Death of the “CG” Era by the Last 6 Decades

6. Larry Dierker

Larry Dierker, Houston Astros

Death of the Complete Game Era by the Last 6 Decades

This is no big news. The “Complete Game” stat is all but a burial away from formal extinction. With the 100-pitches-per-game limit now standing as the great teacher of millennial-aged rookies about what to expect of themselves, even on good days, now the stat to have fun with is ~ is the pitcher one of those new “iron men” ~someone with the stuff, the control, and the stamina to stay in the game to or through seven innings! ~ or is he one of the growing cast of new rocket arms who tries to look good for four, but one who expects rescue after five ~ and really knows that he won’t be around half his starts to even figure in the decision?

Six Decades with the Astros and Complete Game Pitchers

Decade Astros Pitcher W L W% ERA G GS CG IP SO BB
1969 Larry Dierker 20 13 .606 2.33 39 37 20 305.1 247 72
1976 J.R. Richard 20 15 .571 2.75 39 39 14 291.0 214 151
1989 Mike Scott 20 10 .667 3.10 33 32 9 229.0 172 62
1999 Mike Hampton 22 4 .846 2.90 34 34 3 239.0 177 101
2004 Roy Oswalt 20 10 .667 3.49 36 35 2 237.0 206 62
2015 Dallas Keuchel 20 8 .714 2.48 33 33 2 232.0 261 51

I did this little chart this morning just for the fun of it. My goal was to pull up an Astros 20-game winner from each of their six decades in the big leagues and see how the GS-CG stat ratio has held up on the declining CG side ever since one of the last great “CG Men” took the mound to register the franchise’s first 20-game winner season in 1969.

We’re talking here, of course, about our one and only treasured pitcher/broadcaster/manager/author ~ Mr. Larry Dierker ~ who in 1969 once placed the “CG” accomplishment bar at the start of things in our small place in the baseball world at the mountain top of the baseball universe.

Then we simply went through the other five decades that have unfolded since and selected another 20-game winner Astros starter from each period and posted his stats as typical of the entire decade in six instances  to show the down turn change that shows up remarkably clear and self-evident.

There was an instance in the 2001-2010 decade in which we could have chosen Roy Oswalt’s 2005 and that pick would have yielded 4 “CGs” instead of the 2 “CGs” he had in 2005, but that would have been relatively insignificant ~ and in deference to our preference for symmetry, we used 2004 in his case.

The big point that Larry Dierker makes consistently is that the 100-pitch count has changed the game. It has taught rookie starters to expect less of themselves in the matter of how long they are going to be in the game each time they take the mound.

Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a difference?

To me, its seems like a big difference, and it’s a difference I think we should be concerned about. Unless throwing more than 100 pitches a game is going to cause one’s arm to fall off ~ or cause cancer or something ~ we are cheating the game and ourselves from ever again seeing the rubber-armed talents that reached the Hall of Fame, at least partially, because of that talent capacity. (See lefty Warren Spahn as a relatively recent example.)

Worse may be the lesson that the 100-pitch count is spreading to young pitchers everywhere.

WOW! As much as we talk patricianly about how baseball offers some lessons that life needs to learn and better use, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that life could teach baseball some lessons that would better serve the interests of these young pitchers as they are learning the game on the 100-pitch count.

Some Personal Reflections

I don’t know anybody whoever succeeded in business on a 100-pitch count ~ and I sure don’t know a soul whoever won their doctoral degree in any academic field on one either. This is about any problem or goal that appears or becomes important to us in life. If it’s valid, if we have the ability and the willingness to resolve or achieve it, and if we are nothing less than relentless in our pursuit of our desired accomplishment, and we have the ability to learn and let people help us when help is truly needed, then there’s nothing that is going to stop us from getting there.

Students have asked me in the past: “When did you actually know for sure that you were going to get your doctoral degree?” ~ My answer was simple: “It happened when I realized that I knew my subject ~ that I had done the work ~ and that there was no one on my faculty doctoral committee that cared more about stopping me than I cared about getting there.”

There are no 100-pitch counts and bullpens in the everyday lives that most of us face.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


One Response to “Death of the “CG” Era by the Last 6 Decades”

  1. bhick6 Says:

    Kinda makes me think about the days of “Old Hoss” Radbourn and his 59 wins and 73 complete games in 1884. Don’t think his arm fell off.

    Bill Hickman

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