Friday Rockpile: Should We Blame Pitching Inefficiency On Youth Or Rosario?

Mar 20, 2012; Peoria, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (20) and home plate umpire Tyler Funneman (right) appeal to the third base umpire during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

We've written quite a few Rockpiles these past 2 months regarding the Rockies' infuriating pitching inefficiency and how it's forcing extremely short starts from the starters. On a 75-pitch count, most MLB starters should be into the 5th inning if not through it. But we've seen starts, time and time again, where 75 pitches is barely scraping the end of the 4th inning. So many plate appearances where Alex White or Drew Pomeranz are up 0-2 on a hitter and suddenly fall to 3-2 before inducing the groundout or giving up the weak single to RF.

Trying to find a solitary cause for this has typically boiled down to one of two alternatives: The pitching is just young and doesn't know how best to take advantage once ahead in the count, or that Wilin Rosario's seeming inability to properly frame the strike zone is costing Rockies' pitching a lot of called strikes.

So for kick and giggles, I figured I'd run the numbers on Rockies starters, at least the ones who'd made any reasonable number of starts (Edwar Cabrera, Josh Outman, and Guillermo Moscoso were excluded). I figure the best way to try and gauge the effectiveness is to go off of the ratio of strikes to balls for each pitcher and each catcher.

Before I reveal the findings, understand a few caveats:

1. This is an incredibly small sample for each pitcher. We're more exploring what HAS happened this season, and this exploration doesn't imply any predictive value.

2. Given that Rosario is the one on trial here, the numbers are pretty much "Rosario vs Non-Rosario", including Hernandez and Nieves.

3. We have to remember that batted balls count as a strike, whether it's a home run or it's a called strike.

4. There aren't an equal number of pitches per pitcher per catcher. Friedrich, for example, pitched exclusively to Rosario with the exception of 1 start with Hernandez.

The results were a bit surprising. UNsurprisingly, Jeremy Guthrie and Jeff Francis have shown better K/B ratios with Hernandez/Nieves than Rosario, but Chacin and Nicasio have worked better with Rosario.

Here are the full results:

Pitcher Rosario K/B Non-Rosario K/B
Alex White 1.47 1.26
Drew Pomeranz 1.52 1.60
Tyler Chatwood 1.38 1.31
Jeff Francis 1.69 1.81
Jhoulys Chacin 1.73 1.49
Christian Friedrich 1.68 1.83
Juan Nicasio 1.76 1.26
Jeremy Guthrie 1.47 1.60

Like I said, the numbers are a bit skewed, but it's interesting to see who's worked better with Rosario thus far this season. Colloquially, we'd tend to lean toward a more veteran catcher when trying to pick the catcher who works better with a pitching staff. But take a look at the overall numbers for the season:

Rosario K/B Non-Rosario K/B
Total 1.58 1.50

This came as a surprise. This is the summation of all the starts of the season (with a few exclusions, such as when Hernandez was hurt and Rosario came in mid-game), and it's looking like the numbers aren't as skewed as we'd expect.

So to conclude on today's episode of number vomit, I think we've learned a couple of things that we probably already knew:

1. Ramon Hernandez isn't an amazing framing catcher.

2. Rosario still has a lot of work to do.

3. We can probably brush a lot of this under the "young pitching" rug and really just hope for growth next season.

Let's just go get Yorvit Torrealba back next season or something like that.

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