I know this is a baseball blog, but Steve Yzerman sort of transcends the whole sports blogosphere. Steve Yzerman announced his retirement today and I have to say it was an honor and a privelage to have him as a player in Detroit. He’s a class act and will go down as one of the top ten athletes to ever play for a Detroit team. He played for the Red Wings since he was drafted in 1983 and he was the cornerstone of three Stanley Cup championships. I wish Mr. Yzerman the best in the next stage of his life.
A lot of people, including myself, are worried about the Tiger’s rotation in the second half. Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson have had poor second halfs the last two seasons and both Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander were shut down in September last season. Outside of Rogers, the only Tiger to ever log 200 innings in a season is Mike Maroth, and he’s sitting on the disabled list. If the Tiger’s rotation does as well in the second half as it did in the first, it will be the miracle the likes of, well, the Tigers having the best record in baseball in July. I guess ANYTHING can happen, but there is some good news.
Probably because of the strength of the Tiger’s pen, Jim Leyland has been able to save the starter’s arms. A case in point was last week when Justin Verlander had a shutout through eight innings. Rather then bringing him in for a ninth inning to notch a complete game shutout, he instead went to Jason Grilli. This was smart baseball. Each of these guy’s arms have limits. So far we don’t know what those limits are because you never know until you get there.
Baseball Prospectus has a measure called Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP). Here’s a column on it’s history although this was written in 2004 so it could have been refined since. Basically it works just like it sounds and it’s a measure of a pitcher’s usage. Higher PAP, more abuse and the more chance of a breakdown in the near future. There are guys like Livan Hernandez who seem to defy the odds. So it’s interesting looking at this to see which manager’s are riding their starters or to see where the Tiger starters are at.
And this is where the good news is. The first Tiger is Nate Robertson but he’s way down at 37. He did max out in one start at 120 pitches, but his average per start is only 95. Since he’s had a number of quality starts, that means he’s going later in the game yet still not throwing an exorbiant number of pitches. I think this qualifies as good.
Next on the list is Justin Verlander at 41. Now here’s where I lose the logic because his average number of pitches is great then Robertson as is his total number of pitches. Yet Verlander is a few notches below Robertson. Jeremy Bonderman is way down at 59.
So my point, without knowing exactly how PAP works, is that the Leyland has done a pretty good job with his starters. We’re in first place and it doesn’t seem like he’s had to ride his starters.