An interesting study by Mitchel Lichtman (today) at The Hardball Times has the following conclusion:
[Jim Fregosi] is correct that relief pitchers who are worked hard during a season tend to see their ERA’s increase markedly (in our case, almost half a run), such an increase is fully expected due to two things – regression towards the mean and a “drop-out” or selective sampling effect, such that any pitcher who is allowed to pitch a subsequent year will have had a tendency to have gotten a little lucky in the current year, the same problematic phenomenon we see in aging studies. Finally, if there is a small “use-effect” such that relievers who are worked hard tend to suffer in subsequent seasons as compared to relievers who don’t throw as many innings, it is not evident from the data in this study.
This is an interesting update to a study that Cliff Corcoran did a few years ago at Bronx Banter where Cliff concluded:
[Steve Karsay] points to an ugly side of [Joe] Torre’s tenure as Yankee manager, one in which he attributes the failures of his overworked relievers to the pitcher themselves, rather than the unreasonable workloads with which he saddles them, and shuns them because of their resulting poor performance.
It has always been interesting to me that guys like Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera survived Joe Torre’s handling whereas guys like Scott Proctor, Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Quantrill, etc. got cooked – or, at least we assume they were fried by Joe. Perhaps it all was maybe just a regression towards the mean – and Torre is not to blame for them?