In addition to the Mets garnering their first walkoff win last night, Jason Isringhausen tossed a scoreless inning, allowing a bloop single while striking out a batter. The performance itself wasn’t particularly remarkable, but during the season, Izzy certainly has been. He’s now made 30 appearances, after not pitching at all in 2010, and has a 2.96 ERA and 1.110 WHIP to go along with 21 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. It’s fair to say he’s exceeded expectations.
Of course he’s also had a few rough outings, but overall he’s been one of the more consistent members of the bullpen at the age of 38. If the Amazins are going to hold it together, they need the most successful member of Generation K to pitch well. So to Terry Collins, I offer this suggestion: if you want to maximize Izzy’s effectiveness throughout the season, you must minimize the times he pitches on back to back days.
What I’m saying is not earth shattering; it’s no secret older players need more rest and relievers are no exception. But given his history of injury, it’s imperative to not throw Isringhausen out there on consecutive days unless absolutely necessary, or if the first outing was particularly short (and even then, warming up in the bullpen still requires some energy). This season, Izzy has been far better when given at least one day off after pitching (the sample size is admittedly small, but a reliever’s career is based on small sample size and the ability to perform well for very short periods of time at once).
Currently, opponents are batting .195/.281/.360 off Isringhausen. When pitching on consecutive days, that line jumps up to .222/.417/.444 (the average is still relatively low, but the jump in OPS is pretty substantial). Most notably, Izzy suffers from more control problems with zero days off. Out of the ten batters he’s walked this season, six of them have come when pitching on back to back games, and he only has four strikeouts. Maybe by coincidence, he’s also allowed four of his seven stolen bases during these appearances as well. Conversely, after pitching with just one day off, opponents are hitting .154/.185/.269 with just one walk against eight strikeouts. The numbers are similar with increased rest. Izzy’s previous appearance before last night was on June 16th against Atlanta. After David DeJesus blooped a single, stole second and advanced on a throwing error by Ronny Paulino, Isringhausen struck out Jemile Weeks with a beautiful curveball to eliminate the threat and keep the game tied.
Collins has been better about using Isringhausen as of late and has given the righty plenty of rest. To those who say relievers should be able to pitch on back to back days regularly, I fully agree (they also should be able to go multiple innings and get lefties and righties out, but that’s another story). However, Izzy is no longer a typical reliever. While he was surely capable of pitching multiple days in a row in is youth (he had to since he often closed), those days are long gone. In order to get the most out of Isringhausen, he needs regular rest and simply can’t pitch on consecutive days too often.