Are We at the End of the Twenty Game Winner Era?

It’s no secret that managers are yanking their starting pitchers sooner than later from games nowadays. The Tampa Bay Rays are using their relievers to start the first inning before moving on to their starter. Middle man pitchers are more in demand. So does this mean we’re seeing the end of the twenty game winner era?

According to calltothepen.com, “From 1886 -1981, there was only one Major Leaguetwenty game winner Baseball season (1981) where an individual pitcher failed to become a 20 game winner. Since 1994, there have already been six such seasons…” What are the reasons behind the decline? An increase in arm injuries is one factor. Since Tommy John surgery is commonplace in Major League Baseball now, many pitchers falsely assume they can throw as hard as they want and just get the surgery later to repair their arm. This is leading to more arm damager and a reluctance by managers to keep pitchers in games longer. The increase in injuries is leading organizations like Little League Baseball to issue guidelines limiting the amount of pitches a player can throw. For example, a Little Leaguer around age seven or eight can only throw a maximum of 50 pitches in a game. Some teams in Major League Baseball are starting to follow suit.

MLB Teams Are Shaking Up Their Pitching Rotations

The Tampa Bay Rays started an experiment this season where one of their relievers pitches the first inning. After the first inning, the pitcher initially scheduled to start comes in. It’s sort of a role reversal where relief pitchers can hammer the opposing team’s starting lineup sooner than later. So what do other baseball writers think of this idea? Sridhar Pappu, author of The Year of the Pitcher, stated that “…the complete game is very much a thing of the past and what the Rays are doing–experimenting with relievers starting games could make traditional starting pitching–much less twenty game winners–obsolete for some teams, should it work.”

We’ll Certainly Never See a Thirty Game Winner Again, Much Less Twenty Game Winner

Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers was the last pitcher to win thirty games in a season back in 1968. Since then there’s only been a handful of pitchers who have come anywhere near winning thirty games. “I think the idea that we would ever see a 30 game winner, given the number of actual starts a pitcher makes and limited pitch counts and innings limits, is going to be something we will never see in the game again,” Pappu added. “Moreover, with the use of advanced analytics, the idea of wins being the primary factor of getting into the Hall of Fame, will fade–and quicker than we might think as new, younger voters begin to grow in influence.”

We’ll certainly never see a thirty game winner again. It’s fair to say too that we are at the end of the twenty game winner era as well.

Matt Barnes Must Replace Carson Smith

With Carson Smith undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox lose a major piece to their bullpen this season. Smith, acquired in the off season, was expected to be a lock down option out of the bullpen, especially against elite right handed bats. With Smith done for the year, the Sox need somebody to step up as a replacement. Converted reliever Matt Barnes has looked strong this season and will be crucial to replacing Smith.

Barnes was once highly touted as a minor league starting pitcher. He struggled as aMatt Barnes starting pitcher at the major league level, resulting in the transition to the bullpen. Barnes seems to finally be adjusting to the new role after looking shaky and out of place last season. Barnes has pitched very well this season with a 2.82 ERA and is throwing his fastball around 70% of the time, sitting around a strong 96 mph for the most part.

Is Matt Barnes As Good As Carson Smith?

While Barnes has been pitching very well this year, he is not as good as Carson Smith, mainly due to Smith’s stronger off speed pitches. Smith also has more pitches at his disposal to keep hitters guessing. Barnes relies primarily on his curve ball as his secondary pitch. The bullpen role is best for Barnes as he is a guy who can come in for an inning and use his big time arm, throwing heat. If Barnes has his curve ball working and improves his third pitch, the change-up, he could eventually turn into an elite bullpen arm.

Losing Smith was a devastating blow to the Sox. Many fans did not get to know who Carson Smith was and should know that he was an elite arm out of the pen. Smith had 92 strikeouts in 70 innings last season with a 2.31 ERA for the Seattle Mariners. If Barnes can come near those numbers, the Sox will be very pleased. So far, Barnes looks like he is a changed pitcher and is relishing fewer innings pitched and letting loose with his heater.