MLB…let pitchers pitch!

Well…We’re off & running as the MLB is off & running in its 6 month marathon. Each season introduces new approaches by teams, managers and players. But, the MLB has to wake up and have Pitchers Pitch!
….Already we’ve seen non-pitchers utilized in games. Pitching IS the most vital position of a baseball game. Other sports don’t take this approach. In “blow outs in other professional sports we don’t see non-keepers take over the goalie duties in an NHL blow out game. We don’t see halfbacks becoming the QB in an NFL game. We don’t see guards “posting up” in an NBA game.
…The paying customer expects to see the club put its best players on the field and at least “try” to win. When the win is highly unlikely, fans still expect the club to at least “try” to win with their best players…not just finish the game. The Cardinals haven’t yet resorted to the “fake” pitcher approach. Thank goodness!
….Why is this happening so often? A quick tour through the box scores will point out quickly that many starters aren’t making it through the 5th inning! From Saturday’s games (I assume a typical day), the starters went this number of innings: 8 innings-once, 6 inn-2x , 5+inn-once, 5 inn-7x, 4+inn -6x, 4-3x, 3+inn -2x, 2inn-1x, 1+inn-2x. The 8 innings performance was done by a 39 year old– Justin Verlander. That means exactly 1 starting pitcher made it past the 6th inning! Big whoopee!!
…With bullpen arms apparently “maxed out” after 1 inning, the parade to the mound begins early & often. More & more often it seems, to protect the pitchers for the NEXT game, the current fan gets to see Joe Backup take over as the pitcher. UGH!!!
….This trend that has gradually gained momentum by the MLB is to use non-pitchers in “blow out” games. This is grossly unfair to the paying customers who expect to see each team at least TRY to put the best product on the field. With the average cost of a MLB ticket at $46 this year, that seems to be a reasonable expectation. Further, in a study last year, it cost 4 adult fans an average of $253/game! That’s a tad over $64 per person. Sooo…fans average over $100/game. They expect high quality entertainment & competition for that amount…not Joe Backup pretending he’s a pitcher.
….Somehow, the pitch count has become the sacred yardstick. That stat wasn’t even used until 1988. Prior to that a pitcher was measured by either a) his innings b) his stuff—meaning his movement not just how fast he can throw the ball. Now, it is assumed that each and every pitcher…if they’re 21 or 22 years old or a 35 year veteran have EXACTLY the same duration—100 pitches.
…Much of this problem is due to control. The faulty supposition that “throwing the ball” by the batters is the answer on EVERY pitch is ruining the game. Look @ the pitchers who have extended their careers. Wainwright is a classic example. Using a variety of pitches, in different parts of the strike zone or better yet, pitches that move “out” of the strike zone keeps vet pitchers in the game.
…. Further, this “blow the ball by the batters” approach damages the arms & careers of the pitchers. Today, already there are 182 pitchers on the MLB IL for 2022. That’s an average of 6/team…and were in mid-April! Sure, there’s always another guy to bring up. But, is this want the MLB wants? A continual parade to the IL by the best pitchers only to be replaced by pitchers who couldn’t’ make the team in April?
…..Try extending each starter. If you impose a particular stopping point, say 100 pitches and you remove the pitcher almost every time at that same point, very soon that person’s arm will be accustom to “tiring out” at 100 pitches. Pushing pitchers to go deeper into the game will strengthen their arm. Little by little, the stronger arms will lead to longer outings.
….One option of modifying the structure of the pitching staff is the one being used by the MLB now. The bullpen has about as many players as the starting lineup! Maybe, have 6 or 7 starters on the staff that could put in a 3 or 4 inning stint in relief. Plan for a Piggy-Back approach—2 starters intending to go back-back & get 8-9 innings out of them. Even the “sacred” closer may have to be used but the policy of throwing out 4-5 pitchers in relief almost every game who generally throw 1 inning isn’t good for any pitcher.
….btw…there is NO reason that starting pitchers shouldn’t arrive at camp able to throw 100 good pitches. Their job isn’t an 8 month job…it should be a 12 month job. Working in the off season to build up stamina, new pitches, finding that “fine” control that separates the OK form the Good and the Good from the GREAT. With a $500,000 minimum salary, off-season part time jobs aren’t required.
……How times have changed! Bob Feller arrived in the MLB as a 17 year old in 1936.He pitched 6 years prior to WWII. In years 4,5,6 in the MLB he led the MLB in innings pitched—296, 320, 343 inn and won 76 games in those 3 years. In 1942, he volunteered for the military. It wasn’t as a “good will” ambassador. He fought on Navy ships as a captain of a 40-millimeter anti-aircraft mount. When he returned after the war, Feller felt that he had to make up for lost income (his wife had a very serious health issue). After the war, he contacted Satchel Paige and barnstormed around the USA in the off season. In those days, it was still attractive to fans to see an all-white team vs an all-black team. The 27 game “season” was well attended and provided all the players some extra cash. This occurred for a couple years. Basically, Feller pitched about 10 months/year. The 1st team to integrate in the AL was Cleveland in 1947. Feller played a role in the signing of Satchel Page (in his mid 40’s by that time). Larry Doby, a 19 year star, joined Satch in that year also. Feller’s contact with Page made it an easy “sign” for Cleveland. Feller still held a 13-3 record as a 35 year old! Sure..it’s 70+ years ago but players are bigger, stronger, better trained NOW so shouldn’t they be able to go even longer? Is 5 innings the goal?…or the minimum?
….Hopefully, I touched some thoughts from you. I would love to have them (and so would other readers). So, please send them to me @rjryansr@charter.com, or put directly onto my facebook page (Bob Ryan), or through Messenger. If you want to “catch up” with some blogs that you missed, go to bobryansportsblog.com. Pass the word. Thanks for your read! Bob

One thought on “MLB…let pitchers pitch!

  1. Hey, Bob. As always, good stuff. I agree with your thoughts about MLB pitching these days. In particular, I don’t get it when pitchers show up in preseason not ready to pitch (unless, of course, he’s coming back from surgery). They should have been throwing and building strength in the lead up. I’m astonished when an arm problem surfaces in the first few days of spring training (as happened with Cardinals this spring)! Keep up the great work. JFM

    From: bobryansportsblog Date: Monday, April 18, 2022 at 11:36 AM To: John Mohrmann Subject: [New post] MLB…let pitchers pitch! bobryansportsblog posted: ” Well…We’re off & running as the MLB is off & running in its 6 month marathon. Each season introduces new approaches by teams, managers and players. But, the MLB has to wake up and have Pitchers Pitch!….Already we’ve seen non-pitchers utilized in “

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