Justin Verlander had a dominating performance today throwing 8 shut out innings. He was making a start on 5 days rest, and it wasn’t the first time he seems to have benefited from an extra day of vacation. In fact, in his 4 top starts (ranked by Game Score) 3 have come when he’s had more than 4 days of rest.
In listening to today’s game, Jim & Dan indicated that Verlander seemed to be throwing free and easy with more bite and velocity than he had of late. So qualitatively he seemed to benefit from the extra rest, but what do the numbers show?
4-Days > 4-Days Starts 9 7 Record 4-3 6-1 Inn Pit 55.3 48.3 WHIP 1.41 1.08 HR's 9 2 BB/9 3.09 2.23 K/9 5.53 5.77 K/BB 1.79 2.58 ERA 3.90 2.23
Across the board Verlander’s numbers are better when he gets more than the standard 4 days rest. While 9 and 7 games aren’t huge sample sizes, the evidence looks compelling at this point that the youngster does better with extra rest.
As the season progresses and Verlander is stretched farther than he ever has been, it is something that I would hope Jim Leyland looks to exploit. Fortunately the Tigers have had only one rain out to date and no double headers are scheduled as of yet. Also, the Tigers have options they can turn to for spot starts such as Wil Ledezma or Humberto Sanchez.
The most intriguing option may be taking a couple turns with a six man rotation. Should Mike Maroth make it back this year, and Zach Miner continue to pitch well, it would be hard to limit the rotation to 5. The downside to a six man rotation is that there is one less bullpen arm (or one less position player) available. But Jim Leyland has shown time and time again he is willing to go the unconventional route, and with remarkable success.
UPDATE: This just in, yesterday was not the 29th, but only the 28th. Other breaking news is that I’m an idiot. As Kurt points out in the comments, yesterday was only on 4 days rest. My calculations were based on my strong belief that yesterday was June 29th. I suck. Sorry. I’ll fix the numbers tonight, and with yesterday’s start moved into the 4 day rest category I imagine the numbers will be pretty much the same. A whole post down the drain. I suck.
UPDATE 2: Here is the revised table. This shows me there really isn’t much of a difference, except that he pitches more innings when he has the extra day of rest.
4-Days > 4-Days Starts 10 6 Record 5-3 5-1 Inn Pit 55.3 48.3 WHIP 1.30 1.21 HR's 9 2 BB/9 2.74 2.68 K/9 5.92 5.36 K/BB 2.16 2.00 ERA 3.47 2.68
(Data from Baseball Musings Day by Day Database and today’s box score. Also, I classified Verlander’s first start of the season in the > 4 day bucket)