A local beat reporter wrote a few days ago that while Rangers starters were averaging 103.1 pitches per outing, the highest total in the American League (and third highest in baseball), it was "not to suggest the Rangers are overworking their starting pitchers. It's more the opposite. The Rangers are getting their starters to go longer and throw more pitches, though, they are getting a wholly more efficient performance since the club decided to push starters a little harder."
To support the point he notes that Texas was averaging 16.5 pitches per inning, in line with the American League average, evidence along with the pitch counts of how deep the club's starters were getting into games.
All of that was true.
What the story did not mention was that Rangers' starters were throwing 4.10 pitches per batter faced, the worst mark in baseball.
Since then, including today's Scott Feldman start, the mark has crept up to 4.15, still the highest in the league.
That's not to suggest the starters haven't been very strong. They've been outstanding, and are the reason the team has won as many games as it has.
But what's happened the last two days in Yankee Stadium has driven home a statistical point that seems worth noting. New York is predictably making Texas pitchers work - Yankee hitters are extraordinarily patient and fundamentally sound. But they're not alone. Rangers' starters' opponents are working deeper counts than any other team's starters' opponents.
Meanwhile, Texas hitters see only 3.64 pitches per plate appearance. The only offense in baseball that sees fewer pitches per trip is San Francisco's.
When the gap begins to narrow between those two composite numbers, it's going to feel like we're another step closer to being where this team is capable of being.
* * *
Pitches per Batter Faced, Highest, American League Starting Pitchers:
1. Rich Harden, TEX (4.51)
6. Colby Lewis, TEX (4.23)
8. Scott Feldman, TEX (4.20)
10. Matt Harrison, TEX (4.11)
45. C.J. Wilson, TEX (3.75)
Again, this isn't a hatchet job on the Rangers rotation, which I have as much confidence in as any bunch the club has put together in the last 20 years. Just something worth noting, maybe, particularly when laid against the what's going on with the Texas offense, which just isn't working counts.
By the way, Wilson is 22nd lowest in the league - impressive, and given his history, surprising.
But not as surprising as the fact that the only hitter on the entire Texas roster (with the exception of Matt Treanor) seeing as many as four pitches per plate appearance is the last player any of us could have ever nominated for being the early king, on this team, of getting deep into pitch counts:
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(c) Jamey Newberg