No. 223 Joe Nathen (Number 8 Relief Pitcher)

I was surprised Joe Nathen finished so high as a relief pitcher. I didn’t think he would be in the top 10, but as I was putting everything together, I could see it was a strong possibility. I was thrilled to have a Twin as a top 10.

Nathen didn’t really start pitching well until 2003 at the age of 28. However, he was traded to the Twins and had 6 great years as a reliever with them from 2004 to 2009. Then he was injured a year, didn’t quite recover in 2010 and was traded to the Rangers. He had two great years with the Rangers.

Nathen was great except the post season. However, that hurts because teams like to use relief aces and their best starters more then in the post season. Don’t think Nathen was a choker, because his clutch statistics are better than the relief pitchers ranked near him.

Now days that is harder to do for two reasons. First there are three rounds in the playoffs. You can’t pitch any pitcher that hard for three rounds in a row. Philadelphia actually were in their fourth round of the playoffs in last year’s World Series. That takes a toll, because the roster limit is enforced for each round of the playoffs. Now days, relief pitchers seem to be rotated in and out within the loopholes. The second reason is pitchers can’t do much more than the regular season and starters and relief pitchers now pitch less innings in the regular season then they did 30 years ago.

For example, when they had only the World Series St. Louis had their ace Bob Gibson start 3 games and throw 27 innings in each World Series. This was over 40 percent of the Cardinals innings in the World Series, which is a lot more than in the regular season.

However, managers will try to use their best pitchers as often as they can during the post season. Dusty Baker in part thanks the Astros sweeping their first two series, was able to start his two aces in games 1 and 2 and thus in games 5 and 6. The went 3-0 in the World Series so the strategy worked out. In the World Series ace Justin Verlander pitched 10 of 54 innings which is 18.5 percent of innings pitched for the Astros in the World Series. In the regular season Verlander pitched 175 of 1445.3 innings or which is 12.1 percent of the regular season.

It was the same with Framber Valdez didn’t pitch as well as Verlander, but still pitched great and pitched more innings. In the World Series Valdez pitched 12.3 of 54 innings which is 22.8 percent innings pitched for the Astros in the World Series. In the regular season Valdez pitch 201.3 of 1445.3 innings which was is 13.9 of the regular season. While the two pitchers pitched 26 percent of the regular season they pitched 41.3 percent of the World Series. That makes it tough on hitters. Although Verlander didn’t pitch well in game won, the two pitchers went 3-0 in the World Series.

It was the same with Astro’s relief ace Ryan Pressley. He pitched less innings but was able to pitch in 5 of the 6 games as these games are more important. During the regular season he pitched in only 50 games. In the World Series Pressley pitched 5.7 of 54 innings of the World Series or 10.6 percent. In the regular season Pressley pitched 48.3 of 1445.3 innings which is 3.3 percent of the regular season. So, Baylor was able to get his three more effective pitchers to pitch half the innings of the World Series, which helps explain why Houston gave up only 3 runs a game even though Verlander wasn’t very effective.  

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