Sarris: Are we watching pitchers hurt themselves in the playoffs?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at FanGraphs on October 19, 2017:

The postseason game is changing around us. Starting pitchers are being asked to go harder for shorter periods of time, allowing teams to begin playing matchups with the bullpen as early as the third inning. And while strategically sound in most cases, this trend has emerged without a major change in how we think about rest and schedules in the postseason. As much as we might love the high-intensity matchups that “bullpenning” provides, is it possible that pitchers are having to endure greater stress than in the past?

 Postseason appearances ask more of a pitcher than their regular-season equivalents. When John Smoltz appeared on our podcast last year, he hypothesized that playoff innings were possibly the biggest factor (among others) in his own personal injury history. And it had to do with his bulldog mentality.

“I put this emphasis on postseason innings: every inning I pitched was three innings of stress for a regular-season game because that’s the way I approached the game. You weren’t guaranteed another,” Smoltz said. “In a regular-season start, there has never been a game where I even came close to a postseason game. I had a third and fourth gear in the regular season, but it was fifth and sixth gear in the postseason, constantly.”

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Originally published: October 19, 2017. Last Updated: October 19, 2017.