Is 200 Innings The Be-All-End-All For Starting Pitchers?

How valuable is Mike Pelfrey to the Mets rotation? I’ve often had this debate with a couple of guys I work with who are addicted to the Mets like I am. Depending on who you ask, you’ll come across many who will say we need Pelfrey because he gives us innings? And while that’s true, somewhat, what’s the big turn-on here if the majority of those innings are not quality-innings?

For example, in 2011, Mike Pelfrey made 33 starts and threw 193.2 innings, but only 15 of those stars were Quality Starts – less than 50%.

On the other hand, Jon Niese only made 26 starts and pitched only 157 innings, but he also tallied 15 quality starts, a very substantial difference.

The difference showed up in the win columns; 7 wins in 33 starts for Pelfrey, 11 wins in 26 starts for Niese.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote about this on Sunday and said:

We all know that 200 innings isn’t the be-all-end-all for pitching staffs, but a high innings total usually signifies some success by the starter, an ability to give the bullpen rest and foster an attitude that says, “I’m going deep into a game.’’

And if you ask any pitcher, 200 innings is a benchmark, a goal. Thirty-nine achieved it last season, with varying degrees of success. You had a wide range from Justin Verlander with a major league-high 251 innings (24 wins and a 0.92 WHIP) to Ryan Dempster, who logged 202 1/3 innings but had a 1.45 WHIP.

The concept is simple: The more innings your starters log, the less pressure there is on your bullpen, which is usually made up of inferior pitchers.

Okay fine, but what if your starting pitcher (MIke Pelfrey), has a higher WHIP than anyone else in your bullpen not named D.J. Carrasco?