Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Starting Pitcher Workloads Have Been Significantly Reduced in 2020

Already what sticks out is that this year, for the first time, starters are averaging fewer than five innings per turn, and their per-start average is down more than one full inning since 2015. What’s more, if this trend continues, it would be the biggest year-to-year drop in innings per start in the span, more than double the drop from 2018-19, and more than triple the other year-to-year drops within that span.

Over the years, a number of factors have driven that decrease, starting with deeper pitch counts, which are a byproduct of higher strikeout rates, as you can see in the table. There’s also the increased understanding of a few sabermetric concepts: starters are generally less effective facing batters for the third time in the game than prior; relievers are generally more effective facing batters for the first time than starters are in any of those appearances; and batters are less effective when they lack the platoon advantage. As starters’ workloads have decreased to account for those factors, their run prevention relative to the league has improved ever so slightly.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 08, 2020 at 12:10 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: starting pitchers

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 08, 2020 at 03:47 AM (#5968415)
Of course to this point they've been working with 30-man rosters featuring, what, 17 pitchers. Also that pitchers haven't had as much prep time as usual plus who wants to risk a SP's arm in a 60-game season? So there are lots of reasons this trend would be exaggerated so far this year. When they're back to a 13-pitcher limit next year, I suspect we'll see something closer to last year. Assuming there is a next year.
   2. JRVJ Posted: August 08, 2020 at 03:18 PM (#5968486)
As terrible as 2020 is, for all the obvious reasons, it's actually proving to a bit of a long-term boon for MLB, in that it will give us some interesting data about how much of a ramp up pitchers prior to a MLB season.

Is it possible that pitchers could begin a MLB season with a shorter spring training than they did up to 2019? Perhaps, but it would require a number of structural changes in their preparations that MLB (and by and large, the medical sciences) do not understand as yet.

In an abundance of caution, it's better to continue with the current structure of spring training going forward.

***

A second thing that 2020 is proving is that MLB seasons need to have some cushion. You can read the events leading up to the start of the season differently, but to me, neither MLB nor MLBPA planned the shortened 2020 season with enough cushion to deal with the usual delays in a season (rain, hurricanes, etc.) plus the huge problems which COVID-19 could create.

Unless the world has completely gone back to normal in February 2021, I would strongly suggest that MLB build-in a lot of cushion into the 2021 schedule.
   3. puck Posted: August 08, 2020 at 03:41 PM (#5968494)
Have there been more openers this season, or with the gazillion relievers are teams finally willing to pull a starter who doesn't have it?

Starts with fewer than 80 pitches are way up this season.

Year IP/GS  P  %GS <80
-------------------------
2020  4.7  78   45.1
2019  5.2  84   24.2
2018  5.4  88   22.0
2017  5.5  92   17.0
2016  5.6  93   15.0
2015  5.8  93   14.7 
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 08, 2020 at 06:35 PM (#5968534)
#2 ... Agreed on your 2nd point. Adding the extra playoff round was not such a good idea, that could have been "cushion" time. They seem to have prepared for a few teams not getting past, say, 55 games and going by winning percentage -- as they did in 81 -- and I suspect they'll manage to force enough DH's, etc. to get teams to that line. But the idea of teams being 7+ games behind after a couple of weeks doesn't seem to be something they planned for. All of this is evident in the late decision on the playoffs, not deciding to play 7-inning DHs until after the season started, etc.

#3 ... also made a lot easeier with a 30-man roster (and a 28-man one). I do think (nearly) every team would switch to a bullpen day in place of 5th and maybe 4th starters if they thought they could fill those innings with their 8 (10) relief slots. If your top 3 SPs are only going to pitch about 540 innings, that means you need 900 more. With 13 pitchers, that leaves 10 slots to cover 90 innings each slot. Even with AAA shuttling, last year teams managed to cover only an average of 608 relief IP or 76 per relief slot. So you need to increse by 20% per slot to do it ... but complicated by the fact that the great-rate-stat relievers generally only pitch about 60 innings per year and it's not clear you can push them any farther without killing those great rate stats. So if you're getting only 250 innings from the top 4-5 spots in your pen, they've already pretty much maxed out the last 3-4 slots.

That said, we clearly need to do something about start/relief splits to adjust for openers.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Randy Jones
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT - NBA Bubble Thread
(2944 - 8:16am, Sep 25)
Last: Rally

NewsblogTrevor Bauer Should Just Admit It
(7 - 8:06am, Sep 25)
Last: Rally

NewsblogFive broadcast tweaks we’d like to see in the MLB Postseason
(15 - 8:04am, Sep 25)
Last: Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert

NewsblogLongtime Royals star Alex Gordon to retire
(14 - 7:58am, Sep 25)
Last: Rally

NewsblogBlue Jays part ways with staff members Hentgen, Quantrill, Huckaby
(6 - 7:57am, Sep 25)
Last: Rally

NewsblogOMNICHATTER is here, never you fear, for September 24, 2020
(16 - 5:40am, Sep 25)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogWaPo: If baseball keeps these grotesque expanded playoffs, it will have lost its soul
(14 - 1:10am, Sep 25)
Last: depletion

NewsblogMLB’s new $3.75 billion deal with Turner includes big changes
(18 - 10:18pm, Sep 24)
Last: Jay Seaver

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-24-2020
(7 - 10:02pm, Sep 24)
Last: Cblau

NewsblogRosenthal: Royals’ GM Moore seething over union’s stance on 40-man roster camps [$]
(5 - 9:39pm, Sep 24)
Last: Barry`s_Lazy_Boy

NewsblogAngels' Andrelton Simmons opts out as Los Angeles' season draws to a close
(49 - 6:47pm, Sep 24)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogSteve Cohen hiring Sandy Alderson as Mets team president
(11 - 6:32pm, Sep 24)
Last: ramifications of an exciting 57i66135

NewsblogPolice: Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, 21, under influence of alcohol during crash that killed 3
(25 - 6:25pm, Sep 24)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogMLB Pipeline's 2020 All-Rookie Team
(2 - 6:17pm, Sep 24)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogMLB makes independent Atlantic League its first 'partner league'
(14 - 5:52pm, Sep 24)
Last: Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc

Page rendered in 0.5224 seconds
48 querie(s) executed