Saturday, April 11, 2009

Babying Starters

I'm stealing from the great Joe Posnanski here (and Joe probably stole it from someone else!) but let's play a game and compare two pitchers for a moment:

Pitcher A: 33 years old, 6' 2" and 220 pounds (a generous underestimation of weight)
Pitcher B: 37 years old, 5'11" and 170 pounds

Pitcher A: has made 30 or more starts in each the last 10 years
Pitcher B: has made 30 or more starts three times in the last 10 years

Pitcher A: pitched "just" 180 innings in 2008, his lowest total since his rookie year in 1997
Pitcher B: has not pitched that many innings since back-to-back 217-inning campaigns in 2004 and 2005

Pitcher A: has topped the 200-inning mark in every year of this decade except 2008
Pitcher B: has topped the 200-inning mark twice in this decade

Have you figured out who we're talking about yet? Player A is Livan Hernandez, who takes the mound tonight for the Mets. Player B is Pedro Martinez, who is still waiting for the economy to rebound so someone will pay him what he thinks he's worth.

What this little exercise was meant to show is that, throughout their respective careers, Hernandez has been far more durable than Martinez. Pedro has been infinitely more successful, of course; Livan doesn't even belong in the same conversation if you're talking about career accomplishments. Perhaps the only thing Hernandez does better than Martinez, however, is to pitch deeper into games and to make more starts per season.

Why then, would Jerry Manuel publically commit to expecting the same workload from Hernandez as he did from Martinez last season? From the article:

"Jerry Manuel plans to treat Hernandez as he did Pedro Martinez. Namely, be thankful if the veteran pitcher can successfully navigate the opposing lineup two or three times, then get him out after five or six innings."

If there's one thing you do not need to do with Livan Hernandez, it is protect his arm. If Hernandez somehow manages to successfully navigate the opposing lineup two or three times tonight, then Manuel would be insane to take him out before he shows any signs of fatigue. The only thing Livan does well is eat up innings - why on earth would you put a cap on that?

If anything, the Mets should be praying for seven innings out of Livan tonight, considering the way that the bullpen has been overworked so far. (Oh, and is it too early to start calling the "new-look" bullpen The Arson Squad again?)

1 comment:

James Allen said...

Manuel has to stop going to the pen in the goddamn sixth inning. It's only 4 games in and the same patterns have quickly become established: don't let a starter who pitching fine finished a sixth inning, overwork the pen, and for fun, we have the inability of anyone to get a hit with runners in scoring position. (I swear, Reed's hit was a tremendous release.) 1 for 12 with RISP last night, folks. 14 LOB.

The hitting thing could easily come around, but the bullpen usage really really irks me.