FanPost

Starters vs. Relievers: Data Points for Discussion

Amazing as it may seem, our Pirates are now an incredible 10 games above .500 and in sole possession of first place in the NLC. Much has been said about the fantastic pitching that we have enjoyed through the first half of the season and much ink has been spilt on debates about the sustainability of the staff's success this year, in consideration of the second half collapse last year. There seems to be pretty wide agreement that this year's numbers are much more sustainable and, in fact, I don't intend to rehash that there.

What I am interested in is presenting some data on how our starters (SPs) and relievers (RPs) stack up when compared to each other, but not on a pitcher-by-pitcher level, but rather on a group-by-group level. I also have a question that I would like to pose to the group because I feel that many of our regular readers are far more qualified to address it than I.

Before I continue, I want to point out that the stats below are entirely my own and therefore I am responsible for any errors or omissions. Also, for this post, SP and RP are entirely dependent upon when a pitcher made an appearance... so that means, for example, that Lincoln's outtings as a starter show up with the SP data and his showings as a reliever get grouped with the RP data. Having said that...

Including tonight's 2-0 victory over the Astros, our combined staff has pitched exactly 720 innings, faced 3,037 batters and thrown 11,378 pitches. Here is a table that consolidates selected statistics of the SPs and the RPs as groups.

Spsvsrps_1-1_medium

via i1144.photobucket.com

My apologies for the size of the table; it was the best I could do. I hope that you don't need a magnifying glass to read it.

Some notes:

1) BF: Batters faced; although the info does not appear on the table, the SPs have faced 1,987 and the RPs have faced 1,050.

2) Also not in the table, but perhaps worth mentioning: the SPs have pitched 469.2 innings and the RPs 250.1; the SPs have thrown 7,341 pitches and the RPs 4,037.

3) W*: Intentional walks have been adjusted out.

4) GO: Are actual "ground outs," not just "ground balls induced".

There are probably a great many things that can be said about that table, and hopefully some of you will see fit to say such things, but I'm going to limit myself to bringing up one point, and it's the ERA vs. FIP situation.

I've read in several posts and threads that one of the main reasons why our pitching performance should be sustainable is because the ERA and the FIP are, if I may paraphrase and simplify, consistent. But as we can see from the table, that's actually only true in the case of the SPs, who have an ERA of 3.95 and a FIP of 3.89. When we look at the data for the RPs, the situation is different: there is a significant gap between the two measurments. While the ERA is 2.70 the FIP is 3.85.

So... here's the open question... is the difference between the ERA and the FIP of the relievers a cause for concern?

No, I am not trying to throw a bucket of cold water on the bandwagon. I'm ecstatic. I'm proud to be a Bucco fan. I'm old enough to remember past glories (Fa-ma-lee!) and have trudged through the desert for many years like most of you. This is what I have been hoping and waiting for for two decades. But I'm not the guru and I thought it might be worthwhile to bring this point up and see what the rest of you thought.

Lastly, I would be extremely remiss if I didn't acknowledge the help and encouragement I received from Mrs. Rebecca Rollett (who will be especially well known to those of you who frequent BTSC) in how to paste that damn table into this post.

Chileburger signing off. All yours now!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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