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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Tangotiger: Pros/Cons of a 40-pitch scoreless first inning

This [http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/4/28/5659720/first-inning-pitch-count-runs-trade-off] is an outstanding question.  Would you rather be down 1 run, with your starting pitcher having thrown no more than 10 pitches, or would you rather throw a scoreless inning, but your starting pitcher having thrown at least 40 pitches?

 

bobm Posted: May 01, 2014 at 12:28 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pitching

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   1. Spectral Posted: May 01, 2014 at 09:12 AM (#4698107)
The comments section over there has the real meat of the discussion. I think they answer the question pretty clearly, although it doesn't seem to address potential future affects of bullpen overusage. I suppose that's going to be highly context dependent anyway. I'm not terribly surprised by the result, as it seems to be that there's a bit of selective sampling - if a pitcher gives up a run on less than 10 pitches, it's often going to be a homerun, and I'd guess that on average, pitchers who give up a homer in the first inning are somewhat worse than average pitchers.
   2. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 01, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4698117)
Still need to RTFA (and comments) but it seems like it depends a bit on the opposing starter, your bullpen, and your own offense. But on the balance I'd probably prefer being down one.

eta: Huh, my intuition might be mistaken. Though the sample size they're working with is pretty small (n=32).
   3. PASTE Will Notice Harper When He Hits .467 (Zeth) Posted: May 01, 2014 at 09:57 AM (#4698124)
Knowing nothing else except the pitches and runs allowed, I'd rather have 10 pitches 1/run than 40 pitches/0 runs, easily. Even if the latter pitcher is more likely to be good, he's already guaranteed to be going no more than five innings. As a manager probably nothing would drive me batty more than having to overuse and wear out my bullpen.

And intuitively it seems unlikely that giving up a solo circuit clout in a ten pitch inning indicates better average quality than escaping unscathed but needing 40 pitches to do so--if you have a 40 pitch inning you sure as hell aren't missing bats. 40 pitches/0 runs means your opposition is taking a lot of balls and hitting a hell of a lot of fouls.
   4. McCoy Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4698126)
I would think you'd want to know who the pitchers were that did each of the events to see if there is a bias there or at least compare it to what they normally do. I mean if the 11 to 32 pitchers that threw a lot in the first inning end up being guys named Pedro, Greg, Randy, and Roger it isn't really informative especially if the guys throwing little have names like Steve, Jerome, Jose, and Eric.
   5. Matt Welch Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4698171)
Without having RTFA, I'd want to see the results broken down by individual pitcher. I'm sure Nolan Ryan had a few of each....
   6. PreservedFish Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4698172)
I'll take the shutout inning, probably.
   7. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4698176)
If we're talking about today's game, I'd take the shutout inning.

If we're talking long-term, I might prefer the 40-pitch, one-run inning (though that would depend on my bullpen situation).

So, I guess it would depend on where we were in the season and/or standings.
   8. BDC Posted: May 01, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4698193)
I know this is a hypothetical problem, but how often does somebody throw 40 pitches in an inning? let alone escape scoreless.

I remember scoring this game over the radio. Take a look at Jim Kern's 12th inning. It was the nightmare debacle from Hell. And at that IIRC Kern threw 36 pitches in the inning. Wish I'd saved the scoresheet …
   9. McCoy Posted: May 01, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4698213)
I know this is a hypothetical problem, but how often does somebody throw 40 pitches in an inning? let alone escape scoreless.

11 in the last 15 years did it while not letting a run a score.
   10. BDC Posted: May 01, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4698235)
Thanks, McCoy. Often enough for it not to be absurdly rare. Still, that's rarer than a triple play, for instance.
   11. attaboy Posted: May 01, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4698252)
Read the article but not the comments....seems like some research answers the questions, these things have happened, we can review the results, at least from the single game perspective. As for bigger pictures, too many variables to answer easily, current record, how late in the season, how rested is my bull pen before the game started, how many days off do I have coming up?
   12. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: May 01, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4698278)
I'd absolutely take the ten-pitch inning, and it has squat to do with the likelihood of winning a game. I don't think 40-pitch innings are conducive to pitcher health.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: May 03, 2014 at 06:51 PM (#4699759)
32 Pitchers threw 35 or more pitches in the first inning without giving up any runs. They average 4 additional innings and 1.44 runs allowed. 26 pitchers made it through at least 5 full innings and 4 pitchers finished the 7th inning. Eight of the pitchers allowed no runs and 12 allowed only a single run.

The 40-pitch scoreless inning is rare but apparently the 35-pitch scoreless first inning not so much. Per the above, their results were pretty good. (as others noted, the fun stuff is in the comments.)

Bullpen tiredness on the day would be a key factor in this choice ... not that you would have a choice ... but not the "long-term" effects on the pen. You send a couple guys down or to the DL for a bad case of relieveritis and call up a couple live arms from AA/AAA. Happens all the time.

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