Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP) may not be a thing of the past in Cincinnati, but under new skipper Pete Mackanin they have come way down. Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo were among the most abused starters in NL during the first half of the 2007 season. That is starting to change. Mackanin is having them throw less pitches and Reds' fans are liking the results. Here is a breakdown between their first and second half performances:
Harang ST IP IP/ST ERA PIT PIT/ST PAP STRESS 115+ST 115+%
1ST HF 17 113.7 6.7 3.80 1852 108.9 49,292 26.6 5 29.4%
2ND HF 13 89.0 6.8 3.44 1312 100.9 22,234 16.9 2 15.4%
ARROYO ST IP IP/ST ERA PIT PIT/ST PAP STRESS 115+ST 115+%
1ST HF 17 105.0 6.2 4.89 1769 104.1 51,190 28.9 5 29.4%
2ND HF 14 87.3 6.2 3.61 1369 97.8 20,895 15.3 2 14.3%
1)In spite of both pitchers are throwing less pitches per start, they are still completing the roughly the same number of inning pitched per start. Basically, they are getting the same amount of work done using fewer pitches.
2)Their arms are being stressed to a lesser degree. The stress column is computed by dividing the number of PAP by the number of pitches. During the first half both Harang and Arroyo were in the mid-to-upper twenties stress-wise. Baseball prospectus states that when the stress level reaches 30 a pitcher is more likely to injure or fatigue his arm. Both Reds' pitchers were nearing that threshold. During the second half both stress levels have dropped into the more-manageable mid-teens.
3)Starts with 115+ pitches thrown are particularly hard on a pitcher. During the first half they both had 5 such starts out 17 - close to 30% of their starts. Once again we see that in the second half the percentage of such starts has been basically cut in half.
4)The ERAs for both pitchers have dropped in the second half.
5)It is interesting to note that Aaron Harang has had only two starts of 115+ under Mackanin. These came in consecutive starts.
Not so coincidentally, the first start after that was the game in which Harang had to leave after only one inning with a stiff back. He also missed his next start. Was this related? The second of those two 115+ starts raised his PAP stress level to just over 30. Right where Baseball Prospectus tells us a pitcher is more susceptible to injury. You make that call.
6)Bronson Arroyo follows a similar pattern. After his first six starts, none of which he threw more than 108 pitches, his ERA was 2.59. Then came consecutive starts of 120, 117 and a killer 129 pitches. The three following starts showed Bronson giving up 20 ER in just 11 IP. His PAP stress level after that 129 start was 39.4. Definitely in the area for a pitchers arm to be injured or fatigued. His second-half high pitch count was 123. At that time his PAP stress level for the second half was once again over 30. His very next start showed him giving up 7 ERs in less than 2 IPS.
Pete Mackanin has seemed to learn as he goes along. After Bronson's blow-up in the game following his 123 pitch start, he has started 8 more games and has thrown over 100 pitches just once. And has not had a single start of 115+ pitches. Similarly, since Harang has come back from his one missed start he has not been asked to work past the 115+ pitch barrier. It seems Mackanin is learning. And the Reds are finding out that less really can be more.