NY Sports Dog: Starter Pitch Count and Bullpen Concerns

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Starter Pitch Count and Bullpen Concerns

We began looking at this yesterday and decided to do an update today given that yesterday was a perfect continuation of the issues in discussion, including more on the overworked Sean Green and the pulling of Livan early.

Here's how the Mets starters have fared thus far:

Johan Santana
- 4 Games, 403 Pitches, 100.8 Per Game
Apr 6: 99 (W) 5.2 IP
Apr12: 98 (L) 7.0 IP
Apr 18: 102 (W) 7.0 IP
Apr 24: 104 (W) 6.0 IP

Mike Pelfrey - 3 Games, 287 Pitches, 95.7 Per Game
Apr 8: 104 (W) 5.0 IP
Apr 13: 88 (ND) 5.0 IP
Apr 25: 95 (W) 5.2 IP

Oliver Perez - 4 Games, 374 Pitches, 93.5 Per Game
Apr 9: 100 (L) 4.1 IP
Apr 15: 90 (W) 6.0 IP
Apr 21: 92 (ND) 4.2 IP
Apr 26: 92 (L) 4.1 IP

John Maine - 4 Games, 392 Pitches, 98.0 Per Game
Apr 10: 83 (ND) 5.0 IP
Apr 16: 105 (L) 5.0 IP
Apr 22: 111 (L) 5.2 IP
Apr 27: 94 (W) 6.0 IP

Livan Hernandez - 4 Games, 361 Pitches, 90.0 Per Game
Apr 11: 99 (W) 6.2 IP
Apr 17: 92 (ND) 5.0 IP
Apr 23: 79 (W) 4.1 IP
Apr 28: 91 (ND) 5.1 IP

Nelson Figueroa - 1 Game, 91 Pitches, 91.0 Per Game
Apr 19: 91 (L) 6.0 IP

Totals: 20 Games, 1,908 Pitches, 95.4 Pitches Per Game

So we must ask the question, "are the starters working hard enough?" No, they're not. It can also be argued that Jerry Manuel has had an early hook and is something of an "over-rely on the bullpen" manager.

There have been several games in which the starter was moving along effectively, only to get pulled from the game a batter, an inning, or more, too soon.

Now obviously Jerry has his reasons, and they go far beyond my basic analysis here. My belief is that a major league starter should possess the ability to extend themselves at least into the 110-120 pitch range, and that a starter bears responsibility for saving his bullpen when he is able to.

In the Mets first 20 games, only John Maine has thrown as many as 110 pitches, and in 13 of the 20 games, the starter has failed to even reach the 100 pitch mark.

While there's no question that in many of those games an ineffective starter has forced the team to go to the bullpen early, that has not always been the case. We can look to John Maine's most recent game to see the early hook for a starter having a great game with a low pitch count.

At the end of the day, the Mets starters are simply going to have to extend themselves into the 7th and even 8th innings of games for this team to consistently win in 2009. We saw a tired and rundown bullpen in 2008, and my fear is that the early signs are pointing toward a similiar fate in 2009.

Now let me add a little more fuel to this debate.

JJ Putz is on pace for over 85 innings. The most he has thrown in his career is 78.1, and remember he is coming off injury.

Sean Green is on pace for 95 innings. This is the guy that was overused last year, and he broke down because of it.

The pundits talk about not overworking your starters early, but it's just as important to not overwork your bullpen early.

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John said...

Could the fact the Mets seem to score early in the game have something to do with this? In other words, are the pitchers pulled early because of their ineffective pitching and a need to come back from a deficit (i.e. being pulled for pinch-hitters)? I could be wrong but that seems to be happening a lot.

Dave Singer said...


It's a fair point. My thoughts are that there have been about 5 games in which jerry has either:

a) pulled the starter early


b) used the BP, especially Puttz and Green, in games where they didn't need to pitch.

I really like Jerry, but he gets an 'F' from me right now on his managing in 2009.

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