SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Washington went against baseball’s trend toward bulked-up bullpens, dedicating 39 percent of its payroll to three starting pitchers: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The trio triumphed, lifting the Nationals to the first World Series title in the team’s 51-season history,
Houston came within one win of its second championship in three seasons, led by a rotation headed by Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
In a sport of copycats, will rotation arms regain prominence throughout the major leagues?
“That’s my favorite question of every GM meetings. It is the narrative of whoever won the World Series,” Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Tuesday. “I think as you look back at the World Series champions the last five, 10 years, they’re all great teams and they all get there in slightly different ways.”
Starting pitchers averaged 5.2 innings this year, the lowest since baseballreference’s figures began in 1925. The average ranged from 5.8 and 6.1 in every season from 1993 through 2015 but has dropped for five straight seasons.
The New York Mets and Washington led with an average of 5.8 this year, followed by Cleveland at 5.7 and Houston at 5.6.
“If people are copying us, then we must be doing something right,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Starting pitching has been our philosophy. Hopefully we’re going to continue to utilize that formula for continued success.”
Cole and Strasburg are on the free-agent market along with Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jake Odorizzi. Cole, a 29-year-old right-hander who is 35-10 over the past two seasons, is expected to get a record contract for a pitcher, topping David Price’s $217 million, seven-year deal with…