Stemming off from talking about Pivetta, and looking a little deeper into the value of "being available" I am trying to work out a way to determine if being available really is a valuable skillset if you stink. I took all of the pitcher starts from 2022 and threw them in a table this afternoon and gave them points based off of their performance. I know we talked about Quality Starts above, and I kind of understand why people shy away from it, but I also kind of understand what it is getting at, too. In a league where teams generally average between 4 and 5 runs a game (yes, there are outliers), I think a pitcher who can go 6 innings and let up 3 runs is, at the least, giving his team a chance to win. Game score is fun and all, but I wanted to look at actual run results, because a 15K game that a pitcher lets up 5 runs could still be a decent game score.
I feel like 3 earned runs is a good baseline, and, since it is 2023, 5 innings pitched is a decent break even point as well, so what I did was award pitchers a single point for each inning they pitched beyond the 5th (with a bonus point for a complete game, or 9 innings+). They also received 1 point for each earned run less than 3 that they allowed, 0 points if they allowed 3 runs, and -1 point if they allowed 4 or more earned runs. I counted all games in which a pitcher allowed 4 runs or more in the same basket, because at some point you are just setting your team up to lose, and you shouldn't really be punished more. I also only spent like 10 minutes coming up with this, so it is something of a rough sketch of how I want to look at it. Oh, I also subtracted a third of a point for each unearned run they allowed. I know they don't get "charged" to the pitcher, but they do tend to hold at least some responsibility for it, unless the unearned run is a solo home run off of Jose Canseco's head.
I assigned the points value based on their IP in each start and their runs allowed. I also looked at total games with 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4+ runs allowed, and a percentage of games with 4+ runs allowed.
As someone who was strongly aboard the "Pivetta has value because he pitches 32+ games a year", I kind of put this together to specifically look at him. What I found was:
Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara were simply incredible last year.
Nick Pivetta, frankly, stinks. Even with his really great 6 week run, of 123 starters with 20 or more games started, he ranked 61st in total points achieved, which seems mediocre, but he also had 33 starts and since it is kind of a counting stat that makes it more bad, and when I switch to 25+ starts, he is 55th out of 85. Still pretty mediocre, but you can live with mediocre from your #5 starter.
Where issues begin to form, though, is that 38 of his 46 points of value came in that one stretch from May 1st until June 29th. Outside of that, he was simply awful. Overall, he had a 33% blowup percentage (more than 4 runs allowed), which was 99th out of 123, a nearly 10% rate of going less than 4 innings (67th out of 123) and only a 51% rate of going more than 5 innings (84th).
Basically, if you only have 5 (or less) available starting pitchers, sure you could do worse than Pivetta. But, really, you aren't going to find a way to make it that much worse.