Home / Sport / Yankees vs. rays: what the story of short-rest pitchers says as Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow play Game 5

Yankees vs. rays: what the story of short-rest pitchers says as Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow play Game 5



Friday’s ALDS Game 5 between Yankees and Rays will decide who will advance to face the Astros in the ALCS. Notably, the decisive tilt will also see starting pitchers resting briefly. Ace Gerrit Cole goes for the Yankees on a three-day rest, and right-footed fellow Tyler Glasnow takes the hit for Tampa Bay just two days after pitching five innings in Game 2.

Neither has ever started with a short rest, which means we’re flying instrumentless to some degree. The only thing we can do is evaluate how the starting pitchers have performed over recent history with the short rest. This discussion is only relevant to Cole for a couple of reasons:

  • Glasnow almost certainly won̵
    7;t make a traditional start and probably won’t even make it once full time through the Yankees order. He may not be quite a trailblazer in Game 5, but it’s hard to imagine manager Kevin Cash letting him go more than two innings. This is especially true since fellow starter Blake Snell is also available to give Cash one or three innings.
  • Glasnow has made a relief appearance on two days of rest on 10 occasions in his career, and that’s essentially what he will do in Race 5.

For these reasons, the historical models do not apply to what Glasnow will likely be asked for on Friday night. Cole, however, reckons that he should be asked to take a more traditional short rest start, which probably means about five innings.

The good news for the Yankees is that Cole has been preparing for this possibility since the start of his Game 1, so he didn’t have to change his routine on short notice. That said, history suggests that Cole could experience a significant drop in performance. Here’s how the starting pitchers performed on the normal four days off versus the three days off since the start of the wild card era, i.e. 1995 onwards. This starting point gives us a large sample of data while being sufficiently clear on the days of the four-man rotation. Furthermore, the power of modern crime is for the most part built into this range. Now here are the numbers for all these beginnings in MLB in the arc in question:

Three days (1995-2020)

1.984

4.92

1.85

.792

Four days (1995-2020)

61,037

4.39

2.24

.754

As you can see, this is a general decline at all stages. The ERA jumps more than half a run and in related matters the three-day rest pitchers have been worse off at the command and control level and when it comes to limiting base runners and turning off the bat. It is also worth noting that it is generally the best pitchers who are pushed into a short rest serve, which means that the short rest population in those numbers above is likely better overall than the normal rest population. However, the drop in performance is significant.

Now let’s see if anything changes when we limit samples to just the last decade, or from 2011-20.

Three days (2011-2020)

459

4.97

2.08

.797

Four days (2011-2020)

20,676

4.16

2.72

.735

Over the past decade, the decline from full rest to three days of rest has been even more rapid. None of this is particularly surprising. Contemporary beginner pitchers are trained to throw at most every five days, and pitchers are notorious creatures of routine. Turn over all those things that have been wired over the years, and they probably won’t be on the mound themselves.

Perhaps Cole as an elite beginner pitcher has what it takes to resist these trends. Manager Aaron Boone can definitely help matters by allowing Cole at most two trips through the opponent’s batting order. Boone can get some length from Deivi Garcia and Luis Cessa if need be, and Aroldis Chapman and Zach Britton will obviously be available for high leverage outs in the last few frames. The question is whether Cole in his first taste of short rest can get him the ball with minimal damage to the scoreboard. The past says it will be difficult.




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