Can We Please Stop Talking About Postseason Experience?
Postseason experience. Commentators love to mention what a big difference postseason experience makes for a pitcher. In almost every playoff preview or projection, the subject of post season experience is broached. Sometimes I feel like some manager would call John Smoltz down from the broadcast booth to start a playoff game if he could.
Can we please look past the verbal posturing and acknowledge that postseason experience makes very little difference?
Anecdotally, experience has mattered very little this postseason. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb was stellar in his first career playoff outing, helping lead the Rays to victory over the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card game. Gerrit Cole and Mike Minor each had excellent starts in their respective NLDS matchups, and Cole gave a valiant effort in Game Five. Sonny Gray went toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander, tossing eight shutout innings. Like Cole, his Game Five wasn’t quite as good, but he kept his team in the game.
Rookie Danny Salazar was mediocre, but playoff veterans Lance Lynn and A.J. Burnett got whipped in their outings. David Price turned in a dud of an outing against the Boston Red Sox after going the distance in game 163.
Oh, and lets not forget rookie Michael Wacha, who had thrown all of 64.2 major league innings before making his first playoff start in an elimination game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The St. Louis Cardinals hurler held them hitless until the 8th inning. Then, in Game Two of the NLCS against Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, he went 6.2 shutout innings.
All in all, Wacha has thrown 14 innings this postseason, surrendering just one run on six hits, with three walks and 17 strikeouts. I don’t think the lack of postseason experience is getting to the 22 year-old righthander.
There’s a lot of talented young arms in the MLB right now. Don’t let their lack of experience fool you, their stuff is more than able to handle a matchup with even the most grizzled veteran.