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Sunday Rockpile: Allocating Rockies IP for 2009

You guys already know I'm not really a mathematician, but thanks to some people who are, people like me who aren't can just plug some numbers into a spreadsheet and seem a lot smarter than we really are. Well, at least that's what the advertisements promised when I ordered it on TV, even though it doesn't seem to work as often as I'd like. At any rate, one important part of projecting a team's performance is knowing who will be playing and how much. As GoRoxGo mentions in the comments to tpaine2009's diary on the right, one usually has to figure on 1440 IP for the pitchers, and 6300 PA's for the hitters. So before I can plug these numbers in and look smart, I need a realistic approximation of how many innings we're going to get from each of our pitchers in 2009. Figuring out the starter contributions in particular will give us an idea of what the bullpen's IP will be, so I'm going to start with that today and see where the discussion goes from there. Here are the questions I have about each of our starters:

  • Aaron Cook projects to 182 IP from just about everybody despite throwing over 200 in two of the past three seasons, can we count on 30 more innings from Cookie than what's projected, or will injury concerns spring up and keep him near that 180 mark?
  • Ubaldo Jimenez projects for 166-ish innings from CHONE and Marcel, but 195 from Bill James, the latter seems a lot closer to me after he threw 198 plus last season, am I right to think that or will he take a step back next season?
  • Jeff Francis ranges from 153 IP with Marcel to 176 IP with James. He too has been capable of 200 plus in the past, but had some injury issues in 2008 that may not be completely resolved, what's in store for him in 2009?
  • Jorge De La Rosa seems to me the most likely to dramatically exceed his projected innings, particularly the 108 that CHONE sees him throwing which makes almost zero sense to me logically since they have him starting 22 games at 4.50 ish ERA. This means that he'd be an average NL starter in quality that can't get through the fifth inning. Something's amiss there. I see 70 more IP than that in 2009, or thirty starts averaging just under six innings.
  • I worry a bit about a carryover effect from a dramatic increase in Greg Smith's workload in 2008, so I think Bill James' 190 IP projection might be incorrect on the high side and see Marcel's 155 as closer to the truth. If I was a little more sure of Francis, I'd gladly sacrifice quantity for quality here.
  • Glendon Rusch will pick up some of the workload, how many starts does he figure to get this season?
  • The Rockies have a trio of other young pitchers in Greg Reynolds, Jason Hirsh and Franklin Morales, all of whom could probably be pencilled in for at least some work, but how much?

Right now, I wonder if this is me being my typical optimistic self, but I've pencilled in 143 starts from Cook/U-ball/Francis/JDLR and Smith. I've got Rusch picking up nine of the leftovers, and the other ten will be divided by Reynolds/Hirsh and Morales. I've given the 6/7/8/9 starters an average of exactly 5 IP for those starts or 95 innings added to the 885 I had being thrown by our current projected 1-5 (180 Cook, 200 Baldo, 175 Francis, 175 JDLR, 155 Smith). This would leave 460 innings for the pen, which would be the lowest Rockies total since 1998, which is why I wonder if I am being too optimistic in my assessment of starter contributions for 2009. I think maybe my Francis innings projection needs to come down, but I'm pretty confident in the others, what does everybody else see?