PDA

View Full Version : Stick a fork in him !!!


ondafarm
07-17-2008, 10:20 AM
A couple of people have asked me about when to pull a starting pitcher. A few people have complained that I seem random and just have a "hate Ozzie fetish" and will critisize anything I do. For these people and others I offer this thread where I will post the majority of guidelines that I've heard from managers over the years and a bit of feedback about them. Feel free to question add your own, or call me stupid (because I know some posters will regardless.)

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 10:27 AM
A few rules that outrank everything.

1) Never allow any player to continue to play (pitch) if they are causing obvious injury to themselves or are in imminent danger of doing so.

Nobody throws more than 200 pitches in a game. Knuckleballers can get right up to that, maybe, but normal pitchers have real limits. I know Contreras once threw 170 pitches in a Cuban game. In America, even 150 pitches is extreme.

For young starters, 120 may be a very real limit.

Think of the bloody sock incident for Curt Schilling. While I might have let him continue, seeing how it was a critical game in a World Series and he was a tail end of career veteran, anything lesser than that I'd have probably said absolutely not.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 10:30 AM
Second, pitchers performing in a special game (perfect games, no-hitters, etc.) deserve special consideration.

Shutouts may be special, but are subject to further consideration. If you are winning 1-0, while your guy has a shutout, you'd rather get the team the win than let him throw a complete game loss.

kittle42
07-17-2008, 10:32 AM
It really is a shame pitch count stats aren't commonly reconstructed for games back when everyone was tossing CGs left and right. I still say it's all a bunch of crap.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 10:35 AM
After those cases, we have a few regular considerations.

First, NL rules. If the pitcher bats and is a weak hitter, then pulling him may be a decision based on offense as well. If it is 1-1 and I have two runners in scoring position with two outs then I have to consider the team before the pitcher. If it is the ninth, heck yes, I pinch hit, preferably a high average singles hitter. If it is the second, no probably not. Fifth, sixth those are harder to decide.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 10:42 AM
It really is a shame pitch count stats aren't commonly reconstructed for games back when everyone was tossing CGs left and right. I still say it's all a bunch of crap.


I've seen a body mechanics analysis of several pitchers from old-time video. Most of the guys threw flat-footed most of the time, except in a few key situations. A lot more knuckleballers, sidearmers and even spittballers existed back in the decade of the 1900s than the 2000s, so the physical strain of pitching was less then, a lot less.

I think pitch count is a helpful guide, but shouldn't be followed religously. That being said, any rookie throwing more than 120 pitches is being abused in my book. There are games where 85 pitches can be very taxing and games where 100 will not be.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 11:02 AM
Other regular considerations.

The starting pitcher's job is to put the team in position to win baseball games. Hopefully, he'll get several himself, but the win always comes first.

So let's look at typical games.

If a team wins a lot of it's games 8-3 or something along that line (the Sox are currently scoring 4.9 runs per game and allowing 4.0 RPG) then the key is to not overtax your bullpen.

In this case, we say that the picket fence can't beat you. Giving up single runs is tolerable, allowing rallies is not. So I start by watching the kinds of hits.

Pitchers think of hits in two kinds, bleeders and mistakes. A bleeder is a guy hitting a good pitch, doing some good wood work and/or getting something in a lucky spot. A seeing eye single, a bloop double, an infield hit, those are all bleeders. A mistake is not throwing the right pitch to the right spot with enough on it to fool the guy. A hanging breaking ball is a definite mistake. But so is getting too much of the plate with a cutter.

If the pitcher is giving up a run or two on bleeders/ manufactured runs then he is still in control and should probably be left in. Some guys need a break when giving up a bleeder or two. Good catchers know this and head to the mound for a brief chat. Occasionally, pitching coaches heading out to go over the upcoming hitter(s) is also a good strategy at that time. Most of the time, allowing a pitcher to work out of a jam which is not his fault is a positive.

N.B. This is much more the case during 8-3 games than during 2-1 games.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 11:10 AM
I talked about bleeders, but now comes mistakes.

Mistakes kill you.

Hard hit balls mean the pitcher isn't fooling hitters. If you can't fool hitters, then you will give up rallys.

A good rally will win most games against most teams.

My rule on mistakes is simple. A pitcher who gives up mistakes in two consecutive innings, any two innings, be they the second and third, be they the sixth and seventh, is set to give up a rally. Unless you can stand giving up four runs, then you need to prepare to get the guy out of there. That means, after two innings with mistakes, unless the other side goes down 1-2-3 then the pitcher should be pulled. A single bleeder with two outs is probably okay, but it definately means be totally prepared to yank the guy.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 11:25 AM
The starting pitcher's job is to get you in position to win the game. In a blowout, you may be able to withstand a rally.

In a close game, two innings with mistakes put the pitcher on notice.

If the SP is in position to win the game (that is: he has pitched five full innings and has a lead) but the game is close, (two or three run lead or less depending on the opposition) then under no circumstance should you allow him to lose the game.

Buehrle's last start. At KC, 1-0 Sox going to the last of the seventh. MB is in position to win. MB has a four hitter going, but it is 1-0 and Hillman has his second pitcher in, he clearly still thinks KC might win. First man gets on with a single.

The rule applies. MB should come out.

Why?

If this guy scores, tie game MB gets an ND.

If he pitches to one more guy, who gets on, then MB could take a loss. No dice. I pull him.

What does Ozzie do? He leaves MB in, a should have been GIDP turns into a FC. Next guy up doubles, run scores. Tie game. Now, Dotel comes in, gives up another hit, MB takes the loss.

Advantages to OG.

"Mark was cruising, he is a great pitcher, he should be able to pitch around a poor fielding play. He did get a sure GIDP on the next hitter."

Advantages to my approach:

Dotel has a much easier assignment, only a man at first leaves you in control for the inning, you have room for a little error. If Dotel totally doesn't have it, the worst that happens to Mark is an ND. He pitched 6+ innings and if KC wins this game, it beats a fresh arm.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 11:27 AM
Winning a game 1-0 requires pushing your safety margin to the max. That means pitcher confidence issues be dammed, I'm trying to win the game for the White Sox.

Ozzie has never appeared to understand that.

Iwritecode
07-17-2008, 11:39 AM
It really is a shame pitch count stats aren't commonly reconstructed for games back when everyone was tossing CGs left and right. I still say it's all a bunch of crap.

I've often heard, but have never actually seen proof, that those guys that were throwing all those CGs had much shorter careers too.

chaerulez
07-17-2008, 11:40 AM
Did you read the first post?

I think people are confused why you count for the great majority of the replies to a thread you started where only one other person has contributed to the topic at hand.

As for pitch counts and starting pitching in general, one of my favorite players in the game is Roy Halladay because when healthy he eats a lot of innings and completes a lot of games. He already has seven this year, probably more than most teams. And he's managed to do it by going over 120 only once. I don't even recall the last team a pitcher went over 150 in the past couple years, the earliest I remember is one of Kerry Wood's games in 2003.

chaerulez
07-17-2008, 11:58 AM
After those cases, we have a few regular considerations.

First, NL rules. If the pitcher bats and is a weak hitter, then pulling him may be a decision based on offense as well. If it is 1-1 and I have two runners in scoring position with two outs then I have to consider the team before the pitcher. If it is the ninth, heck yes, I pinch hit, preferably a high average singles hitter. If it is the second, no probably not. Fifth, sixth those are harder to decide.

I'd question a lot of things if a manager ever lifted a starting pitcher in the second inning unless the reasoning was he was having a terrible outing and wasn't going to come out to pitch the third regardless.

PeteWard
07-17-2008, 12:11 PM
Winning a game 1-0 requires pushing your safety margin to the max. That means pitcher confidence issues be dammed, I'm trying to win the game for the White Sox.

Ozzie has never appeared to understand that.

How to know when it's time to pull the plug on a thread? When you are the only one in it.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 12:39 PM
I think people are confused why you count for the great majority of the replies to a thread you started where only one other person has contributed to the topic at hand.

As for pitch counts and starting pitching in general, one of my favorite players in the game is Roy Halladay because when healthy he eats a lot of innings and completes a lot of games. He already has seven this year, probably more than most teams. And he's managed to do it by going over 120 only once. I don't even recall the last team a pitcher went over 150 in the past couple years, the earliest I remember is one of Kerry Wood's games in 2003.

Then again, a knuckleballer can do this. I'm not saying should but can. I recall as a kid watching a doubleheader where Wilbur Wood started both games of a doubleheader.

kittle42
07-17-2008, 12:46 PM
I've seen a body mechanics analysis of several pitchers from old-time video. Most of the guys threw flat-footed most of the time, except in a few key situations. A lot more knuckleballers, sidearmers and even spittballers existed back in the decade of the 1900s than the 2000s, so the physical strain of pitching was less then, a lot less.

You don't have to go that far back. What about 4-man rotations?

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 03:05 PM
You don't have to go that far back. What about 4-man rotations?

Kittle,

I'm 99% in agreement with you. The judgement of a couple of guys (the catcher, pitching coach and manager) should weigh much heavier on when a pitcher is tired than any pitch count. I do think pitch count is not totally without value though. Just like I consider batting average when pinch hitting but trust my instincts it can help but shouldn't be the most important thing.

TDog
07-17-2008, 04:00 PM
I've often heard, but have never actually seen proof, that those guys that were throwing all those CGs had much shorter careers too.

Some did. Some didn't. Consider three pitchers from the 1969 Mets.

Tom Seaver pitched 61 complete-game shutouts. He pitched 233 complete games, if you include the postseason. Early in his career, he struck out 19 Padres in a complete game, including the last 10 he faced. He still pitched to within two months of his 42nd birthday.

Nolan Ryan pitched 223 complete games including the postseason, but seven of his 61 complete-game shutouts were no-hitters. He was pitching for the Rangers at the age of 46. At the age of 45, he pitched two complete games, including a win in Texas in July against the Yankees in 90-plus degree heat.

Jerry Koosman was pitching in the National League at 42. Including postseason, he had only 142 complete games and 33 complete-game shutouts. Unlike Seaver and Ryan, he never pitched a no-hitter and didn't win 300 games, but he still managed to win 222 games. I know some people believe games won is a poor way to judge pitchers, but he didn't have a bad career.

I won't argue that some great pitchers had shorter careers than they might have had pitching fewer innings. Sandy Koufax pitched only 12 years. He retired at the age of 31 after leading the National League in starts, inning pitched, batters faced, complete games and shutouts, just a year after leading the league in perfect games. He said pitching caused him too much pain.

In fact, pitching careers might be shorter now than they used to be. I don't know that they are. Now that pitchers sign multiyear contracts for millions of dollars a year, they don't kneed to play as long to make a living, so maybe they aren't. I just know that there have been some great pitchers who had great mechanics and knew how to pitch who didn't need to worry about pitch counts and could still be effective facing young studs who weren't even born when the pitchers signed their first professional contracts.

Iwritecode
07-17-2008, 04:30 PM
Some did. Some didn't. Consider three pitchers from the 1969 Mets.

Tom Seaver pitched 61 complete-game shutouts. He pitched 233 complete games, if you include the postseason. Early in his career, he struck out 19 Padres in a complete game, including the last 10 he faced. He still pitched to within two months of his 42nd birthday.

Nolan Ryan pitched 223 complete games including the postseason, but seven of his 61 complete-game shutouts were no-hitters. He was pitching for the Rangers at the age of 46. At the age of 45, he pitched two complete games, including a win in Texas in July against the Yankees in 90-plus degree heat.

Jerry Koosman was pitching in the National League at 42. Including postseason, he had only 142 complete games and 33 complete-game shutouts. Unlike Seaver and Ryan, he never pitched a no-hitter and didn't win 300 games, but he still managed to win 222 games. I know some people believe games won is a poor way to judge pitchers, but he didn't have a bad career.

I won't argue that some great pitchers had shorter careers than they might have had pitching fewer innings. Sandy Koufax pitched only 12 years. He retired at the age of 31 after leading the National League in starts, inning pitched, batters faced, complete games and shutouts, just a year after leading the league in perfect games. He said pitching caused him too much pain.

In fact, pitching careers might be shorter now than they used to be. I don't know that they are. Now that pitchers sign multiyear contracts for millions of dollars a year, they don't kneed to play as long to make a living, so maybe they aren't. I just know that there have been some great pitchers who had great mechanics and knew how to pitch who didn't need to worry about pitch counts and could still be effective facing young studs who weren't even born when the pitchers signed their first professional contracts.

You'd really have to look at all pitchers from a certain period of time and compare them to all pitchers from the last 10 years or so to get an overall idea. There's always going to be a few that play much longer than most.

You'd also have to take into consideration the advancement in modern medicine and training. How many pitchers careers could have gone on longer had Tommy John surgery been around when they pitched?

TDog
07-17-2008, 04:41 PM
You'd really have to look at all pitchers from a certain period of time and compare them to all pitchers from the last 10 years or so to get an overall idea. There's always going to be a few that play much longer than most.

You'd also have to take into consideration the advancement in modern medicine and training. How many pitchers careers could have gone on longer had Tommy John surgery been around when they pitched?

Silly me. I forgot to mention Tommy John's longevity.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 08:36 PM
Some did. Some didn't. Consider three pitchers from the 1969 Mets.

Tom Seaver pitched 61 complete-game shutouts. He pitched 233 complete games, if you include the postseason. Early in his career, he struck out 19 Padres in a complete game, including the last 10 he faced. He still pitched to within two months of his 42nd birthday.

Nolan Ryan pitched 223 complete games including the postseason, but seven of his 61 complete-game shutouts were no-hitters. He was pitching for the Rangers at the age of 46. At the age of 45, he pitched two complete games, including a win in Texas in July against the Yankees in 90-plus degree heat.

Jerry Koosman was pitching in the National League at 42. Including postseason, he had only 142 complete games and 33 complete-game shutouts. Unlike Seaver and Ryan, he never pitched a no-hitter and didn't win 300 games, but he still managed to win 222 games. I know some people believe games won is a poor way to judge pitchers, but he didn't have a bad career.

I won't argue that some great pitchers had shorter careers than they might have had pitching fewer innings. Sandy Koufax pitched only 12 years. He retired at the age of 31 after leading the National League in starts, inning pitched, batters faced, complete games and shutouts, just a year after leading the league in perfect games. He said pitching caused him too much pain.

In fact, pitching careers might be shorter now than they used to be. I don't know that they are. Now that pitchers sign multiyear contracts for millions of dollars a year, they don't kneed to play as long to make a living, so maybe they aren't. I just know that there have been some great pitchers who had great mechanics and knew how to pitch who didn't need to worry about pitch counts and could still be effective facing young studs who weren't even born when the pitchers signed their first professional contracts.


Ah. Koosman was a lazy bum. I hear he always parked his car in two spots as well.

Brian26
07-17-2008, 08:48 PM
How to know when it's time to pull the plug on a thread? When you are the only one in it.

I'm waiting for something insightful to be said.

So far, I've learned that it's not ok to pinch hit for the pitcher in the 2nd inning in NL games.

ondafarm
07-17-2008, 10:15 PM
I'm waiting for something insightful to be said.

So far, I've learned that it's not ok to pinch hit for the pitcher in the 2nd inning in NL games.

Thanks, you just reminded me to do something.

Frater Perdurabo
07-17-2008, 10:19 PM
I've learned quite a bit from this thread. Thank you, ondafarm. :smile:

areilly
07-18-2008, 05:04 PM
I won't argue that some great pitchers had shorter careers than they might have had pitching fewer innings. Sandy Koufax pitched only 12 years. He retired at the age of 31 after leading the National League in starts, inning pitched, batters faced, complete games and shutouts, just a year after leading the league in perfect games. He said pitching caused him too much pain.

It's totally irrelevant to anything in this thread, but I really, really like this sentence.

Nellie_Fox
07-19-2008, 01:20 AM
All of these guidelines are great in a vacuum. However, there are games where your bullpen is burnt out. Sometimes, you have to leave a starter out there to "take one for the team" because losing this game is preferable to going deep into the bullpen again so you aren't screwed for the next several days.

ondafarm
07-19-2008, 11:12 AM
All of these guidelines are great in a vacuum. However, there are games where your bullpen is burnt out. Sometimes, you have to leave a starter out there to "take one for the team" because losing this game is preferable to going deep into the bullpen again so you aren't screwed for the next several days.

Two things qualify that.

1) burnt out pens do happen, sometimes you tell the starter, "You are going eight unless your arm drops off." Oddly, when I saw that it sometimes made the guy pitch a great game. If the starter took it as a stand up guy and talked to me about what we needed to do to last that long, then I'd take that as a good sign and help him out as much as possible. Actually, what normally happened was that my manager would tell me that the pen was nearly burnt out and that we'd be sacrificing one game of the series, so I'd be prepared to baby or bully (or both) whatever pitcher had a rough first couple of innings and was being sacrificed.

2) Sometimes, through no fault of their own, your pitcher goes up against a guy throwing a great game at you. I once broke up a no-no in the sixth. If that happens you have to decide, is this game really winnable. Most teams have one guy, designated for long-relief, who pitches in games you figure are out of hand. Getting the ball to him once you make that call, typically saves your pen for better days.

A. Cavatica
07-19-2008, 01:40 PM
I've learned quite a bit from this thread. Thank you, ondafarm. :smile:

Seconded.