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Monday, October 18, 2021

The Incredible Shrinking Postseason Starter

Back to the table above, it’s worth calling attention to two columns. First, note that the average number of batters faced has fallen towards and now below 18. Managers are making the call to the bullpen right around the time their starters turn over the lineup, giving them fewer chances to get knocked around while going trough the order a third time. This number has been trending downward during the regular season as well, with the average starter facing 22.7 batters in 2018, 22.1 in ’19, 20.4 last year, and 21.3 this year. During the regular season, starters may still face the meat of the order a third time with some regularity, but fewer and fewer are getting that chance in October, even with fifth starters left off the rosters or consigned to bullpen duty.

Second, note the R/GS column, the average number of runs surrendered per start. We don’t often see run prevention expressed this way; it’s almost universally prorated per nine innings. But what we’re seeing here is that increasingly, managers are preemptively pulling their starters before the opposition can put up big innings; once you’ve given up that second run, there’s a good chance your night is almost done.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 18, 2021 at 10:48 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reliever usage

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   1. bfan Posted: October 19, 2021 at 08:02 AM (#6047368)
Scherzer in game 2 is the poster child here. 4.1 innings, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts and 1 walk, and only 79 pitches; he was sharp as he could be. As a fan of the opposing team, that move was seen with delight. Whomever filled the other 4.2 innings for the rest of the game was not going to be as good as Scherzer.
   2. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: October 19, 2021 at 08:24 AM (#6047371)
Normally that would be true with Scherzer, but in game 2 he was still gassed from his save against the Giants:

But when Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts emerged onto the field at Truist Park in Sunday's fifth inning, with one on and one out and the Atlanta Braves' lineup due to bat a third time, Scherzer nodded in agreement. He told Roberts that he "gave it all I had" and dutifully handed over the baseball.

"My arm was dead," Scherzer said after watching his Dodgers suffer a second consecutive walk-off loss and fall to the Braves 5-4 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. "I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired."
   3. Rally Posted: October 19, 2021 at 08:36 AM (#6047372)
I believe Scherzer 100%, because if he was feeling normal there is no way he’d leave a game that early.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: October 19, 2021 at 06:26 PM (#6047552)
20.4 last year, and 21.3 this year.

One hopes this is at least something like 24 for your #1-2 starters, 21 for #3 and 18 for #4-5. Some of this is due to openers obviously but there's no easy way to adjust for that.

The Dodgers started Knebel in G5 against the Giants and removed him after one (4 BF). Later Urias pitched 4 innings, 15 BF. That 4 BF "start" pulls the average down a lot more than the 15 BF would have. If you use Urias's 15 then the Dodger starters in that series faced 102 batters which is still not a lot but not crazy low. Buehler on short rest was pulled after 71 pitches (understandable) but was allowed 25 batters and 99 pitches in G1. Obviously not strictly comparable but the Dodgers averaged 20.9 BF/start in the regular season so it's not clear they're doing much different, beyond adjusting for Buehler's short rest and Scherzer's relief outing (and Knebel). FWIW, Giant starters faced 104, would have been more but DeSclafani got pulled early.
   5. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: October 20, 2021 at 04:50 PM (#6047869)
In the 2005 ACLS, the White Sox starting pitchers pitched 44.1 IP in 5 games. That seems like a million years ago now.
   6. . Posted: October 20, 2021 at 06:51 PM (#6047915)
Yet another thing that has rendered the games wildly less compelling. It's like a cascading waterfall now; they just can't seem to do anything right.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 20, 2021 at 10:49 PM (#6047995)
Framber Valdez is my new hero. 8 innings, 93 pitches, 62 strikes, and a 76 game score.

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