Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rise of the Relievers?

20+ IP, 2.25 ERA or lower (since 1945)
52 - 2013
35 - 1968
34 - 1992
32 - 2011
32 - 2010
30 - 1972
29 - 2012

40+ IP, 2.25 ERA or lower (since 1945)
33 - 1968
28 - 1992
26 - 1972
24 - 2011
24 - 2010
23 - 2005
22 - 2002
21 - 2008
20 - 1990

This is intriguing, although it might end up not being much at the end of the season.  It is very difficult to finish the season with such a low ERA as a reliever because one or two bad outings can wipe out many good outings.  I went back and looked at how many pitchers were at this level (20 IP, 2.25 ERA) at the All-Star Break the last few years.

20+ IP, 2.25 ERA or lower, All Star Break
48 - 2012
44 - 2011
34 - 2010
28 - 2009
34 - 2008
31 - 2007
21 - 2006
30 - 2005
24 - 2004
19 - 2003
28 - 2002
19 - 2001
16 - 2000

It's similar to the numbers with the explosion of strikeouts in the past few years.  After hovering in the 20's and low 30's for a decade, it has moved up dramatically since 2010.  There are also 9 pitchers right now with between 15 and 20 innings pitched and an ERA under 2.25.  It wouldn't be surprising if the number at the All Star Break this year is in the mid-50's.

Then the question will be how many of them can hold onto it for the rest of the year.  If there are 40 or more pitchers at the end of 2013 with at least 40 IP and an ERA under 2.25, that would show how much the game has changed. 

The increase in dominant relievers who can strike batters out almost at will without allowing many hits or walks has tipped the balance away from the hitters in a way that might be difficult to reverse any time soon. 


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