"They gotta pitch deeper into games!"

Dunexcl5_medium This is the prevailing thought of Ol' Clench Jaw, the one thing he seems to yammer on about more than all other potential thoughts on why the team has struggled.

I know what you might be thinking. "But, Scott! This team's .500ish play is one of the most surprising things in baseball!"

Yeah, I know, but struggling is struggling. You're either good or you're not. They're struggling to reach .500. They struggle. All the time.

Some folks 'round these parts have started wondering something else. "Well, if the problem is they aren't pitching deeper...then leave them the hell in the game, Dave."

Fair enough. There have been times when it seems he's taken the hook out a little early, and times when it seems he's taken the hook out a little late. But "early" seems to be more the problem. The winds of change -- thanks to the recent losing -- have started to sing a tale of Trembley's over-reliance on the bullpen. Let's take a look at pitch count data for our current starting five and see if we can find a method to Trembley's madness.

(All numbers are grabbed from Yahoo! Sports)

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Pitch Count ERA WHIP
1-15 10.67 2.23
16-30 4.41 1.10
31-45 1.50 1.11
46-60 1.27 1.13
61-75 6.19 1.56
76-90 4.64 1.27
91-105 5.14 1.43
106-120 0.00 1.50
IP at 91+ pitches: 17.1
Total Innings: 124.2

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Pitch Count ERA WHIP
1-15 9.19 1.15
16-30 7.02 1.68
31-45 2.50 1.28
46-60 2.29 0.81
61-75 0.92 0.97
76-90 1.25 0.92
91-105 3.77 1.26
106-120 0.00 3.30
121-135.0.00 INF
IP at 91+ pitches: 17.2
Total Innings: 129

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Pitch Count ERA WHIP
1-15 3.86 1.29
16-30 10.13 2.63
31-45 7.71 1.47
46-60 1.80 1.60
61-75 4.82 1.29
76-90 4.15 1.38
91-105 0.00 0.83
106-120 0.00 INF
IP at 91+ pitches: 6
Total Innings: 98.2

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Pitch Count ERA WHIP
1-15 18.90 2.00
16-30 5.68 1.18
31-45 4.38 1.54
46-60 4.15 1.46
61-75 2.45 1.09
76-90 1.42 2.53
91-105 0.00 2.45
106-120 0.00 1.50
IP at 91+ pitches: 5.1
Total Innings: 73.1

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Pitch Count ERA WHIP
1-15 21.21 1.71
16-30 6.75 1.13
31-45 1.29 0.86
46-60 7.36 3.55
61-75 3.18 1.06
76-90 2.08 1.15
91-105 0.00 3.43
106-120 0.00 3.00
IP at 91+ pitches: 3
Total Innings: 33.1

Some tidbits about the numbers, and conclusions you can draw, and other than that I leave the numbers up to you to interpret how you wish:

  1. The only guy on the team that doesn't start really, really slowly in the average start is Burres. He makes up for a solid 1-15 with a terrible 16-45, though.
  2. Guthrie might get by without good run support if he didn't stink for 30 pitches.
  3. Olson's good for about 75 pitches, which isn't surprising.
  4. There's not really enough data on Liz (33 IP) to find anything meaningful.
Now I'll say this in defense of Brian Burres: it would seem to me that maybe we should let the dude pitch past 90 pitches a little more. If it results in disaster, big deal. At least we'll find out if he has the arm to go that far. Of course, Kranitz and Co. probably can make a good guess as it is, and maybe they know what they're doing. But he stays strong up to 90 pitches generally. If you're going to have someone like Burres in the rotation, you might as well see if he can also be a workhorse.

If you ask me -- nobody did, I realize -- Trembley's "they gotta pitch deeper into games!" rhetoric is starting to seem like he's picking on the guys in the rotation. Listen, the bullpen is out there for a reason. He's also dealing with two guys (Olson and Liz) that have never been pressed very hard before, and he treats Burres like he's a future All-Star prospect or something.

I mean, it's such an obvious thing to say that I'm starting to wonder if there's any real substance to it. We know what this rotation is -- a good starter (JG), an innings eater who runs a 50/50 chance of being any good that day (DC), a scrap arm (BB), and two kids (GO and RL). The problems this rotation has are in no way surprising or unique.
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