strike outs and innings pitched by starters
Does the emphasis on strike outs also commit the teams to the ridiculous 4 – 5 inning starter and a dozen or more relief pitchers per year? Are we straining the arms by demanding near 100 mph heaters and lots of curves and sliders?
I went to Brad Radtke’s baseball reference page. He pitched 12 years for us and is one of the best pitchers in Twins history. 148 – 139 4.22 era is not HOF worthy, and he cannot be called a great pitcher, but he was a competent competitor for teams that needed him like today’s Twins.
What I wanted to see was his innings pitched – 2451 – an average of 221 per year with a peak of 261. He struck out 1467 and walked 445. His WHIP was not great – 1.26, but acceptable.
His complete games – 37 is only 10% of his starts. His average start was 6.5 innings per start.
Now comes my crazy comparison – a potential Hall of Famer – Clayton Kershaw – has pitched 14 years, 2454 inning – only three more than Radtke. 2670 strike outs and 606 walks. 25 complete games – 12 less than Radtke and he has started 379 games – 2 more than Radtke.
Of course, his 185 – 84 makes him elite, but as you probably are well aware of, for many years he was worn out as the Dodgers got to post season and in the last few has been injured. He is no longer the pitcher that he was and not even the Dodger Ace anymore. Obviously still a great pitcher, but that is not the issue.
The pitcher throws on average 62 – 65 % strikes.
If I extrapolate - no I am not a statistician - that means the pitcher is going to throw a minimum of 5 pitches per K and 6 per BB. I think that is the difference between the Radtke and Kershaw stats. More Ks and more BBs mean more pitches thrown - not even considering the arm stress of the faster pitches or the curve.
I know Terry Ryan and pitch to contact are out, but I did want to look at some of the realities in todays baseball.
Finally, I had to look at Warren Spahn, my all time favorite pitcher who lasted 21 years, pitched 5046 innings, started 635 games and relieved in 79 others and he completed 382 games. He struck out 2493 - just .5 per inning and averaged 8+ innings per start so this 363 win pitcher does not fit the current profile, but he does rank number 6 in wins all time despite serving in WWII missing three full seasons and serving at the Battle of the Bulge along with Yogi Berra, Ralph Houk, Cecil Travis, Hoyt Wilhelm and 21 other players from MLB. The war has nothing to do with this topic except that it robbed some years from each. Pitchers of Spahn's era had different expectations, I understand that. Today with the HOF talk still in our minds Roger Clemens is often referred to in modern terms as the greatest pitcher (not by me) and he pitched 24 seasons - with the war years similar to what Spahn would have had. He had 709 starts and completed 118. With almost as many Ks as innings pitched he was the beginning of the current era and Spahn was the end of the previous era. Clemens averaged 6.9 innings per start.