Feb 8, 2008

Dusty Baker will be the roto death of Bronson Arroyo

When roto owners hear the name Dusty Baker two words quickly come to mind: Pitcher Abuse.

Dusty has a well-documented history of being a non-believer in managing pitch counts - much to the chagrin of former Mark Prior and Kerry Wood owners. Admittedly, there are a few 'freaks' who seem immune to the effects of excessive pitch counts: Carlos Zambrano and Livan Hernandez immediately come to mind. However, for merely mortal starting pitchers the science behind monitoring pitch counts is simply too powerful to ignore.

Bronson Arroyo's breakout 2006 season, and the high workload increase that came with it, caused the roto expert community to almost unanimously issue a 2007 breakdown warning. Arroyo went from 205.3 IP in 2005, to 240.7 IP in 2006 - a 17% increase.

The start of Arroyo's 2007 season seemed to validate the roto experts' views.

2006 Season --------- 3.29 ERA - 1.19 WHIP - .243 BAA - 6.88 K/9
2007 Pre All-Star --- 4.84 ERA - 1.48 WHIP - .288 BAA - 6.05 K/9

But Arroyo did have a decent bounce-back after the All-Star Break:

2007 Post All-Star -- 3.55 ERA - 1.31 WHIP - .271 BAA - 7.36 K/9

First, the good news. This bounce-back shows that Arroyo was able to work through his problems and get back to a higher level of performance, including a spike in his K/9 rate. Arroyo owners should expect an overall better performance for 2008. All things being equal, it would be fair to expect numbers in the range of his 2007 Post All-Star numbers.

That's where the bad news comes into play. All things aren't going to be equal: namely, the Cincinnati Reds' new manager Dusty Baker. A more detailed look into Arroyo's 2007 splits shows a recipe for disaster:

Innings 7-9 ------ .363 BAA
Pitches 91-105 -- .301 BAA
Pitches 106+ ---- .469 BAA

Given Baker's track record of pushing his starters deep into games and ignoring pitch counts, this does not bode well for Arroyo and his owners for 2008.

A couple of Arroyo's 2007 outings could serve as a horrible harbinger of his 2008 season:

Arroyo entered the 8th inning having thrown 99 pitches. He promptly allowed back-to-back singles to Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez and was pulled from the game after 108 pitches. The Reds' bullpen came in and promptly allowed both Lee and Ramirez to score.

Arroyo entered the 7th inning having thrown 103 pitches. He faced the next five batters with the following results: Fly Out, Home Run, Single, Strike Out, Home Run (A.Pujols). He then left the game having thrown 119 pitches.

If Arroyo leaves the game in the two above scenarios prior to the start of his final inning appearance, his 2007 Pre All-Star ERA would be lowered from 4.84 to 4.46.

If just two cases of borderline poor pitching management can cause such a negative impact, it doesn't take a vivid imagination to predict the devastating impact to Arroyo in the event that Baker continues his past pitching management approach.

No comments: