Assorted Numbers About Cardinal Pitching Big Innings

When I did all the data collection for the Lance Lynn post that now apparently has me tabbed as an expert in all things Lynn, at least if my Twitter mentions are to be believed, there were a lot of interesting things that didn’t make it into that post.  I’ve updated the database to include the last few starts of the Cardinals, up until last night’s shutout in St. Louis by the pitcher in question, and I’m presenting them now as a hodgepodge of things that might mean something, probably don’t.  (Interesting note: since I did the original post, only Shelby Miller has had a big inning and the starters have allowed a total of 18 runs in 77 frames for a 2.10 ERA.  No, I don’t think I can take credit for that.  Probably.)

*You’ll occasionally see people ask before the game which inning will be “The Lynning.”  If you ever wanted to put money down on it, I’d go with the fourth.  Lynn allows big innings (remember, big innings are defined as being charged with three or more runs in the frame) in the fourth 32.1% of the 28 times he’s had one.  Next most frequent: the first at 25%.  Lynn’s only had one big inning in the fifth and one in the sixth, so if he gets through four without blowing up, strong odds it’s not going to happen.

*How does that stack up against the rest of the starting staff?  Unsurprisingly, I have numbers for you.  I’m just going to show the percentage of times a big inning has happened in that frame in relation to their total big innings allowed.  The raw numbers, given that there are so few for some of our pitchers, really wouldn’t mean much.

Pitcher 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Lynn 25.0% 21.4% 14.3% 32.1% 3.6% 3.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Garcia 30.0% 0.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% 40.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Kelly 0.0% 40.0% 40.0% 0.0% 0.0% 20.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Miller 20.0% 20.0% 20.0% 20.0% 0.0% 20.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Wacha 0.0% 0.0% 25.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0% 25.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Wainwright 26.1% 8.7% 17.4% 13.0% 8.7% 21.7% 4.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Westbrook 23.1% 0.0% 15.4% 15.4% 23.1% 23.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

If you are looking at those numbers and thinking you might want to skip the first inning sometimes, you are right.  With this group of hurlers, if they are going to give up a big inning, 23% of the time it’s going to come in the first.  That’s larger than any inning, with the fourth (20.5%) the next closest.

So is Lynn out of step with the rest of his compadres by stumbling in the middle innings?  Not entirely, though his numbers are a bit more dramatic in the fourth than anyone else save Michael Wacha, who has only had four big innings total in his career.  In actuality, the sixth seems to be a time where a lot of folks stumble–that’s where Jaime Garcia has his largest likelihood of an implosion, most likely because he’s running out of gas.  Even all-world pitcher Adam Wainwright has the sixth as his second-worst inning.

A few bullet points in relation to the specific innings:

  • Lynn has had almost as many big innings in the fourth alone (9) as Garcia has had in total (10).
  • Garcia has had two 4-run innings and one 5-run inning.  All of those came in the first inning.
  • Joe Kelly has only given up 12 total runs in the sixth inning.  Five of them came in one start (8/8/12).
  • When Miller allowed the three-run homer to Todd Frazier on Friday in Cincinnati, it marked the first time he’d ever allowed three or more runs in the third.
  • You know how they say get to the good pitchers early before they settle in?  By that measure, Wainwright’s a good pitcher.  Three of his five 4-run innings and his only six-run frame all came before he got his first three outs.

*One of the other narratives that have sprung up around Lynn is that, sure, he has a bad inning, but that’s all he has–he keeps the scoring all nice and boxed up into one spot in the game.  Is that accurate?  Does Lynn have a big inning and only a big inning and does he do it more often than his other mound mates?  Yeah, you could say.

Pitcher BI Only Scoring % Total BI
Lynn 14 50.0%
Garcia 1 10.0%
Kelly 3 60.0%
Miller 2 40.0%
Wacha 1 25.0%
Wainwright 4 17.4%
Westbrook 7 53.9%

As you can see, fully half the time, Lynn’s “Lynning” is the only scoring the other team gets.  While Kelly has a better percentage, he’s got a lot fewer big innings as well.  It’s interesting to see that Wainwright is right there at the top of the “big inning plus other scoring innings” charts–when he’s off enough to have a big inning, he’s not likely to get completely on track later in the game.

Just a note on the above, Garcia and Wacha both had a game where they had two big innings, which was all the scoring, and Wainwright had three games like that.

Finally, let’s throw a few things on a table and call it a day, though if you have anything else in this vein that you’d like to see (and I have the info for), let me know in the comments and I’ll try to suss it out.

Pitcher Last Big Most Straight Games Without Big Most Straight Games With Big
Lynn 5/10/14 (4th) 8 (9/5-10/27/13) 4 (9/30/12-4/3/13)
Garcia 5/17/13 (6th) 11 (8/30/12-4/14/13) 3 (4/29-5/11/12)
Kelly 8/29/12 (3rd) 26 (9/3/12-present) 2 (8/3-8/8/12)
Miller 5/233/14 (3rd) 16 (10/3/12-6/22/13) 1 (five times)
Wacha 4/28/14 (7th) 11 (6/11-10/24/13) 1 (three times)
Wainwright 5/2/14 (3rd) 8 (9/7-10/14/13) 3 (8/31-9/11/12)

*Wainwright has three different stretches of seven games without a BI.

Nice long stretch Kelly is on, though he was a reliever some of that time.  Still, 26 starts in a row without a three-run inning is something we’d like to see everyone do.  Lynn is currently on a three-game streak without a BI.  Let’s see if he can tie his personal mark next time out!

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