For the first time in his 14-season, 339-start career Chris Carpenter started on short rest last night and it didn’t go well, as he failed to make it out of the fourth inning while allowing four runs to put the Cardinals in an early hole.
St. Louis came back to win, so rightly or wrongly few people are questioning Tony La Russa’s decision today. But mostly Carpenter making his first short-rest start at age 36 got me wondering about short-rest starters throughout baseball history.
Details from the early 1900s are often incomplete, but based on the data Baseball-Reference.com has available here are the all-time leaders in starts made on three days rest:
Warren Spahn 282 Jim Kaat 282 Gaylord Perry 280 Jim Palmer 257 Phil Niekro 255 Don Drysdale 253 Mickey Lolich 251 Jim Bunning 241 Fergie Jenkins 226 Robin Roberts 219
Warren Spahn debuted in 1942 and you’ll notice that most of those other pitchers are from the 1960s and 1970s, when four-man rotations made starts on three days rest commonplace. But how about more recently? Here’s the same list, but from 1990 forward:
Greg Maddux 30 Mike Moore 24 Scott Erickson 24 Tom Glavine 23 John Burkett 21 John Smoltz 20 Terry Mulholland 20 Tim Wakefield 19 Esteban Loaiza 19 Chuck Finley 19
Of the 10 pitchers to make 19 or more starts on three days rest since 1990, three of them were in the Braves’ rotation for most of the 1990s. And the leader since 2000? Esteban Loaiza, with 10. Obviously.
It also should be noted that knuckleballer Wilbur Wood not only made 153 starts on three days rest in the 1960s and 1970s, he also made 71 starts on two days rest. And in those 71 starts he had a 2.67 ERA.