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# 66-87

Biggest Suckfest: Joel Pineiro, -32.0%
Most Important Hit: Beltre double, +21.7%
Most Important Pitch: Rios homer, -37.3%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -31.4%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -17.0%

I give you two line scores:

Pitcher A: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K
Pitcher B: 7.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR

Who's the better pitcher?

Pitcher A was Joel Pineiro against Anaheim on September 12th; Pitcher B, obviously, was Joel Pineiro tonight. If you've been reading this site for more than a few days, you can probably see where I'm going with this.

The Hardball Times (which totally rocks, by the way) has a neat little stat called FIP, which I've mentioned more than a few times over the summer. Essentially, it tells you what a guy's ERA should be, independent of his team defense. The best part? They provide the formula, which is remarkably simple:

[(HR*13+(BB+HBP)*3-K*2)/IP]+constant

With a little reverse math, we find out that the constant for Joel Pineiro is 3.08. So, let's plug in some numbers, shall we?

9/12 Joel: 3.34 FIP
9/22 Joel: 3.08 FIP

Over a long enough period of time, if Joel kept pitching like he did today, he'd be a quarter of a run better than if he pitched like he did ten days ago.

Here's an important point to understand: I do not mean to suggest that Joel was better today than he was against Anaheim. No matter how much faith you have in DIPS theory and balls-in-play stuff in general, you have to realize that they mean less and less as you look at a smaller data sample. Joel Pineiro gave up seven runs today because he threw some legitimately bad pitches. These things even out over a few months, but in the case of a single game, you have to believe that it's at least partly the fault of the pitcher. Pitch location isn't random, and if a guy keeps hitting his spots on one particular day, he's going to be hard to hit. It's just impossible to keep that kind of thing up for half a year.

The point is that, if we had to choose one of the two Joels as the better long-term bet, it'd be Joel #2. He throws strikes, he misses bats, and by allowing fewer balls in play per game, he doesn't find himself in position to allow big innings very often. He got bit in the ass today, but as long as he's putting up those kinds of ratios, that won't be a frequent issue.

Bottom line, if Joel keeps striking out a batter an inning in his last two starts, I'm going to be way more optimistic about his 2006 season than I was a week or two ago.

Since the recaps (or whatever you want to call them, since technically they're not really "recaps" anymore) are pretty short these days, and since yesterday's question generated a bunch of feedback, I'll ask you this: what do you expect from Joel next year? Do you think he has a prayer of earning his \$6m price tag?