Saturday, July 11, 2009

Red Sox pitchers are throwing too many pitches

When Ramon Ramirez was pulled from Thursday night's game against Kansas City, he'd thrown 40 pitches in 1 2/3 innings -- his highest pitch total in any big-league appearance in almost three years.

But he wasn't the only one throwing too many pitches. The entire Red Sox staff -- Ramirez along with Brad Penny, Manny Delcarmen, Justin Masterson and Daniel Bard -- threw 184 pitches in Thursday's loss, an average of more than 20 pitches per inning.

It was the ninth time Red Sox pitchers have thrown more than 180 pitches in a game -- and it was a stark contrast to, say, Josh Beckett's 94-pitch complete-game shutout in late June.

All season long, Red Sox pitchers have thrown too many pitches. Entering play Saturday, in fact, the Red Sox and the Marlins were the only teams to have seen its pitchers throw more than 13,000 pitches this season -- and the Red Sox and the Phillies were the only teams to have seen its pitchers average more than 17 pitches per inning. Here's the pitch-per-inning leaderboard:

1. Phillies, 17.18
2. Red Sox, 17.15
3. Orioles, 16.96
4. Indians, 16.93
5. Nationals, 16.91
6. Cubs, 16.84
7. Yankees, 16.83
8. Mets, 16.82
9. Athletics, 16.81
10. Brewers, 16.79

(You don't need me to tell you that six of those 10 teams have sub-.500 records and that four of them are in last place.)

Relievers have a tendency to throw more pitches per inning than starters, but the vaunted Red Sox bulpen is taking that to an extreme, too. Only the Cubs (18.46) and Nationals (17.9) -- again, that's not exactly company you want to keep -- are averaging more pitches per inning out of the bullpen than the Red Sox (17.85).

And no team in baseball has seen its relievers average more pitches per batter faced than the Red Sox. Here's the Top 10:

t-1. Red Sox, 4.13
t-1. Cubs, 4.13
3. Phillies, 4.01
4. Mariners, 4.01
5. Yankees, 4.00
6. Giants, 3.97
7. Rangers, 3.96
8. Athletics, 3.95
9. Royals, 3.94
10. Tigers, 3.94

Terry Francona has made it his mission to manage his bullpen carefully, to limit the number of innings his relievers throw and even to pay careful attention to how often he has them up and warming in games in which they don't pitch.

But if his relievers aren't going to be more efficient with their pitches, there's not much more he can do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the 5-8 loss to the Royals I couldn't believe how many times the relievers got to 0-2 on batters and were unable to put them away -- resulting in drawn out at-bats and eventual cheap hits...