Innings pitched from starting pitchers has been continually trending down. Since records have been reported in 1876:
- 1876-1896 – 400+ IP each year
- 1897-2001 – Less than 400 IP
- 2002-2004 – 400+ IP each year
- 2005-2006 – Less than 400 IP
- 2007-2008 – 400+ IP each year
- 600+ IP – 9 times
- 500 – 600 IP – 7 times
- 400 – 500 IP – 10 times
- < 400 IP – 7 times
Last 500+ and 600+ IP was achieved by Bill Hutchison in 1892. Last 400+ IP was achieved by Ed Walsh in 1908.
- From 1909-1929 – 300+ IP
- From 1930-1931 – No pitcher reached 300 IP
- From 1932-1936 – 300+ IP
- 1937 – No pitcher reached 300 IP
- From 1938-1941 – 300+ IP
- 1942 – No pitcher reached 300 IP
- 1942 – 1946 – 300+ IP
- 1947 – No pitcher reached 300 IP
- 1948 – 1956 – 300+ IP
- 1957 – 1961 – No pitcher reached 300 IP
From 1962, with expansion, the games have increased from 154 to 162 games. With a 4 man rotation, that would give each pitcher two additional games to accumulate IP. From 1962 through 1980, at least 1 pitcher threw 300+ IP. This is the era I am most familiar with.
|Year||Pitcher||IP||Qualified Starters||> 300 IP||> 250 IP||> 200 IP|
|200.0 – 202.2||6 pitchers|
1981 was a short season, from 103-111 games, due to a players strike. Dennis Leonard was the only pitcher to reach 200 IP that season.
From 1982 through 2004, no pitcher achieved 300 IP, but 121 pitchers pitched at least 250+ innings. There were three other seasons where one pitcher had 250+ IP. The last 250 IP season was 2011 thrown by Justin Verlander.
David Price was the last pitcher to pitch 225+ IP (230.0 IP) until Sandy Alcantara threw 228.2 IP in 2022.
Until late 1969, only a four-man starting pitching rotation existed. Gil Hodges is credited with initiating the five-man pitching rotation in 1969.
With the Chicago Cubs collapsing in 1969, the Amazins thought they had a chance to catch the Cubs. Hodges decided to give Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Don Cardwell and Jim McAndrew an extra day’s rest during the final month of the season. The Cubs had a 9.0 game lead on August 16, but fell into 2nd on September 10. The Cubs never regained the lead.
The reasoning for the five-man rotation was that an extra day of rest would cut down on arm injuries as well as extend some pitchers’ careers.
By1980 all teams were utilizing 5 man rotations Not so ironically, that was the last year MLB has had a 300+ IP pitcher. Philadelphia Phillies’ Steve Carlton threw 304.0 innings that year. Another Phillies’ starter, Dick Ruthven, threw 223.1 innings for two 200+ IP pitchers.
In 1994, Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Jim Leyland and Kansas City Royals’ skipper Bob Boone decided to resurrect the four-man rotation. They were motivated in part because in 1994, a strike-shortened season, 122 pitchers had been placed onto the disabled list. Those who believed “work prevents sore arms” had renewed influence.
“I think baseball in general babied pitchers’ arms too much,” Leyland said. “The arm is like any other muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. We used to have four-man rotations all the time years ago. I don’t know why it can’t work today.”
Boone had some doubts.
“I just don’t know if I’ll have the guts to stay with it,” he said. “It’s not really my decision. It will be what their arms tell us.”
Any chance of a return to giving starters four days rest was lost when the awareness of offensive minded PEDs became prevalent. Pitchers had to extend themselves more because it became more difficult to retire hitters who were making themselves more dangerous. Back to the five man rotation.
What could be causing the decrease in number of IP by starters? In the last 8-10 years, computer algorithms have been created to advise management that the best chance for success was to have starting pitching only go through the lineup twice. There has also been an increase on the use of the bullpen. We are now hearing increased use of a six-man rotation. Just how long are we going to have pitchers surpass 200 IP?
We are now experiencing a paradoxical catch-22. While the IP for starters are decreasing, the salary commitments for the starting rotation is increasing.
- $40MM+ 2023 salary – 2 (Justin Verlander & Max Scherzer)
- $30MM – $40MM 2023 salary – 3 (Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Jacob de Grom)
- $25MM – $30MM 2023 salary – 1 (Chris Sale)
- $20MM – $25MM 2023 salary – 10
- $15MM – $20MM 2023 salary – 14
- Justin Verlander – 175 IP
- Max Scherzer – 145.1 IP
- Gerrit Cole – 200.2 IP
- Stephen Strasburg – 4.2 IP
- Jacob deGrom – 64.1 IP
- Chris Sale – 5.2 IP
Patrick Corbin (152.2 IP) is earning $24.4MM and Madison Bumgarner (158.2 IP) is earning $23MM for 2023. Both pitchers had poor seasons. Bumgarner had 4.88 ERA and Corbin had a 6.31 ERA.
$100MM contracts signed by pitchers:
- Kevin Brown, LAD – 7 years, $105MM
- Mike Hampton, COL – 8 years, $121MM
- Barry Zito, SF – 7 years, $126MM
- Johan Santana, NYM – 6 years, $137.5MM
- Matt Cain, SF—six years, $127.5 million
- Cole Hamels, PHI—six years, $144 million
- Felix Hernandez, SEA—seven years, $175 million
- Justin Verlander, DET—seven years, $180 million
- Stephen Strasburg, WAS—seven years, $175 million
- Homer Bailey, CIN—six years, $105 million
- Clayton Kershaw, LAD—seven years, $215 million
- CC Sabathia, NYY – 7 years, $161MM (opted out after 4 years, signed an new contract)
- CC Sabathia, NYY – 5 years, $122MM
- Cliff Lee, PHI – 5 years $120MM
- Zack Greinke, LAD – 6 years $147MM (opted out after 3 years)
- Masahiro Tanaka, NYY – 7 year $155MM
- Jon Lester, CHC – 6 years $155MM
- Max Scherzer, WAS – 7 years $210MM
- David Price, BOS—seven years, $217 million
Zack Greinke, ARI—six years, $206.5 million
- Johnny Cueto, SF—six years, $130 million
- Jordan Zimmermann, DET—five years, $110 million
- Yu Darvish, CHC – 6 years, $126MM
- Zack Wheeler, PHI – 5 years, $118MM
- Chris Sale, BOS – 5 years, $145MM
- Jacob deGrom, NYM – 5 years, $137.5MM
- Patrick Corbin, WAS – 6 years, $140MM
- Stephen Strasburg, WAS – 7 years, $175MM (opted out after 3 years and signed a new contract)
- Stephen Strasburg, WAS – 7 years, $245MM
- Trevor Bauer, LAD – 3 years, $102MM
- Gerrit Cole, NYY—nine years, $324 million
- Max Scherzer, NYM—three years, $130 million
- Robbie Ray, SEA—five years, $115 million
- Kevin Gausman, TOR—five years, $110 million
- José Berríos, TOR—seven years, $131 million
- Luis Castillo, SEA—five years, $108 million
- Joe Musgrove, SD—five years, $100 million
- Jacob deGrom, TEX—five years, $185 million
- Carlos Rodón, NYM – six years, $162MM
That is a total of 39 nine-figure contracts for starting pitchers. How many of the above massive contracts have turned out to benefit both the player and the organization? Six pitchers have signed $200MM+ contracts. Nine other deals were in excess of $150MM.
Next year the Dodgers are going to be deciding as to how much to offer Julio Urías.
Great stuff Jeff. I think though if you check, Hodge’s move was instituted because of a large amount of input from Rube Walker who was his pitching coach. Walker instituted some very revolutionary ideas like having the pitchers run everyday in the outfield.
Bear, I did not go back and check, but I it makes perfect sense. One, Hodges is not going to institute a pitching regimen like that without consulting with his pitching coach, and two, Rube Walker (as you say) was ahead of the curve with his ideas. Walker was one of the highest regarded pitching coaches EVER. Thanks for the input.
Perfect timing – Yu Darvish signs a 6 year $108MM extension, That will take him through his age 41 season. Darvish (and Cubs/Padres) did well on his last contract, but I doubt this one will age as well.
I think this is another instance of a team trying to lower the AAV of a deal. No way they expect Yu to contribute much at the age of 40-41, although he might actually be one of those rare exceptions with all the different pitches he throws. Losing his fastball might not mean as much to him as to other pitchers.
Agreed, but I do not know what the $3.5MM decrease in AAV actually does for them? They are still in the 2nd tier (>$20MM over CBT threshold). There cash expenditure will be $11MM more than anticipated in 2023. Darvish’s contract is front loaded. He will earn $30MM in 2023, while he was previously due to earn $19MM.
This is a great article, however it’s not a Catch-22. There’s correlation, not causation.
Salaries are, and will, go up. Irrelative of IP. They went up when pitchers went deep. They go up when pitchers don’t.
I mean you could make the same case for batters, what I mean is:
Batters are making more and more money, and being asked to do less and less. They don’t have to bunt, they don’t have to sacrifice, they don’t have to steal bases. They just have to not make outs.
My way of thinking was the stats were simply a measuring tool. Now do the teams decide to pay the current going rate, depending on the expected workload? This will be a partial causation in the future negotiations (i.e. Julio Urías), no?
Depending as to how one might value a contract for a SP
Stephen Strasburg $8,333,333
Chris Sale $5,576,923
Jacob deGrom $468,019
Max Scherzer $298,645
Justin Verlander $247,619
Gerrit Cole $179,820
Clayton Kershaw $158,604
Zack Wheeler $154,248
Patrick Corbin $153,307
Carlos Rodon $151,685
Luis Castillo $143,904
Kevin Gausman $126,292
Robbie Ray $121,693
Joe Musgrove $110,497
Jose Berrios $108,804
Noah Syndergaard $96,870
Yu Darvish $92.688
Estimated 2023 fWAR Value over 2023 Salary
Jacob deGrom $14.5MM
Zack Wheeler $11.1MM
Carlos Rodón $9.8MM
Luis Castillo $7.9MM
Joe Musgrove $7.7MM
Kevin Gausman $7.7MM
Clayton Kershaw $5.7MM
Yu Darvish $4.5MM
Noah Syndergaard $1.7MM
Gerrit Cole $0.8MM
José Berrios ($3.5)MM
Robbie Ray ($6.7)MM
Max Scherzer ($9.9)MM
Justin Verlander ($11.4)MM
Chris Sale ($12.8)MM
Patrick Corbin ($14.1)MM
Stephen Strasburg ($24.8)MM
Chris Sale’s, Patrick Corbin’s, and Stephen Strasburg’s contracts have been unmitigated disasters.
Stephen Strasburg will have pocketed $79.4MM in salary after 2023, with a corresponding fWAR value of $11MM.
Chris Sale will have pocketed $90MM in salary after 2023, with a corresponding fWAR value of $53MM.
Patrick Corbin will have pocketed $93MM in salary after 2023, with a corresponding fWAR value of $65MM.
Gerrit Cole is entering the 4th year of his 9 year deal. After his projected 2023 estimate, Cole figures to be $5.5MM underwater after 2023. He has no WS appearances with NYY yet to show for it. This will be his age 32 season. With $36MM each for his age 33 thru age 37 season, he would have to average 4.0 fWAR just to break even. Unless Cole delivers a WS championship, this contract will not age well.
Both Max Scherzer’s and Justin Verlander’s contracts will be underwater after they have expired. NYM is trying to buy a WS. They will need one in the next two years to justify the expenditure.
OTOH, Julio Urías will have pocketed $16.85MM from 2020-2023. His fWAR value over the same period will be $102MM. Outside of Corey Seager, no LAD was more important to delivering a WS championship in 2020 than was Urías. Will AF factor in some of the near $85MM value over cost in his negotiations with Boras next winter? Usually no.
I read somewhere yesterday that Strasburg is still not sure when he will be back. That thoracic problem he had a couple years ago is still not healing right.
Washington extending Strasburg and signing Corbin have to be considered a dismal failure Mike Rizzo.
For those who have been contemplating the potential cost of retaining Julio or going after Ohtani, it looks as though there may be a third worthwhile option come this winter.
Baseball people think there is a good chance that the Orix Buffalos will post Yoshi Yamamoto, a 24 year old pitcher. This is what MLBTR had to say about him:
NPB Ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto Could Be Posted For MLB Teams – MLB Trade Rumors
Maybe he will want to pair up with Ohtani.
I was just about to post that.
MLB does not figure to be short in starting pitching FA next year.
· Shohei Ohtani
· Julio Urías
· Clayton Kershaw
· Aaron Nola
· Lucas Giolito
With a whole host of potential Tyler Anderson type resurrections:
· Jack Flaherty
· Luis Severino
· Blake Snell
· Frankie Montas
· Jordan Montgomery
· Tyler Mahle
· Jakob Junis
There is also the expected posting of reigning KBO MVP OF Jung-hoo Lee.
How about Ohtani, Yamamoto, and Lee?
Yamamoto sounds very interesting. Wonder how much the posting fee plus his contract will amount to.
We can assume he’ll get less than Ohtani and less than Julio but he’ll probably be at least in the $150-200MM range. Only thing holding him back might be that teams wouldn’t want to commit to a huge number of years, not having seen him pitch over here yet.
On the other hand, if you give him 10 years, he’s still only 35 when the contract is up.
I wonder if he’ll be hurt by the fact that he’ll be competing against the other two guys which will probably eliminate two possible landing spots, or maybe he’ll seem like a bargain compared to what they sign for and more teams will be in on him.
He’s going to be playing for Japan in the WBC as is Munetaka Murakami, the Japanese hitting phenom who hit over 50 homers this year and just turned 23. He’s supposed to be posted when he turns 25.
Lee will be on the Korean team.
Only team that would do that would be Cohen’s Mets, but he might certainly be up for it.
I have now read all the links tied to Lee and Yamamoto.
There are quite a few fans that want Roberts gone. Friedman said something will be done to not repeat what happened last year.
JT is gone.
Geren gets a new role and is replaced with a new field coach.
Rojas obtained in trade.
JDM signed as a free agent.
Other changes were more about money than change.
I don’t pretend to know how money works in Major League Baseball. But what is clear is that there is plenty of it to throw at high risk players.
was LAD & NOT WAS!
Of course you are right. I have corrected that. Thank you.