13 Relief Pitchers
one of which had 36 whiffs in 31 innin's


In late 2014, Hey Bill had this question and response:


Hey Bill - I've been re-reading Weaver on Strategy (1984). On the pitching staff, he says ten are too many, he'd rather go with eight or nine, and the extra bench player will win you more games than the tenth pitcher. Do today's large pitching staffs reflect changes in the game, better information and understanding, or was Earl just wrong at the time?
Asked by: russelfe

Answered: 1/31/2014
Some of each, I think. Earl--like myself at the time, like all other sportswriters at the time, I think--had not focused on the sprinter's advantage; presume you know what I mean by that. All pitchers are more effective in relief than they are starting, for the same reasons that everybody can run faster in a sprint than they can in a marathon. We had not focused on that advantage at that time and didn't understand it, and if you take that element out of the problem, then Earl would be correct. He might be correct anyway; I'm not sure.

The fact that everybody does it this way now doesn't mean that everybody is right; everybody could be doing it wrong now for all I know.

Anyway, if you set THAT advantage aside, Earl was certainly correct, and, in that era, the difference between the effectiveness of your top 3-4 pitchers and the effectiveness of your organizations 12th best pitcher was much more than it is now, so it made sense to concentrate your innings in your best pitchers. - James


As y'know, I very much like the idea of 18 batters for a starting pitcher; I like it, and also think it's likely to be very effective.  Craig Wright tells us there is a 100.00% chance that you profit from an Absolute Rule, No 28th Batters Ever; wouldn't the 19th batter be a corollary, if you're talking about a mediocre pitcher?

There is also a headline on the M's site, asking how the Mariners are going to keep James Paxton healthy in 2018; a few less batters in each April-May start seems a viable strategy towards that end.

The idea of "bridge starters" behind Leake, and especially Ramirez, and we all know that Miranda has an issue third time through ... that is a question of the Andrew Alberses and the Marco Gonzaleses.  But we were thumbing through the almanacs and found that Emilio Pagan finished very strong.  His K% was 33.3% his last 30 days, with a BB% of only 1.6.  In raw terms, that's 14 whiffs and 1 BB in 10.1 innings pitched.  He was throwing 94.2 MPH with good-not-great command and he had excellent arm action on a hard slider.  How does Brooks' new Siri function describe that?


BETA Feature:
Basic description of 2017 pitches compared to other RHP:
His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has essentially average velo and has some added backspin.

His slider has some two-plane movement.

His change (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 18 of them in 2017) has a lot of backspin, is slightly firmer than usual, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade.


Pagan is a very extreme "challenge" guy; about the only time he isn't throwing for a strike is if he's going for the 2-strike slider to break out of the zone.  With 10.0 strikeouts and 1.4 walks this year the roto guides are going to be all over him as a closer-in-waiting, but he's gotta prove he's not Bobby Ayala first.


Dr D



Talk about blasts from the past, to finish the piece echoing Ayala totally woke me from my normal reading "state of mind".  Riveting post as is, ending on the Ayala tip is brilliant; like a dip in Chelan in late July.  I found Pagan mostly watchable in his late-inning role; he struggled occasionally, but was mostly adequate shutting teams down or holding leads.  I recall his first 5-6 outings mostly run-free and eye-opening.   I agree he still must prove he's more closer material than middle-innings runs holder.  I pray he never devolves into an Ayala- esque blown-saves leader.


Pagan is a good one to watch because of his control. Diaz, Altavilla, Pazos and Phelps cleared 10 K/9 but walked-a-plenty.  By K/BB you only have Pagan, Overton and Vincent above Diaz's 2.78 from the pen.  Other than Phelps they are young enough to think any could improve in that aspect but not reliably.  Having a BB/9 of 4 gets scary often as we all saw from these 4 guys who are a big chunk of the pen.  When I'm saying we need help there it's not a lack of talent but control.  We have too much of a shakier though powerful kind of talent and not enough guys like Pagan.  But then Pagan was never the Pagan we're talking about before his promotion, always walking 1+ more per 9.  There are some interesting names to watch this fall and spring from the minors but I think we need a shot in the arm now.  We really can't be sure Pagan won't be the 3.some BB/9 guy all over again next year anyway.

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