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May 16, 2014

BP Unfiltered

This Week's New Pitching Lines, 5/16

by Sam Miller


Monday was ridiculous. There were 10 games, so 20 starters, and 20 starting pitching lines. Of the 20, nine were brand new. This is absurd. I don't believe we've had a day with more than seven unique lines yet this year, and many have only two or three, and those are with full schedules. Forty-five percent of Monday's games were historic! And, strikingly, many of them look unstriking:

Only one of the nine was due to unearned runs. The starts by Floyd and Hernandez (very similar to each other) both look as common as any of the starts that I look at with 20 or 25 precedents. Peacock's is strikingly banal: no partial innings, no unearned runs; only the strikeouts stand out at all, and if he'd K'd 10, nine, eight it would have been a repeat. Lewis' doesn't look hard. Lincecum was one out away from having a repeat line. Zimmermann was one out away from a very common line, with 10 precedents. I guess what I'm getting at is this: When I first looked at new pitching lines two years ago, I set the boundaries for our expectations thusly:

There are, technically, infinite possibilities for a starter's pitching line, but realistically, almost all will:

  • Be between two and nine innings;
  • Have a Hits total that is no greater than IP plus seven;
  • Have a Runs total that is no greater than Hits plus one or Hits minus eight;
  • Have a Runs total that is no greater than Earned Runs plus four;
  • Not have a BB total greater than eight;
  • Have a Strikeout total that is no less than BB minus three and no greater than BB plus 10;

That’s still a huge range of possibilities, but with even with those broad boundaries (which would include such unlikely events as 2.2/9/5/2/7/4) it limits us to about 1.5 million pitching lines.

So there are two different kinds of new pitching lines. The ones that break those limits, lines that exist out in the infinite space of the multiverse, the infinite possibilities of which will never be exhausted. And the earthbound lines that fall within those parameters, and that, eventually, if we play enough baseball, we will use up. Eventually, we will plug all the holes and everything baseball could be expected to do will be done. Every one of these nine lines is a hole-plugger. What about the rest of the new lines this week? We'll skip to

The Rest

Three infinity lines, and 20 within our boundaries. So the boundaries are holding up pretty well. And the holes are filling in.

Stephen Strasburg line of the week: Well this is sure disappointing. Strasburg's 7/8/3/3/0/6 is very common, the 18th in major-league history. He's trending toward normal. I guess this happens to us all, one day at a time until we wake up and all of our t-shirts are farmer's market giveaways and the only political issue that we'd march for is protecting Medicare Part D. Here's Strasburg's record this year:
  • First time: 4
  • Third time: 2
  • Fourth time: 1
  • Eighth time: 1
  • 18th time: 1

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article What Scouts Are Saying... (05/15)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: This We... (05/16)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: Ranking... (05/16)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Starting Pitch... (05/16)

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