Originally Posted by M2
As for the contention that it's easier to win well-pitched games than lose poorly pitched outings, I whole-heartedly disagree.
Well, this is pretty darn close to the Koufax/Don Sutton debate that Bill James carries out in his Hall of Fame book. From what I gather, you are taking the position that a steady performer (i.e., Sutton) would be more valuable than a highly volatile one (Koufax). [Koufax had great years mixed with pretty crummy ones, whereas Sutton was very steady performer year in and year out.] I can't disprove your contention in this space--I have neither the time nor inclination to run a simulation--but I trust what Bill James said about the issue. He concluded from this study that the winning percentage for a team of Koufaxes (highly variable seasonal performances) would have a .550-.600 winning percentage, whereas a team of Suttons with the same ERA would be ~.500. By inference, I believe it is safe to say that peak performances, with respect to winning and losing ballgames, will be undervalued on a game-to-game basis.
[Aside: the 4.50 ERA was in place for ease of illustration--it was laziness (on my behalf) in making my point.]
As for the IP issue, let me ask you this: is it any coincidence that the late-90s ATL team easily constructed good (great?) bullpens with Glavine and Maddux eating 450+ innings at the front of the rotation? Never mind that those bullpens were always cobbled together with a cast of Darren Holmeses and Chris Hammonds, and yet, they always turned out consistently strong performances. Leo Mazzone gets more than his fair share of the credit for the success of the bullpen, but I don't think is necessarily fair when you have two innings eaters at the front of the rotation. That allows Mazzone to find spots where Hammond and pitchers of his ilk could be successful (and well-rested). I realize that many do not share my viewpoint, but cheap IP (e.g., not coming from a great performer) are significantly undervalued on the market. And that is what Lidle gives the staff--he relieves the pressure valve that builds up in a bullpen.
Finally, I just want to be clear: I am not saying Lidle is a "good pitcher" by conventional standards; I am saying that his contributions have "value" to this club.