Pity? Or, Implosion 101?

Just what we needed, another rain out.

Starting Tuesday, the Bucs will play 54 games in 54 days to wrap up the year. If that wasn’t enough all on its own, add in that they will play 30 of those 54 games on the road, make two West Coast trips, play two doubleheaders over the next two weeks, see only one day away from the park the entire rest of August, and only two days off in September with one of those a travel day to the West Coast.

Talk about having to grind out the dog days.

The Pirates picked up Matt Morris at the deadline to remove some pressure from their young arms. One of the concerns the Pirates probably had was the number of projected innings their starters were facing.

My long standing belief has been that pitchers shouldn’t be asked to throw more than 20 innings over their previous year’s workload. The new school of thought tends to worry more about the number of pitches thrown overall, and more specifically as you have been reading here at Bucco Blog, high per inning pitch counts. But the number of innings worked still holds as a reasonable indicator I believe.

When we look at the number of innings pitched for some of our starters over the last few years as compared to their projected workload this year, we can see some potential red flags:

Certainly none is higher than Maholm’s 98 inning increase from 2004 to 2005. Of course, he was shut down last year with shoulder stiffness just as Gorzelanny has been this year and Mike Gonzalez was last year. And of course, Duke is out for the count now, and Burnett, Bullington, and JvB’s high per inning pitch counts this year have either made them ineffective or put them on the DL with arm fatigue.

And as you can see by the 2007 projected innings (based on 10 more starts for everyone but Duke and Youman), even sitting Snell, Maholm, and Gorzelanny for two starts each over the rest of the year will still throw them all into +20 innings or more over 2006. The real red flag is Gorzelanny as he projects to pitch more than 45 innings over if he makes every start, so I have to assume he’ll be shut down at least half of September.

So picking up Morris will minimally allow the Pirates to rotate some time off for every pitcher, put them in a six-man rotation, or to shut down one or two if they need to. It was a smart move to make in my opinion.

That being said, you also have to wonder about their effectiveness as the season gets deeper. And how about our position players? When we look at how many at bats some of the players had last year and compare that to their 2007 projected at bats, we also see some potential fatigue warning flags:

If I had to guess which player was most likely to see a decrease in productivity between now and the end of the year, it would have to be Doumit followed by LaRoche and Izturis.

Obviously Doumit could see a breather when Duffy comes back, and LaRoche will get spelled some if Pearce is given a September call up. But Izturis could see a significant increase over his projected at bats if Wilson is dealt.

So how are all these red flags going to impact the Pirates wins over the next 54 games? Who knows, but logic says it will hurt us more than help us especially with the players pressing so hard because they are mirrored in a slump.


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