Note: This is a guest post from Jerry Modene. He is responding to concern expressed by some on The Cardinal Nation message board that St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers are being overworked because they are pitching deep into games so often. Jerry did a bit of research to show that is not the case.
By Jerry Modene
Since we were wondering the other day about whether the St. Louis Cardinals starters (who have done very well this season) are being over-pitched, a look at the pitch counts for the first 23 games seems in order.
Adam Wainwright: 105, 101, 115, 87 and 113 in five starts. Average pitch count: 104.2. Entirely reasonable for an ace two years removed from Tommy John. Note that the 115 and 113 pitch counts came in games in which he pitched shutout ball for 9 and 8 1/3 innings, respectively, and also when he was piling up the K’s – which takes more pitches than a first-pitch groundout.
Jaime Garcia: 97, 96, 98, 72 and 89 in five starts. Average PC: 90.4. I am surprised his pitch count is that low but clearly the Cards are being mildly careful with him since he did not have shoulder surgery. His 72 came in the game in which he only lasted three innings.
Lance Lynn: 94, 101, 99, 107 and 106 in five starts. Average PC: 101.4. Again, a pretty reasonable pitch count for a guy in his second year as a regular major league starter. No complaints here.
Jake Westbrook: 116, 111, 100 and 91 in four starts. Average PC: 104.5. I am a little surprised that Westbrook is averaging more pitches than any other Cards’ starter, but it makes sense in that he is the most veteran of the starting five and is even more years removed from his Tommy John than Wainwright. He was re-signed to be a durable fourth/fifth starter and he has been just that.
Shelby Miller: 95, 113, 98 and 98 in four starts. Average PC: 101. Reasonable pitch counts for a rookie starter. His 113 came in his seven-inning, one-hit performance against the Brewers. He had 8 K’s in that game, which as noted earlier can drive up the pitch count even in a shutout performance. His other three starts have been below 100 on the pitch count meter, so they are being reasonable careful with the rookie as well.
So there you are. Westbrook and Wainwright are the team leaders in average pitch count; Lynn and Miller are just over the 100-pitch line at 101 and Garcia has been held to below 100 pitches in every one of his starts this year.
Whatever manager Mike Matheny is doing with these guys, it is working. Witness the results of the starters through 23 games (18 starts with Game Scores of 50 or better, 5 starts below 50).
But overuse of the starters? Not happening. They are pitching a lot of innings, but not throwing a lot of pitches – and I call that remarkably efficient starting pitching.