Nationals Baseball: It's not the innings, it's the pitches

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

It's not the innings, it's the pitches

You shouldn't let a guy throw 140 pitches and say "But it was only 5 innings!" and conversely you shouldn't pull a guy after throwing 80 pitches just because he hit the 7th inning.

Not a big deal. Just bothered why we have to hear excuses rather than reasons. Almost everyone in DC got on board the shutdown train. We'd all be fine if they Nats said they were going to slowly work Strasburg up to 100 pitches over the course of April or if they said it was a good opportunity to keep his innings down, and we're still going to try to do that.

Don't tell us "He's got the shackles off" then immediately put on giant shackles. All I'm saying.

Now let's turn back to the sweep at hand.


Anonymous said...

What do you think about the explanation in the Post that this wasn't about the starter, it was about the bullpen? We're going to need them sharp for the upcoming Reds series.

Personally I'm just not sure this warrants all the attention. It's a long season and Davey's approach on Strasburg will be shown over the next several starts rather than just one game.

-Sec. 312

Donald said...

Looking forward to Wednesday. I'm hoping someone over the age of 20 can actually get a hit this time.

Chinatown Express said...

During the game, my friend and I were speculating about how late Cap'n Hook would let Stras go. He was on track for a, what, 94-pitch complete game? Even before he got pulled, though, we'd discussed the likelihood that Davey would make the switch for the pen, not for Stras. It makes sense, particularly with the off day tomorrow. Is it really so different from Davey's (ill-advised) decision to work Droooo in game 3 of the NLDS?

Yet that isn't the excuse Davey gave. He spouted that weird stuff about youngsters having positive experiences. What the heck?

Pumpkin Escobar said...

See, I thought Davey was trying to save him to come in in relief on Friday.

I'm on your side with this (pitches/innings) but if it surprised you, you haven't watched enough Nats baseball. Davey's quick to pull a starter. I'll be more frustrated by it when it happens in July/August but right now I'll take it for what it was. There's a couple days between the next couple games/series and Davey wanted to use the guys he's designated for those innings (not condoning) and show us why we got Soriano. Efficiency is what it is...

On the bright side, Zim found his range at 3B, Espi didn't strike out and Strass doesn't have to strike people out to win. Overall, I liked what I saw.

Triplethedad said...

I don't disagree that the messaging is poor. Terribly poor, in fact. A simple explanation is available and yet they hatched a more complicated one. That hints to me that something else is going on, but maybe its just very poorly messaged.

Having said that, what is the big deal? You build a great back of the pen to cut the game down to 7 innings. Game 1 is essentially how you want it to work - SP dominates, BP closes.

I'm fully behind the decision: I'd much rather limit the wear on our starters in April, and in fact, all the time. If they can pitch 30 less innings this year and our Pen is still good to go we have a huge advantage in the playoffs and heading into next year.

SP is hard to find, our top 3 BP guys can be rotated and BPs in general are essentially swappable parts year to year.

Triplethedad said...

Also, I factor in the fact that in the first start in April a guy is likely to gas faster. I'm not as worried in July, but in his first start, I'd worry at least a little that he'd run out of stuff quick. In a 2-0 game with a great PB full of new toys, why not pull them out?

I guess what I'm saying is: With all the factors weighing in favor of using the Pen, you have to make a pretty compelling argument not to use it to convince me.

I should also say: I don't think I would have had any problem with Stras going 1 more inning, either. A 99-pitch complete game would have got me thinking, though.

timeless46 said...

You have to read Dave's explanations in context that it was April Fool's day yesterday.

BlueLoneWolf said...

Nothing will amuse me more than a good Gio Show on Wednesday. My bet is that Hawaiian Punch'll be starting at catcher, fwiw.

Gio: 7IP, 6K, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 0-2.

NatsVA said...

Much ado about nothing. Let's wait and see how long Stras goes in his next two outings and go from there.

USMC53 said...

I agree with everything Pumpkin Escobar said. Davey is quick to pull a starter; he did it all season last year, with all of his starters. Limit the wear on your pitchers throughout the season, so that they're still strong in September and October.

Absolutely no reason to be upset with Davey pulling Strasburg after 7 innings. It's the smart move if you're playing for October.

Chris Needham said...

Less wear and tear on your starters, sure. But, doesn't that mean that there's more wear and tear on your bullpen?

Remember how terrible Clippard looked in September and October? I seem to recall Storen having a bad game. And, by the end, Davey had so little faith in the middle guys he turned to starting pitchers to fill the gaps.

But, sure. Let's baby the starters now.

Harper said...

sec312 - I think it's possible but I also think pitching in one of the next two would have been enough. It warrants attention because Strasburg's treatment will always warrant attention until he pitches like everyone else. The topic is out there.

Donald - How about just one guy over 32?

Xpress - It's what he should have done in the NLDS. Work Storen in game 2 so he didn't feel like he had to use him in Game 3. But really - I don't think you have to use them now with two games to work with before the series you care about and also, 3 close games in a row in April does not equal 3 close games in a row in the playoffs. He can afford to toss Duke and Mattheus in one of those.

Pumkino - Only surprised because JUST YESTERDAY he said that Strasburg was going to pitch longer.

Thedadx3 - well that's why I've tried to say it's not a big deal. It's just curious and I'm interested in the curious. Bryce hitting 2 homers, Strasburg being awesome - these are expected (well not 2 homers...)

Really I wanted him out there for the 8th. See what happens. Maybe even a one-batter on base leash. If Davey are overly worried about leaving on a positive note, then I'm overly worried about the mental state of Strasburg.

timeless46 - I did think that explained the Marlins lineup

BLW - what about a good knock-knock joke. And yes I think Suzuki will become "Gio's catcher". Easy way to spread out Ramos' time off later in the year.

NatsVA - too reasonable. FIRE EVERYONE

USMC / Needham - Yes I get the thought behind it but if that was his plan last year we have to look how it turned out -

Edwin - bad Sept, bad playoffs
Gio - very good Sept, wild ineffective playoffs
ZNN - Mediocre Sept (worst month of year ERA wise), terrible playoff start
Det - Fine Sept (2nd worst ERA month but high 3's is ok for Det), good playoff start

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the "keep em fresh" plan.

JonQuest said...

We won the game and our starting pitcher didn't get hurt or taxed. That's great. If he had gone another inning the result would have very likely been the same.

Here's the thing though.. I think Strasburg wants very bad to be thought of as a workhorse. A guy who can carry a rotation and who can occasionally pitch complete games to give the BP a rest.

So, wasn't this a great chance to reward your ace for all the work he's putting in. He's clearly worked his body in the offseason to be stronger and more durable and he's clearly thinking now about minimizing pitch out by using his pitches smarter. He pitched a helluva game.

It seems to me that Davey should have given a little tip of the hat to him and let him prove to himself and everyone else that the work and the change in mindset were worth it. Wasn't this a great opportunity to reward him with what he wants?

Over the course of the season, the only thing I really cared about on day 1 was that nobody got hurt and we won the game. Mission accomplished. I just think there was a missed opportunity here. That said, the way he looked, I'm sure there will be plenty more.

Jon said...


Is there actual evidence that it is the pitches and not the innings? I thought part of the concern with injuries was the rest between innings, i.e. ramping up your arm again numerous times in one outing?

Harper said...

JQ - Agreed. We all think Strasburg is going to be great and awesome but what if he isn't this good again for a few starts. Will it where on him the fact he doesn't go into the 8th? Will that effect how he pitches -make him try to go deep rather than get outs?

Jon - I had similar questions and it's not cut and dried, but that's mainly a problem with the fact that IP and Pitches thrown are fairly highly correlated.

When you look at pitches thrown - you do see problems. When you look at Innings Pitched - it's less clear (see "Verducci Effect" debunking) Could IP matter? Maybe. But the driver appears to be pitches.

cass said...

Yes, there is evidence that innings don't matter. A recent study by Pizza Cutter on BP found no correlation between IP and injuries once total pitches thrown was taken into account.

It wasn't hugely important, but there was no reason not to send Strasburg back out. It would have been a nice touch for him and the fans and would have kept the bullpen rested when we didn't need them. I think it's better to use them when they are needed rather than when they aren't, and we're all expecting an extra month at the end of the year.

Davey said the plan was 90-100 pitches. Shoulda stuck to it. But no, not a big deal.

A Fly Moses said...

Just don't see an issue here. Verlander, everyone's favorite workhorse, went 90 pitches yesterday. To me this is entirely based on it being the first game of the season, and he already had Clippard up anyways because Strasburg's spot in the order was coming up in a 2-run game. If we're all agreeing he's using his bullpen better than he did in the NLDS too, so much the better.

Unknown said...

First of all, Davey did say why he limited Stras's pitches: "That's the way I've done it and that's the way I'm going to keep on doing it." Meaning, he's always thinking about his starters' pitch count over the course of the entire season. You know, you can rack it up to luck or coincidence or whatever, but the Nats' starters did all last through entire year in 2012.

Also, you might want to consider that if Stras stays healthy and makes 30 starts this year, 7 innings per start will take him to 210 innings pitched, about 60 more than last year. And that's before the playoffs would even begin. What I think is the Nats don't even want to "go there" again regarding trying to keep his innings down, but they'll do it in a way that is the least distractive to the team.

Angels13 said...

Willie Mays once said "they throws it, I hits it, they hits it, I catch it" meaning, at the end of the day, baseballs a pretty simple game. Pitch counts, innings worked, et all still boils down to what Willie said. Someone has to throw it, someone has to hit it, and.....well you know the rest.
I think Davey has to let Strasburg be what he could be.....maybe the first start isn't that but the next few are. He is the Nats Verlander.

@NatsFanSince2012 said...


Nattydread said...

Important stuff here! It was criminal that they didn't let Strass stay in! Leave pitching aside. He needs those ABs to be in contention for the Silver Slugger award, especially with Kershaw showboating.

Maverick Squad said...

There was a game off the next day so no bullpen worries. Clip and Soriano have a day off so getting them some work today doesn't mean they'll be unavailable for the next match.
Former Nat Watch- Michael Morse 2 homers. Hit one opp. field at Oak- power.

Harper said...

cass - I think the study you note is taking into account a lot of stuff, although the outcome is similar. Pitches is impt, innings is not. But I'd still like a definitive Pitches v Innings look, nothing else in there. Which I could probably do. Arrgh. I'm busy!

AFM - No issue... yet!

Greg Moody - Let's forget the Pitches arguement right now. 7 IP per game gets you to 210 but that doesn't happen anymore. You know how many starters in the NL averaged 7IP or more? One. RA Dickey. Only 9 averaged, 6.5 or more. Even going to 33 starts it's likely Stras won't hit 210. Not that you want him pushing that but you can settle him down in the 2nd half if need be.

Angels 13 - I don't know about the next Verlander. That guy looks like a nolan ryan esque freq with arm strength. But he does need to be THE guy.


ND - I think Strasburg should use a bat painted silver. Play something up for fun.

MS - Morse > LaRoche? We'll see. But who will care if the Nats win 100? Nobody.