Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Game Notes 11: Stupid Golden Rule
I know that over the course of 162 games, exciting late wins and heartbreaking late losses will tend to even out, but I'd like to lobby for a respectful distance between the two. One day after a thrilling ninth inning victory at home, a team shouldn't have to suffer the opposite fate to the same opponent. It just isn't right.
It doesn't matter what I think, though, as the Reds, who were down a run going into the ninth, fought and clawed to score twice in the top of the frame, eking out a series evening victory.
With the wind blowing in most of the game, this was a day for pitchers, and that's what I'd like to spend some time on today. Kerry Wood threw well enough in the first eight innings to allow only one run, and as we all know, performing at that level earns you dubious rewards from Dusty Baker. In Wood's case, it was an opportunity to pitch the ninth.
My issue isn't with Wood's performance to that point (although there were quite a few outs in the early going that would have been extra base hits without the wind), it's with the fact that he had thrown 111 pitches up to that point. Don't worry, I'm not going to blather on about Kerry's future and how Dusty's damaging him by sending him back out there, or how the pitch count showed he was too tired to be able to finish the game effectively. Not that those aren't valid points, I'm just not going to spend the time bolstering them. Others have done it before, and while I agree I don't feel the need to rehash it. Besides, that's not where my concern lies.
I'm going to start by asking you to grant me one thing: that we can safely say, knowing how Wood throws, that with 111 pitches already under his belt, getting three more outs would take him over 120. Does that work for you? Good, because here we go.
Any doubts about who's more valuable? Of course, Player 1 is plenty solid, but he has a problem with control and giving up home runs, and that's never a good combination. So, even though his hit rate is low, his ERA is still right at 4.00. Player 2, on the other hand, is looking like a Hall of Famer. He has some of the same control issues as Player 1, but not to the same degree, and the lower hit rate and much lower home run rate make the walks far less significant. Also, if Player 2 kept up that K/9 and pitched 1000 innings, his rate would be the highest in the history of the game for someone with at least that many frames thrown.
Who are these fine gentlemen? If you haven't guessed already, Player 1 is Kerry Wood v.2003 in the twelve regular season starts he made after throwing 120 pitches or more in the previous outing. Player 2 is Kerry Wood v.2003 in his other 20 starts. Sure, it's a small sample size, but it's definitely food for thought. The more appearances you can have from Player 2, the better your team will be.
Of course, Kerry isn't guaranteed a bad outing next time out just because he threw 131 pitches today, just like he wouldn't be guaranteed a good start if he was taken out after the eighth. However, judging from last year's results, those last twenty pitches have made Wood much less likely to have a high quality turn on Thursday, and that's worth worrying about.