I know, I know, there has been a ton written about this pitch limit thing already but I think these past two games are the perfect example of what is wrong with this pitch count limit.
I went back a little over a week to June 19th and looked at how often a starting pitcher was removed from a game when pitching well only to have the bullpen (or as Dan O’Dowd refers to them: “starters five thru seven”) come in a blow up the game.
First I removed the three starts by Josh Outman; he shouldn’t even still be pitching in the Major Leagues. Over his past three starts – going back to June 19th – he has started three games, only pitched a total of 12 innings and allowed 14 earned runs for an ERA of 10.50. Since being anointed a “starter” on June 1st he has started six games and only lasted a total of 23 1/3 innings (or just over four innings per start) with an ERA of 9.26. On the year his ERA is 9.32. Again, how is he still in the Big Leagues? So we ignore his starts (along with Todd Helton, I just don’t understand how they continue to get regular playing time).
I am also removing that absolutely poor choice of starting Edwar Cabrera on Wednesday. Just another poor decision by management. Starting Cabrera just to push the “starters” back to “normal” rest just defeats the idea of the four-man rotation.
This leaves us eight games to look at since June 19th.
I am also removing the two starts by Alex White, not sure he is ready for The Show, either. White has yet to not allow a run in any start this year. Other than his start on June 3rd he has yet to allow less than five hits in any start and including that start on June 3rd he has not started any game and allowed less than seven base runners in his start. His ERA on the year is 6.45 and his WHIP (walks plus hits per nine innings) is 1.665. That WHIP is good for 100th out of 119 pitchers who have made a start in the National League in 2012. ONE HUNDRED OUT OF ONE-NINETEEN! In fact, of those 119 pitchers the Rockies have seven – SEVEN – pitchers with a higher WHIP than White (Moyer, Pomeranz, Outman, Guthrie, Chacin, Moscoso and now Cabrera).
Now we are down to six starts and only two pitchers; Jeff Francis and Christian Friedrich. When Francis is one of your better pitchers things are not going well.
Now, finally, back to my original point – sorry, I got a bit off topic there as I looked at the stats, the awful, awful stats – when the 75 pitch count limit goes terribly wrong.
On June 21st Jeff Francis threw five great innings allowing only six hits and one run and was pulled because he threw 76 pitches. Thankfully for Francis and the Rockies one of the other “starters” didn’t relieve him, namely Guillermo Moscoso or Jeremy Guthrie. The Rox used four pitchers to finish the final four innings and the team only allowed that one run.
On June 22nd Friedrich allowed four runs in six innings of work…OK…we are ignoring this start, too, because it doesn’t help my point. See what I just did?
June 25th Francis was on the mound again and this time he only allowed two runs in five innings before he was pulled after only 66 pitches (he didn’t even get to his 75 limit because Jim Tracy opted to pinch hit for him before the sixth inning started). Again the Rockies bullpen didn’t do any harm.
Wait just a bit longer, I am getting to my point, trust me.
On June 26th Friedrich was on the mound and gave up four runs in just over four innings before Moscoso came in to clean up the mess and deliver the Rockies an “L” by allowing eight runs in 1 2/3 innings of work. This sort of makes my point because Friedrich was pulled after 70 pitches, but his performance doesn’t help.
Two nights ago on June 29th Francis made another appearance, this time lasting six innings pitching three-hit no-run baseball and was given the hook after throwing 82 pitches. Tyler Chatwood promptly entered the game and gave up two runs in an inning of work. I can finally get to my point; this is where the starter needs to stay in the game and the pitch count really hurts. Francis was dealing, albeit against the lowly San Diego Padres, but there was no reason to pull him besides this AA level pitch count that the Rockies are using right now. What if Chatwood would have surrendered the lead?
… and that brings us to last night.
Last night Friedrich was on the mound and on better behavior. In five innings of work he only allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts. Since he had thrown 74 pitches he was not allowed to continue and Guthrie entered the game with the Rockies leading 2-1. By the time Guthrie was done with his first inning of work the Rockies were trailing 2-3. Guthrie was given another inning and gave up another run. This hits my point square on the head.
I can sort of understand the 75 pitch count, I do not agree with it, but I see O’Dowd’s line of thinking. Keep in mind that this is an O’Dowd idea, not a Tracy idea. O’Dowd set the rule in this case and Tracy is expected to follow it. So don’t get mad at Tracy when he gives his starter the hook in the fourth inning; he is just following orders. O’Dowd thinks it will save the pitcher’s arm. He sees that the team doesn’t have many 200 innings pitchers in their history and thinks the ballpark is the blame. Anyway, this limit needs to be soft, very soft. If a guy like White is in the game and has given up four runs in four innings and hit the mark, OK, yank him, but if Francis has only thrown 73 pitches after six solid innings he needs to be allowed to continue.
The Rockies have recalled Drew Pomeranz to start today’s game and if he is rolling in the fifth and thrown 72 pitches he needs to be able to continue to pitch. If the Rockies expect him to be their ace going forward he cannot be restricted to so few pitches per start. Can you imagine Robin Ventura trying to pull Jake Peavy in the fifth after 75 pitches? Peavy would blow him up. So would Felix Hernandez, C.C. Sabathia, Jered Weaver, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain or any other decent Big League starter. The pitch count limit is demoralizing.
Anyway, my point to all of this writing is – up to nearly 1,200 words…this was supposed to be short – is that the Rockies are going to continue to shoot themselves in the foot if they pull an effective starter after 75 pitches to bring in a guy like Moscoso or Guthrie who are both terrible.
We will see how this continues to play out. According to O’Dowd’s phone conference earlier this week this idea is not going anywhere. The Rockies will continue to use this strategy for the foreseeable future and at least into September when they get to expand the roster. O’Dowd isn’t going anywhere according to the Monforts and so it is almost safe to assume we see this in 2013, as well.
Remember when the year started and Rockies fans to could half hope that the Rockies would make a play for Cole Hamels this offseason when he becomes a free agent? That is laughable now because there is no way any pitcher would risk coming to Colorado and having this pitch count bullsh*t pulled on him. Pitching in Coors is difficult enough but add to that fact that you could be treated like a minor league player really kills any attractiveness remaining.
The insanity continues under O’Dowd and it is actually getting more insane.