ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian has an interesting story up about how teams that made it to the World Series saw their staff ERA go up the next season. He cites many reasons for this, starting with the additional workload put on teams that play all of October. Part of the story:
We looked at the World Series participants in the past 10 years, and the effect on the pitching staffs the following seasons to those 20 teams. Fourteen of the 20 -- 70 percent -- had an ERA increase the next season. Eight of the 20 -- 40 percent -- had an increase of least a half run, which is substantial. The 10 teams that won the World Series averaged an increase in ERA of .281. The 10 losing teams averaged an increase of .213. The Detroit Tigers went to the World Series in 2006 and compiled a 3.84 ERA, but had a 4.57 ERA the next year, a .73 increase. The St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series and had a 3.57 ERA, but it increased by 1.08 to 4.65 in 2007. The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005; their team ERA the next year went from 3.61 to 4.61.
"We've talked to other teams that have been through it,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Our sense is that you have to monitor certain guys, not the whole staff. We have a couple of starters and a couple of relievers that went wire-to-wire without a break last year. Wash [Texas manager Ron Washington] and Mike [pitching coach Mike Maddux] will monitor them a little closer.''
Kurkjian talked to former Rangers pitching coach Tom House about the additional innings and how it can impact pitchers the next year.
"The workload is an issue, but how you handle that workload is the most important thing,'' House said. "Most teams will have a pitcher not pick up a baseball for two months after a season with an unusually large workload. But nothing is bad. It must be what we call 'active rest.' Teams that have year-round throwing programs and year-round conditioning programs are in the best position to handle the recovery of an arm. If you don't throw for two months, the body goes back to accommodating no activity. If you have year-round conditioning and throwing, your body never stops adjusting to throwing. The body adjusts to what it is asked to do.
"If you take two months off, all the cells go on vacation to Mazatlan, and that's how adhesions are formed. Then, spring training comes, everything is asked to wake up, and rebuild a foundation. Have you ever wondered why Dominican pitchers last forever? They are throwing -- not pitching -- year round. It's like being a marathoner. You ran the best marathon of your life, then you take two months off, don't run at all, go to spring training, and you have to run another marathon in six weeks.''
Daniels mentions that C.J. Wilson is one pitcher the Rangers will keep a close eye on because he pitched more than 200 innings one season after being in the bullpen (and a handful of seasons removed from being a starter in the minors).
Said Daniels: "Wilson is one of the guys we'll keep a closer eye on. But he is one of the best conditioned players on our team. He doesn't drink. He takes great care of himself on his own, not to mention what he gets from the club. Plus, he's 30 years old. He's not 22. And he pitched really well the second half of the year. But we will monitor him closer.''
How the Rangers staff looks -- and Kurkjian notes that not having Cliff Lee could certainly impact the Rangers' ERA in 2011 -- will be a big storyline to follow in spring training and as the season begins. Again, click here for the whole story.