The new baseball season is nigh and hopes are sky-high
Well at least for the Toronto Blue Jay’s there is some optimism although seasons 2013 onwards are much more likely to see them in the playoffs. This year, the offence – with full campaigns from Lawrie, Johnson and Rasmus – should be improved and the overhauled bullpen will almost certainly be better.
But the rotation has the feeling of “Romero and Morrow. Oh sheesh it’s tomorrow”. McGowan (yet another injury) and Cecil (yet another decline in velocity) are already lost from the starting five and the young guns are not yet ready to compete at the ML level
Let’s look at some history
162 games except: 1981, 106; 1994 115; 1995 144 – * indicates lefty
The first table shows the number of starters used including who led the team and brought up the rear for each season. Also shown is the games commenced by the five most used starters. The last stat peaked in 1984 when the BJ’s ran a four man rotation, with Clancy, Steib, Alexander and Leal all starting at least 35 games – something no Blue Jay has done in the past eight seasons
Halladay has headed the rotation in terms of starts the most times (5) but during some of their strongest seasons 1987-1993 there were seven different game leaders. Indeed, until Guzman, in strike-shortened 1994, no player had repeated as the head of this category.
One relationship where there could be a correlation is between number of starts by the leading five players and win percetage. I have excluded the three strike-effect seasons
The graph shows some correlation, but without knowing the history in detail it is difficult to determine if the enforced use of more starters led to a lower win percentage or if poor performance led to more starters being used as the season progressed. However, if you can coax more than 135 starts out of five guys then you should at least reach the 81-81 mark
Unlike the slight, if any, increase in number of starters used over time, the final table does show a significant reduction in the number of complete games
In this category, Dave Stieb is the clear leader with 103 completions – accounting for more than a quarter of his starts. His record of 19 in 1982 is as many as the whole rotation has put up in a single year since 1985. Halladay is third on the list and his 17% conversion would likely have been at Steib’s level if he had pitched in that era