Starter vs closer in the very short term

Theories, Concepts and Analytical Discussion (draft strategies, valuation, inflation, scarcity, etc.)

Moderator: Mastersball Staff

Post Reply
Major League Veteran
Posts: 231
Joined: March 16th, 2010, 2:30 pm

Starter vs closer in the very short term

#1 Post by mjlewis » June 15th, 2015, 2:55 am

One of my leagues has activations twice a week, and I have to decide whether I want a starter or closer in my last pitching slot for the next four days. I'd like your opinion on if this analysis looks right, and if you have any stats (or know how to get them) for the numbers I'm assuming. I don't think this question necessarily warrants all this analysis but I was intellectually curious.

Assume that I have no opinion about whether I need wins or saves more.

In this case I'm deciding between Charlie Morton (home vs CHW - Quintana) and Brad Ziegler. Morton is averaging about three strikeouts per game, Ziegler hasn't had a strikeout in his last seven appearances, so that's a small edge to Morton.


Wins and saves are about equal in value - the league leading total in both is around 90-100 in this league each year. However, they may have different values at different points on the spectrum via SGP analysis, since save totals are kind of clumpy over which teams have 1, 2, 3 closers)

Chance of PIT winning the game: 50% (PIT is 26th in the league in OPS vs L, CHW is 22nd in OPS vs R, Morton and Quintana are approximately equal in talent, PIT has a better bullpen)
Chance of Morton getting the W assuming PIT wins: 60% (I don't know how to get this over a large set of players, but Morton for his career is about 50%, Liriano is about 80% in his time with PIT, Volquez was 70% last year)
Chance of Morton getting a W: 30% (note that over his career Morton has gotten wins in about 25% of his starts overall)

Ziegler has 4 games vs LAA (two home, two away).
LAA and ARI are about equal by RS/RA so assume they're evenly matched.
Teams average about 42 sv/year (42 the last three years), so a little better than one every four games.
Chance of Ziegler getting 0 saves: (3/4)^4 = 81/256 = 32%
Chance of 1 save: (3/4)^3 * (1/4) * 4 = 27/64 = 42%
Chance of 2 saves: (3/4)^2 * (1/4)^2 * 6 = 21%
Chance of 3 saves: (3/4) * (1/4)^3 * 4 = 5%
Chance of 4 saves: (1/4)^4 = 0.4%
(note only calculated 3 and 4 to verify math; if there were that many save opps most likely someone else would get one, as happened tonight)
There should be some penalty for being the home team since there's no save opp if you win in the 9th, but not sure how much. Small though.

So it seems like a closer is way more likely to contribute in SV over four games than an average starter is in W with one start. Even Kershaw, who gets a W in about 80% of his starts, is less good in a vacuum. Of course, you can't just run all closers, since there's diminishing returns on them and if you do need some Ws Kershaw is a good place to find them, and most starters will contribute more in Ks than a closer will over that period - even someone like Chapman probably doesn't get more than 3 K per four team games played.

User avatar
Todd Zola
Hall of Famer
Posts: 6124
Joined: December 25th, 2008, 12:45 pm

Re: Starter vs closer in the very short term

#2 Post by Todd Zola » June 15th, 2015, 8:11 am

I always go with the closer because I know i have him and can always make up for W & K later off the waiver wire while I'm not guaranteed of being able to grab a closer later.
Catchers are like prostate exams -- comes a time where you can't put if off any longer, so you may as well get it over with and take it up the butt - The Forum Funklord

I'd rather be wrong for the right reasons than right for the wrong reasons - The Forum Funklord

Always remember, never forget, never say always or never. - The Forum Funklord

You know you have to seek therapy when you see one of your pitchers had a bad night and it takes you 15 minutes to find the team you have him on. - The Forum Funklord

Post Reply