Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mind Games

The Brewers are concerned that pitchers don't learn how to pitch into the ninth inning as they're coming up through the system, so they have decided to do something about that. No, they're not going to shred arms by getting rid of pitch counts. They're going to do something else that is foolish:
Beginning this week at Class A Brevard County, relievers will start games before turning it over to the "starters" in the third or the fourth. By starting the starter later in games, the Brewers hope their young players develop a "nine-inning mindset" by the time they reach the Majors.
It strikes me that a better way to get your pitchers to go deeper into games is to teach them to be more economical with their pitches. To stay around the strike zone more. To have a plan of attack instead of trying to strike everybody out with the heat that got them drafted but that, if history holds for most prospects, will dissipate pretty quickly.

Another problem I have with this is the use of relievers to start games. If you're a reliever in low A, it's a pretty good bet that you're not one of the better pitchers on the team. Most guys who make the majors as relievers started as starters, meaning that the bullpen on an A team is likely full of cannon fodder. How will that "ninth inning mindset" develop if "starters" are brought into games that are already lost before they throw their first pitch?

It seems to me that the plan to develop that "ninth inning mindset" will come at the expense of a first, second, and third inning mindset. Unfortunately for the Brewers, all innings count.

4 comments:

Vegas Watch said...

I'm going to start getting up at noon every day so I can develop a 4am mindset.

JE said...

I read about this plan earlier in the season: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120907935062743195.html.

As you will note, the reasoning described in the WSJ piece differs from the story that you cited.

"The thinking is that starters are typically among a team's best pitchers, yet nowadays they often pitch only through the fifth or sixth inning, well before many games are decided. By having them pitch later, they'd be around for the higher-leverage innings."

Daniel said...

Except the innings are only high leverage if the game is close when you get there (not arguing with you Je, just the rationale). This seems ridiculous to me. So now they develop this mysterious "9th inning mindset" but at the expense of their"first inning mindset" which is the inning they will ALWAYS pitch.

I could go off on this for awhile, but let's just leave it at ridiculous. Maybe I'm missing something, so if anyone thinks this is a good idea, I'd love to hear the reasoning.

Chris Odell said...

Instead, maybe the Brewers can simply rename each inning the "Ninth Inning," and play a full game of nine "Ninth Innings." That way, every play of the entire GAME will be fraught with tension and meaning, and the Brewers' farm hands will be as steely and unflappable as Navy Seals.