Skip to content

Could The A’s Do What The Rockies Wanted To Do?

August 3, 2012

Chances are that you have heard that Dan Straily was called up to the big club and is starting tonight. This is great and exciting, seeing as the numbers he has put up so far are video game like. However, this causes a bit of a roster crunch among the pitchers. Yesterday tweeter extraordinaire and all-around scholar Jason Copy-Paste sent out these series of tweets, or twits if you are Vin Scully;

I think Jason has a good idea here, but I feel that the A’s could do what the Rockies wanted to do and do it better. One of the reasons the Rockies went to the limit of 75 pitches for their starters was so they could get to their bullpen faster, something that was a strength for them. As you saw yesterday, if not here is the link (go ahead and read it, we will wait), the A’s bullpen is not something that is a strong point, in my opinion. It is something on the verge of imploding. So could the A’s go to paired starters and hide one of their biggest problems?

Pairing starters can positively affect how the teams perform and more specifically, how a pitcher performs. The high school that I used to coach at we flirted with a hybrid idea of this. Late in the year we were trying to limit the innings of our #1, so we toyed with the idea of starting our closer against a team that we knew had trouble against him. At the heart of that, is kind of what the A’s could do with paired starters.

By doing this you are automatically limiting the innings that one pitcher will throw. For this A’s this has many advantages;
1) By limiting innings you are protecting arms (if you believe in that). The first pitcher that comes to mind that could see the most gain by this is Jarrod Parker. To be honest I can not remember if the A’s put an innings limit on him to start this year, but if they did not this would help. One year removed from major surgery getting some help carrying the innings is not a bad thing. His current 110 innings is not a horrible number but I would not mind seeing him get some relief from piling on too many innings.

There is also talk that Straily himself is on an innings limit and not too far from reaching that plateau. For reason I will explain in a bit, I paired him with Bartolo Colon.

2) If you are lucky enough to have the correct number of left- and right-handed pitchers you could destroy platoons in lineups.

3) Something that I do not think gets enough talk, or rather has seen enough (if any) research to prove if it is effective, is the effect drastic changes in velocities have on hitters. I am not talking about fastball to changeup velocities, I am talking fastball to fastball velocities. One reason I love guys like Tommy Milone and Dallas Braden is that I think they are undervalued where they are placed in pitching rotations. Back in the day can you imagine facing Rich Harden one night and then Dallas the next? I know these are some of the best hitters in the world we are talking about, but that has to have some effect, no? Now you have not only the handedness change but also velocity change all in the same game. Again, this is all in theory, but it would be fascinating to see how that works.

4) By pairing starters and limiting innings you, again in theory, can cut the number of times a batter see a pitcher. Assuming that one pitcher goes innings 1-4 and the other one goes innings 5-8, they should at best see the 1-3 hitters twice. This does swing the advantage towards the pitcher as he does not have to worry about pacing himself. Imagine it as throwing four innings in the All-Star game. This allows you to hide any deficiencies a pitcher may have.

So how would I do this? If I paired the starters, it would look something like this;
McCarthy – Blackley
Parker – Milone
Colon – Straily
Anderson – Griffin

As I mentioned early I changed around Jason’s list a bit because of the supposed innings ceiling for Straily. As he so aptly noted, who cares about Colon blowing out his arm? Probably is not going to happen. And even with the six or so starts that Straily would be able to make that will help stretch Colon a little farther along anyway.

So how do the numbers look for something like this? For the purposes of this article I am only going to cite the splits for innings 1-4 seeing as whether they start of come in as the long relief, those are the only numbers that will really matter.

Pair #1 McCarthy – Blackley

McCarthy:*

I Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 93 92.1 31 3.02 388 343 35 82 16 1 5 34 66 .239 .307 .335 .642 .275
2nd inning 92 90.1 46 4.58 385 348 49 86 16 4 11 31 61 .247 .312 .411 .723 .269
3rd inning 91 90.1 35 3.49 371 337 40 85 21 1 10 22 65 .252 .299 .409 .708 .282
4th inning 89 86.0 27 2.83 349 322 24 80 16 0 7 27 52 .248 .307 .363 .670 .278

Blackley:

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 10 10.0 3 2.70 38 36 4 8 0 0 0 2 5 .222 .263 .222 .485 .258
2nd inning 10 10.0 1 0.90 38 36 1 6 2 1 0 2 7 .167 .211 .278 .488 .207
3rd inning 10 10.0 11 9.90 48 41 11 16 5 0 2 4 6 .390 .447 .659 1.105 .412
4th inning 11 11.0 2 1.64 40 36 2 8 3 0 0 3 8 .222 .275 .306 .581 .276
*- For McCarthy I used his career numbers seeing as he has only thrown  78 innings this season. I used the 2012 splits for Blackley because even going with his career numbers they did not change drastically.

How doe this work out? McCarthy’s career fifth and sixth inning lines looks like this: .289/.324./473 and .270/.321./.438.
Blackley’s  fifth and sixth: .225/.225/.375

For Blackley it looks like it is a push pulling him after four, but that’s only in a 10+ inning sample. Given the stuff that he brings to the table I like him much more as a long reliever. As I told Jason, pairing him like this should allow him to hide deficiencies and only have to face certain batters more than once. As for McCarthy, this could be a worthwhile experiment. I am not saying do this the rest of his career, but the noticeable jump between the fourth and fifth innings lend me to believe this could work with him. Also with him battling injury the last couple of years, I could be helpful to “protect” him a bit by lessening the load on him.
Pair #2 : Parker – Milone

Parker-

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 18 18.0 5 2.50 73 64 5 14 2 1 0 7 13 .219 .306 .281 .587 .275
2nd inning 18 18.0 7 3.50 73 65 7 18 4 0 2 6 20 .277 .329 .431 .760 .356
3rd inning 18 17.0 9 4.76 71 60 7 13 3 0 1 10 10 .217 .329 .317 .645 .245
4th inning 17 17.0 4 2.12 67 63 4 13 4 0 1 4 12 .206 .254 .317 .571 .240

Milone-

Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 21 21.0 11 4.71 95 84 11 24 2 0 1 9 17 .286 .358 .345 .703 .343
2nd inning 21 21.0 12 5.14 87 82 13 20 5 0 7 5 13 .244 .287 .561 .848 .210
3rd inning 21 21.0 5 2.14 81 79 6 17 5 0 2 2 17 .215 .235 .354 .589 .250
4th inning 21 21.0 11 4.71 86 81 11 25 4 0 3 4 16 .309 .341 .469 .810 .355

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:

How does this one work? Parker’s fifth and sixth innings: .266/.374/.406 and .275/.362/.373.
Milone’s fifth and sixth: .260/.288/.422 and .350/.375/.383

Personally these two would benefit the most from paired starters, especially Milone. Later in his career Parker could find more success past the fifth inning. And if you are like some *cough Nathaniel Stoltz cough* you see Parker more as a bullpen arm, in which case this would fit him perfectly. As for Milone, this hides deficiencies. He is at a disadvantage the more times a batter sees him in a game and he also seems to tire around the fifth inning.
Pair #3 : Colon – Straily 

Colon
Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 21 21.0 8 3.43 89 83 8 22 3 2 2 6 15 .265 .315 .422 .736 .303
2nd inning 21 21.0 3 1.29 77 73 3 14 3 0 2 3 13 .192 .221 .315 .536 .203
3rd inning 21 19.1 16 7.45 94 84 15 28 7 0 1 7 11 .333 .380 .452 .833 .370
4th inning 19 19.0 14 6.63 89 88 15 31 3 1 6 1 12 .352 .360 .614 .973 .357

Straily

Unknown

This split is this way because of the supposed innings limit for Straily and agin, who cares about Colon’s arm? I am sure he could handle it. Once Straily hits his innings limit he is shutdown and Colon would be the sole owner of this spot.

Pair #4 – Anderson – Griffin

Anderson*

I Split G IP ER ERA PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 62 62.0 23 3.34 266 238 29 61 9 0 4 19 50 .256 .316 .345 .660 .305
2nd inning 62 62.0 29 4.21 264 245 32 67 9 0 10 15 65 .273 .323 .433 .756 .335
3rd inning 60 60.0 24 3.60 243 228 26 58 8 0 3 12 42 .254 .296 .329 .625 .299
4th inning 60 59.1 20 3.03 235 224 22 53 9 0 7 6 48 .237 .265 .371 .635 .271

Griffin
Unknown

*- Career numbers seeing as he has not pitched this year

Again, this pairing is to help Brett Anderson. Coming off of TJS this would help ease him back in late in the year. As for A.J. Griffin? It is still unknown how his numbers respond. Unfortunately with both he and Straily, I was unable to find the innings breakdown for their minor league careers. For both, however, it can only help. Just for the information, Brett Anderson’s career numbers in the fifth and sixth innings: .275/.326./410 and .292/.313/.385.

The Bullpen:

As Jason pointed out, this does, if it works as it should, allow you to not have to use the bullpen as much. This does not mean that you should get rid of the whole bullpen, but you could option/trade/whatever a couple and stick some of the starters down in the bullpen.

There is one big warning to take with this whole experiment, once one link falters it can breakdown easily. You are not asking the pitchers to be perfect every time they go out but if one does completely blowup, it can be disastrous. And this is not something that has to be done all the time. This could be implemented from one series to the next.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: