Chris Carpenter

Three days rest: Carpenter, Spahn, Maddux, and … Loaiza?

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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.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: