How do Indians pitchers perform when they work deeper into games?

Jason Miller

A look at how Indians starting pitchers did when working deeper into games. Who lasted long and stayed strong, and who faded fast and was finished early?

Earlier this week I looked at how MLB starting pitchers do as they work deeper into games and face hitters for the second, third, and fourth time in a game. Here are some of the key pieces of information from that post:

Results for each time they face a batter in a game (2000-2013):

Plate Appearance AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game .256 .320 .405 .726 7.19 3.05 1.01 4.25
Batter's 2nd of game .269 .331 .431 .762 6.38 3.06 1.12 4.43
Batter's 3rd of game .280 .343 .454 .797 5.84 3.21 1.24 4.78
Batter's 4th+ of game .281 .344 .439 .782 5.44 3.23 1.07 4.35

Here's the same data, but for only 2013:

Plate Appearance AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game .250 .309 .390 .699 7.92 2.74 0.94 3.85
Batter's 2nd of game .259 .319 .411 .730 7.12 2.86 1.04 4.05
Batter's 3rd of game .270 .331 .429 .760 6.48 3.00 1.08 4.28
Batter's 4th+ of game .266 .324 .405 .729 6.18 2.83 0.93 3.79

As you can see, the results get noticeably worse during the second time through the order, and worse again during the third time through the order. The results actually improve during the fourth time through the order, which might seem odd, but makes sense in the context of which pitchers are being allowed to face a lineup for a fourth time.

The average MLB start in 2013 included 24.98 batters faced. That's two batters short of three full trips through the lineup. A pitcher is almost always going to face a lineup twice, and will usually face most of it for a third time. Facing a lineup for a fourth time is rare though, and probably means a pitcher is on his game that day. So, it isn't that pitchers get better during that fourth time against a lineup, it's that the results you see come from a biased pool of players.

Starting pitchers faced 44,874 batters having their 1st PA of a game in 2013. They faced 42,234 having their 2nd PA of the game, a 5.9% decline (some of which is due to pitchers being pinch hit for. If you look at the decline for AL starters only, it's just 3.7%). The total falls to 31,294 batters in their 3rd PA, a decline of 25.9%. There were just 3,050 batters faced in their 4th PA, a massiv 90.3% drop from the 3rd PA total.

Among active starters with 50+ IP against batters in their 4th PA, here are some leaders:

ERA

  1. Adam Wainwright (1.45 ERA in 74.2 innings)
  2. CC Sabathia (2.61 ERA in 196.2 innings)
  3. Zack Greinke (2.95 in 58 innings)

K/9

  1. Jake Peavy (9.5 K/9 in 61.2 innings)
  2. Tim Lincecum (8.3 K/9 in 64.1 innings)
  3. Justin Verlander (8.0 K/9 in 99.1 innings)
OPS against
  1. Adam Wainwright (.537 in 74.2 innings)
  2. CC Sabathia (.652 in 196.2 innings)
  3. Justin Verlander (.666 in 99.1 innings)
Okay, this is Let's Go Tribe, and my original purpose in writing this post was to look at how Indians pitchers have done. Enough with the MLB leader boards and league averages. Hopefully those things help contextualize the data below.

Which Tribe starters have held up better than average and/or worked deep into games more frequently, and which ones have rarely earned the chance, and/or have really struggled when given the opportunity? The sample sizes are relatively small, especially beyond the five main starters, so I don't know how much we can glean from the data, but here goes:

Ubaldo Jimenez (32 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 287 .232 .317 .384 .701 9.8 4.4 1.1 3.48
Batter's 2nd of game 281 .230 .296 .365 .662 9.4 3.3 0.8 3.33
Batter's 3rd of game 196 .257 .347 .329 .676 9.2 4.5 0.2 2.86
Batters 4th+ of game 13 w h o c a r e s
Jimenez faced 789 batters on the season, an average of 24.66 per game, in line with the MLB average (24.98). He held up well in his starts, with his results actually improving in his third time facing hitters.

Scott Kazmir (29 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 261 .292 .346 .488 .834 9.8 3.1 1.4 5.46
Batter's 2nd of game 253 .231 .286 .333 .619 8.8 2.3 0.7 3.16
Batter's 3rd of game 152 .259 .316 .439 .755 9.3 2.8 1.3 3.25
Batters 4th+ of game 6 w h o c a r e s
Kazmir faced 23.17 batters per game, a noticeable dip from the MLB average. It's interesting that Kazmir's results when facing hitters for the first time in a game are his worst.

Justin Masterson (29 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 260 .219 .319 .313 .632 9.9 4.4 0.7 3.69
Batter's 2nd of game 252 .191 .285 .232 .517 9.0 3.9 0.1 2.00
Batter's 3rd of game 231 .259 .339 .405 .744 8.6 2.8 1.0 5.16
Batters 4th+ of game 46 .262 .311 .333 .644 6.5 1.6 0.8 4.09
Masterson faced 27.21 batters per game, well above the MLB average (24.98). Masterson cruised through the lineup in his second time facing them, then fell off in trip three. He's the only Indians pitcher who was ever really allowed to face hitters for a fourth time.

Corey Kluber (24 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 220 .259 .309 .418 .727 6.9 2.3 1.0 3.52
Batter's 2nd of game 206 .267 .312 .377 .689 9.1 2.0 0.7 3.65
Batter's 3rd of game 146 .312 .349 .493 .842 9.2 1.8 1.3 5.24
Batters 4th+ of game 16 w h o c a r e s
Kluber faced 24.50 batters per game. He suffered no decline during his second time against opposing lineups, but was hit far harder during his third trip through the lineup.

Zach McAllister (24 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 218 .208 .261 .337 .598 7.0 2.2 0.7 3.00
Batter's 2nd of game 211 .246 .336 .404 .741 6.8 4.6 0.7 3.86
Batter's 3rd of game 144 .338 .403 .508 .910 6.7 3.3 1.2 4.85
Batters 4th+ of game 6 w h o c a r e s
McAllister faced 24.13 batters per start. He showed a steady decline in each progressive time through the order, quite in line with league norms.

Danny Salazar (10 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 91 .214 .275 .393 .668 13.1 2.8 1.6 4.37
Batter's 2nd of game 86 .179 .247 .244 .491 10.6 2.9 0.4 1.23
Batter's 3rd of game 31 .333 .355 .533 .888 6.4 1.3 1.3 2.57
Batters 4th+ of game 3 w h o c a r e s
Salazar faced just 21.1 batters per start, far below the MLB average (24.98). His sample sizes are all small, but you see marked decline in his strikeout rate as he faces batters for the second and third times. If he's going to be a major contributor in 2014, the coaching staff will have to leave him in games longer, and he'll gave to hold up better.

Carlos Carrasco (7 starts)
Plate Appearance Batters Faced AVG OBP SLG OPS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
Batter's 1st of game 63 .321 .365 .464 .829 5.4 3.4 0.0 6.75
Batter's 2nd of game 63 .373 .403 .610 1.013 3.5 2.1 2.1 9.00
Batter's 3rd of game 40 .500 .564 .688 1.252 9.0 7.5 1.5 13.50
Batters 4th+ of game 2 w h o c a r e s
Carrasco faced 24.00 batters per start. The sample sizes are small, but after being simply bad in his first meeting with hitters, he was absolutely awful the second or third times. Carrasco did far better as a reliever late in the year, and unless he does well in spring training and gets off to a good start in April, I think the bullpen is where he ends up.

There you have it!

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