So You Think You Can Win 20? The downfall of the non-bullpen era of baseball

B MacCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2008

Winning twenty games as a starting pitcher in today's game of baseball is very hard. That is why very few starters win twenty games any more. That is why you may see only one twenty game winner in the Majors one year, and four the next. The fact is baseball as we know it is tailored to the offensive-minded player. Meaning shorter fences all around, shorter porches, and overall better suited towards a power-hitter, not a pitcher. Take for example Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia, that ball park is a hitter's wet dream. Every hitter dreams of a park with dimensions as short as they are. And yet, this ballpark is a pitcher's worse nightmare. With it only 320' down the right-field, and only 328' down the left-field line. But if you put the right pitcher, in Citizen's Bank Park it does not matter.

To be a 20-game winner, it takes a mentally tough player, as well as physically tough. It takes a special kind of mental make-up to be a starter, let alone a staff ace, much like it takes a special mental make-up to be a closer. Take a look at Mike Mussina. He has the stuff to be a 20-game winner (which he finally won last Sunday), but never had the team or bullpen behind him. Mussina joins some elite company in which, he is one of only of eight pitchers (nine if you include him) to have won 20 games after they have turned 39 years of age. The most recent pitcher over 39 to win 20 games was the Philadelphia Phillies veteran left-hander, Jamie Moyer. Moyer (45) won 21 back in 2000 when we was with the Seattle Mariners and was 40 years of age.

Starting pitchers are not built like they were back in the Golden Age of Baseball. Pitchers back when weren't afraid to pitch on less than three days rest, and went the full game each and every time that they toed the rubber. Even through the years starting pitchers were winning 27, 28, 29, and possibly 30 plus games well into the late 1960's into the early 1970's. Nowadays if a starter goes six innings, strikes out five, walks one and gives up no runs; its considered a "quality start". A quality start back in our parents generation, and their parents generation was a full nine innings and the extra innings if possible. Today's starting pitchers are babied like no other athlete in professional sports. Pitchers back in the day, could throw through the pain and pitch in that crucial game seven of the world series and on three days rest and still go the distance.

I guess asking a starter these days to go nine innings is too much to ask for. That's why today's pitchers can't compare to the pitchers of yesteryear. Yesteryear's pitchers were just better... you can't compare then to today's pitchers

take a look at the names:

  • Young (Cy)
  • Alexander (Grover)
  • Gibson
  • Koufax
  • Seaver
  • Ryan
  • Carlton
  • Mathewson
  • Drysdale

there's a lot more.