Are Angels Starters the Least Efficient in Baseball?


Last night, Jered Weaver‘s start, in my opinion, was more gritty than dominant. A 22 pitch first inning. 91 pitches through five innings. I’m suprised that Weaver even made it to the seventh inning. With an average of 18.2 pitches per inning through five, chances were that it was going to be the last for the new daddy. But then Weaver turned around and threw a nine-pitch sixth. Mike Scioscia sent him back out for the seventh, but 14 pitches and two baserunners later, Weaver was done.

But that doesn’t dismiss the 22 pitch first inning. Even if you remove that inning, and focus on the next four by themselves, Weaver was still averaging 17.25 pitches per inning pitched. Which, also in my opinion, is too high. I personally like to see no more than 15 pitches per inning. Of course, the difference between 15 and 18 doesn’t seem like much at the start of a game, but after two innings its 30 and 36. After three, 45 and 54. If that were viewed as Pitcher A vs. Pitcher B, Pitcher A would be perceived as cruising. Pitcher B on the other hand is more than half way to the magic number of 100, and has only gotten through three innings.

That of course would get in the way of a starting pitchers ultimate goal, which should be to pitch deep into the ball game. And six innings, is not deep into the game. For me, seven innings is not deep into a ball game. But that’s why I’m not a Major League manager. If you thought Dusty Baker was good at blowing out top prospects arms, just wait until I get my hands on one of these 21 year old kids who thinks he only has to throw five innings.

But this seems to happen a lot for the Angels. And for a team that does not really possess a “swing and miss” staff, in a system that preaches pitching to contact, this is rather disconcerting. But you can’t just say that a team’s pitching staff lacks efficiency without backing it up. Somebody else is going to take that statement, back it up with research, and call you stupid. So, in the spirit of not wanting to be called stupid, below is a table that shows what each teams average number of pitches per inning pitched (P/IP) is.

Phew! They aren’t the worst. There are a couple of surprises though.

1.) The Angels are tied with the Padres for the fifth most innings by their starters. When you factor in the early season struggles of Joe Blanton, the starts by Barry Enright, And Jerome Williams‘ ineffectiveness lately, this comes as kind of a shocker.

2.) The Angels have more innings pitched, and a better P/IP than the vaulted Detroit Tigers pitching staff. I’d stick my tongue out at Justin Verlander, but he would probably rip it off. He looks kind of mean.

Not being the worst is, I guess, a victory. But it has become common place this season to see the Angels pitching staff rank in the bottom third in pitching statistics. But it should be noted, that over the last 28 days, the Angels pitching staff as a whole is has an ERA of 3.76, a WHIP of 1.264 and a K/9 of 7.9. The ERA is a half a run lower than the season mark, and the WHIP is 0.100 lower. The team is 16-8 during that period, and the staff has looked much better. At least, most days it looks better. C.J. Wilson still has his days where he can’t avoid a 30-pitch inning, which goes a long way towards skewing the numbers in the table above.

What does all of this mean? Well, it could mean nothing. The Tigers rotation is considered one of the best in the game, yet there they are with the fifth worst P/IP in the majors. But the Tigers staff is filled with strikeout guys as evidenced by the staff’s 2013 K/9 of 9.2, whereas the Angels 2013 K/9 sits at 7.5. But there are the Angels being a tick more efficient than the Tigers. Sometimes, I just need to let my nerd flag fly. This, has been one of those times.