In his newsletters during the World Series, Joe Sheehan has argued that both of the Giants’ losses can be traced directly to Bruce Bochy leaving his starting pitchers — Jake Peavy in Game 2, Tim Hudson in Game 3 — in too long. And there’s been a great deal of talk, even on national television, about a typical pitcher’s drop in effectiveness when facing a lineup for the third time in a game. But before Game 6, Joe takes this to another level:
It’s not that Bochy shouldn’t let Peavy go through the Royals’ lineup a third time. It’s that he shouldn’t let him go through it a second. Peavy’s low ERA after the trade aside, he is an average pitcher whose value is in his ability to be an average pitcher while carrying the workload asked of a starter — five to six innings 30 times a year. What the Giants need tonight is pure run prevention. Bochy’s relievers will be better at this than Peavy will be.
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But as Joe points out, it’s highly unlikely that Bochy would pull Peavy after three or four innings — you know, unless he’s getting hammered — because … well, just because it’s not done. Managers have quicker hooks than they used to have, for sure. But there’s never been a manager born who would yank a decent starter pitching after four solid innings, just because his bullpen’s even better at preventing runs.
Could Bochy’s bullpen handle five or even six innings, though? Sure. There are seven or eight guys out there, one of whom (Yusmeiro Petit) is actually something akin to an old-school long man, capable of pitching three or more innings at a clip. Oh, and Petit is arguably the Giants’ second- or third-best starting pitcher.
All this might seem irrelevant now. But we might someday reach a point where, at least in October, No. 4 starters aren’t actually expected to go more than four or five innings.