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Ferguson: Number of innings pitched makes a champion

Scott Ferguson
8/27/2012 12:20:45 PM
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There are all kinds of ingredients that go into making a World Series Championship club. You've got to have an ability to score runs, play solid defence and have a good closer.

Yet, the most important part, in my mind, just might be the number of innings you get out of your starting rotation.
 
I took a look at the last five World Series winners and found that two of the five got an average of 200 innings per man out of their top four starters. The other three came very close to that mark. Three of the five teams had two starters that broke 200.
 
The 2010 San Francisco Giants led the way with 829 innings. Matt Cain was the front runner with 223.1, Tim Lincecum 212.1, lefty Barry Zito 199.1 and Jonathon Sanchez 193.1.
 
Last year's St. Louis Cardinals were led by former Jays right hander Chris Carpenter, who tossed 237.1 innings. Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook brought the total up to 803.2 innings.
 
Of these five teams - the Red Sox (2007), Phillies (2008), Yankees (2009), Giants(2011) and Cardinals (2011) - not one had a top four starter in his rookie campaign, unless you count Daisuke Matsuzaka who was fresh over from Japan (where he had pro experience) in 2007.
 
You don't have to have a star-studded staff; just a strong durable rotation with one discernible ace, two if you're lucky. Of all the 20 pitchers I looked at on these five clubs, the only one who looks like a Hall of Famer at this point is the Yankees' C.C Sabathia. It's too early to say for the likes of Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Andy Pettitte and Curt Schilling are maybes.
 
To bring it all back to the Blue Jays, they don't have a single starter who projects out to get 200 innings this season. Rick Romero and Henderson Alvarez are the only two who have even a remote shot at getting close to 200.
 
That brings us to the mega trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers over the weekend, where nine players changed hands and Boston cleared out at least $250 million in contracts.
 
Boston now figures to be a big player in the free agent market this off season and on the trade front if there is a particular pitcher they really want. That is not going to help the Blue Jays' cause in getting the veteran pitcher(s) they need to shore up their rotation.
 
One pitcher, I've been watching closely is the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse. He's an innings eater. He's 27-10 over the past two seasons, including 13-2 this year with a 2.61 era. Lohse is 33-years-old and is a free agent after this season.
 
Dodgers Hall of Fame play-by-play voice, Vin Scully, is truly one of the Seven Wonders of the baseball world. He will be back next season to call his 63rd season of Dodgers baseball at age 85. He has called 25 no-hitters. Think about that! Dave Stieb has the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history over 35-plus seasons and only four have been thrown against the Jays. Len Barker (perfect game) Nolan Ryan, Dave Stewart and Justin Verlander. And the San Diego Padres haven't had a single no-hitter thrown by one of their pitchers going back to their first season of 1969.
 
While reflecting on the passing of Astronaut Neal Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, I remembered the story of Gaylord Perry and his link to the space race.
 
This one is a classic, though some wonder if its more urban myth than fact. However, when Perry pitched for the Giants, his manager at the time, Alvin Dark, was reputed to have said "they'd put a man on the moon, before he (Perry) hits a homerun." Some have said Perry actually said it, poking fun at himself.
 
Well on July 20th of 1969, Neal Armstrong took "that small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." Less than an hour later in a game against the Dodgers, Gaylord Perry hit his first of six career homeruns.



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