In just three of the six games of the last World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros, the starting pitcher was the winner. And of the three, two did not make it past the fifth inning and the third did not make it past the sixth. With the immense number of variations and circumstances that abound in baseball, it could well be thought that these were common and current events in the game. There is no way to show that we are facing an unusual event.
“Decisions in the management of pitchers have multiple factors,” warns Iván Arteaga, coach of the Margarita Bravos, who pitched between 1991 and 2002 with Magallanes on the Venezuelan circuit, and with the organization of the Expos, the Rockies and the Mets in Organized Baseball.
“Generally speaking, starters are prepared to go ‘long’ in the game. They have a physical and mental preparation that allows them to fluctuate between adrenaline and emotional control in different facets and strategies of the game, where they can face a lineup two, three and even four times. Statistics indicate that batters have more opportunity to hit a starter, the second, third time they face him during the game, which is why relievers are entering the game much earlier, which has given them relevance to the game. long relief role ”.
Game 6 of the World Series ended 7-0 to give the Braves the title, with starter Max Fried allowing the Astros just four hits and striking out six before giving way to relievers after completing six innings.
“When we analyze a rotation, we can clearly see that those with the most talent are considered the aces,” explains Arteaga, who under Magallanes was 11-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 214 innings, before hurting himself and retiring in 2002.
He was 30 years old. “Then the level of talent, a subjective assessment, will determine the rest of the positions in the rotation, which traditionally consists of five starters. In the same way, roles in relief can be determined by the level of talent, by the ability of a pitcher to make outs to right or left-handed hitters, by their ability to pitch late in the game, by their days off. among other factors according to the individuality of the case, and whose decision will be left to each manager ”.
In the other two challenges of the last World Series conquered by the starting pitcher, the Mexican José Urquidy in his work of five innings allowed two runs to the Braves, and Ian Anderson in five stages did not accept runs from the Astros.
“Regarding using a reliever to face the first three or six batters in the order of the lineup, the statistics indicate that the starter, and the team, would only benefit if he only saw the top of the lineup twice during his stay in the game, “says Arteaga. “Which would allow” shortening “the game and the participation of the starter before giving way in the eighth and ninth, to the short relievers and closers.”
The information of the present and the number of launches
“Another factor to take into consideration with respect to going through a lineup two or three times is the amount of information that hitters have thanks to the technology applied to baseball,” explains Arteaga.
“That allows them to be better prepared, and thus” squeeze “more pitches from a pitcher whose talent level does not make him dominant, so he tends to use much more resources and shipments per turn, to make outs to high hitters. level, experience, and without a doubt the best on the planet. It is believed that the average number of shipments per shift ranges between 4 and 5. That tells us that when facing 20 or 25 batters, the level of fatigue should make the presence of a reliever almost mandatory ”.
I arrive to stay?
“On a personal basis, I think the starting pitchers have accepted that five innings are good,” Arteaga cautions.
“A trend that is present in most places where professional ball is played. Although there are pitchers who are capable, thanks to their talent, to face and dominate a lineup, like Jacob deGrom, and to remain in the game seven innings or more ”.