No Ace, No Problem

No Ace, No Problem

The Seattle Mariners starting pitching rotation isn’t great, and they just lost their ace.

James Paxton has been outstanding for the Mariners this season. Entering Thursday’s start, he was 12-3 with a 2.70 earned run average. He’d pitched 113.1 innings, striking out 132 batters while walking 32. He’d only given up five home runs in 19 starts. He sits high 90’s from the left side and has far and away been the best pitcher in the organization.

Paxton left Thursday’s game with an injury in the top of the seventh inning after throwing 107 pitches. It’s one hell of a blow, considering the team had just taken sole possession of the second wild card spot. The rest of the rotation is made of up guys who would be a team’s fifth starter at best. What are they going to do?

For as old as baseball is, people haven’t learned much about it. Sure, saber-metrics have caught fire over the last decade, but are organization’s truly committed to them?

Nope.

The only reason starting pitchers are used the way they are is because starters used to finish games. In 1910, 62 percent of all starters finished the game. In 2014, there were 114 complete games thrown in the bigs. Just two percent of games are being finished by starters.

Starters are usually more talented than relievers. Would you rather watch Clayton Kershaw pitch an inning, or Blake Parker?

Are you kidding me?

However, starters have higher earned run averages than relievers. From 2003-2014, starters have had a 4.28 ERA, while relievers have a 3.92 ERA. That would change if they were used differently.

There are several starters that have found a second life in the majors as relievers. *Wade Davis had a 4.57 ERA as a starter, he’s got a 1.43 ERA as a reliever. Andrew Miller had a 5.70 ERA as a starter, now it’s a 3.02. As a starter, Zach Britton gave up 4.86 runs per game. As a reliever, he has a 1.72 ERA. You get the point.

Every pitcher is successful the first time through the order. It’s the second and third time through the order that pitchers struggle with. What if the first time through the order, was the only time a pitcher had to face that order?

Injuries would go down, and effectiveness would go up.

Does that make too much sense?

Team’s have batting orders. why not a pitching order?

Felix Hernandez and Paxton for three innings each. Then Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly for a game. Then Ariel Miranda and Yovani Gallardo on the third day. Repeat. The strategy allows team’s use their starters more effectively, and continue to use their bullpens how they do.

Four of those six pitchers have spent time on the disabled list this season. If they were blowing gas for three innings at a time, they might not have even seen the DL.

It’s just a thought.

The Mariners sit in contention for a playoff spot with with a just a bunch of guys for starting pitchers. Realistically, a pitching order makes the most sense for this roster at this time.

Will they do it?

No chance. They’ll get crucified by people in baseball, as well as the media.

Why?

Because starters used to finish games?

That’s dumb. Numbers are numbers and you can never say that they are wrong. There is a way to use pitchers more effectively in baseball. Subscribe to it.

Yep, the Seattle Mariners just lost their ace.

Should it matter?

Not at all.

Will it?

Tremendously.

Baseball is old and numbers matter. The Seattle Mariners have to make sense of them, or they’ll miss the playoffs for the 16th straight year.

That won’t be great.

 

 

 

*Information supplied from “Ahead of the Curve” by Brian Kenny. The book challenges conventional baseball wisdom and makes sense while doing it. If you’re a baseball fan, give it a read. It’ll make you think about the game in ways you wouldn’t have before.

 

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