Why Arroyo? Why? Why?


Bronson Arroyo, who is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts and starts today’s series finale against the Devil Rays, may be on borrowed time as a Red Sox starter. With Wade Miller making perhaps his next-to-last rehab start with Portland tonight, Arroyo figures he may be in the bullpen before long. He said he can live with the switch if it helps the team. Still, Arroyo, 28, is in the prime of his pitching career and knows the big money follows starting pitchers. “I haven’t been told that, but I know that’s where it’s heading,” Arroyo said about the reassignment. “Sure, someone could have four bad starts and I could have four good [outings], but it’s not going to happen that way. I’d love to be able to pitch 200 innings and be in a rotation and pitch every fifth day, and hopefully that will happen at some point. In the near future, I know I’m going to be starting for the rest of my career.”

Arroyo is currently throwing six innings of six-hit ball against the Devil Rays, coughing up two runs (I just had to edit this to account for Nick Green’s HR … grrr), walking none and striking two out. He’s had 62 pitches thus far in the game. For comparison, through 5, Nomo is at 92. On the year, Arroyo is 1-0 (not including today) and has not lost since last August 15th, and a 3.86 ERA. And yet we have to deal with this? (Yet another edit: Boy, Ortiz was scary in that brawl!) (Edit two: Jeez, will they please let me write this column? Arroyo ejected, perfect move. Hit the person right out of the gate, make the intentions clear that they’re just defending Manny and Ortiz, have a reliever warming up.)
I don’t think that’s grounds for being pushed to the bullpen. In an earlier article, I pushed for Wakefield to go to the bullpen. Obviously that won’t happen when Wakefield has a 1.75 ERA, but what I did was I asked Will Carroll which was less stress on the arm – starting or relieving, wondering maybe what they would do when Wade Miller retured. Well, he replied, saying that “the fact is we don’t know which is harder or how individuals recover. My guess is that his stamina will push him to relieving, at least at first.”
Why don’t we do that? Doesn’t having Miller relieve at first sound like a good idea? First off, it continues the hot streak of Tim Wakefield and considering Arroyo was the 10th best starter in the AL last year and a lot of people have picked him for a breakout season, it makes perfect sense to keep Arroyo in the rotation. It also allows us to wean Miller into the American League and into endurance. Even though he’s pitching innings in the minor leagues to go 6-9 innings, pitching in the minor leagues and in the major leagues are completely different.
Besides, what if Miller is another Jeff Suppan? BoSox people know the Suppan story well. He came up with Boston, was average to below average, and eventually moved on to average years with the Royals. Hit up the Pirates for a good year until he was traded back to the AL and Boston where he stunk it up. Signed with the Cardinals last year and has been an important part of their pitching staff. Pitched lousy in the World Series against Boston. Wouldn’t we be best served to know his effectiveness out of the bullpen rather than rotation? It seems like an interesting concept.
Chuck was able to look at the pythagorean issues a little more in-depth today.

I have thrown in a projection model (download the projection model, very nicely done by Chuck, here), showing what final records would be over 162 games, if teams were to keep up their current RS/RA pace. The Sox do rather nicely, despite their recent slide. Pythag would have them at 11-7 and Baltimore at 10-8, the reverse of today’s standing. If they were to keep up their RS/RA pace, Pythag would have them winning 103 games. It would also have the last place Yankees (can I copyright that phrase??) going 68-94. I will believe that when I see it….
While Pythag is a fun exercise, we should not hold it to exacting standards. Looking at last years results, the Yankees (who went 101-61) should have been 89-73 in a perfect Pythag world. The Sox (who went 98-64) would have been 98-64. I think this shows us the great utility of Pythag. The Sox were obviously exactly what we saw on the field every day. Their performance, mainly outscoring their opponents by 1.11 runs/game, pointed out what their record should be. The Yankees on the other hand, were winning far more that their actual performance would have normally dictated. You can call that luck, or Mariano Rivera. Over the course of the season, the Yanks played close games, win or lose, and the Sox won by a lot, and lost by not much. In the end it caught up with the Yanks, and redefined the name “Bronx Bombers”.

So who would win the divisions based on these projected standings?
BOSTON wins the AL East with 103 wins. Tampa Bay to 97 losses.
CHICAGO wins the AL Central with 104 wins. Kansas City to 117 losses.
LOS ANGELES wins the AL West with 93 wins. Oakland last with 89 losses.
FLORIDA wins the NL East with 123 wins. (Yikes!) Philadelphia last with 102 losses.
ST. LOUIS wins the NL Central with 100 wins. In addition, the Brewers and Pirates currently have identical 6-11 records, but the Pythagorean Standings project the Brewers to be 83-79 and Pirates 38-124.
LOS ANGELES wins the NL West with 103 wins. Colorado last with 95 losses.
I know it’s all small sample size, but nonetheless, fascinating stuff.
Game update: Ramon Vazquez just misses another grand slam for the Sox. Oh well, we’ll take a Payton slammer and Ortiz crush into the stands. 11-3 Sox.

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