Mains: The other kind of quality start

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on October 29, 2019:

A couple weeks ago, I discussed how quality starts—you know, six or more innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed—are the rarest they’ve ever been. Last year, though, I noted that relief pitchers compiling the same numbers were up. To a 30-team era high, in fact.

This, I hypothesized, is the product of two trends in baseball. One is shorter starting pitcher outings. If your starter’s lasting only three or four innings, you need somebody to eat a lot of innings, especially if a game goes into extra innings.

The second, of course, is The Opener. When your starting pitcher, by design, pitches only an inning, there are eight other ones to fill.

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Originally published: October 29, 2019. Last Updated: October 29, 2019.