Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pitcher Fatigue Factor

The Bucs are citing fatigue as a possible problem for Charlie Morton. He's work 86 innings so far, putting him on pace for a 190 inning season after pitching 160 innings last year between Pittsburgh and Indy, about the same workload he had in 2008-09. He's on track for the same number of starts, projected at 31, as his 2010 total. The fact that he's working with totally remade mechanics weighs in the mix, too. They're considering skipping a start to give his arm a rest.

The other starters' inning projections: Kevin Correia and Paul Maholm are both on track for 210 inning seasons. Correia only tossed 145 innings in 2010; Maholm has always been a workhorse. Jeff Karstens is working toward a 175 inning year; he threw 146 frames last year. James McDonald is projected to pitch 165 innings, which is about equivalent to 2010's mark, but it's his first year as a starter after being a swingman at LA. So all the guys save PM could face post All-Star burnout because of their increased outings in the first half of 2011, and the Buc management has always been inning and pitch count conscious.

Perhaps Brad Lincoln could get a spot start to give the staff a blow, or maybe the FO will revisit the six man rotation idea they briefly considered last season to keep the workload down.

It's a good problem to have in that the pitchers have all added an inning to their usual outing, helped by strong D, Ray Searage's leadership, and Clint Hurdle's insistence they raise the bar a bit and get into the seventh inning.

But the Indy guys, widely expected to be MLB ready by the All-Star break if not sooner, have all hit stumbling blocks on the farm; only Brad Lincoln has come around with Brian Burres as an insurance policy. When Ohlie comes back, he'll almost certainly be relegated to the bullpen to stretch out. So there's not a lot of help on the horizon, and that could effect the rotation's late summer performances.

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