Can A Starter Save The Day?

The 2017 post season is in full swing.  Throughout the Wild Card games as well as the Divisional Series, teams have been plugging starters into relief roles.  How effective have starting pitchers been when called on to pitch out of the pen?  The results have been mixed.  It appears that for the most part, starters who didn’t fare well were on teams that were eliminated with the exception being the Houston Astros (Verlander, Liriano, and to a lesser extent McCullers whose surface stats don’t look good but advanced stats rated him positively).

 

Here’s a look at the results of starters working in relief.  Each match up is listed below with the statistical line from each appearance given its own entry.

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WILD CARD GAMES

Arizona vs. Colorado

Ray 2.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 3.86 ERA, .088 WPA, .7 RE24

Anderson 1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 18.00 ERA, -.058 WPA, -1.4 RE24

 

New York vs. Minnesota

Berrios 3 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 9.00 ERA, -.0183 WPA, -1.4 RE24

 

DIVISIONAL SERIES

Washington vs. Chicago

Scherzer  1.0 IP  3 hits, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 HBP, 3.68 ERA, -.438 WPA, -3.47 RE24

 

Quintana .2 IP 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, -.035 WPA, -.53 RE24

Lester 3.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1.86 ERA, .199 WPA, 1.87 RE24

 

Huston vs. Boston 

Verlander  2.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3.12 ERA, -.123 WPA, -.3 RE24

McCullers 3 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 6.00 ERA .083 WPA, .6 RE24

Liriano .1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13.50 ERA, -.195 WPA, -1.7 RE24

Liriano .1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0.00 ERA, .004 WPA, .4 RE24

 

Porcello 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0.00 ERA, 0.000 WPA, .5 RE24

Price 2.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, .110 WPA, 2.5 RE24

Sale 4.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1 homerun, 8.38 ERA, .120 WPA, 1.5 RE24

  • Price moved to a relief role at the end of the 17 season making 5 relief appearance in September.

 

Los Angeles vs. Arizona

Maeda 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, .100 WPA, .6 RE24

Maeda 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, .048 WPA, .5 RE24

  • Maeda made 4 relief appearances during the regular season.

 

Godley 5 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 3.60 ERA, -.048 WPA, -.5 RE24

 

It will be interesting to see how managers utilize available starters going forward in the playoffs.  Will they continue to call on starters who are not part of the playoff rotation or are on a throwing day to work in relief during the Championship Series and World Series?

 

Glossary of Stats – Source – Baseball Reference

WPA = Win Probably Added — +1 to -1 indicates a full win added or lost.

RE24 = Base Out Runs Saved – Given the bases occupied/out situation, how many runs did the pitcher save in the resulting play.  0 is average, above 0 is better than average, below 0 is worse than average.

 

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