Jaffe: Starting pitching is making a postseason comeback

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on October 8, 2019:

The death of the starter has been greatly exaggerated. On the heels of a regular season in which starting pitchers threw a smaller share of innings than ever before, and one year after a postseason in which they threw barely over half the total innings, it seemed quite possible that the trend might continue this October, particularly with each of the four 100-win teams spending September scrambling for a fourth option and some of them publicly floating novel ideas about how things might unfold. Admittedly, it’s early in the 2019 postseason, but already we’ve seen some monster pitching performances in the playoffs — Justin Verlander‘s seven innings of one-hit ball, Gerrit Cole‘s 15 strikeouts, Adam Wainwright’s 7.2 scoreless innings — and in general more reliance upon teams’ front-of-the-rotation starters than in the recent past.

Consider: in all of the 2018 postseason, just four times did a starting pitcher throw 100 pitches in a game: Walker Buehler twice (in Games 3 of the NLCS and World Series), Hyun-Jin Ryu once (Game 1 of the NLDS), and Verlander once (Game 1 of the ALDS). Already this year, seven pitchers have done it: Buehler (again), Verlander (again), and Patrick Corbin in their respective Division Series openers, Cole and Jack Flaherty in their respective Games 2, Adam Wainwright in Game 3, and Max Scherzer in Game 4. The count of seven-inning starts isn’t quite there yet, but last year, there were nine in 66 total starts (13.6%), but just four in the Division Series. This year, there have been seven in 28 Division Series starts (25%).

Read the full article here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/starting-pitching-is-making-a-postseason-comeback/

Originally published: October 8, 2019. Last Updated: October 8, 2019.