I had this theory today, and tested it out during the spanking the Rangers got this evening. It was related to the Mark Connor as pitching coach comments I made a few days ago, and how the starters don’t seem to be prepared. I wanted to compare those pitchers who have started and relieved this year, and see how they did. We all know the starters have been terrible and the relievers good, that’s been obvious since just about day one of the season. Right now starters are 14-30 with a 6.64 ERA, while relievers are 7-7 with a 3.49 ERA. This is a difference between night and day, and it’s not a small sample size issue, as starters have pitched 294 innings and relievers 211. That in itself is its own story, that relievers are having to come in so early.
Brandon McCarthy is 4-4 with a 6.65 ERA in 10 starts, 43 innings. He’s 0-0, 0.00 ERA in one relief appearance covering two innings.
Mike Wood is 1-1, 5.59 in 19 innings over 4 starts. 0-0, 3.86 in one relief appearance of 2 1/3 innings.
Kam Loe is 1-5, 6.53 in 9 starts, 51 innings, and 0-0, 5.40 in 5 relief appearances and 8 innings.
All are better as relievers than starters, but that is pretty meaningless because this clearly has a small sample size attached to it.
As a comparison, for the AL overall (including the Rangers), starters have a 4.54 ERA and relievers 4.23. So Rangers relievers are pitching better than the league, but starters are way below league. Starters have 4678 innings, relievers 2403. Thus starters are pitching about 66% of innings, compared to the Rangers 58%. It’s lucky the bullpen is stepping up, otherwise the Rangers would be even further in the tank.
In 2006 Rangers starters had a 5.11 ERA, relievers 3.78.
In 2005 starters were 5.04, relievers 4.85.
In 2004 starters 5.16, relievers 3.51.
In 2003 starters 6.24, relievers 4.92.
In 2002 starters 5.26, relievers 4.99.
In 2001 starters 6.00, relievers 5.19.
Mark Connor was the bullpen coach from 2003-05, and pitching coach 2006-07. Orel Hershiser was the pitching coach from 2003-05. Dom Chiti has been bullpen coach in 2006 and 2007.
You could almost imagine an effect in 2004, when the relievers pitched so well compared to previous seasons. Through all the seasons, you could hardly imagine an effect on the starters at all, as they have fluctuated up and down. You could also imagine that the relievers have been much better since Connor left the bullpen to become the pitching coach. And you could imagine an effect on the starters when he became pitching coach, as the ERA for starters began going back up after a couple of years of improvement. Or this could all be random chance, and the coach means nothing. But who wants to believe that? I’d rather wish for Connor to be fired and Chiti to get a promotion.
Should Willie Eyre be considered for the rotation? His minor league stats show he’s started 66 games, but maybe he hasn’t done it enough lately to be able to start? Still, maybe we keep stretching him out and by the end of the year he might be able to go 5 innings, which is about average for a Rangers starter this year.
I enjoyed the comments from Ron Washington on the pre-game radio show. He said that you don’t steal on Pudge, you steal on the pitcher, in relation to Ian Kinsler’s two stolen bases yesterday. Pudge, of course, is the best defensive catcher ever to play the game. His career caught stealing average as a catcher is about 48.5%, when the league overall tends to about 33%. I asked earlier this week if there’d be more cheers for Pudge than for the Rangers, and when he homered today I’m pretty sure there were. I know I was cheering for him – but only because the game was already out of reach. Yeah, that’s the reason I was cheering. Right.