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Thursday, August 02, 2018

The most influential role in baseball may cease to exist

The Tampa Bay Rays have dispensed with the traditional starting pitcher—and succeeded

The Fallen Reputation of Billy Jo Robidoux Posted: August 02, 2018 at 09:13 AM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pitching, rays, starter usage

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   1. TomH Posted: August 02, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5719705)
The article points out, wisely, that
- the Rays have allowed fewer R/G since they began the "opener" method
- much of this has resulted from lower BABIP, which is probably unrelated to the above
- so the lower R/G allowed could easily be random chance

Having noted that; let's pretend that the experiment had played out differently... that the Rays' pitching had improved K/W ratio but some lousy BABIP or clustering (luck) had increased their R/G allowed. The reaction narrative would largely have been something like "see how stooped they are, those statheads don't know how to manage real people".

Hurray for Tampa, and hurray for random gods who have shined for the moment to give a glimmer of hope to those who may copy them.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5719723)
I'd like to see how opposing managers are responding to the Stanek Yarborough R-L 1-2 punch.
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5719750)
I'd like to see how 30 teams are going to come up with enough pitchers to sustain this sort of strategy for an entire season.

I also note by the end of the article, skepticism seems to creep in:
What remains to be seen, however, is whether the approach can be sustained. With MLB rosters limited to 25 slots, teams replacing starters with a surfeit of relievers either need to carry fewer hitters—which could lead to worse offence, or to more injuries among position players—or to extract more innings from each reliever. And no one knows whether pitchers accustomed either to throwing once every five days or to delivering just 10-20 pitches per appearance will be able to maintain their effectiveness and avoid injury in a more taxing, hybrid role.

Not that the Rays' experiment hasn't been fun to watch, but there just aren't that many shutdown pitchers to go around.
   4. Bote Man Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5719765)
The Blue Jays have announced that Tyler Clipboard will start tonight's game against the Mariners. I do not know if this is a bullpen-opener a la the Rays or if he actually will pitch as long as he is effective. Didn't the Yankees try Clippard as a starter about 10 years ago??

Yep. 6 Games Started, so how'd that work out?
   5. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5719772)
The Jays did start John Axford last week, and he pitched 3 innings. That use is more novel than what the Rays have been doing with Romo and Stanek, which is essentially just swapping the 1st inning and the 6th inning.

I doubt they expect more than a single turn through the lineup from Clippard, and maybe not even that.
   6. I Am Not a Number Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5719779)
I doubt they expect more than a single turn through the lineup from Clippard, and maybe not even that.

Who has the strength to watch any more than that from Clippard? Gotta think of the children.
   7. Bote Man Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5719780)
Blue Jays fans are complaining that the team is starting bullpen guys to avoid starting the service clock of minor league pitchers.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5719782)
Blue Jays fans are complaining that the team is starting bullpen guys to avoid starting the service clock of minor league pitchers.


In my experience, this usually comes of overrating one's prospects. There are very few prospects good enough to worry about their service clocks.
   9. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:57 PM (#5719785)
Didn't the Yankees try Clippard as a starter about 10 years ago??

As I recall, he had a pretty good start against the Mets on Sunday night baseball (6Ks in 6 IP or something like that) back when there were still those Yankee fan game chatters. And that may have been the only good start of his career.
   10. bfan Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5719787)
Blue Jays fans are complaining that the team is starting bullpen guys to avoid starting the service clock of minor league pitchers


even though there is evidence that the tactic leads to better results?

I do not like the change, but I cannot come up with a reason why it would not work (such as, you need to develop a whole new type of pitcher-the 3 inning guy; or "here is a strategy the manager of the batting team can use to make the other team burn their pitcher's too fast"; or here is why your bullpen guys won't last the year). If pitchers are demonstrably worse the 3rd time through the line-up, there has to be a point at which you just cannot let them do that.
   11. Man o' Schwar Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:01 PM (#5719790)
Like the shift, I'm sure TPTB are toying with a policy that requires anyone who starts a game to be ineligible to pitch for the next 4 days to eliminate this kind of thinking. Gotta preserve the status quo!
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5719791)
If pitchers are demonstrably worse the 3rd time through the line-up, there has to be a point at which you just cannot let them do that.


Sure, but you can just start them and pull them after their second time through. It doesn't mean you have to start someone for one inning.

I don't see any reason it should produce better results. Then again, I don't think it should produce worse results either. You're still using the same guys to do the same work they are now, you're just rearranging the order (now, starting someone for three innings would represent a change).
   13. Bote Man Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5719792)
Jeremy Hellickson is a poster boy for "3rd time through the batting order" disease. It's almost like clockwork with him, and even Deivi Martinez has figured this out.

So is it a matter of not having a large enough quiver of pitch types? Tiring out by the 5th-6th inning? Poor pitch selection/mixture as the game progresses (which also involves the catcher)?

Max Scherzer is the immediate counterpoint, going deep into games and having a few complete games with the Nationals since signing with them. So how can one pitcher go deep into games while others can't? It's not a given that all starters hit a brick wall at the same point in the game.
   14. Bote Man Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:06 PM (#5719795)
You're still using the same guys to do the same work they are now, you're just rearranging the order

Which directly contradicts the bullpen relievers who whine bitterly that they absolutely MUST know when they will pitch or they will fall to pieces, leading to The 7th Inning Guy, The 8th Inning Guy, etc. You don't see pinch-hitters refusing to hit in the 6th because they need to go through their preparatory ritual. /rant
   15. Rusty Priske Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:06 PM (#5719797)
The specific claim with the Jays' fans is Sean Reid-Foley. Some are convinced he should be up.
   16. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:07 PM (#5719798)
A primary appeal must be to mess around with the opponent's lineup, which is likely why the Rays keep doing this with Yarborough, a lefty, matched with righty openers. But I don't know how much it really does mess with things. You might also think that, if Yarborough is going to face someone a third time, you'd rather it be the #4/5 batter than the leadoff batter, but I'm not sure if that makes any real difference in his effectiveness.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:09 PM (#5719800)
A primary appeal must be to mess around with the opponent's lineup, which is likely why the Rays keep doing this with Yarborough, a lefty, matched with righty openers.


That would be a benefit, if the Rays really are going more random with their second man out of the pen (though, honestly, most teams bullpens are so large that there's probably not as much altering the lineup to adjust to the handedness of the pitcher as there once was). But if you know Yarborough is going to be coming in, I assume you'd just plan your lineup for that.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:21 PM (#5719809)
But if you know Yarborough is going to be coming in, I assume you'd just plan your lineup for that.

It's not entirely obvious how to do it though. Do you stack the lefties at the top and righties at the bottom? Go with all righties and just not worry about the first inning? Something in between? I'm not claiming this is a major advantage, it's not, but at least it's something that makes the opponent think a little bit.

Also, I don't know if Yarborough's 4+ IP appearances are surprises or not.
   19. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:24 PM (#5719816)
I imagine that with enough careful org construction - i.e., not just 25 man roster, but 40 man and including the AAA shuttle/player options in the mix - there's a hybrid approach that might work.

I cannot imagine this ever really working wholesale - to employ it 100%, you'd need to have really, really crappy SP options only and if that's the case, your team probably sucks.

However, I could see a team succeeding with it if there were to just punt nominal rotation spots 4 & 5 for regular 'bullpen days' rather than wasting 15 million bucks on some crappy "innings eater".

Optimally, I'd imagine you'd want at least one Randy Johnson style workhorse you could have as an ace to provide you some bullpen rest days... Stagger your 2 or 3 SPs... make use of off-days... AAA shuttles... etc.

I think the real problem is that it's probably REALLY hard to build a roster that works with the idea.
   20. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5719820)
What I'm interested in is the 3-4 IP "middler." The split between full seasons of either 180+IP or ~60IP seems highly artificial, and there might be certain types of pitchers that are most valuable at 100IP or so.

The Astros did so well in October last year letting guys like McCullers and Morton and Peacock throw long relief outings. I thought that might catch on.

The Rays just traded him, but they were using Matt Andriese in an interesting way. 27 games, 60 IP, 4 games started, 6 games finished.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:37 PM (#5719824)
The Astros did so well in October last year letting guys like McCullers and Morton and Peacock throw long relief outings. I thought that might catch on.


I think somethings that work (or appear to work, but run out of steam such as in the case of Tito's 2016 staff usage) in the playoffs are possible because a) there are more days off and b) you really aren't thinking long term. They could throw McCullers in Game 7 of the ALCS and Morton in Game 7 of the WS because they were close to their start dates and they would have ample rest afterward (in the case of Morton, an entire offseason). But during the season, there really is a tomorrow.

Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a more optimal allocation of pitching resources than the starter/reliever method we have now. But I'll need a lot of evidence that the using a guy for one inning at the start instead of one inning in the seventh is any kind of wheel reinvention.

   22. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:41 PM (#5719826)
But I'll need a lot of evidence that the using a guy for one inning at the start instead of one inning in the seventh is any kind of wheel reinvention.


I agree, but I also think that it's great to see creative thinking like this. The Rays did not come up with a breakthrough here, but they've made it easier for some future innovator to do so.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5719830)

I agree, but I also think that it's great to see creative thinking like this. The Rays did not come up with a breakthrough here, but they've made it easier for some future innovator to do so.


Absolutely.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5719832)
Axford's appearance should have gotten more attention. That's a genuinely weird use of a well-established One Inning Guy.
   25. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:15 PM (#5719847)
Is this really the kind of innovation we want to see, though? First off, the entire pitching staff would be pretty anonymous. In addition, if it does make the staff more effective, then we're looking at less offense with probably even more strikeouts.
   26. DL from MN Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:23 PM (#5719851)
So how can one pitcher go deep into games while others can't? It's not a given that all starters hit a brick wall at the same point in the game.


Having four effective pitches helps. It's the two pitch pitchers who get figured out after one time through the order.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:24 PM (#5719853)
Is this really the kind of innovation we want to see, though?

I'm not sure, to be honest.

I think that a generally more freewheeling approach is good for sports. Starting the game with Ryan Stanek is not exactly putting Magic Johnson in at center or allowing Johan Cruyff to roam all four corners of the field, but it's something. I don't want a future where everyone throws 2-3 IP and starters are virtually nonexistent, but I'd prefer more unpredictable pitching changes to the rigid '15 Royals model. We used to have firemen and longmen and this might be a weird way to get them back, but I'm all for it.

(Unfortunately it probably also necessarily brings in more hyper-short appearances too ... if one guy goes 3 IP, that allows several others to go .1 IP)

   28. winnipegwhip Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:30 PM (#5719857)
I do not like the change, but I cannot come up with a reason why it would not work


For those who may know or remember the New Jersey Devils successes of the late 1990's they can rejoice or cringe that the Neutral Zone Trap is coming to baseball. Very successful but made the sport horrible to watch.
   29. Rally Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:30 PM (#5719858)
I doubt they expect more than a single turn through the lineup from Clippard, and maybe not even that.


Don't think they expected Axford to get 3 innings, just turned out that way. He did it on 38 pitches and allowed only one baserunner. In his previous appearance he needed 33 pitches to get 4 outs.
   30. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:31 PM (#5719859)
much of this has resulted from lower BABIP, which is probably unrelated to the above


Not necessarily. When I looked at closers a few years ago, one thing that struck me was that elite closers generally had lower BABIP than the norm. If the idea is that an opener can go all-out for an inning or so, it's entirely possible that the lower BABIP *is* related to the decision to use a short reliever in the role.

-- MWE
   31. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:36 PM (#5719863)
Here's an example of my thinking. Take the LOOGY. Today the LOOGY almost exclusively pitches in the 6th, 7th or 8th innings. That's boring. You have a 1-5 innings guy, a 9th inning guy, maybe an 8th inning guy, and in the 6th and 7th innings you have like 5 guys that you can mix and match, which makes those the innings of obsessive pitching changes. That's dumb. Why only those innings?

Let's just assume that we're stuck with the LOOGY. Sometimes I want to see the LOOGY in the 9th inning, with the game truly on the line. That's exciting. And hey, why not the second inning? I think that's an exciting strategic move. You start the game with a "opener" that can give you 1-3 innings. But he's stuck early with men on base against the #6 hitter. Do you use the LOOGY now, in the 2nd inning? If you do, that means your "middler" is going to need to go 4 innings instead of the 2-3 that you'd prefer, and you don't have the LOOGY for the end of the game.

I think creative roles are inherently more entertaining.

Extra strikeouts? Yeah, I don't like that aspect of it.
   32. . Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5719878)
The phase-out of the starting pitcher in major league baseball.

FUN!!!
   33. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 02, 2018 at 05:02 PM (#5719887)
For those who may know or remember the New Jersey Devils successes of the late 1990's they can rejoice or cringe that the Neutral Zone Trap is coming to baseball. Very successful but made the sport horrible to watch.

Doubling down on the "success" of the future ghost-runner-on-2nd to start extra innings gimmick coupled with frustration over a plethora of 1-0 and 2-1 games, Manfred will eventually roll this "innovation" out to every inning under the guise of improving pace of play.
   34. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: August 02, 2018 at 05:19 PM (#5719897)
What I'm interested in is the 3-4 IP "middler." The split between full seasons of either 180+IP or ~60IP seems highly artificial, and there might be certain types of pitchers that are most valuable at 100IP or so.


Going back far enough, this sounds a lot like Goose Gossage.

More recently, this isn't so different than the swingman/long reliever role that we used to see not long ago. There is certainly an existence proof that such pitchers can, uh, exist. Who were/are some good recent examples of relievers who filled that role?
   35. bfan Posted: August 02, 2018 at 05:32 PM (#5719905)
Clay Carroll (Reds and Braves); 68 games, 144 innings, and 1 start (1968); 73 games, 3 starts, 144 innings (1966); 71 games, 151 innings, 4 starts (1969)
   36. Walt Davis Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:16 PM (#5719930)
There are lots of examples of multi-inning relievers who did it successfully -- once. There are a few who did it successfully a couple of times. Pretty much nobody was able to do it successfully multiple times. And even when you look at a guy like Fingers, most of those years he was putting up an ERA+ that would make him the #4 guy in the pen these days.

Obviously 100 innings of 115-120 ERA+ is very, very useful but then that's the HoF buy who did that. John Axford can't put up a 120 ERA+ pitching mostly 1 inning at a time. The 1-inning reliever is going nowhere because it's a strategy that offers a team (at least a ahot at) a 140-150 ERA+ over the last 3 innings of the game. Gossage and to an extent Sutter were the only guys who could do that for you singlehandedly and they only managed it a few times.

Now, can the guy who's currently your 5th starter and giving you 140 innings of 85-90 ERA+ 4-6 innings at a time possibly turn into a guy who gives you 100 innings of 100 ERA+ 3 innings at a time? That seems possible but now you've got to replace those 40 innings.
   37. Sunday silence Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:37 PM (#5719941)
Tekulve seems to have hit 130+ ERA+ 10 of his first 11 seasons (not counting 9 inn cup of coffee in 74). Not sure what standard of excellence Walt is expecting here. Obviously, I wouldnt expect a reliever throwing multi inn. to match the ERA+ of someone throwing one inn.

He didnt exceed his rookie limits until age 28; why the hell did it take them so long to get him to the bigs? Does anyone know? (obvious weird delivery but??)
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:38 PM (#5719942)
Sometimes I want to see the LOOGY in the 9th inning, with the game truly on the line. That's exciting. And hey, why not the second inning? I think that's an exciting strategic move.
Batter-pitching change-batter-pitching change is *never* exciting.
   39. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5719943)
He didnt exceed his rookie limits until age 28; why the hell did it take them so long to get him to the bigs? Does anyone know? (obvious weird delivery but??)
Also looked like a NERD!!
I'm half-kidding, but it actually probably did hold him back, given the biases of the time.
   40. Sunday silence Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:50 PM (#5719947)
Hoyt wilhelm did exceeded 130+ 12 times. I think at least 9 of those are over 150+.

You might also add in Gene Garber, Tug McGraw, Roy Face depending how many inn/game you need to meet some standard. THey all hit 130+ at least 4 or 5 times.
   41. Howie Menckel Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:58 PM (#5719953)
Mike Marshall threw 116 IP in 65 G for the 1972 Expos - all in relief. 14-8 record with 16 SV and 198 ERA+.

ok, let's challenge him: 1973, 179 IP in 92 G - all in relief. 14-11, NL-most 31 SV, 142 ERA+.

now let's make him work a little: 1974 for Dodgers, 208 IP in 106 G all in relief. 15-12, 141 ERA+, NL-most 21 SV, Cy Young Award winner, 3rd in MVP voting.

1975, out for 2 weeks after an April 19 appearance. goes only 3 IP of relief on May 3. six days later, he gives up 9 ER in 2 IP. slacker! he then gets 4 weeks off, and returns to his good form for a while, then fades late and loses 9 G from mid-July on. finishes 9-14 with a mere 109 IP in 58 G, and a 104 ERA+.


   42. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 02, 2018 at 07:15 PM (#5719960)
There are lots of examples of multi-inning relievers who did it successfully -- once. There are a few who did it successfully a couple of times. Pretty much nobody was able to do it successfully multiple times.


Tug McGraw threw 100 relief innings four times in five seasons from 1969 to 1973, with ERA+'s ranging from 201 down to 94. After he went to the Phillies later in the decade, they cut way back in his innings, but he showed the same pattern, bouncing from 74 ERA+ one year to 260 the next.

One of the biggest factors here is that any reliever's output in any one season is going to be a small sample size. It's hard to keep a consistent 2.50 ERA in a relatively small handful of innings.
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: August 02, 2018 at 07:22 PM (#5719963)
more Marshall:

1976: traded to Braves after mediocre first half for Lee Lacy and Elias Sosa. Braves saw Marshall as a young 33 with plenty of mileage left, I guess.

1977: after 4 G, Braves sell him to Texas. meh, and not many IP.

1978: Twins welcome Marshall as a free agent in mid-May, he excels - 10-12, 99 IP in 54 G, 158 ERA+.

1979: ditto. there IS life in the old arm! 10-15, 143 IP in 90(!) G, 166 ERA+.

1980: meh.

1981: the Mets sign Marshall for their pennant push in mid-August, a week after a 2-month labor dispute finally ends. Mets come up just short and finish 41-62, but Marshall has a 130 ERA+ in 31 IP.

(famous Marshall quote in 1974: Dodgers SPs open the season with 3 straight complete games. Marshall: "Trade me back: I can't stand this!")
   44. Sunday silence Posted: August 02, 2018 at 07:56 PM (#5719988)
I think we can add Perranoski to that list.

I met him once at one of these "big leaguers give a clinic for little leaguers" things. My little league was always getting guys like these to show up for banquets and stuff, one year we had Clemente, Oliver, Dan Frisella and Jon Matlack at the awards dinner. I guess western pennsylvania had a lot of older guys who played at a high level. Either that or their was some familial connection, there were lots of Perranoskis back there.

Anyhow I get to throw a baseball and Perranoski shows me how to kick the leg. Which I cant do. He says "What's a matter kid; you got a leg problem?" geez I felt like crap.

But kudos to the late Perranoski for showing up on an off day (I think he was still playing) and showing some snotty nosed kids how to play baseball.
   45. cardsfanboy Posted: August 02, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5720077)
In my experience, this usually comes of overrating one's prospects. There are very few prospects good enough to worry about their service clocks.


Bingo... there are a handful of players each season that it's an actual issue to worry about their arby clock.... none of them are going to be used as a major league reliever. Pitchers are easy enough to avoid the dreaded arby clock, that it's ridiculous to see people complaining about worrying about their arby clock, even the best of the best prospects is easy enough to put in the minors for 10 days or so to 'preserve the pen' that it's not an issue.

I doubt there have been many arbitration worried players who were pitchers that was exploited by their team. It's the position players who earn an everyday job before the team is ready that is the issue.
   46. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:17 PM (#5720090)
Not necessarily. When I looked at closers a few years ago, one thing that struck me was that elite closers generally had lower BABIP than the norm. If the idea is that an opener can go all-out for an inning or so, it's entirely possible that the lower BABIP *is* related to the decision to use a short reliever in the role.

WRT elite closers, couldn't this be at least in part because teams make defensive replacements at the same time as their elite closer is on the mound?
   47. PreservedFish Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:26 PM (#5720092)
UPDATE

Tonight the Rays mainly employed two pitchers I've never heard of.

"H Wood," a righty, opened the game with 2 IP. He was lights out.
"Beeks," a lefty, then threw 5 innings in relief. He pitched decently.

The Angels did their darndest to confound the Rays by starting 4 switch hitters! But they are all awful, and the Angels lost.
   48. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:57 AM (#5720129)
Mike Marshall threw 116 IP in 65 G for the 1972 Expos - all in relief. 14-8 record with 16 SV and 198 ERA+.


My favourite reliever usage was the Blue Jays in 1986, when Mark Eichhorn threw 157 innings in 69 appearances.
He finished 38 games, got 10 saves, and had a 14-6 record.

Oh, and he had a 1.72 ERA. 5 more innings (and he doesn't give up some obscene number of runs...Clemens led AL with 2.48 ERA), and he would have won the ERA title.

He had 6 appearances of 4+ innings, and one of them was 6 innings.
   49. Bote Man Posted: August 03, 2018 at 08:34 AM (#5720155)
The Tyler Clippard Experiment did not go well last night. He made it out of the 1st inning, just barely, but not before surrendering a 2-run circuit clout to Nelson Cruz; that was all for him. The Mariners radio guy said the Blue Jays planned for Clipboard to pitch only one inning, although being the other team I can't rely on that news. It sure smells of him playing The Opener, though.
   50. bookbook Posted: August 03, 2018 at 09:20 AM (#5720167)
It's the two pitch pitchers who get figured out after one time through the order.]


Like Curt Schilling
   51. BDC Posted: August 03, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5720183)
One curiosity has come from the Rays' tactics. A TB pitcher named Austin Pruitt had a 5 2/3 inning save for them earlier this year, a game that Romo started and the second pitcher (Nuno) won. Since the rule requiring a starter to go five for the win came in (I think around 1950), such saves are pretty rare. Pruitt's was the only save of >4 innings in the majors since Joaquin Benoit had a 7-inning save for Texas in 2002, which was the only other such save in this century. We may see slightly more of them in future.
   52. DL from MN Posted: August 03, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5720194)
Usage like the Rays may be closer to how we are using pitchers now in Little League. Pitch count rules mean young pitchers are not throwing as many innings and it takes multiple pitchers to finish a 7 inning game.
   53. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5720215)
Stanek is slated to toe the mound tonight. Ryan Yarborough threw 5 innings on Monday, so we'll see who his tag-team buddy is tonight.
   54. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 11:09 AM (#5720217)
One curiosity has come from the Rays' tactics.


Stanek had his first start in late May. Since then he's started 16 games, and pitched in 29. If he held that usage pattern for a full season, he would start about 45 games! We have a modern record within our grasp here people!
   55. Tim M Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5720237)
I love reading baseball articles in "scholarly" journals like Economist or NYT. I feel so smart. Seriously, you need to spell out DIPS theory, or the platoon advantage, or that starters rest several days between starts? That is elementary 101 level stuff! I sure wish I was as well versed in all their other topics as I am in their rare baseball story.
   56. Tim M Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5720238)
Also, if the "opener" becomes a real thing, won't we need to adjust that guy's stats for the more difficult batters he faces?
   57. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5720252)
I love reading baseball articles in "scholarly" journals like Economist or NYT.

FWIW, our own Dan R, who used to post pretty regularly in the HoM and other areas of the site, edits the Economist's Game Theory blog where this appeared.
   58. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5720256)
Tonight the Rays mainly employed two pitchers I've never heard of.

"H Wood," a righty, opened the game with 2 IP. He was lights out.
"Beeks," a lefty, then threw 5 innings in relief. He pitched decently.


Beeks is the guy they traded Eovaldi for. He's been in Pawtucket for two years and made 1 spot start for the Red Sox. Also he is a white guy named "Jalen", which is just 1% less weird than a white guy named "Jamal".

Never heard of H Wood but apparently he's been on on the Rays all season.
   59. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5720260)

I would think one of the benefits of this strategy is it enables you to maximize your use of your best pitchers in higher leverage situatinos (i.e. you use your better pitchers in close games and your worse pitchers in blowouts). Of course, if every team does this, then our definition of "close games" and "blowouts" may change -- i.e. if teams are routinely bringing in their lesser pitchers when they're up by 5 runs, you'll see more 5-run leads get blown. Which changes the incentives a bit for the other team.
   60. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5720265)
How would you do that, Dave? The Rays are usually using a guy that throws 4-5 IP, and that guy is gonna pitch unless there's a huge lead within the first one or two innings.
   61. bfan Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5720266)

Stanek had his first start in late May. Since then he's started 16 games, and pitched in 29. If he held that usage pattern for a full season, he would start about 45 games! We have a modern record within our grasp here people!


If this trend catches on and grows, you are going to have a guy pitch every third day for 2 innings; why not as a starter. If that guy starts those games, there is your 54 starts.

Note that in the modern baseball era, Wilber Wood had a high of 49 starts one year, and had a 5 year run where he averaged 45 starts (of course, that was when men were men).
   62. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:49 PM (#5720267)

Not necessarily. When I looked at closers a few years ago, one thing that struck me was that elite closers generally had lower BABIP than the norm. If the idea is that an opener can go all-out for an inning or so, it's entirely possible that the lower BABIP *is* related to the decision to use a short reliever in the role.

I'm curious how you defined "elite closers". Excellence among relievers can be pretty fleeting and I often wonder how much of it is driven by a few years of lucky BABIPs. But I'm guessing you thought about that and used a definition that was independent of BABIP (at least over the short term).
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:49 PM (#5720268)
I would think one of the benefits of this strategy is it enables you to maximize your use of your best pitchers in higher leverage situatinos (i.e. you use your better pitchers in close games and your worse pitchers in blowouts).

Does it? You're using a pretty good RP in the 1st inning, where LI=1.0.

If they guy you want to go 4-5 IP stinks, you've wasted that 1-2 IP. If the opener stinks, you still have to use the 4-5 IP guy, because no one else will be rested to give you the length you need.

It seems like you're wasting leverage, not gaining it. If you use the traditional approach, you know a lot more about the game situation before deploying your RPs.
   64. Howie Menckel Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5720273)
shout out to Firbo Marberry, in some ways the first do-it-all pitcher

1924 Senators - AL-high 50 G, 14 starts, 195 IP, 11-12, AL-best 15 SV (40+ years before stat was invented), 132 ERA+

1925 - AL-high 55 G, 93 IP (all in relief), 9-5, AL-best 16 SV, 122 ERA+

1926 - AL-high 64 G, 5 starts, 138 IP, 12-7, AL-best 22 SV, 129 ERA+

1927 - 56 G, 10 starts, 138 IP, 10-7, 8 SV, 88 ERA+ (oof)

1928 - AL-high 48 G, 11 starts, 161 IP, 13-13, 2 SV, 104 ERA+

1929 - AL-high 49 G, 26 starts, 250 IP, 19-12, AL-best 9 SV, 139 ERA+

1930 - 33 G, 22 starts, 185 IP, 15-5, 1 SV, 113 ERA+

1931 - 45 G, 25 starts, 219 IP, 16-4, AL-best 8 SV, 125 ERA+

1932 - AL-best 54 G, 15 starts, 197 IP, 8-4, AL-best 13 SV, 108 ERA+

1933 (now Tigers) - 37 G, 32 starts, 238 IP, 16-11, 2 SV, 131 ERA+

1934 - 38 G, 19 starts, 156 IP, 15-5, 3 SV, 96 ERA+

and done - only 33 more MLB IP in 1935-36

trivia, per EABR bio:

- Marberry had 14 abscessed teeth removed in 1936 in hopes of continuing in MLB

- kept pitching in the minors til 1941

- lost his left arm in 1949 (car accident) but still showed up to pitch in old-timer's games
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5720274)

How would you do that, Dave? The Rays are usually using a guy that throw 4-5 IP, and that guy is gonna pitch unless there's a huge lead within the first one or two inning.

They would do what they've been doing, at least based on my understanding from the article. I'm not sure I understand your second sentence.
   66. Khrushin it bro Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5720277)
UPDATE

Tonight the Rays mainly employed two pitchers I've never heard of. 

"H Wood," a righty, opened the game with 2 IP. He was lights out.
"Beeks," a lefty, then threw 5 innings in relief. He pitched decently.

The Angels did their darndest to confound the Rays by starting 4 switch hitters! But they are all awful, and the Angels lost.


Finally the answer to HOW WILL THE ANGELS LOSE TODAY!!!
   67. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5720280)
I don't understand how what they're doing maximizes their ability to use better pitchers in close games and crappier pitchers in blowouts. It seems like they're just using the regular 7th inning guy in the first inning, and the regular 1st inning guy in the 2nd inning.
   68. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5720285)
I don't understand how what they're doing maximizes their ability to use better pitchers in close games and crappier pitchers in blowouts. It seems like they're just using the regular 7th inning guy in the first inning, and the regular 1st inning guy in the 2nd inning.


The Rays' record in the 35 games their best reliever has appeared in is 16-19, which has got to be some kind of modern record for a team that's over .500.

Whatever benefits you get from using an ace reliever in the first inning you give back in lost leverage under this model.
   69. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5720286)
I don't understand how what they're doing maximizes their ability to use better pitchers in close games and crappier pitchers in blowouts. It seems like they're just using the regular 7th inning guy in the first inning, and the regular 1st inning guy in the 2nd inning.

Yup.
   70. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5720301)
Whatever benefits you get from using an ace reliever in the first inning you give back in lost leverage under this model.


That's why it makes more sense to use your 4th best reliever. But I'm not sure how much sense that makes either.
   71. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5720302)
Note that in the modern baseball era, Wilber Wood had a high of 49 starts one year, and had a 5 year run where he averaged 45 starts (of course, that was when men were men).


That wasn't really when men were men. Wilbur Wood was a weird outlier in his extreme manliness as measured by innings eating ability.
   72. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:42 PM (#5720305)
Because he threw the knuckler, the manliest pitch of them all.
   73. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:47 PM (#5720310)
That's why it makes more sense to use your 4th best reliever. But I'm not sure how much sense that makes either.


That's the rub. The higher quality reliever you use to start, the more you give up in the ability to leverage him.

But if you use a lower-quality reliever against the opposing team's best hitters, you might fall into an early hole even more often than you do now.

   74. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:47 PM (#5720311)
I don't understand how what they're doing maximizes their ability to use better pitchers in close games and crappier pitchers in blowouts. It seems like they're just using the regular 7th inning guy in the first inning, and the regular 1st inning guy in the 2nd inning.

Sorry, I thought they were using pitchers more flexibly than that. If that's what they are doing then it really doesn't make much of a difference.

I thought that, rather than have a starter who you try to get 5+ innings out of every time, they are bringing him in the 2nd or 3rd inning and also taking him out after 2 turns through the lineup. So they're looking to get more like 3-5 innings out of him, not 5-7. With the reduced workload guys can pitch more frequently which means you have an option as to which guy you bring in for the 2nd or 3rd inning, rather than being locked into the one guy whose turn it is in a 5-man rotation.

I'm not sure you can do this without further increasing the size of pitching staffs.
   75. BDC Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5720312)
How easy is it for a club to identify, say, their fourth-best reliever? A lot of the Rangers teams I've followed have had a heck of a time trying to find a closer, or to keep the other guys effective for more than a few outings at a time.

I suppose if you have Aroldis Chapman, you have the problem of identifying your #1 reliever out of the way. But in a lot of cases, are the sample sizes large enough to make much of a distinction among #s 2-6 or so? Particularly given that performance keeps fluctuating and batters keep adjusting.

Open question, though, really. Can you confidently rank the relievers on your favorite team right now?
   76. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:53 PM (#5720316)
Open question, though, really. Can you confidently rank name the relievers on your favorite team right now?
FTFY.
   77. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:56 PM (#5720318)
I couldn't name them, but it's the Mets, the less time I spend watching, the better.
   78. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:57 PM (#5720321)
Open question, though, really. Can you confidently rank the relievers on your favorite team right now?


For these purposes, it doesn't really matter what the ranking is. If you use a good reliever, you lose the opportunity to leverage him. If you use a lesser arm, you're not getting much, if anything, in the way of improved performance. That's the main reason why I just don't see how this is really going to amount to anything in terms of optimizing your staff's innings. It seems more of a shuffling than anything else.
   79. BDC Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:59 PM (#5720323)
Can you confidently rank name the relievers on your favorite team

Excellent point. The Rangers seem to have somebody I'd never heard of named Jeffrey Springs. I want them to sign him to a longterm contract so that the headline can be RANGERS HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL.
   80. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5720327)
Excellent point. The Rangers seem to have somebody I'd never heard of named Jeffrey Springs. I want them to sign him to a longterm contract so that the headline can be RANGERS HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL.
Relievers are fungible. Never sign one to a long-term contract just to make headlines!
   81. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5720328)
- Seranthony Dominguez
- Pat Neshek, I guess
- Victor Arano? But then why did they send him to the minors for a while?
- Austin Davis
- [FIELD]
   82. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5720340)
- Seranthony Dominguez
Wait, that guy's name is really Seranthony?? I heard him mentioned on TV the other day and I thought they were making a joke, like he's a knight in his home country like "Sir Didi" Gregorius or something.
   83. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5720345)
like he's a knight in his home country like "Sir Didi" Gregorius or something.

Don't forget Sir Sidney Ponson. They'll really knight anyone in the Netherlands. If Ponson deserves a knighthood, 10% of the population must have been knighted already.
   84. Rally Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5720359)
The Tyler Clippard Experiment did not go well last night. He made it out of the 1st inning, just barely, but not before surrendering a 2-run circuit clout to Nelson Cruz; that was all for him. The Mariners radio guy said the Blue Jays planned for Clipboard to pitch only one inning, although being the other team I can't rely on that news. It sure smells of him playing The Opener, though.


Didn't start well but it ended well with Mike Hauschild pitching 6 scoreless inning from the 2nd to 7th in the Yarborough role. Who you say? Mike Hauschild, who wasn't even in the Toronto organization when this thread started. According to MLB.com he signed a contract with the team about a half hour before the game started. Good way to fool the advance scouts.
   85. Rally Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:22 PM (#5720363)
I want them to sign him to a longterm contract so that the headline can be RANGERS HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL.


If his wife isn't named Hope he should give the name to his first daughter.
   86. bfan Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5720364)
That wasn't really when men were men. Wilbur Wood was a weird outlier in his extreme manliness as measured by innings eating ability


well, no. Here are the IP leaders for the Wilbur Wood many starts a year (5 year) run.

1975 (NL AL) Andy Messersmith (LAD) 321.2 Catfish Hunter+ (NYY) 328.0
1974 (NL AL) Phil Niekro+ (ATL) 302.1 Nolan Ryan+ (CAL) 332.2
1973 (NL AL) Jack Billingham (CIN) • Steve Carlton+* (PHI) 293.1 Wilbur Wood* (CHW) 359.1
1972 (NL AL) Steve Carlton+* (PHI) 346.1 Wilbur Wood* (CHW) 376.2
1971 (NL AL) Fergie Jenkins+ (CHC) 325.0 Mickey Lolich* (DET) 376
   87. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:34 PM (#5720375)
That wasn't really when men were men. Wilbur Wood was a weird outlier in his extreme manliness as measured by innings eating ability


well, no. Here are the IP leaders for the Wilbur Wood many starts a year (5 year) run.


the 300 IP years were an artifact of the late 60's and the 1970's--rare before or after

1930s 17
40s 13
50s 10
60s 25
70s 40
80s 1


none since
   88. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5720377)
80s 1
My first thought was Mike Scott, 1986, but he only got to 275. Second guess was Phil Niekro, but that's not it either - he got 342 in 1979, but "only" 275 in 1980 and never that many again.
   89. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5720378)
Got it on my third guess.
   90. Howie Menckel Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:46 PM (#5720383)
If his wife isn't named Hope he should give the name to his first daughter.

there really was a PGA Tour golfer named (Willie) Wood who married a woman named Holly.

the gods were not amused by "Holly Wood" - she died of bone cancer at age 26.

wait, "Willie Wood" has its own issues, doesn't it - like Randy Johnson or Dick Pole. but Willie's still standing
   91. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5720385)
and if you beak down the 300IP season from the 1960's there were only 5 between 1960-64 and 20 from 65-69

so between 1965-1979, there were 60, exactly 4 per season--other decades averaged close to 1
   92. Rally Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5720389)
Got it on my third guess.


Carlton?
   93. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:56 PM (#5720391)
Yep. Barely on both counts - 304 in 1980.
   94. bfan Posted: August 03, 2018 at 03:13 PM (#5720404)
1930s 17
40s 13
50s 10
60s 25
70s 40


since we are talking about raw numbers in a sense my next point does not matter, but there is a big difference in these periods; in 1962 we went from 154 to 162 regular season games. That is 2 more starts per starter (over 8 games), so at a conservative 7 innings per start, I wonder how that looks if you include starters with 286 innings or more, before 1962.
   95. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 03, 2018 at 03:38 PM (#5720423)
Open question, though, really. Can you confidently rank the relievers on your favorite team right now?
I can, because they're usually the answer to the question, "HOW WILL THE ANGELS LOSE TODAY?"
   96. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5720427)

since we are talking about raw numbers in a sense my next point does not matter, but there is a big difference in these periods; in 1962 we went from 154 to 162 regular season games. That is 2 more starts per starter (over 8 games), so at a conservative 7 innings per start, I wonder how that looks if you include starters with 286 innings or more, before 1962.

if you set the threshold at 285 IP, you get the same spike at the same time

40s 29
50s 23
60s 45 (10 between 60-64, 35 from 65-69)
70s 79
80s 8

none since

so--7.6 per year between 65-79, and 2 per season on either side of that era
   97. bfan Posted: August 03, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5720429)

if you set the threshold at 285 IP, you get the same spike at the same time


you can't adjust the post 1962 numbers, because they are playing 162 games; the 1960's numbers (in post #87)should be about the same number; the 1970's numbers should not change, at all.
   98. Howie Menckel Posted: August 03, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5720432)
seems like it's

40s 29
50s 23
60s 25
70s 40

so still a spike
   99. PreservedFish Posted: August 03, 2018 at 08:13 PM (#5720645)
UPDATE:

Tonight the Rays seem to be doing a true "bullpen game." Stanek threw 1.2 innings, then Kolarek 2.0, and now another short reliever is in.
   100. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 03, 2018 at 08:57 PM (#5720667)

Tonight the Rays seem to be doing a true "bullpen game." Stanek threw 1.2 innings, then Kolarek 2.0, and now another short reliever is in.


If the SP ever becomes largely extinct, that's probably it for me and baseball. The modern game is already an aesthetic nightmare. I don't like TTO, I don't like the parade of anonymous RPs, I don't like the sluggish pace.
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