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The death of the workhorse starter?

Have we seen our last 200 inning Yankee season? My gut says no, but with each passing season and the way baseball has been changing over the years (i.e. the opener, keeping starters fresh for the playoffs, and expanded roles of late inning relievers), having a 200 inning guy in the rotation is a rarity. Believe it or not, we haven’t seen a Yankee pitcher eat that many innings since CC and Hiroki Kuroda did it in 2013(!).

There were only 15 pitchers who threw 200 innings last season. Most of those guys had fantastic seasons, sans James Shields with a 5.09 FIP (yikes White Sox). Why would they let him continue to go deep into games if he was that bad? I digress. Back in 2013, MLB had 36 pitchers reach the 200 inning plateau. Most teams are smarter now than they were 10-20 years ago. They don’t give extra innings to pitchers just because they are “starters.” They have middle relievers soak up more of those innings, because in shorter spurts, relievers are usually a bit better on a rate basis. Below is a chart from the year 2000 up until last season. You can notice a pretty steep decline in the amount of innings starters are throwing.

New Yankee Workhorse?

When we actually have a season, we should all be excited to watch Gerrit Cole. We have a workhorse now that is actually “expected” to throw 200 innings. Having a workhorse guy in the rotation helps out the whole team, and we don’t have to look back very far to recall that. When CC Sabathia was in his prime, we knew we were getting 7+ quality innings every night. There are several games I can recall watching over the years when Verlander was throwing against us. He would be dominating and be at 100 pitches in the 6th inning. I am sitting there happy that “this will be his last inning,” then all of a sudden, the manager rolls him out there again for the 7th. We haven’t really had a guy like that since 2013.

The days of pitchers throwing 200+ innings are pretty much over. Yes, you will have a few outliers here and there. Maybe a certain team has an especially bad bullpen and you ride a starter more often. But with the way rosters are going, teams are carrying more reliever than ever and they are using them more as well. Remember the opener last season? I know you old school guys really don’t like that idea, but it’s definitely not going away.