Yes, I’ve felt the pressure of trying to write something great to mark my first post at the Conclave. No, I’m not certain that I’ve succeeded. Nevertheless, I *have* clicked around on Baseball Reference a ton this afternoon and evening, which should count for something.
What I learned in all of that clicking is that the Cardinals’ starting pitchers are turning in a real gem of a season in terms of innings pitched per start – which typically means they are succeeding, since they are going deeper into games – which typically means the team is winning – which typically means they will reach the playoffs – and you know what they say, pitching wins championships.
Getting ahead of ourselves?
Let’s put some of that historical clicking to virtual parchment:
|2005 White Sox||6.6||99||2|
|2006 White Sox||6.4||90||6|
(* projected totals, season obviously still in progress)
The 2013 Cardinals came into the season facing the loss of 211 innings pitched by Kyle Lohse, hoping to fill a great portion of those with the emergence of rookie Shelby Miller. Miller has impressed and then some, but the loss of Jake Westbrook (174.2 innings pitched in 2012) and Jaime Garcia (121.2 innings pitched in 2012) to the 2013 disabled list – Westbrook hopefully back soon, and Garcia’s contributions lost for the season – has made the 6.4 innings per start logged by this now-patchwork Cards rotation all the more impressive.
Indeed, even on this season’s Opening Day at Viva El Birdos, the esteemed bgh made note of starter innings pitched as a “stat to monitor” in 2013. This has proven true in spades, both as the starting rotation succeeds and the bullpen falters.
Yes, the Cardinals rotation throwing that many innings each start results in them being near the bottom of the league in bullpen innings pitched. Correlation? Causation? Yes.
Ultimately, what I’m most interested in is that, from the chart above, of those sixteen teams since 2000 that have registered 6.4 innings pitched per start – as the Cardinals have thus far in 2013 – only four have missed the playoffs (2004 Athletics, 2006 White Sox, 2011 Angels, 2012 Phillies). The other two teams with lower level win totals from this chart made the playoffs via Wild Card (2011 Rays) or weak division (2003 Cubs).
So sixteen teams since 2000 with 6.4 innings pitched per start, twelve made the playoffs. I like those odds.