The disappearance of the starter in postseason baseball.
Continuing with my analysis of combimetrics, I have decided to take a look at the scarcity of Magnum Starts in the postseason. Those who read my recent piece discussing the Yankees struggles this October would understand the value of starters, who were the determining factor in the Bronx Bombers pitching failures.
Moving on to analyzing the entire LDS, there is one series that stands out in particular: Atlanta vs. Los Angles. In games one and two, the Dodgers starters posted Magnum Starts, as Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw tossed seven and eight innings respectively in shutout outings. That might seem odd when you consider the other three series had a pair between them, especially when you take a look at how good Houston’s rotation is (Gerrit Cole tossed a 7 IP MS in game two).
Speaking of the Indians-Astros ALDS, I found it odd that with the number of elite hurlers taking the mound someone else didn’t dominate for at least 7 IP. Yes both clubs have very good offenses, and these pitchers weren’t fortunate enough to be pitching at Dodger Stadium at night, but the talent throwing the ball was plenty good enough to shut down any lineup regardless of where they are pitching.
The fourth and final Magnum Start was thrown by Nathan Eovaldi (7 IP) of the Red Sox, however, it was in a game when Alex Cora had the luxury of letting him go deep due to a 16-1 Boston win. These totals don’t surprise me, however, the fact that managers are just letting bullpens take control of the games from the LDS might end up coming back to haunt them. The reason for that is if you are constantly pitching the same guys for a couple innings a night, at some point over three series they will wear down.
Now there is no better example of that scenario than the 2016 Indians, who went 10-2 in October until game five of the World Series against the Cubs and then fell apart. That collapse might seem skewed because of the injuries to their starting staff that postseason (Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar), but you still come back to the issue of using the same guys over and over. Had the aforementioned two been healthy, there is no question manager Terry Francona could have allowed the bullpen to rest more. Unfortunately for the Tribe, he wasn’t fortunate enough to be afforded such a luxury.
My issue with the whole bullpen overuse is simple: it is going to fail 90% of the time. There are a few teams that can win with this style of play, however, most who attempt to employ this strategy will not achieve what they set out to. The “new” brand of baseball that appears to be taking hold of MLB is not better than what they were producing in 2000.
Playing a game which at times seems as if being managed by a computer is not attractive to new fans, not to mention the fact that it seems to have been altered from its’ traditional roots. If starters begin throwing four-inning starts consistently I don’t care when it occurs, because pitching changes do not please fans unless the hurler is struggling. Only in the situation that he was brought in for one man do they please crowds. So let’s bring the sport back to the way it once was, and I don’t mean 1900. More along the lines of 2000, when starting pitchers dominated the game.
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