by Joe Giglio
Curt Schilling once said, “"The rotation that makes the most starts wins the division. It's that simple.”
As the 2012 MLB season heads toward the juncture where contenders will separate from pretenders and the clock will inch closer to midnight for a few Cinderella stories, baseball fans will get the chance to see Schilling’s theory play out in the pennant races again.
Specifically, which pitching staffs can make it through the full season both healthy and effective. There’s a good chance that we’ll look back on 2012 and wonder what could have been in Toronto (Morrow, Drabek) if their arms had stayed healthy.
Using numbers from the last sixteen postseason teams, here’s a look at the durability of recent October squads. It could be an indication to which rotations are poised to finish the marathon and who is burning out their bullpen by the minute.
*For the purposes of this study, the top five pitchers were determined by games started for that team. Ideally, every team would love their five best starters to give 30+ starts and 200 innings apiece. The closer to 150+ starts and 1000 IP out of the group, the better the chances at postseason ball seem to be.
Cardinals: Carpenter, Garcia, Lohse, Westbrook, McClellan: 146 starts, 908.1 IP
Phillies: Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, Worley: 139 starts, 953 IP
Brewers: Gallardo, Greinke, Wolf, Marcum, Narveson: 155 starts, 953.2 IP
Diamondbacks: Hudson, Kennedy, Saunders, Collmenter, Duke: 132 starts, 861.1 IP
Yankees: Sabathia, Burnett, Nova, Colon, Garcia: 143 starts, 922 IP
Rays: Shields, Price, Hellickson, Davis, Niemann: 148 starts, 982 IP
Rangers: Wilson, Lewis, Holland, Harrison, Ogando: 157 starts, 976.1 IP
Tigers: Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello, Penny, Coke: 143 starts, 884.1 IP
Phillies: Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Kendrick, Moyer: 144 starts, 927.1 IP
Giants: Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, Zito, Bumgarner: 150 starts, 939.1 IP
Braves: Hudson, Hanson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Kawakami: 137 starts, 828.1 IP
Reds: Arroyo, Cueto, Harang, Leake, Bailey: 122 starts, 591.1 IP
Yankees: Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Vazquez, Pettitte: 143 starts, 887 IP
Twins: Pavano, Liriano, Baker, Blackburn, Slowey: 146 starts, 898 IP
Rays: Price, Garza, Shields, Davis, Niemann: 154 starts, 959 IP
Rangers: Wilson, Lewis, Hunter, Feldman, Lee: 124 starts, 783 IP
|Jackson is 1 of 4 Nats starters on pace for 30+ starts|
Picture courtesy of US Presswire
As the season hits the dog days of August, keep an eye on which rotations have durable arms that have been humming along since April. A DL stint or two won’t kill a rotation, but losing multiple arms for months at a time can be devastating. Extrapolating the data all the way back to the start of the Wild Card era would give a clearer definition of exactly what the games started and innings pitched threshold is for the average postseason team.
For now, just hope your favorite team keeps running out the same four or five names. Injuries, trades, and shuffling arms back and forth from Triple-A hasn’t been the recipe for success lately.
Joe Giglio is a sports talk host at WNST in Baltimore, co-host of the Just a Bit Outside podcast on iTUNES, former intramural coordinator at DeSales University, husband, and baseball fanatic willing to argue Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame candidacy at a moment's notice. Follow him on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports and check out his blog at joegiglio.blogspot.com.