Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Why late-season shut downs make no sense

We've all heard the arguments and we've heard all about the disasters (stand up Matt Prior, Kerry Wood), but really, how much longer is this mollycoddling of young pitchers on non-contending teams going to continue unabated?

Case in point: Brian Matusz of the O's

In case you weren't paying attention, young Brian pitched an absolute beauty of a game on Saturday against no lesser a team than the New York Yankees, thats right, the team with the best record in all of baseball.

Yet now, Matusz has been shut down for the rest of the year.

What is the sense behind this? The guy is going to pitch maybe 3 or 4 times more this season anyway!

Now the arguments for shutting him down are well-trodden, we heard the same from the Red Sox in 2007 when they shut down Buchholz - "Young pitcher, we don't have Dusty Baker managing this ball-club, we don't want him to blow out his arm and have to fork out for Tommy John surgery" etc. Blah blah blah.

Well, one only has to look at Clay Buchholz's career since 2007 as evidence of how well the Sox's plan turned out.

Matusz has been pitching brilliantly lately, he's gone 7 in his last 3 starts (including one against Cleveland when he struck out 8!). Excluding a blip against the Rangers he's had quality starts (extremely quality starts). What purpose does shutting him down now have except of harming the confidence of a 22 year old and leading the kind of disjointed "am I a big-league pitcher or aren't I" thinking that has hugely harmed Buchholz's career?

If, and it is a big if, we absolute have to be "cautious" at this point of the year then why note keep the guy in the rotation, impose a pitch or innings count and give the guy a sense of accomplishment at the end of a miraculous season in which he's dominated hitters at 3 levels of pro-ball?

Its not just the O's who are guilty of this. The Yankees have been jerking Joba Chamberlain around for years. Barely a week goes by without somebody somewhere making noises to the effect that Joba's off to the bull-pen or Joba's only allowed to pitch to one hitter and so on and so on.

Look, this guy has proven himself a major league starting pitcher. You made the choice to let him start rather than set up Mariano, now live with it!

OK, rant over. The message of this diatribe: yes, by all means protect young arms, but let's not get carried away (unless of course, you've just spent $15,000,000 on someone who's never pitched a game of pro-ball in their life, but then again, that's another story).

1 comment:

  1. every pitcher that started for the Nats this season, with the exception of Scott Olsen, is either getting payed the league minimum or very near to it (Lannan gets $424,000) and look how well that turned out. After another 100 loss season its time for Mike Rizzo to put his stamp on the ballclub. Strasburg is the most exciting pitcher to come out of the draft in years and is worth the gamble. After all someone thought it was a good idea to pay Austin Kearns $8 million a year and Dmitri Young $5 million so if Strasburg can win 13 games and fill Nationals Park he'd be a bargin at twice the price.