Pitch like a man? Not on long rest

Shaun Marcum has no patience for being patient. After his somewhat disastrous start yesterday against Boston, he had some things to say about the Blue Jays’ new 6-man rotation:

If it were up to Marcum he’d stick to the five-man rotation that yielded four starters with double-digit wins, pitching roughly every fifth game through the end of the season, because that stable routine has bred comfort and success. But after surrendering nine hits, six earned runs and two homers to the Red Sox, Marcum conceded that he lacks the clout to influence the coaching staff’s handling of the team’s young pitchers.

“I’m not Roy Halladay, so I don’t get what I want,” Marcum said with a laugh after Sunday’s game.

The fact the Roy Halladay keeps coming up like this makes me think that there might be something to those early season comments about feeling more comfortable in the dressing room without the Doc there than just trying to make themselves feel better about his departure. Nobody likes working with someone who gets to dictate how the office runs, even if that person is Doc.

But the question at hand is one of rest, or rather performance after too much rest. Is Marcum right?

A quick look at Baseball Reference suggests that he is, but only partially. Toronto starters haven’t performed very differently this year when going on 4 days of rest as compared to 5. The numbers:

4 days’ rest: 417.1 IP, 1.347 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.22 K/BB and an opponent OPS of .729
5 days’ rest: 258 IP, 1.333 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, , 2.32 K/BB and an opponent OPS of .711

So the pitchers don’t seem to be affected by pitching in a 6-man rotation as opposed to a 5-man. But the start that led to Marcum’s comments was on 6 days’ rest — the equivalent of pitching in an 7-man rotation. How are the Jays pitchers doing on 6+ days of rest?

6+ days’ rest: 196 IP, 1.393 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 2.11 K/BB, OPS of .780

So it looks like there’s a drop off at the magical number of 6 days’ rest in general, but what about Marcum specifically?

4 days’ rest: 98.1 IP, 1.108 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.76 K/BB, .674 OPS
5 days’ rest: 57.2 IP, 1.075 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 3.73 K/BB, .623 OPS
6+ days’ rest: 25.1 IP, 1.658 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, .982 OPS

The stats for 6+ days admittedly come with a small sample size, but there seems to be something to his complaint. Maybe Marcum’s a guy who needs routine and suffers when it’s broken. Who knows.

What we do know is that there’s nobody really knows whether limiting innings pitched saves arms or not. Since nobody can say for sure and since the Jays are playing “meaningless” baseball right now (not true, but not the point) it’s better to not take chances. If giving guys extra rest is going to help keep them healthy next year and beyond, there’s no reason not to give them extra rest.

And if Marcum continues to pitch like a little boy instead of a man when he’s he had 6+ days of rest, hopefully the Jays will have a manager who recognizes and works with that kind of thing when they are in a position to compete again.

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2 thoughts on “Pitch like a man? Not on long rest

  1. Forgive me for sounding like an ass here, but when I heard Shaun Marcum say that I kind of thought it was a bullshit excuse. You’d think that with an extra day rest, he’d be even more prepared for that start.

    On that same token though, I understand starting pitchers are creatures of habit and hate to have their patterns disrupted, but that’s part of the game.

    • That was my initial reaction, too. But for whatever reason, there seems to be something to it, for Marcum at least.

      I was tempted to go after Marcum for his comment but, regardless what I think of what he said, I’m sick of hearing the standard post-game comments from athletes. A change of pace is nice, even if just for the sake of changing the pace.

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