ALTERNATIVE: Scoresheet lineup card-pitching strategies

In this episode of the Scoresheet strategy column, we will discuss some topics with setting up pitching on the lineup card.  The topics will be banked starts for pitchers, hook number strategy for starting pitchers, and strategies surrounding the closer designation for relievers.

Banked Starts

A “banked start” happens in Scoresheet when a starting pitcher listed in the rotation on the lineup card pitches twice in the majors but only one of those starts is used that week in Scoresheet. That banked start will then be used at a later time when the Scoresheet team does not have a preferred start in a week. If a manager does not track the banked starts, it may just show up without the knowledge of the owner, but there are ways to have more control on when it will be used.

Tracking the banked starts for each rotation pitcher is the key to exercising that control. The simulation will treat a banked start just like an actual second major league start from another pitcher when determining precedence. The second start used will follow the same process of order of pitchers listed and the team preferred to face setting as caused the banked start. The manager can ensure a banked start is used by listing the pitcher in the first position on the lineup card. If it was a poor start, listing the pitcher fifth on the card or even removing them from the rotation can help avoid the start.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that simulation combines the stats of any two starts used in a Scoresheet week and the probabilities in the simulation take over as far as how the innings/runs are applied in each start.  As a result, when tracking the banked starts also keep track of how the runs were deployed in the single start that week to know what will actually be applied when the banked start is used.

Hooks for Starting Pitchers

Any casual baseball fan knows what a pitching start is, but the “Hook” number is a Scoresheet invention so some context is required.  The definition of the hook number:

 

“Whenever a pitcher exceeds his hook number, he is taken out of the game. The hook number is the total number of runs he has given up in a game, plus half the number of runners currently on base for which he is responsible (unearned runs only count as half of a run when calculating the hook number).”

 

Higher setting numbers allow the pitcher to stay in the game longer than lower numbers. It is an obvious relationship, but this chart provides recommendations on how to set the numbers on the lineup card:

*SP RANK     HOOK RANGE
==========   ==========
  1 TO 5     6.0 TO 7.0
  5 TO 60    5.0 TO 6.0
 60 TO 120   4.0 TO 4.5
120 AND UP   3.0 TO 4.0
*mixed league rank

These are generic ranking ranges and can be adjusted as the manager sees fit. The concept is that performance and risk determine how to set the number. The highest hook range essentially ensures that the starting pitcher will run out of innings before they hit the hook number. Other than the elite starting pitchers, it is probably better to turn the game over to the bullpen earlier.

The idea behind using smaller hooks for the riskier pitchers is to limit the damage from a terrible major league start. Be aware that this strategy can backfire, as the simulation may apply all of the runs and baserunners in the first inning of a start causing an early hook. The pitcher may have survived through five or six innings in the major leagues but Scoresheet employs less than one.  Bullpen innings will then be depleted in a game that is likely already out of reach.

Closer Designation/Earliest Inning Setting

Scoresheet allows a manager to assign a pitcher to the “Closer” role, and this is one of the more polarizing topics on the lineup card. You can check the pitcher lineups on your league home page and see the closer owners (a pitcher listed at the bottom of the rotation) and the no closer owners (blank line). Here some strategy options.

The primary pro for assigning a closer is just as it in the majors. When a save situation conditions are met in the simulation, or even late in a tie game in some cases, the most trusted pitcher will enter the game for those innings. The con for selecting a closer is that the team you may not utilize all of innings from the best reliever because they will only be used in save and tie game situations.

This concept is conversely the biggest pro on the strategy to NOT designate a closer. The idea is that the simulation will then use all of the innings from the best relievers. There are ways to manipulate the use of the better relief pitchers into the higher leverage spots by using the “earliest inning” setting. Specifically, using an earliest inning setting of six or later will assure that those pitchers are not used in blow out games, saving them for higher leverage situations. Using an earliest inning of eight or later will sort of set a de facto closer, but if that is the plan, some just designate a closer.

The final reliever strategy is the most radical version of not assigning a closer. This strategy is to just set all pitchers on the Short Reliever (SR) list with an earliest inning setting of four, the earliest possible inning for them to enter a game. All of the innings from the best relievers will be used with certainty using this strategy. The major con with this plan is the gamble with the later innings. If the team has some early departures by the starting pitchers during a week, the highest ranked relievers will be used to cover those early innings leaving the middle or even low ranked relievers to cover the high leverage innings.

Setting the pitching card to your preferences is one of the intricacies that makes the Scoresheet game so unique and rewarding.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.