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Game #107 Preview: 8/6, Arizona Diamondbacks @ Washington Nationals

Horrendously early, and so probably quite terse. Oh, hang on... Only somewhat early...

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Hellickson
RHP, 7-7, 4.95
Joe Ross
RHP, 2-3, 3.00
Ender Inciarte - CF Yunel Escobar - 3B
Cliff Pennington - SS Anthony Rendon - 2B
David Peralta - LF Bryce Harper - RF
Jake Lamb - 3B Clint Robinson - 1B
Aaron Hill - 2B Jayson Werth - LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 1B Ian Desmond - SS
Yasmany Tomas - RF Wilson Ramos - C
Oscar Hernandez - C Michael Taylor - CF
Jeremy Hellickson - RHP Joe Ross - RHP

When I heard it was a day-game, and not on Fox Sports, I was expecting an afternoon contest in Washington, meaning a start time here of around 10am. Turns out that's not the case, with the game not beginning until a little after 4pm there, 1pm here. Seems a bit miserly, given the D-backs will then subsequently have to get to the airport, and make their way back across the continent, to start their weekend series against the Reds tomorrow. Any reason this couldn't have been a day game? I mean, starting three hours early is all very well, but most of that is likely going to be eaten up because it's a Jeremy Hellickson start.

We know how glacial Hellickson is, but does that translate into longer games? To find out, I looked at the five pitchers we have used this year with a dozen or more starts. I filtered out everything except nine-inning games, because they would skew things, and below find a table showing the results. You get the number of games, the shortest and longest contests, the median (the "middle value" ranked in order, and the mean (the overall average).

Pitcher # Min Max Median Mean
Rubby De La Rosa 19 158 236 179 185
Jeremy Hellickson 20 150 218 180 182
Chase Anderson 12 151 218 176 177
Robbie Ray 10 151 202 176 174
Josh Collmenter 11 154 209 180 182

That's less difference than I would have expected by my gut, simply from sitting through a few Hellickson starts. There are a couple of possible explanations. It might be that the extra couple of seconds Jeremy takes to pitch don't add up to much, agonizingly slow as it might seems at the time. For that is all the difference: Fangraphs shows that, while Hellickson is clearly the slowest of the five, the difference between him and the quickest (Josh Collmenter) is 4.2 seconds per pitch, which even over the course of a 100-pitch outing, would only work out at about an extra seven minutes of game time.

It's also possible other aspects of the game (consciously or unconsciously) realize Hellickson's glacial pace, and speed up to compensate. Outfielders run to their positions, rather than amble; hitters spend less time adjusting their gloves, helmets and junk before stepping into the batter's box, etc. For the bottom line is, much as we joke about taking a book to a Hellickson game (and a bucket. And a sleeping bag), there's not much evidence that the games in which he pitches take significantly longer to complete than anyone else's. Can't say it feels like that, and I just hope today's contest, on getaway day, doesn't go to extra innings!