This may be the first time I’ve ever said “shove your stinkin’ stats! I know what my own eyes tell me!” and wasn’t being snarky. But Dan Rosenheck’s piece in the New York Times concluding that Tim Lincecum’s 14 strikeout performance was better than Roy Halladay’s no-hitter actually has me saying it.
It’s not that I disagree with Rosenheck’s results, as such. He’s not, I don’t believe, making value judgments here. He’s using defense independent pitching analysis. He’s looking at Win Probability Added. The numbers, as far as a luddite like me can tell, add up. I’m not sitting here like some octogenarian newspaper columnist misusing that “lies, damn lies and statistics” quote while shaking my cane.
No, it’s not a case of me — a fellow traveler of many a stat-head — rejecting sabermetric orthodoxy. It’s just
a case of one fan — me — finding his own limit of the utility of statistical
analysis and saying: “Hey Dan: neat article. But it’s totally beside the point.“
Sure, I suppose if I wanted to attack Rosenheck’s analysis I could get into the strength of each pitcher’s opponent. Or I could try to break down each pitcher’s command. Or I could actually track batted-balls and find some error in his approach. Or I could question the utility of using DIPS in a single game in the first place.
But I need not take any issue with his analysis to conclude that Halladay was better. I’m
merely sitting here as a baseball fan who watched the entirety of both
performances. I’m merely declaring — gleefully — that Doc was better than Timmy, no question about it, bub, and don’t you dare try to tell me any differently.
I usually cringe when someone tells me that statistical analysis has its limits and that looking at things from beneath a green eye-shade is an awful way to try and understand the game. But in this one instance, yeah, my inner-Joe Morgan is coming out.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.