Are they really that fragile?

I’ve heard one of our local baseball broadcasters say several times that Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta tries to make sure that, when his starting pitchers perform well, they aren’t “rewarded” with a loss. In other words, if I understand correctly, his decision as to when to remove a starter will sometimes be influenced by the desire to make sure that starter doesn’t become the losing pitcher.

I hope Acta doesn’t manage this way because it strikes me as nuts. The manager’s object should be to win the game, not to protect the pitcher’s feelings.

Are young pitchers set back because they absorb losses? Walter Johnson went went 5-9, 14-14, and 13-25 his first three years on his way to 279 career losses. Steve Carlton lost 19 games as a 25 year-old in his fifth full season in the major leagues. Later he would lose 20, although by then he had won the Cy Young award and probably knew he was pretty good.

Sandy Koufax had only two winning seasons in his first six (he was 36-40 during this period); Nolan Ryan had only two in his first five, as he went 29-38. They got over it.

It’s probably just as well that I’m not much of a baseball fan these days because I’m not sure I understand the modern game.


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