Right now, Deolis Guerra is a major-league pitcher in a huge market having a fine season. He’s a serviceable reliever, which makes him probably the best reliever left on the Angels’ active roster, with the sort of overall pitching stats that made Edward Mujica briefly a closer and earned Edward Mujica briefly $5 million per year:
“To the extent reliever performances get unequivocally awesome, it occurs only over time; but, excepting full-season or full-career stat lines, we don’t really have the infrastructure to easily put performances like Giles’ in context. … I don’t know how rare 23 Ks over nine innings is. If I had to guess, I’d say… it’s a record? If it is, it’s such a buried record that nobody has bothered to ask him about it.” —Me
Daniel Hudson was almost traded late last week. It might have rescued the pitcher from baseball's version of hell.
On June 21st, having collected saves on three consecutive days, Brad Ziegler got the night off and the ninth inning belonged to Daniel Hudson. There are varying degrees to which the transfer of power in a bullpen is “real”—if the Diamondbacks had lost by 13 to Toronto that night, Hudson would have been like the Vice President who technically takes over as President while the real LOTFW undergoes dental surgery. But the game was close, and Hudson was brought into it, and he got three easy outs. He collected his first save and lowered his ERA to 1.55 on the season, and to 3.12 since the start of 2015, when Hudson’s status as One Of The Best Stories In Baseball took hold.
Everybody butchers baseball. How do romance novels do, you might wonder.
We play a game when we go on vacation: One person grabs a steamy romance novel out of the bag, reads the title and back-cover plot summary out loud, and everybody else writes a first sentence for the book. Then the original person reads all the first sentences out loud, and the rest of us guess which one is real. Long way of telling you how I ended up with a copy of The Winning Season, by Alison Packard, not long ago.
Pitcher roles change, but what we think of as (statistically) a full season hasn't. This is bad and wrong.
One hundred and sixty-two innings was as good a number as any. By design—"provided that the pitcher has pitched at least as many innings in league championship games as the number of games scheduled for each club in his club’s league that season (MLB Rule 9.22(b))"—the number had a pleasing symmetry with the number of games in a season, which is one of baseball’s three or four most significant figures. And it worked. In 1962, for instance, there were 118 pitchers who started at least 10 games. A majority—58 percent—reached 162 innings. A supermajority (70.1 percent) of pitchers who started at least 15 games did; 80 percent of pitchers who started at least 20 did. If you were a starter, the minimum-innings threshold recognized you.
Is anybody doing anything interesting, or are we all just waiting for the apocalypse?
The Oakland A’s started the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1973 World Series ahead 5-1. There is video of this. Rollie Fingers is on the mound. The great A’s relief ace is already the great A’s relief ace by this point. He was an All-Star in ’73, his 1.92 ERA the fifth best in baseball (minimum 50 innings; third best minimum 100). He saved 22 games, third-most in baseball. He had pitched in six of the seven World Series games, for a total of 12 2/3 innings as John Milner worked him to a 3-2 count leading off the ninth in Game 7. Milner pulls the pitch foul, and that’s when the video of Game 7 cuts off. The final half-inning of that game doesn't appear to exist online.
The ultimate unintended consequence of the ever-expanding bullpen.
In the sixth inning of a recent Cubs game, Addison Russell (a right-hander) singled off Gio Gonzalez (a left-hander) to bring the Cubs to within one run of the Nationals. Blake Treinen (a right-hander) relieved Gonzalez (the left-hander) to face Tim Federowicz (a right-hander), who was immediately replaced by Tommy La Stella (a left-hander), who walked to load the bases for Ryan Kalish (a left-hander), pinch-hitting for Clayton Richard (a pitcher), at which point Dusty Baker (a right-hander) walked to the mound (a no-hander) and signaled for Sammy Solis (a left-hander (who bats right)), which is when the ride stopped. Solis faced Kalish. It took some doing, but Baker finally got his platoon advantage.