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Pitcher Usage and Result Patterns? What are these, you ask? This is the end
result of a conversation the two of us started up in the spring on how to
evaluate starting pitchers in terms of how they’re used by their managers, and
what that means in terms of results. We wanted to generate a team-wide
statistical snapshot on how starting pitchers performed based on how they were
used by their managers. In doing this, we used the quality start as our
qualitative measure of pitcher performance, and we recorded them against rest
and usage patterns. What comes out on the end? Starters (and teams) are
evaluated in terms of how many games they’ve started on 3, 4, 5, or 6+ days’
rest. Among each of those sets of information, we see how many quality starts
(QS) and blown quality starts (BQS) the starter recorded, and what their
average pitch counts were. What’s a blown quality start? A game in which a
starter has already logged a quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer

1998 Overall Pitcher Use Patterns
Days rest -> 2 3 4 5 6+ CS Totals
Starts 0 1 93 47 21 1 163
QS 0 0 53 22 12 1 88
%QS .00 .00 .57 .47 .57 1.00 .54
BQS 0 0 5 4 2 0 11
%QS+BQS .00 .00 .62 .55 .67 1.00 .61
Avg # pitches 0 105 109 105 107 107 108

runs) that either he blew by allowing a fourth run (or more) after the sixth,
or that his bullpen blew by allowing baserunners that the starter left to them
to score.


What can it tell us? It gives us a way to think about how a manager runs his
rotation in terms of pitch counts and how regularly the starter pitches. As we
work our way through the `98 season, we’ll be able to come to some conclusions
about some pitchers and some managers. How often does a manager have his
starters take their regular turn? Is there a relationship between pitch counts
and longer rest periods? How often did the starter give his manager a quality
start? Are some starters more successful with longer rest periods than four
days? Rooting through this information should begin to give us the answers to
these questions.

Clemens            Days rest                 Hentgen            Days rest
                3    4    5   6+   Totals                    3    4    5   6+  Totals
Starts          0   22    8    3       33    Starts          0   15   10    4      29
QS              0   16    4    3       23    QS              0    6    3    3      12
%QS           .00  .73  .50 1.00      .70    %QS           .00  .40  .30  .75     .56
BQS             0    2    1    0        3    BQS             0    1    0    0       1
%QS+BQS       .00  .82  .63 1.00      .79    %QS+BQS       .00  .47  .30  .75     .45
Avg # pitches   0  117  107  123      115    Avg # pitches   0  104   96   96     100

Williams           Days rest                 Guzman             Days rest
                3    4    5   6+   Totals                    3    4    5   6+  Totals
Starts          0   17   12    3       32    Starts          0   13    8    1      22
QS              0    9    7    1       17    QS              0    9    3    0      12
%QS           .00  .53  .58  .33      .53    %QS           .00  .69  .38  .00     .55
BQS             0    0    2    1        3    BQS             0    0    1    0       1
%QS+BQS       .00  .53  .75  .67      .63    %QS+BQS       .00  .69  .50  .00     .59
Avg # pitches   0  111  110  112      111    Avg # pitches   0  109  110  124     110

Carpenter          Days rest                 Escobar            Days rest
                3    4    5   6+   Totals                   OS    4    5   6+  Totals
Starts          0   13    6    5       24    Starts          1    6    2    1      10
QS              0    7    3    1       11    QS              1    5    1    1       8
%QS           .00  .54  .50  .20      .46    %QS          1.00  .83  .50 1.00     .80
BQS             0    2    0    1        3    BQS             0    0    0    0       0
%QS+BQS       .00  .69  .50  .40      .58    %QS+BQS      1.00  .83  .50 1.00     .80
Avg # pitches   0  100  104  104      102    Avg # pitches 107  118  107  112     114

Hanson             Days rest                 Stieb              Days rest
                3    4    5   6+   Totals                    3    4    5   6+  Totals
Starts          0    5    1    2        8    Starts          1    2    0    0       3
QS              0    1    1    2        4    QS              0    0    0    0       0
%QS           .00  .20 1.00 1.00      .50    %QS           .00  .00  .00  .00     .00
BQS             0    0    0    0        0    BQS             0    0    0    0       0
%QS+BQS       .00  .20 1.00 1.00      .50    %QS+BQS       .00  .00  .00  .00     .00
Avg # pitches   0  104   96  110      105    Avg # pitches 105   92    0    0      96


Halladay           Days rest
                3    4    5   6+   Totals
Starts          0    0    0    2        2
QS              0    0    0    1        1
%QS           .00  .00  .00  .50      .50
BQS             0    0    0    0        0
%QS+BQS       .00  .00  .00  .50      .50
Avg # pitches   0    0    0   94       94


Tim Johnson arrived in Toronto with a reputation as a players’ manager,
particularly young players. It was expected that this would be a nice change
from Cito Gaston, who by the time he left had established that he was apathetic
about working with anybody in any age group. While it took Johnson about four
months before he and the team committed themselves to their younger players
(making themselves noticeably better in the bargain), the way he handled his
starting pitching was established within the first three weeks of his tenure.
Johnson works his starters relatively hard, averaging 108 pitches per start.
He sticks with a five-man rotation, not skipping the fifth starter even in the
event of an off day. In this way, all of his starters end up benefitting from
the extra day of rest. Toronto’s starters had eleven BQS for the season. An
educated guess based on limited data projects that this figure will be around
the league average. On that score, Johnson and his staff aren’t falling asleep
as the game progresses – something that Cito was frequently accused of.


First, let’s look at the handling of the veteran pitchers and how they
responded. Roger Clemens could probably throw a sixteen-pound shot 125 times a
game every fifth day, and still finish the season with an ERA under 3.00.
Johnson’s usage pattern obviously was no problem for The Rocket. However, it
was for Pat Hentgen. Hentgen, whom Gaston had worked harder than any starter
in baseball during the previous two seasons, couldn’t make it through a third.
His health was the subject of rumors all summer before being shut down in
September, and he only put up ten quality starts in his 25 starts with 4 or 5
days’ rest, while logging three QS in his four starts on 6 days’ rest. Woody
Williams
has a history of arm problems, but he lasted the entire season despite
an average workout of 110 pitches. The injuries may have left him ill-suited
to take his turn regularly and that he could benefit from a little extra rest.
Williams tossed 9 QS+BQS out of 12 starts with 5 days’ rest, while while
struggling to put up a quality start half the time with a normal four days of
rest. Juan Guzman threw four months of very good ball under Johnson’s
demanding workload before moving on to the Orioles. Erik Hanson was recovering
from a lost season, and the Jays found out that he hadn’t.


Was Johnson as demanding with his younger pitchers? Chris Carpenter started
the year in the bullpen, and was pampered a little more than the other regular
starters, averaging 102 pitches per start. That lighter workload paid off when
the Jays mounted their late push for the wild card, as he gave the Jays with
five consecutive quality starts in September. Kelvim Escobar was brought up
from Syracuse in early August and inserted into the rotation. He immediately
reeled off seven straight quality starts, but Johnson stretched him out to an
average pitch count of 120 during that span. That takes a pretty heavy toll on
any pitcher, but at 22, Escobar was especially at risk. Escobar finally
collapsed at the same time as the Jays did, producing only one quality start in
his last three outings. A note about Escobar: the “OS” column is for his
original start, since we couldn’t dig up the date for his last start at
Syracuse to determine how many days’ rest he had between that and his first
start in the majors.


Conclusions? The workloads Johnson handed out didn’t matter much to Roger
Clemens, and it looks like his handling of Chris Carpenter was beneficial.
Using Woody Williams on longer rest may generate better results for Williams,
but it creates a new set of problems in terms of everyone else’s rest patterns.
Whether or not anything could be done to get good work out of Pat Hentgen or
Erik Hanson is probably academic, given that they were both damaged goods.
Kelvim Escobar was ridden hard and floundered after initial success, so it will
be interesting to see how Johnson handles him (and Roy Halladay) over next
year’s 162 game season.