Thursday, July 29, 2010

Inning Breakdown

Yesterday during my inning breakdown of a random sampling of pitchers I told you that I would be giving you all some numbers from the current crop of young exciting pitchers. Due to some speculation from another writer, I will be adding in the Curve ball % for each pitcher.

Again, the same rules apply as yesterday. We are analyzing these pitchers strictly on an inning workload and a rough idea on the success each pitcher has had. All I am attempting to accomplish is to see if there is any true link between limiting early pitching innings in a career and sustained health.

23 years old, 186 IP/201IP/201 IP, 977 IP over 5 years (195 IP/yr) Career 19.2% (80.1 MPH)... Justin Verlander. He has a shockingly high amount of early innings and uses the curve ball often and is a power arm. If our prediction is correct, he could be a future arm problem, or he is a natural born work horse.

24 years old, 110 IP in 1st year on pace for 160 IP, Career 11.5% Curves (74 MPH)... Jaime Garcia. Definitely not a power pitcher, and his innings in his first year will be medium to high. One would expect to see more innings the second and third year. Based on the information we've seen, I would say Garcia is in line to become a reliable injury free pitcher.

22 years old, 24/100/157, 324 IP over 4 years (81 IP/yr), 8.1% CB... Joba Chaimberlain. Possibly the best example of holding a pitcher back. What has this done for Joba? It may have just solidified him a career as a mediocre to bad pitcher. Well done.

23 years old, 127/119 on pace for 189 IP, 13% CB (75.9 MPH)... Tommy Hanson. Looks like they are going with no inning limit on Hanson and this could doom him. He has a little bit of power in his arm (93 MPH fastball) and likes the power curve ball.

23 years old, 53/70/206 708 IP over 5 years (141 IP/yr), 19.8% CB (78.7 MPH)... Gavin Floyd. Innings were not limited early on, he just got some time out of the bullpen and spot starts. However, his curve ball numbers are high, and were higher earlier in his career. He is not a power pitcher, and has been said to be an easy thrower.

23 years old, 82/198/218, 640 IP over 4 seasons (160 IP/yr), 9.0% CB (76.8 MPH)... Ubaldo Jiminez. i think this is a great test case for Tristan's curv eball theory. He is a power pitcher that has a lot of early innings on his arm. He does not throw a curve ball too much, instead stays with the sinker and changeup. If his arm goes through reliability issues I think this one gives a huge nod towards scouting as the best way to judge a pitchers reliability. Jiminez is a violent thrower, and someone that I would guess will have arm problems.

23 years old, 146/227/223, 737 IP over 4 seasons (184 IP/yr), 16.2% CB (78 MPH)... Tim Lincecum. Is this someone we've already seen with arm problems? Lincecum hasn't missed substantial time with an injury but his fastball velocity is decreasing and many are starting to wonder if he can remain at his elite pitching level.

23 years old, 33/34/196, 337 IP over 5 seasons (67 IP/yr), Large differentials in CB stats... Edison Volquez. This guy's numbers are crazy when analyzed. It is like he has been 3 different pitchers. He was used in relief appearances his first 2 seasons, then compiled huge inning numbers, then his arm broke down. Now after arm surgery he is throwing his curve ball at unprecedented rates (16% up from career 8%). We know he has arm problems and his schizophrenic pitching style can only lead to more problems.

22 years old, 174/171/124, 470 IP over 3 seasons (156 IP/yr), 0% CB... Jonny Cueto. Volquez's teammate never throws curve balls, has maintained himself as a power pitcher, and has avoided arm issues under Dusty.

23 years old, 121/76/136, 486 IP over 4 seasons (121 IP/yr), 0% CB many sliders... FranciscoLiriano. Was Liriano used too much early on? If you look at his innings numbers, no. Remember though that he put up his 121 IP in a shortened season with lots of minor league work too. He has been the role model for starting youth slow at the major league level. His fastball has lost a lot of velocity and he missed an entire year. It may not just be the curves, but the combination of power pitcher with smaller frame, and a lethal breaking ball which stresses the arm.

21 years old, 72/34/86, 304 IP over 4 years (76 IP/yr), 19.2% CB... Phil Hughes. A player thathad a painfully slow rise to a full workload in the majors. It may have paid off for the Yankees, though, as he has shown brilliance this year. Given the high amount of curves and the speed of his fastball (92.5 MPH) maybe the Yankees saw him as a risk and took precaution. More likely they truly believe this is the way to groom a young pitcher (See: Joba Chaimberlain).

22 years old, 90/147/200, 748 IP over 5 seasons (150 IP/yr), 20.4% CB... Chad Billingsley. This is a guy that basically had no restraint over innings and throws a lot of curve balls. While he may not be a prototypical power pitcher (91 MPH fastball) he relies on strike outs and will tally high pitch counts. He has shown no arm problems as of yet.

24 years old, 123/161/173, 812 IP over 5 seasons (162 IP/yr), 12.5% CB... Jared Weaver. Another pitcher which I do not believe had a inning limit. He has turned out to be a steady performer for the Angels.

19 years old, 84/191/190, 1,065 IP over 6 seasons (177 IP/yr), 13.4% CB... Felix Hernandez. Big power pitcher that throws a lot of innings and has had no arm troubles. I picture him a lot like CCSabathia in the sense that any workload his body could take. I would categorize him as an anomaly of this group.

So what is the verdict? More and more I'm leaning on taking this out of the numbers hands and leaving it to good scouting. If you can see a smaller pitcher with a lot of stress on his arm, take the ball out of his hand. If it is a larger power pitcher, maybe they are more willing to take a more serious load. I would not simply state pitcher size is the key contribution either. Scouts have to look at a multitude of things and sound pitching mechanics have to be the #1 variable in the innings debate.

As far as Tristan's theory goes, I do think it has some validity. You see a lot of these young power pitchers with early arm trouble. It does seem like there could be a good connection between young power pitchers and arm troubles, but I'm not sure how the curve ball, or other breaking balls, factors in. I simply haven't done enough research to give a verdict on that prediction.

I guess you all want me to get into Strasburg, as he is the hot topic in the innings debate.Strasburg uses power pitching and a lethal curve ball. He has had a small sample size of innings, but you can be sure the Nationals will limit his innings (By the way I'm not sure why they are doing this. They have 5 years of him before he flees for another team. Use him as much as possible). From what we have looked at, and what I have seen, I do think bringing him along slowly is the right move. He is a young power pitcher. He puts a lot of stress on the elbow. He mechanics are sound, but he is not an "easy thrower". Every time I see him throw I think, "Wow, everything about that pitch was violent." Starting with the arm motion and the big powerful arm motion to the plate, and ending with a devastating pitch. Will Strasburg have an injury plagued career? Who can tell, but it will be an exciting career. (Note: I truly believe thatStrasburg's DL stint right now is more of the Natinals conspiring against their fans. They got another Strasburg sell out crowd and didn't have to use up his innings. He got a good side session completed in the bullpen before the game, and then was told he wasn't pitching by the Natinalsmanagement. That is my spin on the injury)

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