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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Wednesday, April 04, 2001
Five Days Rest
Chris Dial tries to give George Steinbrenner some advice.
Delaying the Launch
Roger Clemens is no spring chicken.? Now 38, his last four seasons he has started 34, 33, 30, 32 games.? He?s been on the DL each of the last two seasons, and that will probably be the case this season unless the Yankees take measures to prevent it.? What are their options?
What I?m about to suggest will seem odd, and won?t, at first glance, appear to be strongly supported by the data.? I propose that 38-year old pitchers decrease their pitching loads.? I think the Yankees would be better served pitching Roger Clemens every sixth day, rather than every fifth day.? As you all reach for your Player Profiles, I?ll let you know: Clemens? ERA in 2000 on 5+ days rest was 4.24, compared to 3.43 on 4 days rest.? Over the last five years, the numbers are: 4 days - 3.25; 5+ days - 3.19.? These numbers seem to say the extra day?s rest isn?t particularly beneficial.? The problem with this data sets is that Clemens? starts are often pushed back a day as he tries to work through an injury.? He then makes two or three starts on five or more days of rest, only to pitch poorly before succumbing to the injury and take the inevitable trip to the DL.? If he were to go to an every 6th day rotation, his aging body would have more time to recover, decreasing the assorted injuries that come with age: strained groins and hamstrings or a lethargic arm.
Last season, Clemens made 36 starts (including the post-season).?Here are the results (missing one start with short rest).
Yes, in 9 of his 13 starts with long rest he went 6 or more innings and allowed 2 runs or fewer.? That?s putting the hammer down.? Two of those 5+ starts, June starts against Atlanta and New York, were just before he went on the DL for his strained groin.? He took himself out of the next game, against Boston, after one inning.?
From USA Today Game Story:
In 1999, Clemens threw 4 shutouts - 3 on 5 days rest.? He only had 10 starts of 6+ innings and 2 ER or less.? Of those, 6 were on 5+ days? rest.? He made 30 starts: 16 on 4 days? rest and 14 on 5+ days? rest.
Clemens? dominance in these starts tells me that he should cut back his starts.? He would decrease his ?nagging? aches and pains, and he may not see a drop in innings. He should be able to go longer in the games he does start (he?d have to increase from 6.2 IP to 7.1 IP), and he should be able to pitch more efficiently with a better fastball.?
Would replacing his missed starts with a less effective pitcher hurt the Yankees? The Yankees? winning percentage in games where they allow two runs or fewer is probably very high.? Clemens could move from winning 58% of his games to winning 70% of his games.? That would be worth about three wins more ? in three less starts.
I am not calling for this type of scale-back for the other Yankee starters.? Pettitte, Mussina and El Duque can go at their regular pace.? The Yankees would need a ?sixth? starter to fill in for 3-5 starts, but they likely would anyway when Clemens went on the DL (he was out for 18 days in 2000 and 25 days in 1999).?As a tradeoff, the Yankees would receive more dominant performances like the ones Clemens in his last two post-season starts.
Where would the extra starter come from? The standard AL roster doesn?t need most of the chaff it carries.? Eleven or twelve pitchers, eight regulars, a Luis Sojo, a catcher, and three spare OF/DH/1B-3Bs fill out the roster.?
So listen up, Boss, try running the Rocket out there a little less often, and you?ll get more mileage out of him this season and the next and the next and maybe even the next.
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