FanPost

Is 13 the Magic Number for Starting Pitchers?

With his promising performance tonight, Trevor Bell became the 13th Angel pitcher to start a game this year. How unusual is that? In 48 seasons, we've exceeded that number just three times, and matched it four others. A list, with the team's record that year in parentheses:

17 1967 (84-77)
16 2000 (82-80)
14 1961 (70-91)
13 1964 (82-80)
13 1975 (72-89)
13 1980 (65-95)
13 1984 (81-81)

An interesting list, one that includes three new managers (Bill Rigney, Mike Scioscia and Dick Williams) just throwing spaghetti against the wall; plus three of the worst 12 seasons in team history ... but also two seasons featuring historically great performances from a starting pitcher (Dean Chance's Cy Young 1964 at age 23, and Frank Tanana's 4th place finish in 1975 at age 21). And topping it all off, the most competitive of the first 17 seasons in franchise history. What the hell was Rigney doing to his rotation the year the Angels were challenging the Miracle Red Sox?

Basically, George Brunet, Rickey Clark and Jim McGlothlin had 96 starts between them; Jack Hamilton had 20 more, and Clyde Wright and Jack Sanford combined for another 20. Having six pitchers divvy up 136 starts is pretty standard stuff. Thing is, everyone else got to start a game, too. Really: Only two pitchers that year, 40-year-old Lew Burdette and American League saves leader Minnie Rojas, failed to throw a first pitch. The juggling basically worked -- the Angels had the third best ERA in the league, and (typical of Rigney's teams) led the league in saves and was 2nd in relief appearances while finishing last in complete games. Though I've never seen it mentioned once outside my own brain, Rigney was a pioneer in the transition between Complete Gamism and the modern usage of bullpens.

But I digress. What you really want to know is how many teams that have used 13 or more starting pitchers in a season have made the playoffs during the Wild Card era. Answer: 13, in 14 seasons. So basically, one team each year makes the playoffs that way; this year, it will be us. Also, Trevor Bell looked pretty good, didn't he?

The end.

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