the Nats increase their win expectancy from, say 54%, to say 56%, per series on average with Strasburg? Or do you think the impact is substantially higher?
   251. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4271129)
Um, the word "highest" doesn't mean what you think it means.

In fact Andrews stated that pitchers undergoing the surgery have an 85-90% recovery rate. That kind of rate does not make one a "massive reinjury risk".

So we have Andrews stating that all these pitchers that weren't handled like Strasburg was handled had a 85 to 90% recovery rate. Sounds to me like Rizzo pinched some pennies and ended up losing a few dollars.
   252. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4271131)
And his availability in the post season unlikely to make a significant increase in the Nats win expectancy, while he also has a high likelyhood of being one of the most valuable starters in baseball the next three years if he is healthy.


If his presence in the postseason means so little to a team's win expectancy, why would he be such a valuable starter the next three years?
   253. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4271146)
Because Stephen Strasburg the next three years will be a combination of Koufax, Gibson, and Carpenter, duh.
   254. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4271148)
Do you people not understand that pitchers throw a baseball in situations other than in a regular season game?....The 160 innings is a number that has side sessions baked in. So stopping for a month and then starting up again with side sessions will not cut into his limit and since he won't be fatigued it is likely that he'll be able to go over 160 innings if the need should arise.

Then why do pitchers coming off the DL often make rehab starts in the minors, or throw simulation games, before returning to MLB duty? I think Strasburg would need considerably more work than the amount of throwing he would typically do between starts. How much more, I don't know. And I acknowledged this might net you a couple of post-season starts. I just think there's a lot of uncertainty about how well this will work. The Nats obviously considered this course and rejected it. But perhaps they, like me, lack your vast "understanding" of pitcher preparation and rehabilitation.
   255. CrosbyBird Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4271151)
And his availability in the post season unlikely to make a significant increase in the Nats win expectancy

Since the Nationals lost the series by a very small margin, and got a lousy start from Edwin Jackson (a clearly worse pitcher than Strasburg) in game 3, one of the losses, I think it is pretty likely that Strasburg would have represented a significant increase in win expectancy for the series.
   256. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4271154)
In fact Andrews stated that pitchers undergoing the surgery have an 85-90% recovery rate. That kind of rate does not make one a "massive reinjury risk".


Clearly that's a higher injury rate than a healthy pitcher, and it seems a total, not a 1 year number.

But more importantly, it's not just the percentage of injuries, it's the severity.

He clearly states that a re-injury is catastrophic. Essentially Strasburg is highly unlikely to be Strasburg again, even if he returns to the league after reinjuring this arm within the next year. Can you imagine the amount of scar tissue he'd be pitching with after that?

Going by best case scenario, if Strasburg has a 90% chance of recovery from his TJ, but that includes a 35% recovery from a 2nd surgery, it implies he has a 15% chance of serious re-injury over the next year. Going by worse case scenario, 85% total, and 25% 2nd surgery recovery, that implies he has a 20% chance of injury over the next year.

Having a 15-20% risk of a career ending injury over his next year is a fairly high risk, and I think substantially higher than a "healthy" (obviously no MLB pitcher's arms are truly healthy with the wear they endure) pitcher.

That's a high enough risk that I think you should establish a fairly high benefit for taking it to prove your point. So far no one has stepped to the plate to do enough math to show that the Nats World Series hopes could even increase 1% with Strasburg pitching.


   257. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4271162)
If his presence in the postseason means so little to a team's win expectancy, why would he be such a valuable starter the next three years?

162>5
   258. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4271170)
Steve, how much do you think the Nats playoff chances should increase in order to make it worthwhile risking Strasburg pitching?

A little would be sufficient. He would easily provide that.

Do the Nats increase their win expectancy from, say 54%, to say 56%, per series on average with Strasburg? Or do you think the impact is substantially higher?

I don't know, but if it's from 54% to 56%, I'd take that.

Short series can and often do swing on small things. No team serious about winning can afford to easily surrender any of them.
   259. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4271174)
Then why do pitchers coming off the DL often make rehab starts in the minors, or throw simulation games, before returning to MLB duty?

I'm not sure what this is addresssing. People are acting like Stephen Strasburg could only pitch 160 innings this year and besides those 160 innings would never touch a ball. I'm pointing out that a pitcher has side sessions during the season thus those 160 innings have lots and lots of other pitches that don't get counted as an inning baked in. This if he isn't pitching for a month he also isn't throwing all those other pitches as well until he starts working himself back into shape. Consider his rest as him banking those unused throwing sessions and then him withdrawing those pitches during his work out to get back into shape. Further also view the rest as creating interest in those pitches as the rest generates the ability to throw more pitches before tiring.
   260. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4271187)
He clearly states that a re-injury is catastrophic

And yet recovery rate is around 90% and how many pitchers can you recall have TJ surgery and injure themselves again about a year later and require a second TJ surgery? Very very few of them and yet none of them besides Zimmerman have ever been put on this plan.

Having a 15-20% risk of a career ending injury over his next year is a fairly high risk, and I think substantially higher than a "healthy" (obviously no MLB pitcher's arms are truly healthy with the wear they endure) pitcher.



For someone who keeps on insisting that the other side provide facts and prove things you sure do use a lot of assumptions to bolster your side of things. What are the odds of a "healthy" pitcher having a career ending injury? How many pitchers have undergone TJ surgery during their career? Lots right? So obviously the odds of a pitcher geting injured is extremely high.

How much did the Nationals increase their chances by limiting Strasburg's usage in the manner they did over what everyone else does?
   261. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4271189)
Since the Nationals lost the series by a very small margin, and got a lousy start from Edwin Jackson (a clearly worse pitcher than Strasburg) in game 3, one of the losses, I think it is pretty likely that Strasburg would have represented a significant increase in win expectancy for the series.


That's not evidence, that's results oriented fact picking. Clearly one of either Jackson or Strasburg pushes Detwiler out of rotation, who threw 6 innings and gave up no earned runs (1 unearned) in game 4. Strasburg was likely to pitch better than Jackson did pitch, and highly unlikely to pitch as well as Detwiler did.

During the regular season Strasburg averaged a 2.8 FIP over about 5.7 innings per start, Jackson a 3.8 over 6 innings per start. It's hard to imagine Jackson isn't expect to average significantly more innings than Strasburg in the post season starts, given the leash you'd need for Strasburg. But ignoring that, Strasburg is worth about 0.65 runs over Jackson in expectation, assuming they pitch the same amount of innings as regular season in that one game. That's a huge edge. In one game. Maybe the Nats expectation goes from 50% to 60% (probably not), in that one game. If that were all true, the Nats chances of winning the series could have improved by 2%.

If the Nats could improve their chances every series by 2%, they could increase their World Series Championship chances from something like 15.7% to 17.5%, almost 2 %.

Or another way to look at it, they'll still falls short over 82% of the time.
   262. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4271190)
Then why do pitchers coming off the DL often make rehab starts in the minors, or throw simulation games, before returning to MLB duty?

I'm not sure what this is addresssing.

If Strasburg isn't shut down for a month between starts, he just makes his usual numer of side session throws (probably on day 3). Under the shutdown scenario, you have to get him ready to throw again. That typically involves some rehab starts and/or simulation games, games that he would not have to throw if pitching straight through.

And I don't see how skipping side sessions during the shutdown matters -- he will have to do all that throwing once he's reactivated, so that's a wash.
   263. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4271197)
And yet recovery rate is around 90% and how many pitchers can you recall have TJ surgery and injure themselves again about a year later and require a second TJ surgery? Very very few of them and yet none of them besides Zimmerman have ever been put on this plan.


Obviously 15-20% reinjure, you can calculate it directly from Dr. Andrews quote. Just because you don't remember them doesn't mean they don't exist.


For someone who keeps on insisting that the other side provide facts and prove things you sure do use a lot of assumptions to bolster your side of things. What are the odds of a "healthy" pitcher having a career ending injury? How many pitchers have undergone TJ surgery during their career? Lots right? So obviously the odds of a pitcher geting injured is extremely high.


Show me any stats that 1 out of 8 MLB pitchers suffers a career ending injury every year to two years. If you do, you win. But I think anyone who thinks their "memory" is good enough to estimate TJ reinjury rates surely knows that MLB pitching injury rates, while high, are no where near that high for the career ending injuries.
   264. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4271199)
That's a high enough risk that I think you should establish a fairly high benefit for taking it to prove your point. So far no one has stepped to the plate to do enough math to show that the Nats World Series hopes could even increase 1% with Strasburg pitching.

The Nationals took the risk and must take the risk every single season. Their usage did't avoid the risk and nobody knows if it decreased the risk at all. 90% recovery rate is a really high number. It is really high to improve upon that and again that recovery rate is for pitchers that have not been used like Strasburg. Increasing his chance to say 92% isn't really going to move the dial in any meaningful kind of way.
   265. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4271202)
Obviously 15-20% reinjure, you can calculate it directly from Dr. Andrews quote. Just because you don't remember them doesn't mean they don't exist.

So who are they? Again, lots and lots of pitchers have undergone TJ surgery. If it is true that 1 out of every 5 pitchers seriously reinjure their UCL then you should be able to quickly build a list with 50 or more names on it.

Show me any stats that 1 out of 8 MLB pitchers suffers a career ending injury every year to two years.

Well, MLB starters cause a selection bias to begin with since they are the ones with the bodies that have proven to be able to handle the stress of pitching the most. But I don't know why I have to prove that 1 out 8 MLB pitchers suffer career ending injuries (or how that involves my point) every year and yet you don't have to name a single pitcher that reinjures their UCL the year after surgery.
   266. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4271214)
I don't know, but if it's from 54% to 56%, I'd take that.

Short series can and often do swing on small things. No team serious about winning can afford to easily surrender any of them.


That's fine. I think it's short-sighted. Strasburg's mean WAR over the next 3 years should approach 18 wins, plus he'll have value beyond those years to the Nats, either in free agent compensation or as a long term signing. I think taking an additional 15% chance of catastrophic re-injury making that number near zero is a big potential cost, and potentially huge variance that makes team building plans much more complex.

But even if you are right and I am wrong, and the cost of losing that WAR one in eight times isn't as valuable as this years increase in playoff expectancy, it's certainly at least close. And for me what would trump that math is the human side. Strasburg's life and baseball will be far better off if he's healthy rather than another Mark Prior or Steve Avery what-if story, and not solely for Nats fans either. We can sit and say, oh, he's rich either way so it shouldn't matter, but it does to a guy who trained his whole life for this, both in physical and emotional pain, but for fans in the the loss of a potential once in a generation player we could have loved or hated more than almost any other.

I've managed a lot of people and demanded a great deal from them, but I could never go over the line to where their health, career and family needs would never come first. Maybe that makes me a lousy GM candidate.
   267. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4271220)
So who are they? Again, lots and lots of pitchers have undergone TJ surgery. If it is true that 1 out of every 5 pitchers seriously reinjure their UCL then you should be able to quickly build a list with 50 or more names on it.


First, you just called Dr. Andrews a liar. Second, you build the list.

Well, MLB starters cause a selection bias to begin with since they are the ones with the bodies that have proven to be able to handle the stress of pitching the most. But I don't know why I have to prove that 1 out 8 MLB pitchers suffer career ending injuries (or how that involves my point) every year and yet you don't have to name a single pitcher that reinjures their UCL the year after surgery.


Because the leading expert who took some sort of oath gave us the data, I don't need to personally interview the pitchers. You really believe he just made up those numbers? Give us something besides bluster to indicate his numbers are at least shady.

And again, you don't have to believe or accept Andrews numbers if you can show that "healthy" pitchers are getting career enders just as often, his numbers aren't pertinent any more if you do that.
   268. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4271224)
First, you just called Dr. Andrews a liar. Second, you build the list.

I did? I called your "massive reinjury risk" an exaggeration and that is what it is.

As for the rest, I'm pretty much done with you. You've demanded a lot while providing little and not holding yourself to the same standard you are demanding of others. I have an opinion and you have opinion on this matter, don't pretend like your opinion is anything more than just that.
   269. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4271235)
I just remembered that Strasburg appeared in the all-star game this summer. He started on July 6, pitched an inning in the game on July 10 (technically on short rest), then started again on July 15 (again technically on short rest if you count the all-star game, or on extended rest if you don't). Was that much of a risk?

What if they had made that his routine for the rest of the season? No real shutdown or startup required, and if you just skip every other start, it shouldn't disrupt the rest of the staff too much -- worse case, it makes Lannan/Wang/Gorzelanny a swingman/spot starter and shortens your bullpen by a spot for a few games until Sep. 1. That plan would have effectively let him finish the regular season with 25 starts, leaving 3 extra to be allocated at the end of the season or during the playoffs as needed.
   270. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4271239)
The Nationals took the risk and must take the risk every single season. Their usage did't avoid the risk and nobody knows if it decreased the risk at all. 90% recovery rate is a really high number. It is really high to improve upon that and again that recovery rate is for pitchers that have not been used like Strasburg. Increasing his chance to say 92% isn't really going to move the dial in any meaningful kind of way.


You are sure hung up on the 90%, when the real number is 85-90%. Isn't it interesting how we bias our recall and interpretation of the numbers to bolster our positions?

But yes, you have a good point too. The Nats can't expect to entirely eliminate his chance of re-injury, but if Rizzo is to believed, they can greatly reduce it. The mythical book he put together that has the study is the key, but if he found that starters who went north of 160-180 innings got reinjured 30% of the time and those who kept at or below that limit got reinjured 5% of the time, he's got good claim to eliminating the majority of the reinjury risk with this approach.

But also remember, the 85-90% recovery seems to be a gross number. If so, that includes reinjury success stories and implies a 15-20% reinjury rate. So 80-85% are healthy enough to pitch a complete season in year 2, while 15-20% get reinjured at some point from year 1 to 2, and eventually 25-35% of those recover, giving a total recovery rate of 85-90% at some future point. What this means is the Nats would normally expect Strasburg to miss some or most of next season 15-20% of the time, and only come back healthy rarely after that and even then after missing another full season.

So the real risk to focus on is 15-20% of reinjury. Whether he's able to come back from a reinjury or never does is a minor matter for the Nats, because his return will be just before he becomes a free agent and they will have missed out on the majority of their control period.
   271. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4271243)

You are sure hung up on the 90%, when the real number is 85-90%. Isn't it interesting how we bias our recall and interpretation of the numbers to bolster our positions?


Holy christ! You know what? 85% is a really high number as well and it is unlikely that any kind of primitive newly formulated usage pattern is going to move the needle in any kind of meaningul way.

The mythical book he put together that has the study is the key, but if he found that starters who went north of 160-180 innings got reinjured 30% of the time and those who kept at or below that limit got reinjured 5% of the time, he's got good claim to eliminating the majority of the reinjury risk with this approach.



Which isn't some kind of ultra secret code that cannot be broken. If something like that is true Rizzo is not the only human being who would have found it.
   272. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4271248)
I did? I called your "massive reinjury risk" an exaggeration and that is what it is.


When healthy pitchers recover 85-90% from Tommy John surgery, but Strasburg's recovery rate from a re-injury is 25-35%, that's not a massive risk? That's a career ender 2/3s of the time and effectively almost 100% of the time in terms of the Nats control years.

As for the rest, I'm pretty much done with you. You've demanded a lot while providing little and not holding yourself to the same standard you are demanding of others. I have an opinion and you have opinion on this matter, don't pretend like your opinion is anything more than just that.


I've contributed specific data points, quotes, done my own calculations, admitted to a few mistakes, and clearly described the types of data you could present that would refute my position . You have come up with a single quote, done nothing else, want to throw out any data point doesn't match your thesis without any reason other than you don't agree with it, you don't want to do any work to support it, and when I call you on it, you take your ball and go home, as I suspected you eventually would.
   273. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4271252)
That's fine. I think it's short-sighted. Strasburg's mean WAR over the next 3 years should approach 18 wins, plus he'll have value beyond those years to the Nats, either in free agent compensation or as a long term signing. I think taking an additional 15% chance of catastrophic re-injury making that number near zero is a big potential cost, and potentially huge variance that makes team building plans much more complex.

I think you're placing vastly more confidence in the injury-prevention efficacy of a limited pitching workload than is warranted by the empirical record. Neither you, me, Mike Rizzo, or Dr. James Andrews can pinpoint a "safe" workload for Strasburg. Everyone is best-guessing.

Given that, the plan of front-loading all of Strasburg's 2012 workload into the portion of the season that would end before the September stretch run, let alone the entire postseason, and sticking to that plan come hell or high water, all in the name of maximizing Strasburg's injury prevention, was a poor choice. There were many alternative ways of making him potentially available to pitch in late September/October while still limiting him to essentially the same number of innings/pitches he threw, and to dismiss them all in favor of a false precision regarding his future health was taking risk aversion beyond its appropriate realm.

I've managed a lot of people and demanded a great deal from them, but I could never go over the line to where their health, career and family needs would never come first. Maybe that makes me a lousy GM candidate.

I have as well, and I could not as well. But I'm not (and I assume you're not) an athletics coach/manager/GM. Competitive sports brings injury risk, period, that the vast majority of professions don't. Balancing that injury risk against the demands of competition is at the heart of Rizzo's/Davey Johnson's job. It cannot be avoided. The Nationals in this case didn't make the best balancing tradeoff they could have.
   274. CrosbyBird Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4271256)
That's not evidence, that's results oriented fact picking. Clearly one of either Jackson or Strasburg pushes Detwiler out of rotation, who threw 6 innings and gave up no earned runs (1 unearned) in game 4. Strasburg was likely to pitch better than Jackson did pitch, and highly unlikely to pitch as well as Detwiler did.

Detwiler is still available, either to replace Jackson as starter (my choice) or come in earlier in Jackson's start.

I can't believe that you're seriously claiming that Strasburg (based on his 2012 performance) was "unlikely" to significantly improve the pitching for the postseason. If you want to say it's no guarantee, sure. If you want to say the impact isn't worth the increased injury risk, that's fine too. But to say it barely matters? Strasburg was a very good pitcher this season and adding a very good pitcher to your roster is almost always going to help you in some way.

We don't need results-oriented thinking. The Nationals are a substantially better postseason team with another starter that put up a 125 ERA+ performance in 2012 on the roster.
   275. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4271257)
If his presence in the postseason means so little to a team's win expectancy, why would he be such a valuable starter the next three years?

162>5


I know, I was just being snarky. It's sort of odd, though, to argue that you have to protect Strasburg at all costs because he's so valuable, yet his on-field value is apparently so tiny as to be virtually meaningless in a playoff series. Sample size, I know, but odd.

I know it's not totally cool to "save" a pitcher for the last weeks of the season or the postseason when a playoff spot isn't guaranteed. But once those important late-season/postseason games are reasonably likely (as was the case for the Nationals by July/August this year), I think you've got to make some effort to get Strasburg into those important games.
   276. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4271264)
McCoy, if you want to do any work at all, I'll give you some incentive to do so.

You can either

1) Come up with a quote from Rizzo saying he had a hard innings limit at 160 innings (not 160-180 innings), OR a quote from Davey Johnson saying Rizzo set a hard innings limit at 160 innings (not "we decided to shut him down at 160 innings cause he was wearing down").

2) Show how the Andrews stats on career ending re-injury risk for TJ rehabbers aren't accurate or don't matter (by showing that at least 10% of healthy MLB pitchers suffer career ending injuries every 2 years).

Show either, and I will change my name here to "McCoy is always right, and I am always wrong" or some reasonable variation of that you prefer, for at least 30 days.
   277. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4271268)
1) Come up with a quote from Rizzo saying he had a hard innings limit at 160 innings (not 160-180 innings), OR a quote from Davey Johnson saying Rizzo set a hard innings limit at 160 innings (not "we decided to shut him down at 160 innings cause he was wearing down").

This is cherry picking to an insane length. Davey Johnson said they had an inning limit on Strasburg that was 150 to 160 innings long. Reports throughout all of this year was that Strasburg was on an inning limit, Rizzo said they were just going to run him out there until he hits his limit, and sure enough when he hit 160 innings he was shutdown.

2) Show how the Andrews stats on career ending re-injury risk for TJ rehabbers aren't accurate or don't matter (by showing that at least 10% of healthy MLB pitchers suffer career ending injuries every 2 years).



How about this, since you are the one demanding proof, you show that his number are accurate.
   278. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4271271)
I would just love it if Strasburg pulled a Ken Dryden and retired tomorrow. That (or an unrelated offseason injury - say losing his leg to an alligator) is about the only thing that will prevent this discussion from continuing for eternity.
   279. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4271277)
Just make Strasburg the closer or the set up man at the ASB. Storen was still out. You can monitor Strasburg's rest, give Clippard a hand, easily keep him under 160 IP, have him available for the entire season and potential postseason, and still have him making an impact in high leverage situations. It involves risk, yes, minimal I would submit. It opens Rizzo to more criticism in the case of re-injury, minimally, I would submit. And it gives Davey another bullpen option, which any watcher of the playoffs knows is invaluable when we are down to these batter by batter nailbiting scenarios. I think Rizzo took the most plausible and defensible injury risk averse approach because his bosses would rather have Strasburg healthy long term than have him available this year. As a businessman I understand that position. As a fan it makes me crazy.
   280. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4271280)
I can't believe that you're seriously claiming that Strasburg (based on his 2012 performance) was "unlikely" to significantly improve the pitching for the postseason. If you want to say it's no guarantee, sure. If you want to say the impact isn't worth the increased injury risk, that's fine too. But to say it barely matters? Strasburg was a very good pitcher this season and adding a very good pitcher to your roster is almost always going to help you in some way.


My math was he gives them at most a 2% higher win expectancy, and given his usage requirements and fatigue, likely only 1% or maybe even less.

I think that's not a large increase, though now that I"ve done the math I agree it's not as trivial as I thought . But I think Strasburg is going to be a 2-4% increase in expectation for both making and winning the playoffs for the next 3 years if he stays healthy and improves like he should in future seasons post-rehab. He will be likely pitching deeper into games and providing significantly more value.
   281. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4271291)
Davey Johnson said they had an inning limit on Strasburg that was 150 to 160 innings long. Reports throughout all of this year was that Strasburg was on an inning limit, Rizzo said they were just going to run him out there until he hits his limit, and sure enough when he hit 160 innings he was shutdown.


Also, Zimmermann was shut down after exactly 161.1 innings last year. The Strasburg plan was modeled explicitly after the Zimmermann plan, and Strasburg was shut down after 159.1 innings this year. If that's not a hard-and-fast limit, it might as well be.
   282. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4271297)
This is cherry picking to an insane length. Davey Johnson said they had an inning limit on Strasburg that was 150 to 160 innings long. Reports throughout all of this year was that Strasburg was on an inning limit, Rizzo said they were just going to run him out there until he hits his limit, and sure enough when he hit 160 innings he was shutdown.


It's a good quote, and I hadn't seen one from that long ago (just the recent davey johnson quotes). But again, context is missing. Is Davey saying we have a fixed limit set down by Rizzo, or my guess is based on our criteria we will be forced to shut him down around 150-160 innings. Because Rizzo has clearly said they were using performance based analysis to make the decision.

Do you want me to make it too easy for you. What value is there in getting me to change my handle if it's a trivial win?


How about this, since you are the one demanding proof, you show that his number are accurate.


The irony of you demanding me to provided documentary evidence to support the accuracy of statistics on Tommy John recovery rates provided by one of the worlds leading experts on Tommy John surgeries and recoveries, while you feel you need provide no evidence of their inaccuracy, tastes deliciously robust.

But sure I bite, given you are willing to change your handle to what? if I can provide such evidence?
   283. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4271298)
Also, Zimmermann was shut down after exactly 161.1 innings last year. The Strasburg plan was modeled explicitly after the Zimmermann plan, and Strasburg was shut down after 159.1 innings this year. If that's not a hard-and-fast limit, it might as well be.


It MIGHT well be. But no one has ever quoted Rizzo as saying it was one. And correlation isn't causation, esp. when Strasburg's last start was so concerning.
   284. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4271300)
But no one has ever quoted Rizzo as saying it was one.

Seriously. You really ought to let go of this.
   285. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4271305)
"The Strasburg plan was modeled explicitly after the Zimmermann plan"

MISSES THE POINT. THE SITUATION WAS TOTALLY DIFFERENT. THEY KNEW THEY WERE PLAYING FOR SOMETHING. The question is do they make a strictly health/business interest decision with Strasburg or do they take into consideration the interest of the fans who pay for the whole thing and the other guys on the team who are there trying to to win. The argument against Rizzo here is that he went forward with the "Zimmerman plan" at the expense of the latter, and from a fan's perspective one can reasonably say it was a sh!tty thing to do when there were reasonable alternatives available. That is all anyone here is trying to say.
   286. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4271310)
I agree, Tim D. The point is that KT is trying to pretend there's no 160 inning limit, when the two pitchers under the plan were both shut down right at 160.
   287. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4271313)

Holy christ! You know what? 85% is a really high number as well


Coincidentally, about equal to the odds of winning at Russian Roulette.
   288. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4271316)
The irony of you demanding me to provided documentary evidence to support the accuracy of statistics on Tommy John recovery rates provided by one of the worlds leading experts on Tommy John surgeries and recoveries, while you feel you need provide no evidence of their inaccuracy, tastes deliciously robust.

But sure I bite, given you are willing to change your handle to what? if I can provide such evidence?


Are you trying to "win" this argument? Tell you what, you win. Your opinion on this matter is A#1 in your book, congrats.
   289. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4271317)
I'm willing to concede the existence of a 160 limit even though I think it is a guess at best.
   290. CrosbyBird Posted: October 15, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4271350)
My math was he gives them at most a 2% higher win expectancy, and given his usage requirements and fatigue, likely only 1% or maybe even less.

I think a 2% greater chance is significant. What percentage of win expectancy do you think it would cost the Tigers to sit Verlander for the postseason? 3%? 4%? I don't know that we could even have any significant precision on the effect of one player's impact on an entire postseason before the fact, though.

But I think Strasburg is going to be a 2-4% increase in expectation for both making and winning the playoffs for the next 3 years if he stays healthy and improves like he should in future seasons post-rehab. He will be likely pitching deeper into games and providing significantly more value.

Sure, but that's not the trade-off. You could avoid using Strasburg and he could still not stay healthy; you could use him and he could still stay healthy over his career. The tradeoff is the potential gain in this postseason weighed against the potential additional long-term risk of using him for some more innings in the postseason. (Or if you don't assume that the Nationals can't "save" 15 innings or so for the postseason by starting him a bit later in the season/pulling him earlier/stretching his starts/switching him to the bullpen, the additional risk associated with that.)

   291. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4271359)
Seriously. You really ought to let go of this.

Good advice. You should consider taking it.
   292. BDC Posted: October 15, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4271369)
Competitive sports brings injury risk, period, that the vast majority of professions don't

That's at the heart of it. They are paying the young man to play baseball. Paying him not to play baseball will absolutely guarantee the safety of his arm, as long as he stays well away from wood-chippers and the like. But at some point it's absurd – not to say the Nationals are near that point yet, but it's looming in the distance.
   293. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4271403)
Reading this thread still depresses me :-/


You're not the only one. I have completely lost interest in the rest of the postseason. No one will mistake me for a Yankees fan, but if they somehow come back and beat Detroit I will actually be rooting for them against the team who I will not name.

This 160 inning thing is pure BS. It depends on the individual's physical makeup and delivery, not on some mystical formula where you gradually increase the innings thrown 20 per year and that will ensure they remain healthy. As good of a job as Rizzo did, I still resent missing at least a puncher's chance to win a WS. Particularly if that POS Scott Boras had input on the decision.
   294. spycake Posted: October 15, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4271408)
My math was he gives them at most a 2% higher win expectancy, and given his usage requirements and fatigue, likely only 1% or maybe even less.

I think a 2% greater chance is significant. What percentage of win expectancy do you think it would cost the Tigers to sit Verlander for the postseason? 3%? 4%? I don't know that we could even have any significant precision on the effect of one player's impact on an entire postseason before the fact, though.


KT's "math" isn't very relevant here. He apparently eyeballed Strasburg's and Jackson's per-start averages and guessed at a 10% single-game win expectancy bump (and thus a 2% series win expectancy bump). Aside from not including much actual math, it failed to account for the presence of an extra quality arm in the bullpen (Jackson or Detwiler) to bail out a starter who struggles, be an extra-innings weapon, or simply give the bullpen a break.
   295. Ron J2 Posted: October 15, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4271438)
his availability in the post season unlikely to make a significant increase in the Nats win expectancy

Is this another fact?


Well it depends on how you define significant I guess. I'd make the expected difference in any start around .4 runs. There's no chance Strasburg would get two starts in round one, so I make the difference about 2% in terms of getting out of the first round. Maybe 4% per round after that.

Given that Detwiler isn't exactly a replacement level pitcher this is higher than I'd have expected.
   296. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4271448)
There's no chance Strasburg would get two starts in round one,


Gio, Edwin Jackson and Zimmermann all made two appearances in the series. Strasburg probably would have been available for at least one relief appearance, even if he had made only one start.
   297. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4271452)
Particularly if that POS Scott Boras had input on the decision.


This is the part that interests me. Boras clearly had a level of input on the decision. It's in HIS best interest to do so as it may lead to increased earnings for his client and for him in the future. Boras also has a direct line to the Lerners.

If he didn't have that direct line, how would that have played out? All the Lerners heard was Rizzo and Boras telling him this is the way to go... with probably not many countering voices.
   298. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4271455)
Since the Nationals lost the series by a very small margin, and got a lousy start from Edwin Jackson (a clearly worse pitcher than Strasburg) in game 3, one of the losses, I think it is pretty likely that Strasburg would have represented a significant increase in win expectancy for the series.

Yep, good ole Stras would've pitched the greatest complete game in history and led the Nats to a 0 to -2 win.

------------------------------------------------

MISSES THE POINT. THE SITUATION WAS TOTALLY DIFFERENT. THEY KNEW THEY WERE PLAYING FOR SOMETHING. The question is do they make a strictly health/business interest decision with Strasburg or do they take into consideration the interest of the fans who pay for the whole thing and the other guys on the team who are there trying to to win. The argument against Rizzo here is that he went forward with the "Zimmerman plan" at the expense of the latter, and from a fan's perspective one can reasonably say it was a sh!tty thing to do when there were reasonable alternatives available. That is all anyone here is trying to say.

That's about it, and fortunately Rizzo considered those alternatives, found them wanting, and stuck to his guns in the long range interest of the franchise. And again, it's funny how the overwhelming majority of the anti-Rizzo sentiment is coming from fans of other teams.
   299. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4271458)
[296] I'm about as anti-shutdown a Nats fan as you'll find... the idea that they'd bring him in to relieve is crazy. The Cardinals weren't even willing to bring back Chris Carpenter, and he's got a million more miles on his arm.
   300. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4271462)
Rizzo considered those alternatives, found them wanting,

The "found them wanting" part was a blunder, as has been explained many times.
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